Insider Spills Beans on Valve's Bossless Culture

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Malk_Content:

Jumplion:

As much as we would love for companies to do this, few publishers are willing to stick to a developer if they take 12 years to deliver a single title as VALVe (TF2) or, say, Blizzard (Diablo 3) have done. It's just not practical.

With the exception of 2002, Valve have released either a game or expansion to a game every year since 1998. They are more prolific than Blizzard, its just that some titles take longer to make when people aren't as interested in working on them. Which is a good thing, you can tell when a game has had experts working on it who aren't personally interesting in the project. Those games are mechanically often very good but lack proper soul.

This is an interesting point that people always bring up on VALVe, but I could never really count it personally for the main reason that none of those games are actually VALVe's; they're mods that VALVe picks up the teams for and funds through their own publishing. Really, VALVe hasn't had an original IP since Half Life and, well, that's their only original IP.

I guess the reason why I can't really count the "they release a game every year!" argument is that it'd be like saying that EA is the greatest developer out there since they've published constant streams of good games (Mass Effect series, Battlefield, etc...) when they only published it, they didn't develop it. Likewise, VALVe is really more like a publisher nowadays, just that the developers are within the company itself.

Your opinion on Blizzard's games having "soul" is entirely your own opinion, so I can't agree with you there. I'm not saying that VALVe doesn't produce great games, but my original point of their company structure being unsustainable for the majority of companies still rings true. It also conflicts with the "auteur theory" for games as I do believe that this industry needs more singular authors to bring out styles and themes in games. There's only so much you can truly push and expand on through committee, though I repeat there isn't anything wrong with it.

Jumplion:
snip

I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. Pure and simple. And frankly, we all know it is.

Valves only real original IP is Half-Life? Well, by that logic, then almost every game series in existence isn't the property of it's parent developer.

I mean, really. How the hell do you think most development studios out there come up with their fresh, new ideas?

I'll tell you. They more often than not get those ideas by either buying the ideas from other parties or hiring fresh new talent who can think of new ideas. Or did you think a handful of industry veterans from the 80's have been thinking up every single new game idea?

This is no different than what Valve does. Except that, besides not only giving the mod teams jobs (which people like you still seem to think is bad, which is beyond me), they also give these new hires free will on what project they want to work on. In most cases, the mod team go about using Valve's resources (money, dev tools, and design talent) to make their dream game. This is what lead to games like Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and Left 4 Dead.

So again, how is it that those are not Valve's games? Were you under the assumption that those games were already in that state and were only purchased by Valve so they could throw their logo on them? Don't kid yourself. Large portions of the development teams in Valve worked tirelessly on those games. For you to say they are not their games is not only disingenuous, it's insulting.

Seriously people, why do we even still argue this? It's unfathomable how anyone can still hold to the idea that Valve only makes Half-Life. (or that they only makes games)

EA is now thinking. "They have no leader? They are without a king tyrant? The masses are rudderless? Yes now they are ripe for slaughter and a hostile takeover. Hahaha... Wait??"

I appreciate Valve for doing the right thing but they live with luxuries that any developer could use to become the all loved and fan friendly one. I like Valve and their games but their fans often times take Valve's comfortable, and quite frankly unprecedented luxuries for granted when holding them so high.

With lack of official hierarchy, there will always be a non-official one. Sounds like they have a dynamic hierarchy that changes whenever someone takes initiative. Seems effective.

This sounds a bit too picture-perfect, although it might explain their long, long development times, I guess, if it's true. But I doubt it's the case, even if there aren't official bosses. Some people will take the lead and get their ideas pushed through, sometimes to the detriment of others' ideas, that's just how it works.

Vigormortis:
I'll tell you. They more often than not get those ideas by either buying the ideas from other parties or hiring fresh new talent who can think of new ideas. Or did you think a handful of industry veterans from the 80's have been thinking up every single new game idea?

Kind of, yeah, actually, if you really think about it. Many developers originated or have their employees originate in the early 90's-ish. Tim Schafer, Peter Molyneux, Ken Levine, Will Wright, Sid Meyer, Peter Moore, Gabe Newel, John Carmack, Tom Howard, Ted Price. I mean, sure, there is definitely new blood coming in, but the higher ups are definitely part of the older generation now that I think about it. Most ideas are done internally with the new hires coming in from the outside. What VALVe has done for most of their games is hire the entire team of another game/mod and just put them to work more professionally. It's what they did with Portal, Counter Strike, and to an extent TF2. Again, much like a publisher to an extent.

