Newell: Specialization in Gaming is "The Enemy of the Future"

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Agayek:

Valve has more or less stopped focusing on creating games, at least to any level of public scrutiny,

Perhaps you can explain to me what this means, exactly. Specifically: what "public scrutiny" means in regards to game releases. Because, to be frank, I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

and has instead shifted their focus onto other, ancillary aspects of the industry, such as running Steam, putting together the SteamOS, working on an Occulus knock-off, etc. Very little of their core business is about the production of video games anymore. They still do it, certainly, but it's far from central to their business.

Based on what evidence there is (i.e. their public releases), it seems they have every bit as much vested interest in releasing new games as they do any of their other endeavors. Not sure how you can claim otherwise.

My original point was that I'd rather they don't try to spread their corporate structure throughout the industry, because such a shift in focus is inevitable, because it really isn't a structure. The business will shift and move at almost complete random, drawn by the whim of the employees. Valve has made it work fantastically well, through a solid combination of talent, drive, good recruiting practices, and a decent helping of luck, but very few other businesses could handle such a setup and stay in business for long.

Their business structure is unorthodox, yes. But you seem to be indicating that, because of this, they are inevitably doomed to fail.

Not really sure how you can think this. The "standard" business structure used by most developers and publishers certainly isn't "failure proof".

Regardless, I'm not saying Valve can't fail. That's always a possibility. And with the rather uncertain outlook of the industry's future, anything can happen.

But given the ever-increasing success their company has seen for over the past decade, I hardly believe "luck" played any part of it.

Agayek:

It's one per two years, unless I missed something,

You have.

which is entirely possible but if there are other games, they sure as hell didn't advertise them any.

Are you saying that unless a game is advertised (regardless of it's success), or unless you specifically know of it, it doesn't "count"?

But it's also irrelevant to my point.

They've made it fairly clear over the past year or two that they are becoming less and less interested in creating games.

Again, how so? If the recent info "leaks" are to be believed, they have at least two more games in active development. Specifically, Left 4 Dead 3 and Half-Life 3.

They may be branching out into other endeavors, but there's no evidence indicating they've "lost focus" on crafting new games. Especially when one considers that they've been actively developing their "non-game" projects for quite a few years now; having only gone public with their plans last year; and all-the-while developing and releasing numerous game projects.

Scootinfroodie:
snip

Shhh! Stop it. You're making sense and pointing out a major flaw in the average detractor's logic.

You're not supposed to do that. Reasoned, logical discussions free from untruths and double-standards are verboten!

Atmos Duality:

The only other company that grants such luxury, seemingly, is Blizzard.
But that's only based on what I knew about Old Blizzard. I imagine New Blizzard isn't quite as rosy.

It's not quite as, but Blizzard still retains a decent level of cart-blanche with their designs. Primarily due to their rather sizable revenues.

Activision's influence can be felt in this area or that, but for the most part Blizzard still gets to dictate what they do and when.

amaranth_dru:
Snip

One thing I think you're missing is that games like CS:GO, DOTA 2, and TF2 are still popular and successful not because Valve just bought a popular game and released it with a coat of paint. Valve's input with those titles have been on heavily improving the structure for players (professionally and casually) with updates and other means of support. TF2 is still alive in kicking thanks to the constant updates involving gameplay and cosmetics. The game pretty much updates itself now thanks to their connection with content creators, something that other companies haven't taken advantage of as much before. DOTA 2 and CS:GO are both being changed with the idea to make it easier for players to get into, and better for professionals to continue playing the game. The International 3 was hugely successful and pretty much paid for itself, thanks to Valves creation of the Compendium. They're likely to do the same with the Counter Strike competitive scene, and the game is seeing a healthy, growing player base.

Valve may not innovate their titles gameplay-wise, but they're completely changing the support structures around those games to make them successful as they are. Why try to change the gameplay if it's already solid?

Scootinfroodie:
Sorry but if we're excluding mods and buyouts, we're going to have to exclude a large portion of gaming

Not really, most of the time it's the modders turning it into a game themselves or having a publisher back them to do so. Feel free to provide some examples of other developers doing it the same way Valve does though.

Major publishers? They're responsible for basically nothing if you take out companies they've purchased/merged with, yet in a lot of cases those devs wouldn't have been able to create what they have without a large company backing them.

I wouldn't say 'EA developed Mass Effect' or 'Activision developed Call of Duty', the same as I wouldn't say Valve developed ... most of 'their' games.

Also, I guess Little Big Planet deserves less credit in terms of level design, because they hired a guy for the community explicitly for his level design

That's ... another thing entirely. There's a difference between hiring someone to work on a game (Which is how almost every developer got their job) and buying out a team while their making a game to give it a bit more polish and put your name on it instead of theirs (Which is what Valve does).

And why not take credit away from Valve entirely? I mean, Half-Life is based on a modified version of the engine id used to make Quake.... and so is Call of Duty for that matter

Now you're just taking it to an absurd level. If that were the case that almost every game in existence is just a mod.

This is just how the industry works. Companies that want to survive hire people who can prove they have done, or will do, something worthwhile, and then they get paid or bought out. Heck, the current publisher model basically forces devs to make at least part of the game, then hope someone funds it. The publisher then oversees the project, and sometimes lends its own staff to the company in question. Homefront, for example, had a team come in to help them finish the game for its stated release date.

Have Valve ever, technically, published a game? Nope. As for your example, swap Homefront for Left 4 Dead and that team that helped finish it off was Valve (Along with other things like taking all the credit for them and then disbanding the original dev team after release).

It's also one of the generally accepted ways to get into the industry without necessarily going through the usual career path. Make a mod or game that is big enough, and someone will come knocking at your door to have you replicate it or create something new at their company. If you don't keep trying to bring in new ideas and talented people, you fall behind and fail.

See above.

The fact that they're still going out of their way to hire these people and throw their weight as a company behind them shows that games are still a priority for them, even if new/unfinished projects aren't getting as much attention as their ridiculously large storefront or attempts at getting into hardware.

I haven't weighed in on this but I agree for the most part. The only difference would be that I'd say it was a rather low priority for them currently. It's still something they do but lately it's being overshadowed by their efforts in other areas.

It's also worth noting that the support their games get years after launch is far better than that of most other companies. As much as I don't really care for the game, compare TF2's free content creation to that of pretty much any other title over the same period of time. Unless you're looking at mods there really isn't much else.

Fair enough point, not particularly relevant but true. That's the good thing about their structure, they don't have people forcing them to rehash the same games over and over like some other big name developers do. I wouldn't count TF2 in that as much though, constant support is just what has to be done for a F2P title to remain successful. Games like Path of Exile would fit in the same category, of course it hasn't been around as long but according to the devs they've got a good decade of support in them. And their are others that do the same, Blizzard comes to mind and so does CDPR.

The alternative, really, is to only go with safe franchises. Valve could have been releasing Half Life 14 or HL2 Episode 8 but I suspect that most people in this thread would not really be all that happy with that proposal.

No, not at all. People can come up with 'original' ideas themselves y'know, they don't need to go and buy out indies so they can have a flow of fresh ideas. Games like Hearthstone and Blood Dragon are good examples of this.

Vigormortis:
Perhaps you can explain to me what this means, exactly. Specifically: what "public scrutiny" means in regards to game releases. Because, to be frank, I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

Simple. To all external appearance, they seem to be focusing almost entirely on 1) maintaining Steam, 2) the Steam Box/SteamOS, and 3) fiddling around with other miscellaneous projects, most of which are hardware. They haven't announced the development of any games in recent years.

Thus, to any level of public scrutiny, they have stopped focusing on creating games.

Based on what evidence there is (i.e. their public releases), it seems they have every bit as much vested interest in releasing new games as they do any of their other endeavors. Not sure how you can claim otherwise.

See above. They haven't made a peep in any press release or public statement that I've seen over the last two years regarding active development of any games.

Their business structure is unorthodox, yes. But you seem to be indicating that, because of this, they are inevitably doomed to fail.

Regardless, I'm not saying Valve can't fail. That's always a possibility. And with the rather uncertain outlook of the industry's future, anything can happen.

But given the ever-increasing success their company has seen for over the past decade, I hardly believe "luck" played any part of it.

You're deliberately misreading what I said. I did not say Valve was doomed to failure. Matter of fact, I said the exact opposite. They make it work phenomenally well.

What I said is that their business structure is not one that most companies can follow. Valve makes it work through the perfect combination of talent, passion, luck, and good recruiting practices. Very few other companies are in a position to make it work anywhere near as effectively, and for them, such a setup would be doomed to failure.

Valve's structure is not bad, but it's, frankly, a miracle that it's worked as well as it has, and I'd really prefer that other companies do not attempt to follow them.

Are you saying that unless a game is advertised (regardless of it's success), or unless you specifically know of it, it doesn't "count"?

Not at all. What I mean by that statement is that for a company to create and release a game, and then not advertise it in such a way that someone who browses their own store daily, they obviously must not care about it a great deal.

I freely admit, it's possible that I've missed a couple of games that they've made and released, but I spend a great deal of time on Steam, and it boggles my mind that Valve would release a game, then have no mention of it in the "recent releases" pop-up, let alone in the store itself.

Again, how so? If the recent info "leaks" are to be believed, they have at least two more games in active development. Specifically, Left 4 Dead 3 and Half-Life 3.

