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Gabe Newell comments on Valve's move from Half-Life to multiplayer games

I thought it would be worth highlighting this as a separate aspect from the rest of the article which is covered in this thread: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=745072

There's a lot more about the history of how they set up and how their organization lead them this way at the link, but since I imagined this would be a bit of a polar point, that's why I broke it off to here.

Washington Post said:
So, if somebody becomes the group manager of X, they’re going to really resist it when X is not what you want to do in the next round of games. You don’t want them to sort of burrow into that – you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences. You've had them feel like they have an organization and title tied up to something when the key is to just continue to follow where the customers are leading.
Washington Post said:
WP: How has this decentralized decision-making process evolved over the the years? How would you compare how it runs now to when you had only 20 employees?

GN: I think there's just more much more of history of it now so people are willing to trust it more and be less worried that it's going to go in some poor direction. I just think that we're more confident now and we've got that experience in lots of things. When we started out we were a single-player video game company that could have been really successful just doing Half-Life sequel after Half-Life sequel, but we collectively said let's try to make multi-player games even though there's never been a commercial successful multi-player game.

Then we tried to do Steam. There were a bunch of people internally who thought Steam was a really bad idea, but what they didn't think was that they would tell the people who were working on Steam what to do with their time. They were like "that's what you want to do wit your time, that's fine, but we're going to spend our time working on Half-Life 2. We think you're kind of wasting your time, but it's your time to waste."

In retrospect, it was a great idea, right?
So the key thing was that people bear the consequences of their own choices, so if I spend my time on it the only persons time I'm wasting is mine. Over time, I think people sort of recognize how useful it is for people to vote with their time. There is a huge amount of wisdom in people's decisions about what they personally want to work on next.
Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/01/03/gabe-newell-on-what-makes-valve-tick/
 

shinobi602

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With all that money, hire more developers, finish Half-Life.
you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences.
ugh
 

Interfectum

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Seems a smart move.

I would have beat Half Life 3 in a weekend. I've been using Steam for almost a decade.
 
With all that money, hire more developers, finish Half-Life.
Presumably the people they would attract in 2014 would want to work on their multiplayer products given there's no strong sign they're actually making campaign focused games frequently anymore.

I mean there are a lot of studios that are growing fast where you can go and do the latter and be sure of what you're actually going to end up making.
 

Interfectum

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Presumably the people they would attract in 2014 would want to work on their multiplayer products given there's no strong sign they're actually making campaign focused games frequently anymore.
I don't see why they can't do both. As Gabe said:

There are a bunch of things, like the people who are really talented often don't fit into rigid boxes. It's part of why they're good. For example, Ken Birdwell was one of the first people here and he has a bachelors in Fine Arts -- he's an artist -- and he also happens to be able to program really well.
As Portal 2 has shown, if the talent at Valve wants to make a single player focused game they are still very able to do so. They just have to want to do it.
 

Auto-Reply

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With all that money, hire more developers, finish Half-Life.
I agree with that, even if it turns out to be shit at least the story has a conclusion and Half Life will not be one of the best discontinued series of all time ending on a cliffhanger.
 

shinobi602

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Presumably the people they would attract in 2014 would want to work on their multiplayer products given there's no strong sign they're actually making campaign focused games frequently anymore.
Really sad, they were one of my top devs during HL and HL2. They've pretty much slipped into irrelevancy to me with their new direction. I don't even want to think of other devs I love going this route (Bioware, Naughty Dog, Bethesda, etc). *shudder*
 

RoboPlato

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Valve moving on from single player games is one of the most unexpected and saddest things to come out of the industry lately. I never would have thought that a team as passionate and dedicated as they are, with good writers on top of that, would completely leave single player games by the wayside. Their MP games are great, don't get me wrong, but their SP games had a unique quality to them that I haven't seen anywhere else. I dread a day when real single player experiences die out and seeing one of the most talented devs leave that behind hurts.
 