This is no different than what Valve does. Except that, besides not only giving the mod teams jobs (which people like you still seem to think is bad, which is beyond me),

Never once said it was a bad thing, though it does leave something to be desired from me by VALVe.

they also give these new hires free will on what project they want to work on. In most cases, the mod team go about using Valve's resources (money, dev tools, and design talent) to make their dream game. This is what lead to games like Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, and Left 4 Dead.

Again, much like a publisher. And this concedes to my point that VALVe did not create these games, just hiring up the original teams that made it and expanding on that. You do know what I mean by "Original IP" don't you? Because you're just proving my point.

So again, how is it that those are not Valve's games? Were you under the assumption that those games were already in that state and were only purchased by Valve so they could throw their logo on them? Don't kid yourself. Large portions of the development teams in Valve worked tirelessly on those games. For you to say they are not their games is not only disingenuous, it's insulting.

Kind of, sure. As I said, VALVe can be seen somewhat as a publisher. A very oddly formed publisher, but still a form of publishing nonetheless. EA tosses it's resources, from men to money, at their developers all the time and yet we don't say that they developed the game. It's really just me musing around at this stuff, really.

Seriously people, why do we even still argue this? It's unfathomable how anyone can still hold to the idea that Valve only makes Half-Life. (or that they only makes games)

But you yourself just stated that all these other games, from TF2 to Dota2, are just moders using VALVe's resources to create their dream project. Nothing wrong with that, don't misunderstand me, but that to me is very much like a publisher. It still doesn't change my original point that business structures like VALVe's are not viable for larger companies like EA and can really only work in smaller companies which is what VALVe has intentionally done to itself.

Somehow I doubt this would be as effective if they didn't have their digital game store bankrolling them.

Jumplion:

Kind of, yeah, actually, if you really think about it. Many developers originated or have their employees originate in the early 90's-ish. Tim Schafer, Peter Molyneux, Ken Levine, Will Wright, Sid Meyer, Peter Moore, Gabe Newel, John Carmack, Tom Howard, Ted Price. I mean, sure, there is definitely new blood coming in, but the higher ups are definitely part of the older generation now that I think about it. Most ideas are done internally with the new hires coming in from the outside. What VALVe has done for most of their games is hire the entire team of another game/mod and just put them to work more professionally. It's what they did with Portal, Counter Strike, and to an extent TF2. Again, much like a publisher to an extent.

So...the thousands upon thousands of games that have come out since the 90's were virtually all dreamed up by that handful of industry veterans?

Think about what you said for a moment, then try to say it again without it sounding ridiculous.

Truth is, a vast majority of the games we see are not the dream project of industry vets. Most game ideas come from the "new blood"; the new designers, often fresh from graduating, bringing new ideas and techniques to whichever developer hires them. It's often those "higher ups" you mentioned that simply approve the projects.

Never once said it was a bad thing, though it does leave something to be desired from me by VALVe.

If that's true, then it leaves something to be "desired" in all developers. Or, again, were you under the impression that only Valve hired new people? (also, do you really believe only Valve hires modders?)

Again, much like a publisher. And this concedes to my point that VALVe did not create these games, just hiring up the original teams that made it and expanding on that. You do know what I mean by "Original IP" don't you? Because you're just proving my point.

No. That's not at all how publishers work. Publishers more often than not tell the developers they hire to make the games they want, even if it's just making another game in an established franchise that dev already has.

Likewise, a publisher doesn't hire one or two people and build a development studio around them. They license entire development studios that are already in place. They generally don't handle the hiring of new talent within those studios either.

So, again, I'm failing to see the parallel here.

Also, and I'll cover this further in a moment, just because a developer releases a game it doesn't mean it's their original creation. Just because something's labeled an IP:Intellectual Property it doesn't mean the owners of said property dreamt it up.

Kind of, sure. As I said, VALVe can be seen somewhat as a publisher. A very oddly formed publisher, but still a form of publishing nonetheless. EA tosses it's resources, from men to money, at their developers all the time and yet we don't say that they developed the game. It's really just me musing around at this stuff, really.

That's not really all Valve does. They don't hire on the mod teams as if they're some separate entity. Making them work by themselves. The members of those teams become Valve employees. They aren't some out-sourced team, they are a part of Valve. How is this hard to grasp? They aren't, in Portals example, "that Narbacular Drop team". They are just another set of Valve employees; free to work on what they want.

Case in point, there's been times wherein several of a mod-teams original members, after being hired by Valve, end up wanting to work on other projects at Valve instead of a game based on their original project. This was the case with both Team Fortress and Portal.

