The Valve Employee Handbook

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
You might have a point here but I remember reading somehwere that they started going in this direction right after they finished Half-Life 1 so their company philosophy isn't directly linked to their success with Steam even though it certainly helped. Don't hold me accountable for the anecdote it though.
This is the direction Gabe (and Mike) steered the company in from its inception; a unique opportunity afforded to them because the company was (and still is, obviously) entirely self-funded. Unsurprisingly, this is mentioned in the Handbook. ;)
 
It's so dangerous.
You just need one person being a dick and things will go bad.

One question I have (haven't bothered to check in the document) is how do people fire people? Normally this is done by the persons superior but if such a person doesn't exist...
 
This is the direction Gabe (and Mike) steered the company in from its inception; a unique opportunity afforded to them because the company was (and still is, obviously) entirely self-funded. Unsurprisingly, this is mentioned in the Handbook. ;)
Ah, I didn't read the whole thing yet (damn uni work). I probably was thinking about their development approach with the cabals.
 
Could you clarify/elaborate on this?
Basically, if the handbook stressed how important the customers are ('the stewards of long-term relationship'), then why hasn't Valve done what many customers are asking for: either Half-Life 3/Episode 3 or something completely new and different from Valve? I don't even care if they hand off the Source Engine to another developer and have them make a new game or modify it a bit for their game (like how Epic does with their Unreal tech).

My point is without knowing how someone working there feels (or can admit/discuss without breaching their NDA), if I were an employee of Valve, I would just feel like the company is a company for the Steam distribution platform and that's it. I'm sure Valve have prototypes/cool concepts that are being worked on but will never see the light of day because 'Valve knows what's best for their customers.' At the same time, I would like to believe that Valve is more than Steam and more than Half-Life/Portal/Team Fortress 2.

But that's from the outside looking in.
 
It's so dangerous.
You just need one person being a dick and things will go bad.

One question I have (haven't bothered to check in the document) is how do people fire people? Normally this is done by the persons superior but if such a person doesn't exist...
I guess it's those "interview comittes" or maybe they simply ignore him until he quits the company. It's probably a bit of both...
 
It would not work for most people either.
Yep. Reading through the handbook I felt intimidated as fuck. Being the lazy person I am having no direction in such as massive studio would be a nightmare. I can imagine if you get used to the structure it'll probably be the best job in the industry no doubt.
 

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
One question I have (haven't bothered to check in the document) is how do people fire people? Normally this is done by the persons superior but if such a person doesn't exist...
This isn't covered in the Handbook, presumably because it's a rare occasion. It's even mentioned that nobody has ever been fired from Valve for making a mistake, as mistakes make for great learning experiences.
 
This is the direction Gabe (and Mike) steered the company in from its inception; a unique opportunity afforded to them because the company was (and still is, obviously) entirely self-funded. Unsurprisingly, this is mentioned in the Handbook. ;)
Gabe will eternally have the right to pat himself on the back for that decision.
 

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
Basically, if the handbook stressed how important the customers are ('the stewards of long-term relationship'), then why hasn't Valve done what many customers are asking for: either Half-Life 3/Episode 3 or something completely new and different from Valve? I don't even care if they hand off the Source Engine to another developer and have them make a new game or modify it a bit for their game (like how Epic does with their Unreal tech).
It's true that, thus far, Valve hasn't strayed far from its wheelhouse outside of a few instances. In the case of Half-Life 3, as I said earlier in the thread, Gabe actually addressed the matter:

In terms of "Ricochet 2", we always have this problem that when we talk about things too far in advance, we end up changing our minds as we're going through and developing stuff, so as we're thinking through the giant story arc which is "Ricochet 2", you might get to a point where you're saying something is surprising us in a positive way and something is surprising us in a negative way, and, you know, we'd like to be super-transparent about the future of "Ricochet 2". The problem is, we think that the twists and turns that we're going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it, until we can be very crisp about what's happening next.
As for the assumptions that development on the game has fallen to the wayside due to other commitments (e.g. Steam):

No, everybody who has worked on "Ricochet 2" continues to work on "Ricochet 2". *laughs*
As you can see, there's really nothing new there, other than absolute confirmation that its development is ongoing.
 

EatChildren

Currently polling second in Australia's federal election (first in the Gold Coast), this feral may one day be your Bogan King.
Stuff like Half-Life 3, as much as I desperately want it, reside in the realm of creativity and art, and the fact of the matter is you cannot force or rush good creative work. Customers desperately want Half-Life 3/Episode 3, but how do you make someone pour their creative mind into a project that they may not be passionate about? End result in cases like this is almost always something that feels forced, uninspired, and lacking the artistic integrity and passion that creators would normally pool into a project they're attached to.

Not that I think Valve has actually abandoned Half-Life, I just think forcing their staff to work on Half-Life 3, regardless of consumer demand, is contrary to the very philosophy their business runs by. They live by their customers, but creativity is not their slave.
 
Not that I think Valve has actually abandoned Half-Life, I just think forcing their staff to work on Half-Life 3, regardless of consumer demand, is contrary to the very philosophy their business runs by. They live by their customers, but creativity is not their slave.
Yeah, I agree with this. I think Half Life 3 or Episode 3 will come naturally, because - according to the book, at least - they'll ask themselves "what can we give our customers the most value right now", and the answer will be HL3 (or whatever).

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't already come up with that answer before now and are working on something, but that's just my guess.
 
I rarely ever read Employee Handbooks if I don't have to. I read Valve's.