They may be branching out into other endeavors, but there's no evidence indicating they've "lost focus" on crafting new games. Especially when one considers that they've been actively developing their "non-game" projects for quite a few years now; having only gone public with their plans last year; and all-the-while developing and releasing numerous game projects.

See the first response in this post. Their public face is that of a company growing less and less involved in actual game development. That may or may not be the behind the scenes truth, but it is the appearance, and we have nothing to go on but their appearance for the purposes of this discussion.

black_knight1337:

Not really, most of the time it's the modders turning it into a game themselves or having a publisher back them to do so. Feel free to provide some examples of other developers doing it the same way Valve does though.

How is "publisher backs them" any better than "Valve hires them and then gives them long-term access to their workforce and resources"?

black_knight1337:

I wouldn't say 'EA developed Mass Effect' or 'Activision developed Call of Duty', the same as I wouldn't say Valve developed ... most of 'their' games.

You'd say that EA developed the NHL titles right? Except they were developed by Black Box, which EA bought out and assimilated. Same goes for Need for Speed (Hot Pursuit 2 was also Black Box) and a number of other EA titles. What you're ultimately looking at is how larger companies handle game development.
Is Bully not a Rockstart title anymore because it was handled by a company Rockstar bought out? They also were responsible for Homeworld Cataclysm by the way.
Mass Effect is still a "Bioware" title, because Bioware hasnt stopped being its own entity, unlike "EA Black Box" (itself a studio that was shut-down and recreated) and "Rockstar North"

black_knight1337:

That's ... another thing entirely. There's a difference between hiring someone to work on a game (Which is how almost every developer got their job) and buying out a team while their making a game to give it a bit more polish and put your name on it instead of theirs (Which is what Valve does).

Icefrog is a team?

Also a very large number of employees in the industry actually get in through education and networking. While a lot of the industry veterans may have earned their way in through being self taught, a great deal of the newer employees get in wherever they can and attempt to show their true ability, or get the best education they can from the "right" schools.

black_knight1337:

Now you're just taking it to an absurd level. If that were the case that almost every game in existence is just a mod.

I'm merely pointing out how broad the term "mod" is, and how you're ultimately splitting hairs in trying to decide which "mods" count and which don't. The games industry is not one in which original ideas and technology sprout out of nothing. They typically are modifications of one thing, are heavily inspired by another, or will take the latest set of "acceptable" mechanics.

black_knight1337:

Have Valve ever, technically, published a game? Nope. As for your example, swap Homefront for Left 4 Dead and that team that helped finish it off was Valve (Along with other things like taking all the credit for them and then disbanding the original dev team after release).

Except the company that made Homefront is basically gone. L4D's team has been working on content at a steady pace unless Gabe fired them. Even if the game had actually made a profit, if that profit did not match the expectations of the publisher (if you want to see what I'm talking about, check out Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution and Sleeping Dogs) then there could potentially be trouble for the franchise (in the three listed cases, thankfully there doesn't seem to be)

black_knight1337:

I haven't weighed in on this but I agree for the most part. The only difference would be that I'd say it was a rather low priority for them currently. It's still something they do but lately it's being overshadowed by their efforts in other areas.

If you wanna get picky about it, Steam has probably taken up most of their attention since it became a success, which is something they've tried to minimize with Greenlight and other features.

black_knight1337:

Fair enough point, not particularly relevant but true. That's the good thing about their structure, they don't have people forcing them to rehash the same games over and over like some other big name developers do. I wouldn't count TF2 in that as much though, constant support is just what has to be done for a F2P title to remain successful. Games like Path of Exile would fit in the same category, of course it hasn't been around as long but according to the devs they've got a good decade of support in them. And their are others that do the same, Blizzard comes to mind and so does CDPR.

TF2 went F2P years after it came out so that it could survive longer as a title. Additionally, I' trust action over dev promises. The lifespan of a game is heavily determined by how much of a drain on resources is and how long the developer can deliver content at a constant rate without getting burnt out. I'm sure MOST f2p devs have enough ideas/motivation/etc to last them at least 5 years, if not 10, by their own estimates, but to say it and to do it are monumentally different things.
And I'd suggest that it's relevant when dealing with prioritization and development. In the years between WoW and SC2, or if SC2 hadnt come out and the gap had been between WoW and Diablo 2, I'd think one would still be hard-pressed to convince others that Blizzard had stopped prioritizing development. Many of the folks at Valve not working on a new title are still working on game content.
Also, things like the Steam Box aren't going to take up vast quantities of time on a regular basis. If we look at the console manufacturing companies, they too have something of an ebb and flow when it comes to development cycles, though theirs are more dependent on cash from exclusives than they are from practicalities. I suspect that after finishing their current hardware projects (some of which pertain directly to gaming software anyway, either in terms of feature addition or accessibility) that those resources will go elsewhere and assist on many of these gaming projects
Gabe has also mentioned that they are, in fact working on HL3 (aka "Ricochet 2").

black_knight1337:

No, not at all. People can come up with 'original' ideas themselves y'know, they don't need to go and buy out indies so they can have a flow of fresh ideas. Games like Hearthstone and Blood Dragon are good examples of this.

I liked blood dragon, but it's a paint by numbers shooter filled with 80s action movie cliches. It's awesome, but not particularly original

What's original about Hearthstone exactly? Isn't it yet another online CCG in a growing genre of online CCG's?

also, because it's been brought up so many times in this thread
I personally read the statement about multiplayer being more important than HL level design as "We have one game in development that requires HL's level design and multiple titles that are still being supported that require intimate knowledge of the inner workings of MP games and online communities"
When you have to compare the support required for some of the top games on Steam (TF2, CS:GO, DOTA2) to a single game in a franchise that will only make you cash on the initial purchase (unless Valve has another trick up their sleeve with HL3DM or something). It's pretty clear where your priorities as both a developer and a business need to be. This doesn't mean that level design "isn't important" but that supporting and creating content for the multiplayer juggernauts they've got is a higher priority.

I always suspected that Valve was no longer interested in making GAMES, despite that being their origin, but now it looks like my suspicions have been confirmed. This is why I can't really consider Valve a game developer, so much as a publisher/distributor. And I can't really BLAME them per say considering how their borderline monopoly with Steam makes them a lot more money

Agayek:

Simple. To all external appearance, they seem to be focusing almost entirely on 1) maintaining Steam, 2) the Steam Box/SteamOS, and 3) fiddling around with other miscellaneous projects, most of which are hardware. They haven't announced the development of any games in recent years.

Thus, to any level of public scrutiny, they have stopped focusing on creating games.

Even if there wasn't already evidence that they've got two to three games in active development, the fact that they are still actively creating new content and events for the games they've already released proves they're still prioritizing games.

Now, you could argue that some teams within Valve are prioritizing other endeavors besides games, but it's still pretty clear that the vast majority are still working on game-content creation.

See above. They haven't made a peep in any press release or public statement that I've seen over the last two years regarding active development of any games.

There's the possibility that Valve are simply not ready to talk about the games they do have in development. It's already been confirmed that they're actively working on Left 4 Dead 3 and Half-Life 3, but maybe these games aren't in a state in which the respective teams are willing to talk about them publicly.

Silence doesn't mean inactivity. It doesn't indicate activity either. It just means one must rely on other avenues of evidence on what the teams are doing, or not doing. As such, the other evidence indicates that they are, in fact, developing new games.

To what degree is unknown, so making an assertion one way or the other in that regard is pointless.

You're deliberately misreading what I said. I did not say Valve was doomed to failure. Matter of fact, I said the exact opposite. They make it work phenomenally well.

You said their business structure would lead them to wander and ultimately to lose direction. These things imply failure. That may have not been your intention but that's how it came off.

If that was not the point you wanted to make, so be it. My misunderstanding. I was just trying to clarify that their structure doesn't inherently lead to meandering or failure; at least no more so than the standard structure. It can lead to such things, as has happened to others, but it's not inherent.

What I said is that their business structure is not one that most companies can follow. Valve makes it work through the perfect combination of talent, passion, luck, and good recruiting practices. Very few other companies are in a position to make it work anywhere near as effectively, and for them, such a setup would be doomed to failure.

For many, yes. I agree. Such a structure would lead to failure.

However, I believe some could function in such a way. Notably, smaller devs or those already functioning independently.

It would take time to find their footing but given the fluid nature of game design I believe there are plenty of dev teams out there that could make it work.

Valve's structure is not bad, but it's, frankly, a miracle that it's worked as well as it has, and I'd really prefer that other companies do not attempt to follow them.

But Valve isn't the only company to use such a "flat" structure.

Google uses a similar structure and they've been incredibly successful. So the success of companies like Google and Valve isn't so much a "miracle" as it is smart planning, business savvy, and shared communal vision.

That said, I agree in that I too would rather not see all devs adopt such a system. The system can and does work, but wouldn't for all. As such, adopting it would be a death knell for some.

Not at all. What I mean by that statement is that for a company to create and release a game, and then not advertise it in such a way that someone who browses their own store daily, they obviously must not care about it a great deal.

I freely admit, it's possible that I've missed a couple of games that they've made and released, but I spend a great deal of time on Steam, and it boggles my mind that Valve would release a game, then have no mention of it in the "recent releases" pop-up, let alone in the store itself.