But you yourself just stated that all these other games, from TF2 to Dota2, are just moders using VALVe's resources to create their dream project. Nothing wrong with that, don't misunderstand me, but that to me is very much like a publisher. It still doesn't change my original point that business structures like VALVe's are not viable for larger companies like EA and can really only work in smaller companies which is what VALVe has intentionally done to itself.

There's a difference between being given the resources to work on a game, and being a part of a company that's helping you make that game.

The designers, coders, engineers, artists, etc at Valve were responsible for making those games. I mean, unless you believe that the original four people responsible for Narbacular Drop were solely responsible for making Portal and Portal 2. (hint: They weren't)

Let me ask you a hypothetical question: Let's say Bioware hires on a few new designers, fresh from college, after being impressed with some they made. Now let's say that, after hiring them, they tell them to make a game based on their mod. A few years later, Mass Effect comes out.

(This is likely not the case with Mass Effect, but it is, more often than not, the case with most other game series)

Would you sit there and tell me, given the setup above, that Mass Effect was not a Bioware game?

If yes, then I think you need to reassess most of your opinions on who actually owns and/or creates the game franchises you know and love.

If no, then we have a case of hypocrisy. Or, in the very least, a lack of insight.

My point is, as I stated before, every game that's come out of Valve (with the possible exception of Alien Swarm) was made by Valve employees. Thus, those games were made by Valve. To say otherwise is, again as I said before, both disingenuous and insulting to the people responsible for making those games.

LetalisK:
Somehow I doubt this would be as effective if they didn't have their digital game store bankrolling them.

I'm not so sure. They've actually released, with the exception of 2002, at least one game a year since 1998. Steam only came about in late 2003/early 2004. And even then, it was only their games on sale within.

They stayed afloat for more than six years without Steam "bankrolling" them. And, they've had this design/management structure (or lack thereof) since forming in 1996. So, something tells me they'd still be up and running without Steam.

Though, admittedly, without Steam they'd probably only be making games at this point, instead of being both a game developer and a technology/engineering company.

Ah that explains why there is no episode 3

Vigormortis:
So...the thousands upon thousands of games that have come out since the 90's were virtually all dreamed up by that handful of industry veterans?

Um, no, that wasn't what I said at all. I said a significant portion of the people that make up many development studios originate from a 90s, maybe early 2000s, gaming culture that has yet to give way for the truly new generation of game developers that we have. I only listed those developers as examples of people growing up in that generation of game development. Many developers take inspiration from the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy genere, much of old schoolish Sci-Fi, or gritty shooters of the 90s. Of course I am not saying that all games or that all developers are born through the 90s, but it is definitely a huge influence for many companies, developers, and designers. Yeah, there is new blood coming in, but not enough time has passed for this current generation of blood to truly replace the older generations in the main points of the industry.

Think about what you said for a moment, then try to say it again without it sounding ridiculous.

I would like you to think about what you're saying and try to frame it in a less condescending and confrontational way, as I am genuinely interested in a discussion as to what extent a publisher has control over the developers they overlook, or what can truly be constituted as publishing or developing. VALVe is certainly a unique company worthy of discussion, let's not turn that discussion sour as I'm getting a sort of bad vibe/juju in this.

If that's true, then it leaves something to be "desired" in all developers. Or, again, were you under the impression that only Valve hired new people? (also, do you really believe only Valve hires modders?)

VALVe hiring other people aside from modders is irrelevant since we're not talking about who else they hire. Of course they hire people that aren't modders, they need people doing stuff for the store and websites and whatnot, but that isn't relevant to whether or not VALVe can be seen as a publisher.

That's not really all Valve does. They don't hire on the mod teams as if they're some separate entity. Making them work by themselves. The members of those teams become Valve employees. They aren't some out-sourced team, they are a part of Valve. How is this hard to grasp? They aren't, in Portals example, "that Narbacular Drop team". They are just another set of Valve employees; free to work on what they want.

Separate entity or not, I don't see why it couldn't be seen as a form of publishing, just an odd form of it.

Let me ask you a hypothetical question: Let's say Bioware hires on a few new designers, fresh from college, after being impressed with some they made. Now let's say that, after hiring them, they tell them to make a game based on their mod. A few years later, Mass Effect comes out.

(This is likely not the case with Mass Effect, but it is, more often than not, the case with most other game series)

Would you sit there and tell me, given the setup above, that Mass Effect was not a Bioware game?

