In a recent Game Informer video feature, Turtle Rock Studio heads Chris Ashton and Phil Robb discuss THQ's collapse, the creation and development of Left 4 Dead and Evolve of which involved experimenting with a first-person wizard combat game.
"It had a lot of fun elements but it was a little geeky, geeky in that it was kind of complicated," Robb said. "So we messed with that for awhile but that didn't end up going anywhere."
The developers spoke about their beginnings, from employment at Westwoood Pacific together and their progression to working for Valve in some capacity, before joining the Mike Booth-founded Turtle Rock Studios. Working on various projects for Valve, such as Counter Strike: Condition Zero and Counter Strike: Source, Turtle Rock was allowed by Valve to create their own IP (who acquired them in 2008), which began with the wizard combat game experiment.
Rob related how playing so much Counter Strike against each other caused some frustrations, which made him wish for a game where four buddies could work together and play as team. The studio created an alpha build of a zombie game dubbed Terror and decided to pursue its development.
The team did away with their slow moving zombie types after watching 28 Days, after they were inspired by the film's insane and violent zombies. The game's goal also eventually moved from planting zombie bait to the aim of evacuating each level. The devs talked about how a prototype, largely with untextured assets, was shown to Newell who was so impressed that he jokingly suggested that the game would be released as is.
Post-Left 4 Dead, the team did two years of contract work for Valve, some of it contributing to a portion of Counter Strike: Global Offensive's development. After regaining independence in 2009, they then began working on the recently revealed Evolve, which was originally going to be published by THQ.
In the face of a shifting market, Jason Rubin, former president of THQ, suggested at the time that Turtle Rock should experiment with free-to-play plans. As a result of the team looking at free-to-play titles like League of Legends, Evolve's Hunter lineup expanded well beyond the four original characters.
Evolve's IP was then purchased for $10.8 million by Take-Two during the THQ liquidation auctions in January 2012. It is slated to launch this fall for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.