Well, these are the games they've released in the past four years:
Dota 2
Portal 2
Left 4 Dead 2
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Alien Swarm

If you've missed these I'm not sure what to say. The releases were pretty public; with three of them seeing numerous TV adverts.

And, besides Alien Swarm (which was a community-support experiment that failed to take off), Valve very much cares about those games. The post-launch support verifies this.

See the first response in this post. Their public face is that of a company growing less and less involved in actual game development. That may or may not be the behind the scenes truth, but it is the appearance, and we have nothing to go on but their appearance for the purposes of this discussion.

Approximately six or seven months ago they publicly released Dota 2. Not even a year's gone by since their last game release. Many companies go years in between new game announcements and releases. Why should Valve be an exception?

Likewise, they've run not one but five major events in three of their respective games (not counting minor events and other content releases) within the past three months. That's a pretty good indication that they're still very much interested in developing gaming content.

Besides, if we were to infer a companies goals and intentions solely by their public announcements, then EA is the most trust-worthy and reliable publisher in the industry.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Regardless of all of this, I think you and I agree on some things, but are splitting hairs over semantics. And our discussion is getting ever-so-slightly off topic.

The one thing I think we both agree wholeheartedly on is: if Valve doesn't get some fresh, new game releases out within the next two years, things could start to get rocky for them, even with Steam revenues.

Easy to say and all, but game development isn't getting easier. Specialisation is inevitable if you want to be decent at something - at least for the technical aspect of game design. Heck, even in the later days of id software, before he left, John Carmack doesn't solo write the game engine anymore. It was just getting too big.

I'm always offended whenever he comes out and says, well...anything about the game industry. I mean, who the hell is he to give advice or brag about anything anymore? Its not 2001, and he's not the messiah of gaming. He's the dude whose a little too in-love with his own farts. Steam is good, yes, but like iTunes, its good because its the only one. Its a monopoly, so by definition its successful. Yes, good for Valve for doing the whole digital game distribution network in a user-friendly manner. Great, good job. How about releasing a game? Last one was what, Portal 2? In 2010?
Its 2014, and our nostalgia only lasts so long before we turn on you. Ask Nintendo or Sega how they're doing riding high off of not doing anything.
Gabe needs to spend a little less time bragging about how revolutionary Steam was and a little more time...I dunno...developing a game?

Silentpony:
I'm always offended whenever he comes out and says, well...anything about the game industry. I mean, who the hell is he to give advice or brag about anything anymore? Its not 2001, and he's not the messiah of gaming. He's the dude whose a little too in-love with his own farts. Steam is good, yes, but like iTunes, its good because its the only one. Its a monopoly, so by definition its successful. Yes, good for Valve for doing the whole digital game distribution network in a user-friendly manner. Great, good job. How about releasing a game? Last one was what, Portal 2? In 2010?
Its 2014, and our nostalgia only lasts so long before we turn on you. Ask Nintendo or Sega how they're doing riding high off of not doing anything.
Gabe needs to spend a little less time bragging about how revolutionary Steam was and a little more time...I dunno...developing a game?

It's also easier for him to brag since Valve isn't a publicly traded company, so they're not liable to any investors and such. Add the success of Steam and he has nothing to worry about, let alone developing a game. They have their golden egg so they'll polish it, meanwhile plenty of fans will bitch about other companies being greedy.

Silentpony:
Steam is good, yes, but like iTunes, its good because its the only one. Its a monopoly, so by definition its successful.

I agree what he said is BS, but you should really, really look up the definition of words before you try to use them to complain about someone.

http://www.greenmangaming.com/
http://www.impulsedriven.com/
http://www.gog.com/
https://www.origin.com/en-us/store/-ANW.html
http://www.desura.com/

and those are just five fairly large alternatives I know off the top of my head. When you have that much competition in the space you are not a monopoly.

Desert Punk:

Silentpony:
Steam is good, yes, but like iTunes, its good because its the only one. Its a monopoly, so by definition its successful.

I agree what he said is BS, but you should really, really look up the definition of words before you try to use them to complain about someone.

http://www.greenmangaming.com/
http://www.impulsedriven.com/
http://www.gog.com/
https://www.origin.com/en-us/store/-ANW.html
http://www.desura.com/

and those are just five fairly large alternatives I know off the top of my head. When you have that much competition in the space you are not a monopoly.

Technically those exist. But no one uses them. Just as people can buy music off of Amazon, and maybe someone's aunt does. Everyone uses iTunes. Just like everyone with a gaming PC has Steam. And I've only heard of one of those before - Origin. The others I didn't even known existed. Granted, that's my own ignorance, but I have many gaming friends and no one has ever mentioned those others. I'd wager they don't know about them either.
But your point it well received, technically they're not a monopoly. Legally. In practice? Different story I think.

Suggestion:

Forget reading this blurb-piece and its (...as per usual) clicky-baity nature, and instead follow the "source:" link at its bottom.
This will spare you lots of unnecessary gastric acid secretion.

Actually; Make that course of action routine.

Silentpony:
Technically those exist. But no one uses them. Just as people can buy music off of Amazon, and maybe someone's aunt does. Everyone uses iTunes. Just like everyone with a gaming PC has Steam. And I've only heard of one of those before - Origin. The others I didn't even known existed. Granted, that's my own ignorance, but I have many gaming friends and no one has ever mentioned those others. I'd wager they don't know about them either.
But your point it well received, technically they're not a monopoly. Legally. In practice? Different story I think.

Steam is absolutely not a monopoly. It's the biggest by far, but that is very different from a monopoly.

A monopoly is when a business is the only competitor and can therefore abuse their customers however they please and the customers will take it because there's no choice. Steam can't do that. There's a number of very visible alternatives for people to take their business, and as soon as they go too far, their customers will do so. It's the basics of the free market. Valve does a very good job of making Steam competitive, mostly through holiday sales but also through (for the most part) fairly customer friendly policies. The only thing they really can't compete with the others in is their refund policy. And since they were first and consistently retain good policies, they've become the de facto digital storefront and are likely to keep it for a long time.

Scootinfroodie:
How is "publisher backs them" any better than "Valve hires them and then gives them long-term access to their workforce and resources"?

It isn't, because they are pretty much the same thing, which is the point I'm getting at.

You'd say that EA developed the NHL titles right? Except they were developed by Black Box, which EA bought out and assimilated. Same goes for Need for Speed (Hot Pursuit 2 was also Black Box) and a number of other EA titles. What you're ultimately looking at is how larger companies handle game development.

"EA acquired Black Box Games in 2002 and became part of EA Canada under name EA Black Box. It later became an independent EA studio in 2005. Since its acquisition, EA Black Box has been home to the Need for Speed franchise, among others."
Not the best example really.

Is Bully not a Rockstart title anymore because it was handled by a company Rockstar bought out? They also were responsible for Homeworld Cataclysm by the way.
Mass Effect is still a "Bioware" title, because Bioware hasnt stopped being its own entity, unlike "EA Black Box" (itself a studio that was shut-down and recreated) and "Rockstar North"

Bully isn't a 'Rockstar' title but rather a Rockstar Vancouver/New England/Toronto game (depending on the platform). And that's the point I'm getting at. With publishers, the games get tagged with "developed by X, published by Y". With Valve though it's just "developed by Valve" even though their approach is the same as that of a publisher.

Icefrog is a team?

By team I mean 'developer/s that created/are creating game X'.

I'm merely pointing out how broad the term "mod" is, and how you're ultimately splitting hairs in trying to decide which "mods" count and which don't. The games industry is not one in which original ideas and technology sprout out of nothing. They typically are modifications of one thing, are heavily inspired by another, or will take the latest set of "acceptable" mechanics.

And you should know what 'mod' means in the context of PC gaming. If you take it right back to it's most basic definition like you're doing then almost every game in existence is a mod because very few actually get coded from scratch.

Except the company that made Homefront is basically gone. L4D's team has been working on content at a steady pace unless Gabe fired them.

Which they did, hence the "and then disbanding the original dev team after release" part.

TF2 went F2P years after it came out so that it could survive longer as a title. Additionally, I' trust action over dev promises. The lifespan of a game is heavily determined by how much of a drain on resources is and how long the developer can deliver content at a constant rate without getting burnt out. I'm sure MOST f2p devs have enough ideas/motivation/etc to last them at least 5 years, if not 10, by their own estimates, but to say it and to do it are monumentally different things.

And also how popular it still is. Which is the main factor in a f2p title's longevity. While it is still popular and is bringing in more than it costs to support then there is little reason to stop supporting it. Sure, burnout can be a problem but for larger developers they could easily just shuffle the developers around so they aren't just making hats all the time.

And I'd suggest that it's relevant when dealing with prioritization and development. In the years between WoW and SC2, or if SC2 hadnt come out and the gap had been between WoW and Diablo 2, I'd think one would still be hard-pressed to convince others that Blizzard had stopped prioritizing development. Many of the folks at Valve not working on a new title are still working on game content.

The thing is though, is that Valve's attention has clearly been on areas other than game development. Whenever there is any Valve PR as of late you can guess that it would be something about their Steam machines/OS/controller or a Steam feature and you'd be right 9 times out of 10. And that time you get it wrong is just Gabe talking about general game design, development or business structure.