An interesting hypothetical, but the thing is that there are some key differences with VALVe and Bioware in their structure. Because of the loose system that VALVe has, resources are allocated more to what the different teams are interested in doing at the time. In this hypothetical, Bioware would devote most of their resources to building up on this mod to create Mass Effect, the entire team (or at least a large portion of it) would be dedicated to this, and thus the entire team developed it. To me, it feels that VALVe's more open structure would allow for the original team to flourish a bit more, making it, to me at least, somewhat of a mini publishing or maybe producing role.

But, then again, I can see why this sort of thinking may be confusing to you. I will give you that you have changed a bit on my opinion on the relationship between publishing and developing, though I feel that you are taking this more seriously than I really intended.

My point is, as I stated before, every game that's come out of Valve (with the possible exception of Alien Swarm) was made by Valve employees. Thus, those games were made by Valve. To say otherwise is, again as I said before, both disingenuous and insulting to the people responsible for making those games.

I don't see why this would be insulting at all considering that the quality of the game speak for themselves. Whether they developed, published, produced, created, whatever, their games really doesn't matter in the end as they still have great games that are coming out from there. I am not discrediting the actual people who made the game, and hell, just saying that "VALVe" created the game instead of the actual individuals who put their work into it is, in a sense, also insulting for those who promote the auteur theory.

In the end, eh, to me it's just musing and looking into things.

Clearing the Eye:
There's an almost a suspicious amount of content promoting Valve around here lately.

Exterminas:

Clearing the Eye:
There's an almost a suspicious amount of content promoting Valve around here lately.

That is because they keep doing a great job and make the rest of the industry look like monsters.

More like "when your competitors are complete monsters, it only take minimal efforts to seem like great guys."

In the realm of the blind,a fter all, the one-eyed man is king.

Jumplion:

Um, no, that wasn't what I said at all. I said a significant portion of the people that make up many development studios originate from a 90s, maybe early 2000s, gaming culture that has yet to give way for the truly new generation of game developers that we have. I only listed those developers as examples of people growing up in that generation of game development. Many developers take inspiration from the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy genere, much of old schoolish Sci-Fi, or gritty shooters of the 90s. Of course I am not saying that all games or that all developers are born through the 90s, but it is definitely a huge influence for many companies, developers, and designers. Yeah, there is new blood coming in, but not enough time has passed for this current generation of blood to truly replace the older generations in the main points of the industry.

Being influenced by past stories and themes doesn't mean an idea isn't new. Likewise, just because many (but certainly not all) development studios currently employee industry veterans, it doesn't mean a vast majority of the game ideas we see today come from them. It just means those companies employee industry vets. That's all. And, as I said before, in most cases those industry vets are only there to provide a learned mind to the design process. They very rarely come up with the game ideas we play today.

I would like you to think about what you're saying and try to frame it in a less condescending and confrontational way, as I am genuinely interested in a discussion as to what extent a publisher has control over the developers they overlook, or what can truly be constituted as publishing or developing. VALVe is certainly a unique company worthy of discussion, let's not turn that discussion sour as I'm getting a sort of bad vibe/juju in this.

I will admit that last sentence was a tad condescending. And for that I apologize. However, if I come off that way at times it's only because I've discussed this topic far too many times on this forum and I'm growing weary of trying to explain to people that calling Valve a publisher makes no sense. Or, in the very least, is hypocritical as, beyond their odd management structure, they operate exactly like most developers do. So calling Valve a publisher would mean the likes of Bioware, Rocksteady, and Naughty Dog should be as well.

It also doesn't help that, more often than not, when someone states that they are a publisher it's in a negative connotation. Usually in an attempt it insult and belittle Valve or it's fan base. (usually the latter more than the former)

VALVe hiring other people aside from modders is irrelevant since we're not talking about who else they hire. Of course they hire people that aren't modders, they need people doing stuff for the store and websites and whatnot, but that isn't relevant to whether or not VALVe can be seen as a publisher.

I think you misunderstood me. Valve hires game designers, engineers, artists, and others outside of the modding community. And, despite what you seem to think, not just to run their store. They have a lot of people working there, on games and otherwise, that likely never were a part of some mod or indie game team. Valve is simply in the habit of hiring the most talented people it can find. In some cases, it's people who are brought to Valves attention because of some project that group worked on. In other cases, it's industry veterans or fresh graduates; at times brought in from other studios or even from outside the gaming industry. (they currently have employees who originally worked at WETA works, Pixar, and The Jim Henson Company)

This is something a publisher doesn't do. A publisher, generally speaking, leaves all game design aspects to the development studios they license to make the games. Publishers usually only handle...well...the publishing aspects of the process. I.E. marketing, advertisements, printing, distribution, etc.

