Interview with Valve (Half-Life series, Source 2, the future)

Interview with Valve (Half-Life series, Source 2, the future)

IGN had a half-hour interview with Gabe Newell
and Robin Walker about Half-Life Alyx and Valve. This video will summarise it.
The feeling I got is that Gabe is living about 15 years in the future in some Matrix-like
reality and that Robin is the one who has to try and convert this all into fun gaming
experiences for us to enjoy. There are key bits of this interview where I suggest you
check out the main video, because words can only describe so much of what Gabe is saying.
But I’ll let you know when those times are. REACTION TO HALF-LIFE ALYX IN VR
Gabe said that it’s a huge amount of fun to work in the Half-Life Universe again- it
symbolises that they’ve found some new game-design challenges, and Half-Life is like the crowbar
they’re using to tackle them and I assume to make them into a fun, playable concept.
He wasn’t surprised when Robin told him it was VR since it can greatly improve a single-player,
immersive experience, and he thinks people will realise that when they play it. As Robin
kept telling himself: ‘As long as it’s good, fans be happy.’ Gabe couldn’t be
happier with it, but he says newer members of the team were afraid with the challenge
of living up to the series’ expectations. He urges people to tell him what they think
of it my sending him an email. WHAT GABE DOES THESE DAYS
A lot of his day is spent on his email, or trying to solve problems which aren’t super
obvious. He’s working on brain-computer interfaces at the moment. Gabe does all sorts
of stuff in Valve, ranging from dealing with personnel issues, to press… he varies it
up because it keeps it fun. He describes his job as being like ‘playing a game except
on steroids’. Rather than looking back at what they’ve
done, they look ahead at what the future challenges they might face will be. As an example, rather
than thinking about how their past stuff has changed the world, he’ll instead work on
figuring out why Artifact was a disappointment because that helps them more when it comes
to making better decisions in the future. He even says you learn more from failure than
Before Valve, Gabe worked for Microsoft on Windows. People didn’t believe an operating
system could handle intensive games, so they ported Doom to show it could. Game devs said
he’d have more fun making video games, so he contemplated whether it was a good business
venture, but also saw it as a good reason to play games. He self-funded Half-Life 1
with his Microsoft money. And he says that being private helps them to have as few people
between them and their products and customers as possible- meaning they get to make the
product for the people who are going to be using it. The alternative would be something
like shareholders, who might be short-term, profit-driven… which might not always benefit
the Valve way of doing things. For a while they had publishers, but that was a headache
too. You could see Steam was being their way of going publisher-free.
I suggest you watch this bit, Gabe speaks about how he can’t think of a better way
to spend a few decades than with game developers, and how he’s still in touch with the co-founder
of Valve, Mike Harrington. His responses are quite moving.
BUILD-UP TO HALF LIFE ALYX Gabe says that they achieved stuff with Half-Life
2, and then the episodes, but after 2 of these they decided that this approach would be better
suited to a connected economy in a multiplayer environment… which I guess led to stuff
like the hats in Team Fortress 2, and the skins and operations in CS:GO. I got the impression
from the interview that they didn’t even seriously consider Half-Life 3 until VR came
along, but once it did seemed like the perfect match since they felt really strongly that
(VR) was going to give them exciting opportunities. Modders have been responsible for many of
Valve’s game series. Robin explains these people might not have had the resources to
build a full game but they may have had a lot of ideas and later went on to form indie
studios, and he told Gabe that they should pay more attention to these types of people
because they do all kinds of interesting stuff. A few years ago, Valve acquired the Campo
Santo game dev studio who were working on Firewatch at the time. Gabe explained that
an acquisition isn’t financially driven, or about the games that they’ve developed,
but because they like the PEOPLE in the organisation. After a lot of chatting to the guys at Campo
Santo, they decided they were the perfect fit for Valve. Gabe describes game development
is a bit like married life- in that they’ve got to be able to tolerate spending 40, 60,
80 hours a week with the people they’re working with. In Valve’s case, sounds like
they enjoy it. So the guys from Campo Santo helped to finish
Half-Life Alyx, and integrated a lot of the ideas from Firewatch into it. Robin talks
about how the development team comprised of a bunch of people who had worked on older
Half-Life games (And yes, Ricochet too!), and others from the Firewatch team who came
along with very different narrative forms. The result is a new blend of narrative for
Half-Life Alyx, which Robin says contains a lot more (and more dynamic) narrative than
the previous games in the series. When it comes to constructing Half-Life Alyx,
they went back and looked at all of the Half-Life games and cherry-picked what worked best from
each. Robin said that some things seem better on paper, but in practice isn’t as good
and you can’t quite understand why at the time. They’ve had time to pick the best
of everything this time. HLA is also better because the team developing it has gotten
better than they used to be, and the new developers help bring something fresh to the experience.
Robin comments that from his point of view as a game-dev, he remembers less about the
game, and more about periods of time when a set of people worked on solving a problem
of some sort. Gabe also shares the kinds of experiences that arise from game development,
which I can summarise as: Gabe likes Miracle Whip.
THOUGHTS ON CONSOLES Gabe just sees consoles as a way of delivering
games to people. He’s more interested in what their designs mean for game devs. I recall
him having some strong, negative opinions about the PS3 back in the day because it was
hell to develop for its custom multi-threaded processor. But he says that their hardware
is becoming increasingly similar to those found in PCs, and that’s good news for game
devs. SOURCE 2.0
He doesn’t explain what’s new with Source 2, but Gabe pretty much says that they’ve