Also, things like the Steam Box aren't going to take up vast quantities of time on a regular basis. If we look at the console manufacturing companies, they too have something of an ebb and flow when it comes to development cycles, though theirs are more dependent on cash from exclusives than they are from practicalities. I suspect that after finishing their current hardware projects (some of which pertain directly to gaming software anyway, either in terms of feature addition or accessibility) that those resources will go elsewhere and assist on many of these gaming projects
Gabe has also mentioned that they are, in fact working on HL3 (aka "Ricochet 2").

I don't think anyone is suggesting otherwise. The whole thing is about what Valve are focused on now, not in a years time. And it's clear that there focus right now is in other areas.

I liked blood dragon, but it's a paint by numbers shooter filled with 80s action movie cliches. It's awesome, but not particularly original

What's original about Hearthstone exactly? Isn't it yet another online CCG in a growing genre of online CCG's?

Oh, you mean 'original' as in 'something that hasn't really been done before'. Not sure why you made that link with Valve then, all of their stuff has had similar stuff done before. I thought from that link you were meaning 'original' in the context of the developer, as in them taking risks and trying out different things. Hence why I gave those examples.

also, because it's been brought up so many times in this thread
I personally read the statement about multiplayer being more important than HL level design as "We have one game in development that requires HL's level design and multiple titles that are still being supported that require intimate knowledge of the inner workings of MP games and online communities"
When you have to compare the support required for some of the top games on Steam (TF2, CS:GO, DOTA2) to a single game in a franchise that will only make you cash on the initial purchase (unless Valve has another trick up their sleeve with HL3DM or something). It's pretty clear where your priorities as both a developer and a business need to be. This doesn't mean that level design "isn't important" but that supporting and creating content for the multiplayer juggernauts they've got is a higher priority.

Yeah, I took it as a more specific 'we value broad skill sets rather than specific ones'. Agreed completely on that point.

black_knight1337:

It isn't, because they are pretty much the same thing, which is the point I'm getting at.

Except it isn't really. Getting to continue work on the same product and then getting guaranteed work on future projects is more stable than fishing for developers, and it's not like Valve forces people to churn out bad games (see: Valve Time). If Activision backs a company and then decides it isn't worth it any more, that company is screwed unless someone else backs them, and that's not really something you want to bank on.

black_knight1337:

"EA acquired Black Box Games in 2002 and became part of EA Canada under name EA Black Box. It later became an independent EA studio in 2005. Since its acquisition, EA Black Box has been home to the Need for Speed franchise, among others."
Not the best example really.

In what way? Are you arguing that a subsidiary of EA creating a content still isn't EA creating the content when it's staffed with EA employees, funded by EA, and using the same resources in the same location?

black_knight1337:

Bully isn't a 'Rockstar' title but rather a Rockstar Vancouver/New England/Toronto game (depending on the platform). And that's the point I'm getting at. With publishers, the games get tagged with "developed by X, published by Y". With Valve though it's just "developed by Valve" even though their approach is the same as that of a publisher.

Except Valve doesn't create branches (steam infrastructure aside) and the devs they hire/companies they purchase don't work independently for very long, if at all. There's no guarantee that a game made by "Valve: Turtle Rock" would have even been made by the same group of people, or that there would ever be a distinctly "Turtle Rock" game made by any of Valve's teams.
Also Rockstar Vancouver is now gone, as is Radical (the company exists to support other Activision products, according to an announcement from Activision, and will not actually release any of its own games)

black_knight1337:

By team I mean 'developer/s that created/are creating game X'.

I thought it was previously established that hiring single people is okay, and separate from hiring a whole team.
Or does the LBP example (amongst others) now count?

black_knight1337:

And you should know what 'mod' means in the context of PC gaming. If you take it right back to it's most basic definition like you're doing then almost every game in existence is a mod because very few actually get coded from scratch.

What constitutes modding is really an argument of degrees. How much do you have to change a piece of software before it counts as another? How much do Gabe and his original employees have to contribute to each project before it counts as a Valve game?
See also: How many of Bethesda's game engines actually "count" as new engines?

black_knight1337:

Which they did, hence the "and then disbanding the original dev team after release" part.

Source? They shut down the studio and invited people to their main office (most likely because their company culture and hierarchy don't really work well in franchise form) and then some of them left 1-2 years later to start the company back up again. That's considerably different from the sort of thing that went on here in BC over the past couple of years with our dev studios.

black_knight1337:

And also how popular it still is. Which is the main factor in a f2p title's longevity. While it is still popular and is bringing in more than it costs to support then there is little reason to stop supporting it. Sure, burnout can be a problem but for larger developers they could easily just shuffle the developers around so they aren't just making hats all the time.

Does that particularly matter? Is Riot's support of their game meaningless because it's ridiculously popular?

black_knight1337:

The thing is though, is that Valve's attention has clearly been on areas other than game development. Whenever there is any Valve PR as of late you can guess that it would be something about their Steam machines/OS/controller or a Steam feature and you'd be right 9 times out of 10. And that time you get it wrong is just Gabe talking about general game design, development or business structure.

1. Most of the PR stuff is based around what people are asking about or are interested in. Many interviews involve people asking Valve about their unusual company structure and sudden focus on the hardware market because those draw in extra attention.
2. Most PR stuff is based on the nearest upcoming product. If you look at Sony, Microsoft or (with other generations) Nintendo, the attention swaps to "This console now" leading up to the next gen. Would it be accurate to say, by the same standards, that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are giving games a low priority (even though ensuring console sales hinges on having a strong lineup soon after launch, and games take easily more than a year to produce outside of rehashes)?

black_knight1337:

I don't think anyone is suggesting otherwise. The whole thing is about what Valve are focused on now, not in a years time. And it's clear that there focus right now is in other areas.

Except it hasn't been. Focus was on previous years (hence the disqualification of Portal 1/2, L4D 1/2 and Dota2)

black_knight1337:

Oh, you mean 'original' as in 'something that hasn't really been done before'. Not sure why you made that link with Valve then, all of their stuff has had similar stuff done before. I thought from that link you were meaning 'original' in the context of the developer, as in them taking risks and trying out different things. Hence why I gave those examples.

There's nothing even particularly innovative about Blood Dragon. The only arguable improvement it made was including FC3's gameplay without the poor pacing or awkward plotline, and that still does nothing for it mechanically
It's literally FC3 condensed, with everything covered in chrome or neon, with 1001 80's action movie lines
Again, it's fun, and probably one of my favourite games this year (along with the goofy and sincere idiocy of SR4), but it's really not particularly special

"We're still a really boring company that won't release Half-Life 3" -Gabe Newell.

Phrozenflame500:

EDIT: Also, Valve games by year starting at 2004:

2004: HL2, Counter-Strike Source
2005: Day of Defeat: Source
2006: HL2 Episode 1
2007: HL2 Episode 2, Portal, TF2
2008: Left 4 Dead
2009: Left 4 Dead 2
2010: Alien Swarm, Mac OSX ports (alright I'm kinda pulling out of my ass for this year)
2011: Portal 2
2012: Counter-Strike GO
2013: DOTA 2

Damn, Valve sure doesn't make any games.

Also I don't mean to say this for argument's sake, but all of those are either sequels or updates of games that already existed, so it could definitely be said that Valve doesn't "make" games.

Dango:

Also I don't mean to say this for argument's sake, but all of those are either sequels or updates of games that already existed, so it could definitely be said that Valve doesn't "make" games.

Good lord, people are still making this assertion?

If we're to discount any game made by Valve that came from an outside project or idea, then we'll have to discount vast swaths of game releases from other developers as well.

[edit]
I'm just saying, the numerous teams at Valve, including the people they've hired, put in a LOT of work into the games the company releases. To say that they "don't make games" is basically saying the original modders didn't make the game; seeing as those modders are a part of Valve.

Vigormortis:

Dango:

Also I don't mean to say this for argument's sake, but all of those are either sequels or updates of games that already existed, so it could definitely be said that Valve doesn't "make" games.

Good lord, people are still making this assertion?

If we're to discount any game made by Valve that came from an outside project or idea, then we'll have to discount vast swaths of game releases from other developers as well.

But, this being the Escapist, we won't do that. Double standards are the modus operandi. So if another developer, say Bioware or some other popular dev around here, were to hire someone for their idea and talent, it's a good thing. If Valve does it, it's lazy and evil.

Also: you can't say you're not saying something for arguments sake and then follow that up with an argumentative assertion.

To be fair, in a lot of Origin vs. Steam stuff, it becomes the exact opposite. Steam does it? That's fine. Origin does it? EA is evil and abusing its customers. Just look at the kerfluffle over the TOS preventing class-action lawsuits. It was totally wrong for EA, but when Valve followed suit? Well, that was fine, because no one was going to sue Valve anyways. And no, I'm not exaggerating. That's the exact logic I heard.

In this case, saying "Valve doesn't make games" is, in fact, in error, because they have. But don't act like it's some double standard that is Escapist wide. If anything, the majority of The Escapist thinks Valve/Steam can do no wrong.