While Valve has gone on to handling their own marketing and publishing, they only do it for their own products. Therefore, they aren't really a true publisher. They're simply a self-sufficient developer. Or, to put it another way, they're a developer/technology company that handles their own publishing.

Separate entity or not, I don't see why it couldn't be seen as a form of publishing, just an odd form of it.

See above.

An interesting hypothetical, but the thing is that there are some key differences with VALVe and Bioware in their structure. Because of the loose system that VALVe has, resources are allocated more to what the different teams are interested in doing at the time. In this hypothetical, Bioware would devote most of their resources to building up on this mod to create Mass Effect, the entire team (or at least a large portion of it) would be dedicated to this, and thus the entire team developed it. To me, it feels that VALVe's more open structure would allow for the original team to flourish a bit more, making it, to me at least, somewhat of a mini publishing or maybe producing role.

But, then again, I can see why this sort of thinking may be confusing to you. I will give you that you have changed a bit on my opinion on the relationship between publishing and developing, though I feel that you are taking this more seriously than I really intended.

But that's not true at all. Bioware's workforce would, like most developers, be routinely working on several projects at once. They'll have one devoted team working on one project while another team is laying the groundwork for a different project.

The difference is, as with the above example of Bioware and Valve, that within Bioware the upper management would be allocating which resources go where and which employee would be working on which project, while over at Valve every designer within the studio is free to choose which project they will lend their talents to. (which could be several projects at once)

In either case, both studios would be dividing up their design teams between several projects. In essence, they're core design philosophy is the same. The only time a developer doesn't do this is when they're a much smaller company with fewer resources at their disposal and, more than likely, only one or two IPs with which they have the rights to develop.

Also, I'm not really "taking this seriously", so-to-speak. I just, again, grow tired of having to repeat the same thing over and over. I've explained all of this many times in the past but it seems people are still bent on proclaiming Valve is a publisher.

I don't see why this would be insulting at all considering that the quality of the game speak for themselves. Whether they developed, published, produced, created, whatever, their games really doesn't matter in the end as they still have great games that are coming out from there. I am not discrediting the actual people who made the game, and hell, just saying that "VALVe" created the game instead of the actual individuals who put their work into it is, in a sense, also insulting for those who promote the auteur theory.

In the end, eh, to me it's just musing and looking into things.

I said it would be insulting because, as most statements go in the case of them being a publisher, it seems like the commenter is saying that Valve had almost nothing to do with the games development beyond hiring the mod teams. The truth is, quite a few talented individuals (always outnumbering the original teams size by quite a few) worked tirelessly for many months or years on those projects. So to simply say Valves only involvement in those games development was publishing them is the equivalent of saying those individuals contributed nothing to the project. It's like saying they did nothing at all. That's why I say it's insulting.

On that same note, I've no issue with the "auteur theory", in principle. However, as is becoming the case more and more, many of the best game projects we're seeing now-a-days (and even in the past) have come from collaborative efforts. This is especially the case with Valve wherein every member of a design team has "virtually" equal input on where the project should go.

Either design philosophy is fine and can lead to some truly exquisite projects. However, to discount one simply because it's not like the other is ludicrous. Not saying you hold to that, but I've seen plenty of people on this site proclaim that an "auteur" is the end-all of game designers. Which is simply not true.

Scrustle:
But doesn't it say in the handbook something like "There are no bosses at Valve, and out of all the people who aren't your boss, Gabe Newell is your biggest not-boss."? So it's not like it's complete anarchy. Sounds to me like they have people who are designated to take charge when needs be.

Doesn't sound like anarchy, it sound more like the utopic aim of Marxism' to me.

Exterminas:
That is because they keep doing a great job and make the rest of the industry look like monsters.

I see what you did there.

Blue Musician:

Scrustle:
But doesn't it say in the handbook something like "There are no bosses at Valve, and out of all the people who aren't your boss, Gabe Newell is your biggest not-boss."? So it's not like it's complete anarchy. Sounds to me like they have people who are designated to take charge when needs be.

Doesn't sound like anarchy, it sound more like the utopic aim of Marxism' to me.

Does that make Gabe Lenin then?