done some stuff to Source 2 for Half-Life Alyx and that the engine will be licensed
out to other developers, and if there’s interest in it then Valve will invest more
into it. But I got the impression that they’re not that interested in what other developers
do with it- Source 2 is something Valve has made for Valve, and if other people like it
then great, but it’s not a priority for them unless they get told that.
FAVOURITE HALF-LIFE GAME If given a choice between Half Life 1 and
2, Gabe chooses… Portal 2. He prefers it because he did less on it, so is more easily
able to appreciate it for what it is. He says that when you work on something, it’s never
finished, only abandoned, so with the Half-Life games he can see all the compromises, the
flaws and mistakes. But with Portal 2, he’s all like ‘oh that’s pretty good. Good
job guys!’ But he still says that Alyx is the best. Jocularly.
Seriously. Right now, Gabe pretty much only plays DOTA 2 and rather jokingly, can’t
imagine why anybody would play anything other than that. But Robin thinks that’s sad because
he thinks that there are many good games out there.
HALF LIFE 3 When asked which Half-Life game was closest
to Half-Life 3, aside from Half-Life Alyx, Gabe seems confused by the question and says
that Alyx is the closest and that it’s a progression. Half-Life as a series is about
solving interesting problems. And while that’s the case with its gameplay, I think he’s
saying that from a developer’s point of view. The Half-Life games have typically introduced
a new element, be it physics or VR, and Alyx represents the collection of interesting problems
and solutions that they’ve used to transform it into a gaming feature.
He then goes on to say that they don’t crank out Half-Life games for the money. He then
talks about how much of a risk it is. More as how, from their point of view, they won’t
know if Half-Life Alyx is the right direction to take the series until fans have played
it and given them feedback about it. He explains how they’ve made mistakes like
Steam Machines. He doesn’t even beat about the bush, he calls Artifact a ‘giant disappointment’
and that they screwed things up. I suggest you watch this next bit of the interview for
yourselves, it’s powerful to hear him talking about it so earnestly and with genuine interest
in what the community will think of it and they want to know if they’re on the right
track or out of touch with the community. It’s time to release it into the world and
to see what people think of it. How the community receives it is going to affect every internal
conversation at Valve for the next 18 months. ‘This is actually a really powerful moment
for us. This is as good as we get. We want people to come back and say, oh my God, the
magic is still there, I think we’ve nailed it.’
They’re not expecting it to sell well, but they’ll gauge its success by how much the
people who play it enjoy it, not from the sales numbers which will no doubt be constrained
by the current state of VR adoption. VALVE’S FUTURE
When asked what they want to do in the next 10 years, Gabe thinks that Valve as a company
is productive, a great place to work and will continue to grow. Robin says he wants to make
more Half Life, which he thinks turned out amazingly and they’re as tooled up as they’ve
been in a while. Gabe believes The Valve Index is good step forward for them to use to develop
products around, and that they need to do more with that. And Brain computer interfaces.
BRAIN COMPUTER INTERFACES Oh yes. Gabe talks about this throughout the
interview. It’s the big challenge that he returns to whenever he’s got spare time
and isn’t playing DOTA 2. It seems more important to him than anything else! It looks
to be the next step beyond VR. With the Valve Index, you can see, hear and interact with
objects convincingly, but brain-computer interfaces will be a big leap beyond that. To put it
into perspective, he says that when it arrives, it’ll be an ‘extinction level event for
any entertainment business that isn’t doing it’. And if they’re not thinking about
it now, they will be! He says that we’re way closer to the Matrix
than people realise. But it won’t be the Matrix because that misses the interesting
technical subtleties that make up how weird this new world is going to be. But it’ll
have a huge impact on the experiences they can create for people. What is it exactly?
I’m not sure if he’s talking about something that can pick up on brain signals, or if he’s
suggesting something that can CREATE brain signals. He goes off on tangents about it
throughout this video, like how he explains that visual and motor stuff is easy to do,
but getting somebody to feel ‘cold’ is harder because your brain receives inputs
from various places, including your immune system. He’s excited about it… and it
shows. So it sounds like a fully immersive world,
without the same limitations or rules as the one we currently live in. It may have the
wrong connotations, but when listening to him describe it, the word ‘drug’ came
to mind. He likened brain-computer interfaces to trying to describe the internet to somebody
who doesn’t use the internet. Once they know it allows for rapid transport of information,
they’d understand that it would help them to do stuff that they can do already like
cookery recipes, but they probably wouldn’t have thought of UBER, or automatic car software
updates, even though those things have proven to be incredibly useful.
This next bit is my speculation about it… because it’s too exciting NOT to speculate.
What Gabe was saying reminded me of Jeff Bezos and his plans for space travel. In Jeff’s
presentation he said how he didn’t see his purpose as being to find uses for SPACE TRAVEL,
but rather about lowering its barrier of entry and making it as accessible to as many people
as possible in order to let THEM find uses for it. He said how it’ll be the next generations
who will find the best ways of utilising it- Jeff just saw it as his mission to enable
them. While I don’t know Gabe’s master-plan for brain-computer interfaces, if it’s anything
like what Valve’s been doing with Steam and VR, it could be about building a platform
for it which other people can use. If you want my opinion on it, it does seem
scary. Listening to Gabe talking about these things, he’s 10 steps ahead of the rest
of us! It seems like, to him, VR is old-hat. He’s already trying to advance things to
the next stage beyond that. I don’t know how I feel about computer systems which can
tap directly into my brain. But then, I know people who feel that way about VR and I’m
cool with that, so who knows. Check out the interview here.