Sounds like such an interesting and awesome place to work. Really wish I went into game design now...

Also explains why HL3 probably isn't really being worked on.
 
Can't believe I listened to that podcast yesterday and never knew Ricochet 2 was code for HL3. I half tuned out on that part. I was like, "Who gives a fuck about Ricochet 2? I've got Ricochet 1 in my Steam library and I don't even know what it is. That's how little I care about that." :lol Above quotes certainly make a lot more sense now:)
 
Be productive -> Read about Valve infrastructure -> Depression -> Ennui -> Painfully pull self back into productivity after a few wasted months doing nothing -> Read about Valve infrastructure -> ...
 
I wonder how Valve appears to the non-traditional hires they make. Of course anyone in the games industry is going to understand the quirky cooperate culture displayed in the handbook, but the people outside of the geeky gaming medium could find it quite alien I imagine.

The internal workings of Valve are something of a riddle, there is a section which mentions Gabe's hiring of the Digipen guys and gals who worked on Portal in relation to occasions of Gabe making significant decisions in isolation, and frames it as a rare case. From what I've read that's not really true. The Final Hours of HL2 and Portal 2 both heavily indicate Gabe as being very much the ruler of the studio.

It would be interesting to know why whoever has been fired was fired. If they've really lost about ten employees in ten years, and the handbook suggests no one has been fired for making a mistake (implying people have been for other reasons), I'd be interested to hear what.
 

JaseC

gave away the keys to the kingdom.
Can't believe I listened to that podcast yesterday and never knew Ricochet 2 was code for HL3. I half tuned out on that part. I was like, "Who gives a fuck about Ricochet 2? I've got Ricochet 1 in my Steam library and I don't even know what it is. That's how little I care about that." :lol Above quotes certainly make a lot more sense now:)
He had to act surreptitiously as Lombardi doesn't let him talk about Half-Life. :p
 
I wonder how Valve appears to the non-traditional hires they make. Of course anyone in the games industry is going to understand the quirky cooperate culture displayed in the handbook, but the people outside of the geeky gaming medium could find it quite alien I imagine.

The internal workings of Valve are something of a riddle, there is a section which mentions Gabe's hiring of the Digipen guys and gals who worked on Portal in relation to occasions of Gabe making significant decisions in isolation, and frames it as a rare case. From what I've read that's not really true. The Final Hours of HL2 and Portal 2 both heavily indicate Gabe as being very much the ruler of the studio.

It would be interesting to know why whoever has been fired was fired. If they've really lost about ten employees in ten years, and the handbook suggests no one has been fired for making a mistake (implying people have been for other reasons), I'd be interested to hear what.
I think we actually only know of 3 people who left Valve: Antonov, Swift and Harrington (if he counts) and I think at least Swift left by her own terms.


BigNastyCurve said:
Fairly simple. Because their other revenue streams cannot sustain a business model like this.
Do you have some insight into Valve's financials we don't have?
 
Stuff like Half-Life 3, as much as I desperately want it, reside in the realm of creativity and art, and the fact of the matter is you cannot force or rush good creative work. Customers desperately want Half-Life 3/Episode 3, but how do you make someone pour their creative mind into a project that they may not be passionate about? End result in cases like this is almost always something that feels forced, uninspired, and lacking the artistic integrity and passion that creators would normally pool into a project they're attached to.

Not that I think Valve has actually abandoned Half-Life, I just think forcing their staff to work on Half-Life 3, regardless of consumer demand, is contrary to the very philosophy their business runs by. They live by their customers, but creativity is not their slave.
While this is true and a perfectly acceptable reason for a product not existing, I feel the bigger misconception in this thread is the idea that striving to give the customer what they want means delivering more of a successful game in a timely manner.

I think the customer is more of a useful measuring tool for your decisions in creating a game that the customer will play, you can question every design and every graphic and every line of code to make sure you are constantly adding things that the people who play your game will value.

This is not to say that delivering more of a popular thing in a timely manner is the wrong answer to those questions (see: Left 4 Dead 2), but it does mean you make your decisions case by case and day by day with the hope that in the end your customers will get the best experience they possibly can and have absolute faith in your ability to deliver incredible products.

And in that, Valve succeed.
 
The internal workings of Valve are something of a riddle, there is a section which mentions Gabe's hiring of the Digipen guys and gals who worked on Portal in relation to occasions of Gabe making significant decisions in isolation, and frames it as a rare case. From what I've read that's not really true. The Final Hours of HL2 and Portal 2 both heavily indicate Gabe as being very much the ruler of the studio.
Yeah, the Gabe Newell entry in the glossary is pretty revealing about this.
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
When I was just studying Mechanical Engineering I would never have had a chance at getting a job there. Now that I'm shooing for a Masters in Industrial Design and Human Factors there may appear a pinprick of light on the horizon...

Oh who am I kidding
 
The only reason they can run their business this way is because of Steam.



Fairly simple. Because their other revenue streams cannot sustain a business model like this.
This seems more like a fear of an unknown than a rational statement based on facts.

Is there anything out there that suggests valve selling multiple millions of every game they release using this model is unsustainable?
 

The Technomancer

card-carrying scientician
This seems more like a fear of an unknown than a rational statement based on facts.

Is there anything out there that suggests valve selling multiple millions of every game they release using this model is unsustainable?
It may have a psychological effect of reduced pressure in terms of "will this next game allow us to survive"
 
the only other company i can think of that is similar to valve is A. L. Gore associates, or just Gore. They have a flat management system and your salary is based on your value to the group. They also have a one year evaluation period.