Edit: And you edited it out. Great, now I look like an idiot. :P I do agree with your point, by the way. If anything, Valve is a lot more hands-on than EA when it comes to development, despite being a publisher.

thebobmaster:

To be fair, in a lot of Origin vs. Steam stuff, it becomes the exact opposite. Steam does it? That's fine. Origin does it? EA is evil and abusing its customers. Just look at the kerfluffle over the TOS preventing class-action lawsuits. It was totally wrong for EA, but when Valve followed suit? Well, that was fine, because no one was going to sue Valve anyways. And no, I'm not exaggerating. That's the exact logic I heard.

Oh, I'm aware of that double standard as well. It's another that irks me; along with the myriad of others that commonly pop up.

Though the prevention of class-action suits in the Steam TOS is different from the same prevention clause in the Origin TOS. The Steam clause adds the caveat of Valve paying all legal fees for anyone filing a suit, should that person win their case. As far as I'm aware, the Origin clause has no such caveat.

I'm not implying this makes the clause, in either case, a good thing. I feel the opposite, in fact. However, I'm just pointing out that there is some precedent to someone saying the Steam clause isn't as bad as the Origin one.

In this case, saying "Valve doesn't make games" is, in fact, in error, because they have. But don't act like it's some double standard that is Escapist wide. If anything, the majority of The Escapist thinks Valve/Steam can do no wrong.

Edit: And you edited it out. Great, now I look like an idiot. :P I do agree with your point, by the way. If anything, Valve is a lot more hands-on than EA when it comes to development, despite being a publisher.

While I can't really agree with the claim that most of the Escapists think "Valve can do no wrong", especially in light of the frequency of "Valve hate" threads over the years[1], I will admit I was a bit too hasty in my first posting. I was already agitated over something else and posted without really thinking. I had to go back and edit another post on another forum for the same reason.

I guess I'm just weary of the cynicism and hyperbole that permeates the gaming community. It's actually starting to suck the joy I used to get out of this pass-time.

[1] I'd argue most are indifferent, with smaller, more vocal minorities making up the fanatics and the detractors.

Vigormortis:

Dango:

Also I don't mean to say this for argument's sake, but all of those are either sequels or updates of games that already existed, so it could definitely be said that Valve doesn't "make" games.

Good lord, people are still making this assertion?

If we're to discount any game made by Valve that came from an outside project or idea, then we'll have to discount vast swaths of game releases from other developers as well.

[edit]
I'm just saying, the numerous teams at Valve, including the people they've hired, put in a LOT of work into the games the company releases. To say that they "don't make games" is basically saying the original modders didn't make the game; seeing as those modders are a part of Valve.

To clarify, I'm not saying Valve doesn't put work into their games, I was just saying that from the perspective of someone who doesn't work at Valve they don't seem to be the most creatively minded company, but then again I've never seen them as too creative compared to other developers.

In other words I take issue with Valve being too safe of a company, they just don't seem to be willing to do anything anymore that won't assure them a certain degree of profit, which seems to have taken a toll on their willingness to do something that genuinely feels different. It's especially irritating that Gaben seems to see this model as the industry's future.

Dango:

To clarify, I'm not saying Valve doesn't put work into their games, I was just saying that from the perspective of someone who doesn't work at Valve they don't seem to be the most creatively minded company, but then again I've never seen them as too creative compared to other developers.

If you consider the differences between games like Narbacular Drop and Portal (or even more so Portal 2), or even the differences between Team Fortress and Team Fortress Classic (let alone TF2) then it becomes quite apparent there's a wealth of creative talent behind the scenes at Valve.

Besides, the minds behind things like Narbacular Drop are a part of Valve. So saying Valve's not a "creatively minded company" is like claiming that those people aren't creative.

In other words I take issue with Valve being too safe of a company, they just don't seem to be willing to do anything anymore that won't assure them a certain degree of profit, which seems to have taken a toll on their willingness to do something that genuinely feels different. It's especially irritating that Gaben seems to see this model as the industry's future.

I can appreciate that their games don't appeal to you, but that doesn't mean those games aren't creative and of good quality, or that Valve doesn't take risk with their games.

Games like Portal and Left 4 Dead were big risks, in terms of trying something new with untested mechanics, designs, and concepts. Likewise, games like Team Fortress 2 were equally as risky simply because of the switch-up in design and aesthetics from it's roots. Even more so we have games like Alien Swarm, which was a very risky community-support experiment. (sadly, one that mostly failed)

The fact that the games were successful doesn't mean Valve didn't take creative risks with them.

Scootinfroodie:
In what way? Are you arguing that a subsidiary of EA creating a content still isn't EA creating the content when it's staffed with EA employees, funded by EA, and using the same resources in the same location?

As in, they weren't just absorbed by EA but rather were made an 'independent' studio within them. As in, their games wouldn't just have EA on them but rather EA Black Box on them. With Valve's way of things even with Turtle Rock, who were referred to as 'Valve South' around the release, just got 'Valve' slapped on it.

Except Valve doesn't create branches (steam infrastructure aside) and the devs they hire/companies they purchase don't work independently for very long, if at all. There's no guarantee that a game made by "Valve: Turtle Rock" would have even been made by the same group of people, or that there would ever be a distinctly "Turtle Rock" game made by any of Valve's teams.

They were actually called "Valve South" and they were 'independent' until after L4D was released.

I thought it was previously established that hiring single people is okay, and separate from hiring a whole team.
Or does the LBP example (amongst others) now count?

You're not getting what I'm saying. By "team" I was meaning the developer/s behind the game, whether that be one person or many, who were then hired and given funding to make that game better. That's a completely different thing to hiring someone to join a team because they are a great level designer.

What constitutes modding is really an argument of degrees. How much do you have to change a piece of software before it counts as another? How much do Gabe and his original employees have to contribute to each project before it counts as a Valve game?
See also: How many of Bethesda's game engines actually "count" as new engines?

Think of it this way, say there are two houses being built. The first uses X for it's foundation but the second uses a modified version of X for it's foundation. Would the second house just be a modified version of the first? No, because the second wasn't built off of the first but rather a modified version of it's base. It's the same thing here, they're not 'mods' of the first game to use an engine but rather games built off of that engine.

I wouldn't call any of Bethesda's engines "new" but rather just modified versions of the same thing. I take stuff like Bethesda calling it the "Creation Engine" as just a fancy way of saying Gamebryo v2 (Or whatever they're up to now). That's mostly just PR spin to make it seem better than what it is.

1. Most of the PR stuff is based around what people are asking about or are interested in. Many interviews involve people asking Valve about their unusual company structure and sudden focus on the hardware market because those draw in extra attention.

And why are they getting asked about it? Because it's what they are pushing. If Gabe announced that they are working on a new game then people will be interest and will ask about. They can't do that if there's nothing to be asking about.

2. Most PR stuff is based on the nearest upcoming product. If you look at Sony, Microsoft or (with other generations) Nintendo, the attention swaps to "This console now" leading up to the next gen. Would it be accurate to say, by the same standards, that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are giving games a low priority (even though ensuring console sales hinges on having a strong lineup soon after launch, and games take easily more than a year to produce outside of rehashes)?

Which is my point, no? I never said that they aren't still working on their current titles or that there isn't some unannounced title their working on. I said that there focus lately has been elsewhere. And seriously, when their last game reveal was over two years ago, it paints a pretty clear picture of their current priorities.

Except it hasn't been. Focus was on previous years (hence the disqualification of Portal 1/2, L4D 1/2 and Dota2)

Sorry, should have referenced myself instead. Admittedly I rarely read every post in a thread, but rather grab a few points that I'm interested in to respond to.

-Snip-

Wasn't your original point saying that they were trying something new rather than rehash the same thing over and over? If so, titles like Blood Dragon and Hearthstone can be categorised the same way.

I gotta say, that beard is probably the next best thing Gabe Newell could have done for his appearance, next to losing 100 pounds.

black_knight1337:

As in, they weren't just absorbed by EA but rather were made an 'independent' studio within them. As in, their games wouldn't just have EA on them but rather EA Black Box on them. With Valve's way of things even with Turtle Rock, who were referred to as 'Valve South' around the release, just got 'Valve' slapped on it.

Except EA and Activision do it too, in addition to keeping certain studios open separately. I imagine it has to do with the amount of money they make and the brand power of that name (Black Box was doing an awesome job prior to being bought out by EA, and is one of the big reasons why Need for Speed is still a franchise today)

black_knight1337:

They were actually called "Valve South" and they were 'independent' until after L4D was released.

And then they were absorbed, and all subsequent work was handled by Valve
So even if we agree to not count "L4D1", that's one year out of how many?

black_knight1337:

You're not getting what I'm saying. By "team" I was meaning the developer/s behind the game, whether that be one person or many, who were then hired and given funding to make that game better. That's a completely different thing to hiring someone to join a team because they are a great level designer.

He wasn't hired to improve the original Dota, or some nebulous partially done project. He was hired for a whole title in itself

black_knight1337:

Think of it this way, say there are two houses being built. The first uses X for it's foundation but the second uses a modified version of X for it's foundation. Would the second house just be a modified version of the first? No, because the second wasn't built off of the first but rather a modified version of it's base. It's the same thing here, they're not 'mods' of the first game to use an engine but rather games built off of that engine.