SteveWinwood

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Really sad, they were one of my top devs during HL and HL2. They've pretty much slipped into irrelevancy to me with their new direction. I don't even want to think of other devs I love going this route (Bioware, Naughty Dog, Bethesda, etc).
Your loss!
I don't see why they can't do both. As Gabe said:



As Portal 2 has shown, if the talent at Valve wants to make a single player focused game they are still very able to do so. They just have to want to do it.
Yeah it seems strange when you read all these comments when just a few years ago they had a really successful single player game (with some co op). They can easily still do it. This doesn't mean half life is dead, they've still been working on it as the recent email lists show.
"There had never been a successful multiplayer only game?"

That seems kinda not very true.
Combat is really the only thing I can think of. Quake has a single player you have you to remember. I am having a hard time thinking of a lot of multiplayer only games pre 1996, let alone successful ones. A lot of that had to do with the internet just not being there to support it.
 

QaaQer

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I agree with that, even if it turns out to be shit at least the story has a conclusion and Half Life will not be one of the best discontinued series of all time ending on a cliffhanger.
Assuming VALVe empolyees do get to choose their projects, HL is dead. What highly motivated, exceptionally talented, creative dev/coder/artist/etc would willing choose to work on any fps? That ground has be trod over and over and over and over again.

And the idea of VALVe hiring a bunch of people and forcing them to work on HL3 goes against the fundamental premise of allowing people to choose their projects. So having a team that is run like any other team from EA or Activision making an fps would result in a pretty bog standard fps.
 

RooMHM

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This is saddening... really. Where are you Valve?

They really should separate Steam from game development and even make a HL studio.
 

Draft

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"There had never been a successful multiplayer only game?"

That seems kinda not very true.
Half Life 2 was released in the waning years of EQ which I think qualifies as an immensely successful multiplayer game, so I'm not sure what Gabe means.

Frankly, I'm not sure what he means half of the time. The man can be inscrutable. He has a lot of verbal ticks and he goes off on tangents.
 

Whompa

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I can't tell if Gabe thinks Steam and the different games after Half-Life 2 have been due to "smart business moves" or that Valve has just been using the dream of the next HL game to get people to just soak in anything they make.

I don't feel like I'm alone in the ladder option...don't get me wrong, I love Steam, and I love what Valve puts out, but man the feeling that i'm being lead on is at it's peak right now. I think the truth is I just don't care as much about the multiplayer stuff. The HL narrative, whatever you can call it, more like atmosphere, is stronger and more confident than 90% of the stuff out there...
 

Grief.exe

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Really sad, they were one of my top devs during HL and HL2. They've pretty much slipped into irrelevancy to me with their new direction. I don't even want to think of other devs I love going this route (Bioware, Naughty Dog, Bethesda, etc). *shudder*
Bioware is long gone, Bethesda is going down the lowest common denominator route.

Yin to the Yang
 
I don't see why they can't do both. As Gabe said:



As Portal 2 has shown, if the talent at Valve wants to make a single player focused game they are still very able to do so. They just have to want to do it.
Sure, but if you were a hotshot singleplayer/campaign developer and wanted to go get a new job, how high up would Valve rank on your list?

Obviously for some it would be very high, but at some point I have to imagine the fact that they don't release a lot of games like that effects how many applicants who want to actively go make campaign games they get.

I mean the head of the studio just said "you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences." While he's not saying that the first skill is not useful, that still sends a certain message.
 

SteveWinwood

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I can't tell if Gabe thinks Steam and the different games after Half-Life 2 have been due to "smart business moves" or that Valve has just been using the dream of the next HL game to get people to just soak in anything they make.

I don't feel like I'm alone in the ladder option...don't get me wrong, I love Steam, and I love what Valve puts out, but man the feeling that i'm being lead on is at it's peak right now. I think the truth is I just don't care as much about the multiplayer stuff. The HL narrative, whatever you can call it, more like atmosphere, is stronger and more confident than 90% of the stuff out there...
I know people who play tf2 every day and legitimately had no clue what Half Life is.

The "ladder" isn't really true for a majority of steam users. I don't know how anyone could think that most people are on steam salivating just waiting for hl3 to come out.
 

Grief.exe

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With all that money, hire more developers, finish Half-Life.
This is saddening... really. Where are you Valve?

They really should separate Steam from game development and even make a HL studio.
Seriously though, the real reason why we haven't seen HL3 is Valve wants to do something innovative and ground-breaking.