Vigormortis:
I will admit that last sentence was a tad condescending. And for that I apologize. However, if I come off that way at times it's only because I've discussed this topic far too many times on this forum and I'm growing weary of trying to explain to people that calling Valve a publisher makes no sense. Or, in the very least, is hypocritical as, beyond their odd management structure, they operate exactly like most developers do. So calling Valve a publisher would mean the likes of Bioware, Rocksteady, and Naughty Dog should be as well.

It also doesn't help that, more often than not, when someone states that they are a publisher it's in a negative connotation. Usually in an attempt it insult and belittle Valve or it's fan base. (usually the latter more than the former)

Huh, didn't think this topic was common enough to garner any sort of serious discussion. I think the main reason why some people won't accept your other scenario is that other developers, like the ones you've listed, are subservient to a publisher (EA, Warner Bros., Sony), so, to some, VALVe can be seen as a microcosm of publishing/producing.

Regardless, I am not trying to belittle VALVe by saying they are a publisher. In fact, if anything it could be seen as a compliment as if they were considered a publisher they'd be head over heels better than most every other publishing company out there as a sort of example, though VALVe's structure probably couldn't be utilized in the large scale.

I think you misunderstood me. Valve hires game designers, engineers, artists, and others outside of the modding community. And, despite what you seem to think, not just to run their store. They have a lot of people working there, on games and otherwise, that likely never were a part of some mod or indie game team. Valve is simply in the habit of hiring the most talented people it can find. In some cases, it's people who are brought to Valves attention because of some project that group worked on. In other cases, it's industry veterans or fresh graduates; at times brought in from other studios or even from outside the gaming industry. (they currently have employees who originally worked at WETA works, Pixar, and The Jim Henson Company)

I think I also need to clarify some things as well. Whenever I list some examples, I'm not being specific. Of course VALVe hires people that don't only run store stuff, I was just listing a random, general example that wasn't meant to be specific in any way. It's not "despite what I may think", I'm just not listing every possible position that VALVe employees may have because, well, it's obvious. Just wanted to clear that up.

This is something a publisher doesn't do. A publisher, generally speaking, leaves all game design aspects to the development studios they license to make the games. Publishers usually only handle...well...the publishing aspects of the process. I.E. marketing, advertisements, printing, distribution, etc.

While Valve has gone on to handling their own marketing and publishing, they only do it for their own products. Therefore, they aren't really a true publisher. They're simply a self-sufficient developer. Or, to put it another way, they're a developer/technology company that handles their own publishing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_publisher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_producer

I admit I may be mixing up publishing/producing, though they are generally similar forms of management in game development. But either way, publishing can involve more than just marketing and advertising, also including some development costs and other elements that developers may need.

But that's not true at all. Bioware's workforce would, like most developers, be routinely working on several projects at once. They'll have one devoted team working on one project while another team is laying the groundwork for a different project.

The difference is, as with the above example of Bioware and Valve, that within Bioware the upper management would be allocating which resources go where and which employee would be working on which project, while over at Valve every designer within the studio is free to choose which project they will lend their talents to. (which could be several projects at once)

In either case, both studios would be dividing up their design teams between several projects. In essence, they're core design philosophy is the same. The only time a developer doesn't do this is when they're a much smaller company with fewer resources at their disposal and, more than likely, only one or two IPs with which they have the rights to develop.

Eh, I'll concede to a point, though I still hold that in some areas VALVe could be seen as a sort of mini-publisher/producer. I don't intend this as an insult, just an observation.

On that same note, I've no issue with the "auteur theory", in principle. However, as is becoming the case more and more, many of the best game projects we're seeing now-a-days (and even in the past) have come from collaborative efforts. This is especially the case with Valve wherein every member of a design team has "virtually" equal input on where the project should go.

That's because most game projects we've seen have been due to collaborative efforts. Auteur theory in game design is a relatively new thing, in fact it's barely in the industry now. To clarify, just having a recognizable spokesperson for the developer is not the same as an auteur. Cliff Blezinski, while a recognizable face, would not be an auteur as Epic's games are mainly collaborative. David Cage (as much as people dislike him, I'm rather fond of him) would be more of an auteur for his games.

Either design philosophy is fine and can lead to some truly exquisite projects. However, to discount one simply because it's not like the other is ludicrous. Not saying you hold to that, but I've seen plenty of people on this site proclaim that an "auteur" is the end-all of game designers. Which is simply not true.

No it isn't, though I would like to see more auteurs in game development nowadays. A person is smart, people are stupid, so there are certain things in games that can really only be utilized to its fullest extent by an individual squeezing what he/she can out of it.

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