I wouldn't call any of Bethesda's engines "new" but rather just modified versions of the same thing. I take stuff like Bethesda calling it the "Creation Engine" as just a fancy way of saying Gamebryo v2 (Or whatever they're up to now). That's mostly just PR spin to make it seem better than what it is.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070301012630/http://collective.valve-erc.com/index.php?go=q1_or_q2

Valve's methodology for GoldSRC wasn't unlike Bethsoft's for Gamebryo. Additionally, the engine encompasses more than simply the foundation, or else your idea of foundation differences are drastically different than how an actual foundation would work. If it was a matter of foundation only, a game made in two distinctly different engines would have far fewer differences, and yet the methodology in creating, say, Tribes in UE3 or even making Quake in basically any other distinctly different engine would be similar or the same. However, there are huge limitations that certain engines carry, as well as issues with particular experiences being essentially difficult to optimize for. An engine determines ultimately what materials will be used, to an extent, to create the end product. The reason why you find fast responsive movement in many GoldSRC and Source games, and the reason why movement is clunky and buggy in UE3

black_knight1337:

And why are they getting asked about it? Because it's what they are pushing. If Gabe announced that they are working on a new game then people will be interest and will ask about. They can't do that if there's nothing to be asking about.

I guess we'll see about that if/when they announce L4D3, or Hl3... not that they haven't, in their own way, confirmed that there are people working on the latter.
not to mention Dota2, or any of the other games they've released on what is practically a yearly schedule

black_knight1337:

Which is my point, no? I never said that they aren't still working on their current titles or that there isn't some unannounced title their working on. I said that there focus lately has been elsewhere. And seriously, when their last game reveal was over two years ago, it paints a pretty clear picture of their current priorities.

If we're talking about information they've let out about products they're working on, the "Ricochet 2" interview happened just last year

black_knight1337:

Sorry, should have referenced myself instead. Admittedly I rarely read every post in a thread, but rather grab a few points that I'm interested in to respond to.

Fair enough, if we're talking about where a large portion of their current focus is currentlyh, the Steam Machine, the OS for it, and the controller for it are high priority. Steam and its maintenance is also a large resource drain, which is one of the reasons why Greenlight was implemented. However, the issues being brought up in this thread were more far-reaching than that.

black_knight1337:

Wasn't your original point saying that they were trying something new rather than rehash the same thing over and over? If so, titles like Blood Dragon and Hearthstone can be categorised the same way.

How is Blood Dragon not a rehash? 90% of the game is reskins and slight modification. It's not like the story and the like are anything new either. In fact, they go out of their way to follow cliches. Skyrim's modding community regularly makes more changes than Blood Dragon does. If you consider Blood Dragon distinct enough to not be a rehash, how is Valve's contribution to games like Portal not acceptable, despite the fact that there are larger differences between those releases and the original projects (even in terms of focus) than there are between FC3 and Blood Dragon

Scootinfroodie:
He wasn't hired to improve the original Dota, or some nebulous partially done project. He was hired for a whole title in itself

Exactly.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070301012630/http://collective.valve-erc.com/index.php?go=q1_or_q2

Valve's methodology for GoldSRC wasn't unlike Bethsoft's for Gamebryo. Additionally, the engine encompasses more than simply the foundation, or else your idea of foundation differences are drastically different than how an actual foundation would work. If it was a matter of foundation only, a game made in two distinctly different engines would have far fewer differences, and yet the methodology in creating, say, Tribes in UE3 or even making Quake in basically any other distinctly different engine would be similar or the same. However, there are huge limitations that certain engines carry, as well as issues with particular experiences being essentially difficult to optimize for. An engine determines ultimately what materials will be used, to an extent, to create the end product. The reason why you find fast responsive movement in many GoldSRC and Source games, and the reason why movement is clunky and buggy in UE3

So.... how does that make it a mod of Quake rather than a game built off of it's engine? That link is saying they took the Quake 1 engine, added parts of the Quake 2 engine and then rewrote and added to it so it suited their needs. Half-Life's engine is a heavily modified version of Quakes, yes, but that doesn't make Half-Life 1 a mod of Quake 1.

If we're talking about information they've let out about products they're working on, the "Ricochet 2" interview happened just last year

I wouldn't call that an announcement. Mentioning they are working on an unnamed project isn't really much. You could presume that of any studio who haven't got any announced but unreleased games. If it were an announcement it'd be along the lines of "We're working on X, here are some screenshots and videos of what's been done so far!".

How is Blood Dragon not a rehash? 90% of the game is reskins and slight modification. It's not like the story and the like are anything new either. In fact, they go out of their way to follow cliches. Skyrim's modding community regularly makes more changes than Blood Dragon does. If you consider Blood Dragon distinct enough to not be a rehash, how is Valve's contribution to games like Portal not acceptable, despite the fact that there are larger differences between those releases and the original projects (even in terms of focus) than there are between FC3 and Blood Dragon

*points back at your original argument*
You were saying that instead of just doing the same thing over and over (ie. CoD) they are 'taking risks' and trying new things. Both Blood Dragon and Hearthstone fall into the same category. The former because of the huge stylistic changes that could have very easily killed the game. If it wasn't, then why were people thinking it was just an April Fool's joke when they announced it? As for the latter, it's a whole new genre for them. That alone makes it a huge risk. I was merely pointing out that Valve are not the only ones that do that and also that they shouldn't need to continually buy the ideas of indie developers to be able to do so.

black_knight1337:

Exactly.

So him being hired as part of something Valve wanted to do is the same as Valve hiring a whole team that is working on a game, yet distinct from hiring a designer for their expertise in general?

black_knight1337:

So.... how does that make it a mod of Quake rather than a game built off of it's engine? That link is saying they took the Quake 1 engine, added parts of the Quake 2 engine and then rewrote and added to it so it suited their needs. Half-Life's engine is a heavily modified version of Quakes, yes, but that doesn't make Half-Life 1 a mod of Quake 1.

If we're discounting things like differences in engine, and focusing purely on differences in the games themselves (and I really do mean focusing, since there are many mechanical similarities between the two) then we're dealing with further arbitrary distinctions when it comes to mods. What makes CS or DoD a mod considering they have their own maps, setting, weapons, and general gameplay mechanics distinct from HL? If the difference between engines is as negligible as that of the difference between Gamebryo and Creation, and the product is a third party work within the same genre and using many of the same design choices, then where's the line being drawn? How many degrees towards "our own stuff" do you have to go before you no longer "modded" something?

black_knight1337:

I wouldn't call that an announcement. Mentioning they are working on an unnamed project isn't really much. You could presume that of any studio who haven't got any announced but unreleased games. If it were an announcement it'd be along the lines of "We're working on X, here are some screenshots and videos of what's been done so far!".

The question and answer both clearly pertain to HL3. A lack of footage doesn't "unmake" an announcement, or there'd be far fewer announcements that "count" at E3 and other events.

black_knight1337:

*points back at your original argument*
You were saying that instead of just doing the same thing over and over (ie. CoD) they are 'taking risks' and trying new things. Both Blood Dragon and Hearthstone fall into the same category. The former because of the huge stylistic changes that could have very easily killed the game. If it wasn't, then why were people thinking it was just an April Fool's joke when they announced it? As for the latter, it's a whole new genre for them. That alone makes it a huge risk. I was merely pointing out that Valve are not the only ones that do that and also that they shouldn't need to continually buy the ideas of indie developers to be able to do so.

So any of the changes in setting in the CoD franchise make those titles not rehashes?
Additionally, stylistic changes don't kill expansion packs
People thought it was an April Fools joke because it was a goofy 80s themed announcement on April 1st. Most of the gaming media sites I read about it on either included some hope that it wasn't a joke in the article, or the comments sections were filled with people who figured it might not be. Nobody really did a double take when they announced it was a real thing, and that was before it was revealed that it was mostly just a pallette swap
You also mention "new" ideas, yet Blood Dragon had none. It was actually really quite safe

And no, you don't necessarily need to grab new people to get new ideas, but if you're out of ideas it's certainly better to get a few fresh perspectives in the mix.

Scootinfroodie:
So him being hired as part of something Valve wanted to do is the same as Valve hiring a whole team that is working on a game, yet distinct from hiring a designer for their expertise in general?

They hired him to port his mod. It's more the former than the latter although it's a port of an active mod rather than just a polish. Can't be the latter because it "belongs" to him (it actually belonged to Blizzard but somehow Valve broke through all the copyright laws for it but that's a whole other story).

If we're discounting things like differences in engine, and focusing purely on differences in the games themselves (and I really do mean focusing, since there are many mechanical similarities between the two) then we're dealing with further arbitrary distinctions when it comes to mods. What makes CS or DoD a mod considering they have their own maps, setting, weapons, and general gameplay mechanics distinct from HL? If the difference between engines is as negligible as that of the difference between Gamebryo and Creation, and the product is a third party work within the same genre and using many of the same design choices, then where's the line being drawn? How many degrees towards "our own stuff" do you have to go before you no longer "modded" something?

I don't know if you just don't understand modding in this context or you're just intentionally blurring the lines as much as you can to try to give yourself some credibility. You can't call a game a 'mod' of another if it was never built off of it. Simply sharing an engine, even if it's the exact same version of the engine, does not make it a mod. What makes it a mod is taking the other game and using it as a foundation for whatever you are trying to create. That's what modding is. It's taking something and then changing parts to create whatever you wanted to. And it simply can't be a mod if it never even took the other game to begin with.