They don't just want to shuffle out HL3 using the same old tire tropes. That is exactly why we haven't seen a sequel.

They have said this outright several times.

Hm? Into multiplayer? Barely a blip in Bioware games and non-existent in Bethesda games.
Oh, I thought you were talking about general quality and irrelevancy.

Both of those developers produced some of my favorite games of all time, now they are tripping over themselves trying to court the lowest common denominator.
 
commercial successful.

and i dont think he is talking about today.
What about Everquest? Or Ultima Online? Seems like a weird perspective to say "we were the first".

Half Life will come some day, even if it ends up being 100+ years down the line when it's in the public domain. That said, the story was already going up its own ass and I don't think it was ever the series' strong point. I think the "unfinished" nature of that story is more a testament to the broken-ness of the story up to this point than an argument to continue it now.

Everyone remembers Half Life for phenomenal first person, free-movement, "cutscenes" and detailed, evocative environments. For those things, 1 and 2 remain as valuable today as a new game would be. As above, it's not worth having a HL3 that is just supposed to deliver what 1 and 2 did with more story faff.
 

Auto-Reply

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Assuming VALVe empolyees do get to choose their projects, HL is dead. What highly motivated, exceptionally talented, creative dev/coder/artist/etc would willing choose to work on any fps? That ground has be trod over and over and over and over again.

And the idea of VALVe hiring a bunch of people and forcing them to work on HL3 goes against the fundamental premise of allowing people to choose their projects. So having a team that is run like any other team from EA or Activision making an fps would result in a pretty bog standard fps.
Give me standard, give me the same stuff i have played x times over, i don't care. There has to be some dudes just wanting to get into the business and have nothing to do... what are the Duke Nukem Forever devs are up to to these days. There's a task for them!
 

KarmaCow

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I don't see why they can't do both. As Gabe said:



As Portal 2 has shown, if the talent at Valve wants to make a single player focused game they are still very able to do so. They just have to want to do it.
Portal 2 was also their attempt to TF2-ize Portal with hats and integrated user generated content. That seemed to have failed so I wonder what their plan is now.
 
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I think we needs must accept that Valve is no longer focused on game development as much as the social engineering aspect of gaming.
 

Whompa

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I know people who play tf2 every day and legitimately had no clue what Half Life is.

The "ladder" isn't really true for a majority of steam users. I don't know how anyone could think that most people are on steam salivating just waiting for hl3 to come out.
I think that's a huge generalization though. There's still a truckload of people who do know what HL is. There's another generation that plays on Steam, yes, but I think there's also a large group of people who play on Steam because of Half-Life.

And if they don't know what Half-Life is, SHOW THEM...(speaking about Valve showing the next generation of players what it is, not you specifically).
 

SteveWinwood

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Is there any leak what they are working on right now? At least we could have something to look forward to.
Leaked images from the offices show email lists for them developing Source 2, Left 4 Dead 3, Half life 3 (yes, no joke), Dota 2 and TF2 still.

I think that's a huge generalization though. There's still a truckload of people who do know what HL is. There's another generation that plays on Steam, yes, but I think there's also a large group of people who play on Steam because of Half-Life.
Over 10 years ago sure, that's how they got them on it between counter strike and half life, but nowadays? Skyrim brought more to it then those two combined in the last 3 years.
 

ViewtifulJC

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Both HL1 and HL2 were pretty damn big games at the time of release, so whatever they do next can't be "more HL2"

so in that case, everybody get excited for MMOFPSRPGMOBA Half-Life 3, the first of its kind!
 
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Half Life 2 Episode 2 is one of my favorite games ever. Probably my favorite single player FPS. And it's not that Valve tried and failed at making a sequel, it's that they didn't try at all that kills me.
 
Half Life 2 was released in the waning years of EQ which I think qualifies as an immensely successful multiplayer game, so I'm not sure what Gabe means.

Frankly, I'm not sure what he means half of the time. The man can be inscrutable. He has a lot of verbal ticks and he goes off on tangents.
What about Everquest? Or Ultima Online? Seems like a weird perspective to say "we were the first".