The question and answer both clearly pertain to HL3. A lack of footage doesn't "unmake" an announcement, or there'd be far fewer announcements that "count" at E3 and other events.

So we can get game announcements/reveals without even naming the game nor giving any information on the game? Never seen that happen before but okay then.

-Snip-

And I can ask you the exact same things. How are any of Valve's titles new/fresh? The only one I can see as being arguable (outside of Half Life and Ricochet) would be Left 4 Dead, but that's only because I've got little interest in force co-op games so I know little about what kind of games are there.

And no, you don't necessarily need to grab new people to get new ideas, but if you're out of ideas it's certainly better to get a few fresh perspectives in the mix.

So you're saying Valve's 'designers' have been out of new ideas for over 6 years now? That really speaks volumes for the 'talent' involved then.

black_knight1337:

They hired him to port his mod. It's more the former than the latter although it's a port of an active mod rather than just a polish. Can't be the latter because it "belongs" to him (it actually belonged to Blizzard but somehow Valve broke through all the copyright laws for it but that's a whole other story).

Except it's not just a port. Valve didn't "somehow" break through copyright laws, Blizzard claimed ownership over something they had nothing to do with and both companies came to a mutual agreement. Additionally, copyright laws are hugely vague and dont actually utilize precedents, so it's not like there was anything stopping them from necessarily winning the case aside from the power of the legal team.

black_knight1337:

I don't know if you just don't understand modding in this context or you're just intentionally blurring the lines as much as you can to try to give yourself some credibility. You can't call a game a 'mod' of another if it was never built off of it. Simply sharing an engine, even if it's the exact same version of the engine, does not make it a mod. What makes it a mod is taking the other game and using it as a foundation for whatever you are trying to create. That's what modding is. It's taking something and then changing parts to create whatever you wanted to. And it simply can't be a mod if it never even took the other game to begin with.

And I'm pointing out two things
1. It's a product that only exists because of modding
2. Your overall attempts to discredit the titles Valve has released leaves several very broad definitions. Whether you're considering something a "mod" or "port" (the latter pertaining even to games whose features ended up being wildly different from the original product) or some other thing, your definitions for what "counts" and what doesn't seem conveniently tailored to your opinion of Valve, and not the other way around

black_knight1337:

So we can get game announcements/reveals without even naming the game nor giving any information on the game? Never seen that happen before but okay then.

Valve has mentioned Half Life 3 multiple times, and you can get an announcement out of some guy coming up onto stage and saying "We're releasing X" with a related song (even if it's well-known outside of the context of promotion for the title) or semi-related image

black_knight1337:

And I can ask you the exact same things. How are any of Valve's titles new/fresh? The only one I can see as being arguable (outside of Half Life and Ricochet) would be Left 4 Dead, but that's only because I've got little interest in force co-op games so I know little about what kind of games are there.

So wait... out of 7 franchises you've already admitted that nearly half of them could be non-rehashes? What are we comparing Valve to in terms of game development wherein not only having 50% of your products be new is common, but also where we're immediately discounting rather large differences between products (portal 1 and portal 2) in determining what is a rehash?
Also how are you counting HL2 and not Portal? As stated previously, the mod it was inspired by is rather distinct, both in art style and in the actual gameplay itself.

black_knight1337:

So you're saying Valve's 'designers' have been out of new ideas for over 6 years now? That really speaks volumes for the 'talent' involved then.

Now you're just being deliberately obtuse. There's more to game design than just the core concept of a new title, and it could very well be that they're just trying to find ideas that work (you know, like everyone else in the industry). The thing is though, instead of creating another modernbattleduty shooter, they'll pick up small mod teams and game devs and collaborate with them on a project. Because Valve isn't big on expanding like a standard corporation would, they choose to invite employees from those teams to work with them in Seattle, and the unstructured work culture they strive for means that they wont put much emphasis on creating or assigning teams.

Also, the fact that you appear to consider Blood Dragon to be a more distinct product than Portal 2 is hilarious. Please tell me I'm mistaken

ohnoitsabear:
It sounds all nice when Gabe puts it like that, and Valve's corporate structure definitely has led to some good things happening, but I think it deserves mention that a lot of Valve's biggest problems come from not wanting to have people in dedicated positions.

For example, I would argue that one of Valve's biggest problems is communication with their fans, or lack thereof. The whole Diretide fiasco could have been easily avoided if they just had a couple of dedicated PR people that could give the community some idea of what Valve's plans were, and gauge interest in the event. And don't even get me started on all of the communication issues regarding Half-Life 3.

This corporate structure also seems to be the reason why there isn't better customer support for Steam, which is something they need to fix if they intend on selling hardware. Of course, Valve's corporate structure could have nothing to do with their customer support, but in either case it's something that clearly doesn't have a high priority within the company.

Also:

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 multiplayer experiences.

Maybe if they valued Half-Life level design more, they would have actually released a sequel by now.

See, this is more or less what I was going to write (and it was the first post). A big part of Valve's problem is in being too forward thinking and not dedicated enough to their fans and what they already started working on. While Gabe is chasing his new ideas, and taking pretty much everyone with him, it leaves people waiting with a bunch of unfinished works like "Half-Life". Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that Valve has gotten so wrapped up in the business and technology innovation thing it's largely forgotten how to be a game company, develop and maintain IPs, and deliver to the fans. As every year goes by that fans of Half-Life do not see the third part and the (presumed) resolution it's kind of showing where Gabe's philosophy fails. He very much SHOULD have a dedicated team of people working on his games and IPs.

This is coming from someone who isn't really a Half-Life fan. I can feel the pain, but I suppose you don't have it as bad as me, I'm someone whose been waiting like what... 17, 18 years now for "Heralds Of The Winged Exemplar", it was supposed to be out mid-way through last year, but now we're pushing through 2014 and despite my donation (and presumably that of others) it's still not out yet and might very well turn to vapourware again... they did do some Demos though. Of course to be fair, that IS a one man project, Gabe doesn't have the excuses Cleve does.

Ahhh well, at least "Wasteland 2" will hopefully be out soon, I've been "drooling in anticipation" for it ever since I saw the blurb for it decades ago in Faran Brygo's hideout. They put up an early access version, but that doesn't help those of us who kickstarted and didn't get early access in our package (I do however have two digital copies coming to me, one for me, one for my dad, when they finally get around to a release for us poor plebes).

Scootinfroodie:
Except it's not just a port. Valve didn't "somehow" break through copyright laws, Blizzard claimed ownership over something they had nothing to do with and both companies came to a mutual agreement. Additionally, copyright laws are hugely vague and dont actually utilize precedents, so it's not like there was anything stopping them from necessarily winning the case aside from the power of the legal team.

It's still (at least as of a couple of months ago) being used as a testing ground for the stand-alone. The vast majority of the characters in it are straight ports from the mod. The only significant changes were in the change of engine which gave him a bit more flexibility. And that whole thing is a grey area. The thing was whether or not the term "DotA" infringes on the already existing "DotA-Allstars" which is owned by Blizzard. I've got no idea how the courts ever ruled in favour of Valve on that one.

And I'm pointing out two things
1. It's a product that only exists because of modding
2. Your overall attempts to discredit the titles Valve has released leaves several very broad definitions. Whether you're considering something a "mod" or "port" (the latter pertaining even to games whose features ended up being wildly different from the original product) or some other thing, your definitions for what "counts" and what doesn't seem conveniently tailored to your opinion of Valve, and not the other way around

That doesn't inherently make it a mod of another game though. The only point I've had for discrediting Valve game development wise is in their idea generating. The only IPs that was created in-house was Half-Life and Ricochet, the rest are from buying developers with already fleshed out and proven concepts. Which is why I've argued that they should just do it like everyone else and be a publisher for them rather than buying them outright. Only difference it would make is in who gets credited for it.

Valve has mentioned Half Life 3 multiple times, and you can get an announcement out of some guy coming up onto stage and saying "We're releasing X" with a related song (even if it's well-known outside of the context of promotion for the title) or semi-related image

Source? I don't think I've ever heard them say 3 let alone Half-Life 3. And yes, the latter is a game announcement because they are actually revealing the title. The closest I've ever seen to announcement for Half-Life 3 is a bunch of vague statements which amount to "we're working on a game", which is common knowledge anyway because game developers almost always are working on a game, whether it be a full release or an expansion.

So wait... out of 7 franchises you've already admitted that nearly half of them could be non-rehashes? What are we comparing Valve to in terms of game development wherein not only having 50% of your products be new is common, but also where we're immediately discounting rather large differences between products (portal 1 and portal 2) in determining what is a rehash?

I presume you're counting Ricochet as a franchise in that. So that actually makes it 10 franchises, going by the standard of Ricochet being one. Only 2 of them are just straight new ideas with another 1 being debatable (L4D, reasons I stated before). Of the other 7, 1 is a clone, 5 were originally mods and the other is a spiritual successor to a game made by students. If you weren't counting Ricochet then it's 7 franchises, 1 new, 1 that's debatable, 4 that were mods and 1 spiritual successor to an student project. So again, how are Valve's titles "original"?

Now you're just being deliberately obtuse. There's more to game design than just the core concept of a new title, and it could very well be that they're just trying to find ideas that work (you know, like everyone else in the industry). The thing is though, instead of creating another modernbattleduty shooter, they'll pick up small mod teams and game devs and collaborate with them on a project. Because Valve isn't big on expanding like a standard corporation would, they choose to invite employees from those teams to work with them in Seattle, and the unstructured work culture they strive for means that they wont put much emphasis on creating or assigning teams.

Maybe, although all that was is an inference based off of your statement. The thing is though that as designers, their job is to generate ideas. Whether they be new games entirely or just additions/changes to existing ones. Over the last 6 years they've only done one of the former (which is their unnamed title). But as for the latter, yeah they are doing it but, at least from the outside, it looks like they are only taking a sort of 'mentor' role in that regard. They just seem to sort of let the new guys design it however they want but guide them in a 'better' direction, not unlike what you'd see at other AAA devs that have multiple teams. Which then poses the question, 'what else are those designers doing?'. Which is a question only Valve can answer because beyond an unnamed project we've got nothing.

Also, the fact that you appear to consider Blood Dragon to be a more distinct product than Portal 2 is hilarious. Please tell me I'm mistaken

Never even said that at all, nor was it even inferable. I don't think I've even mentioned Portal 2 at all, at least in regards to that line.

black_knight1337:

It's still (at least as of a couple of months ago) being used as a testing ground for the stand-alone. The vast majority of the characters in it are straight ports from the mod. The only significant changes were in the change of engine which gave him a bit more flexibility. And that whole thing is a grey area. The thing was whether or not the term "DotA" infringes on the already existing "DotA-Allstars" which is owned by Blizzard. I've got no idea how the courts ever ruled in favour of Valve on that one.

Vast majority, but not all
Not to mention ranking systems and all sorts of other infrastructual improvements
And again, copyright law is intentionally grey, and you don't get to use things like precedent either. Stuff like that is purely based on the strength of your legal team

black_knight1337:

That doesn't inherently make it a mod of another game though. The only point I've had for discrediting Valve game development wise is in their idea generating. The only IPs that was created in-house was Half-Life and Ricochet, the rest are from buying developers with already fleshed out and proven concepts. Which is why I've argued that they should just do it like everyone else and be a publisher for them rather than buying them outright. Only difference it would make is in who gets credited for it.

Except that's misleading. Valve takes part in the development process and actively adds features to the game. Portal would have been very different had it simply been a source engine port of narbacular drop

black_knight1337:

Source? I don't think I've ever heard them say 3 let alone Half-Life 3. And yes, the latter is a game announcement because they are actually revealing the title. The closest I've ever seen to announcement for Half-Life 3 is a bunch of vague statements which amount to "we're working on a game", which is common knowledge anyway because game developers almost always are working on a game, whether it be a full release or an expansion.

Except often those titles end up being vapourware anyway. The reason why Valve hasn't done a huge press release concerning HL3 is because they're still going to take awhile on it. Your implication that it's simply "we're working on a game" feels like it ignores a lot of the context in which these statements are made.

black_knight1337:

I presume you're counting Ricochet as a franchise in that. So that actually makes it 10 franchises, going by the standard of Ricochet being one. Only 2 of them are just straight new ideas with another 1 being debatable (L4D, reasons I stated before). Of the other 7, 1 is a clone, 5 were originally mods and the other is a spiritual successor to a game made by students. If you weren't counting Ricochet then it's 7 franchises, 1 new, 1 that's debatable, 4 that were mods and 1 spiritual successor to an student project. So again, how are Valve's titles "original"?

How are you getting 10 franchises? Even counting Alien Swarm (which many people don't) the most I can get is 9
And "spiritual successor" != rehash
Event then, going by percents, what companies do you know that produce 30-40 percent of their content as new IP's and sequels that aren't basically retextured versions of the last game?

black_knight1337:

They just seem to sort of let the new guys design it however they want but guide them in a 'better' direction, not unlike what you'd see at other AAA devs that have multiple teams.

[CITATION NEEDED]

black_knight1337:

Never even said that at all, nor was it even inferable. I don't think I've even mentioned Portal 2 at all, at least in regards to that line.

Portal 2 was not in your "not a rehash" list. Blood Dragon WAS in your "not a rehash" list
If Portal 2 is not a rehash, and Portal 1/HL/Ricochet/L4D are not rehashes, then the portal shares space with HL/Ricochet/L4D on the not-rehashes list.

Scootinfroodie:
Vast majority, but not all
Not to mention ranking systems and all sorts of other infrastructual improvements
And again, copyright law is intentionally grey, and you don't get to use things like precedent either. Stuff like that is purely based on the strength of your legal team

Eh, the only real change was the networking kind of stuff which was just something that had to be done. And I know, something like that case seems pretty clear cut though.

Except often those titles end up being vapourware anyway. The reason why Valve hasn't done a huge press release concerning HL3 is because they're still going to take awhile on it. Your implication that it's simply "we're working on a game" feels like it ignores a lot of the context in which these statements are made.

Idk, they could confirm that it's in production? They could show off some screenshots of it? Possibly even do a bit of a gameplay trailer with "THIS IS AN ALPHA VERSION" pasted all over it. It's been over 6 years now, they should be able to do at least the first two things even if the mechanics and story are STILL fluctuating greatly.

How are you getting 10 franchises? Even counting Alien Swarm (which many people don't) the most I can get is 9
And "spiritual successor" != rehash
Event then, going by percents, what companies do you know that produce 30-40 percent of their content as new IP's and sequels that aren't basically retextured versions of the last game?

If you were counting Ricochet, then you'd have to count all of their 'smaller' games as well. By "original" I mean either new mechanics entirely or using old mechanics in a new way. Portal's core mechanics are only a slight tweak of Narbacular Drop's. And it's at best 30%, although after doing some research I've found other linear co-op shooters with a variety of enemies. So including that it'd only be 15-20%. And there's many other developers that have 'original' titles. There's Blizzard with Diablo or RPM Racing/Rock n' Roll Racing, Maxis with The Sims or Spore, Rockstar with GTA etc.

[CITATION NEEDED]

The former or the latter? For the former see DotA 2. The team credited contains 1 designer, 2 writers, 5 programmers, 7 artists, 4 sound designers and a bunch of voice actors. That designer is IceFrog. I've got no doubt that some of their other designers gave him a hand but they were never credited. As for the latter, there's loads of interviews with developers talking about cross-team influences.

Portal 2 was not in your "not a rehash" list. Blood Dragon WAS in your "not a rehash" list
If Portal 2 is not a rehash, and Portal 1/HL/Ricochet/L4D are not rehashes, then the portal shares space with HL/Ricochet/L4D on the not-rehashes list.

You said how 'original' Valve's titles were. I said that they aren't and put them as 'original' as games like Blood Dragon and Hearthstone. It's some new and different for the developer and could generally be considered a 'risk' but they're far from being 'original' in the industry as a whole.

black_knight1337:

Eh, the only real change was the networking kind of stuff which was just something that had to be done. And I know, something like that case seems pretty clear cut though.

1. Dota and Dota2 being identical is actually pretty extensively debated
2. You forgot matchmaking

black_knight1337:

Idk, they could confirm that it's in production? They could show off some screenshots of it? Possibly even do a bit of a gameplay trailer with "THIS IS AN ALPHA VERSION" pasted all over it. It's been over 6 years now, they should be able to do at least the first two things even if the mechanics and story are STILL fluctuating greatly.

They HAVE confirmed it's in production, it's just that it's not very far along. There's ultimately no need to prematurely toss out pictures and the like. Valve understands how their hype train works and will plan that bit out adequately

black_knight1337:

If you were counting Ricochet, then you'd have to count all of their 'smaller' games as well. By "original" I mean either new mechanics entirely or using old mechanics in a new way. Portal's core mechanics are only a slight tweak of Narbacular Drop's. And it's at best 30%, although after doing some research I've found other linear co-op shooters with a variety of enemies. So including that it'd only be 15-20%. And there's many other developers that have 'original' titles. There's Blizzard with Diablo or RPM Racing/Rock n' Roll Racing, Maxis with The Sims or Spore, Rockstar with GTA etc.

You're going to have to explain what counts as "in a new way", because plenty of games had straightforward point and click hack and slash gameplay before Diablo, and I have a very hard time believing that nobody had ever done a racing game that was functionally similar to Rock n' Roll Racing
In fact, that's pretty much going to be debatable for any Blizzard title

black_knight1337:

The former or the latter? For the former see DotA 2. The team credited contains 1 designer, 2 writers, 5 programmers, 7 artists, 4 sound designers and a bunch of voice actors. That designer is IceFrog. I've got no doubt that some of their other designers gave him a hand but they were never credited. As for the latter, there's loads of interviews with developers talking about cross-team influences.

For the former
Not credited != didn't contribute. Didn't you take issue before with Valve releasing everything under the same name?
Ultimately you don't know what Valve's internal workings look like, but you sure seem comfortable criticizing them for imagined slights

black_knight1337:

You said how 'original' Valve's titles were. I said that they aren't and put them as 'original' as games like Blood Dragon and Hearthstone. It's some new and different for the developer and could generally be considered a 'risk' but they're far from being 'original' in the industry as a whole.

Except Blood Dragon is an absolute rehash, and isn't even remotely in the same category as most of what Valve does (not going to defend L4D2 or anything like that :P)

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