Half Life will come some day, even if it ends up being 100+ years down the line when it's in the public domain. That said, the story was already going up its own ass and I don't think it was ever the series' strong point. I think the "unfinished" nature of that story is more a testament to the broken-ness of the story up to this point than an argument to continue it now.

Everyone remembers Half Life for phenomenal first person, free-movement, "cutscenes" and detailed, evocative environments. For those things, 1 and 2 remain as valuable today as a new game would be. As above, it's not worth having a HL3 that is just supposed to deliver what 1 and 2 did with more story faff.
While still a questionable statement I think he's talking about after the release of Half-Life 1 when they were releasing things like Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat.
 

shinobi602

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Seriously though, the real reason why we haven't seen HL3 is Valve wants to do something innovative and ground-breaking.

They don't just want to shuffle out HL3 using the same old tire tropes. That is exactly why we haven't seen a sequel.

They have said this outright several times.
I don't conform to the opinion that a game has to be ground-breaking or revolutionary to be an excellent experience. Why should making HL3 mean "using the same old tired tropes"? Is Valve as a studio incapable of crafting fresh, quality stories/campaigns now?

Oh, I thought you were talking about general quality and irrelevancy.

Both of those developers produced some of my favorite games of all time, now they are tripping over themselves trying to court the lowest common denominator.
Well, that is subjective so I won't get into that argument, really.
 

SteveWinwood

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While still a questionable statement I think he's talking about after the release of Half-Life 1 when they were releasing things like Counter-Strike and Day of Defeat.
He said "when we started" so like around 1996. Quake had just come out. Everquest wouldn't come out until 1999. I don't think it's incorrect to say it.
 

Grief.exe

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I think we needs must accept that Valve is no longer focused on game development as much as the social engineering aspect of gaming.
In the past 10 years they have released 14 games, that is quite the output for a developer.

I don't conform to the opinion that a game has to be ground-breaking or revolutionary to be an excellent experience. Why should making HL3 mean "using the same old tired tropes"? Is Valve as a studio incapable of crafting fresh, quality stories/campaigns now?
I'm just repeating what they have said. They want something new and innovative, not HL2 EP 2 with a fresh coat of paint.
 

KarmaCow

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Half Life 2 Episode 2 is one of my favorite games ever. Probably my favorite single player FPS. And it's not that Valve tried and failed at making a sequel, it's that they didn't try at all that kills me.
It's probably been Duke Nukem Forever'd. Not in terms of it's never coming out (though that might be true) but been reworked a ton of times. It's been too long for them to just release episode 3.
 

EatChildren

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Valve's done with Half-Life as we've known it. Company and employee culture is clearly dedicated to multiplayer/social/community games and framework. Fine if you're in to that. Not if you still value the art and evolution of single player games.

Oh well. Only half looking forward to the inevitably full co-op Portal 3.
 

alexandros

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Valve being multiplayer a focused is not why Half-Life 3 isn't out yet. Valve want it to be as groundbreaking as the first two were and they'll wait as long as it takes to ensure that.
 

Zoc

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Valves such a bizarre company. Surely people make atmospheric FPS games because those are the kinds of games they want to make? Why would they give a shit about what "the customers" want? Why would they stay on to make multiplayer only arena battle games?
 

SteveWinwood

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Valves such a bizarre company. Surely people make atmospheric FPS games because those are the kinds of games they want to make? Why would they give a shit about what "the customers" want? Why would they stay on to make multiplayer only arena battle games?
yeah i think they should be more like activision and just shit out shooter sequels

In the past 10 years they have released 14 games, that is quite the output for a developer.
no valve doesnt make games
 

Grief.exe

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Half Life 2 Episode 2 is one of my favorite games ever. Probably my favorite single player FPS. And it's not that Valve tried and failed at making a sequel, it's that they didn't try at all that kills me.
Episode 2 is definitely up there.

They took everything they learned from the Half-Life series and made a perfectly paced experience. One of the best linear FPS games I have played, if not the best.
 

Ogimachi

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"you want them to recognize that being really good at Half-Life level design is not as nearly as valued as thinking of how to design social multi-player experiences."
"we collectively said let's try to make multi-player games even though there's never been a commercial successful multi-player game."


People would be all over this load of crap if it had been said by an EA executive.