100 thoughts on “Interview with Valve (Half-Life series, Source 2, the future)

  1. whys he lying on his 7th vertebrae?? why cant the fucker sit upright like a normal person durinnng an interview?

  2. Gabe is really starting to slowly revel his true physical form. Soon enough his angelic wings and halo will emerge and his eyes will start glowing.

  3. As Gabe put his email address right there, I've just emailed him with a question… let's see if I get a response!

  4. Half life 3 TF3 and Left4Dead3

    Will be released when gabe newell dies

    As a last gift to humanity

    Mark my words!

  5. Gabe is trying to plug his mind into a neural network so that he may ascend from his corporeal form into a truly divine and eternal deity. In half-life X Gabe will be a part of every game, watching us solve problems and recording it so that he may use the information to create a better game.

  6. This is a problemn with developer, they always want to make a revolutionary ground breaking game. I just want to play another half life or another skyrim. Might be just same mechanics but new story and graphics, it doesnt have to change the world

  7. I remember this man getting so much hate for leaving us on read like that back when half life 2 episode 2 came out. He just needed his time, he needed to perfect his process! you can tell this man has a vision but sometimes dreams take years to obtain. He's for sure going to be apart of the future of gaming!

  8. I'm glad that Gabe's plan is similar to my dream. The current state of VR is what I've always called "fake" or "simulated" VR. Soon enough, we will have true VR.

  9. I always had the theory that valve wanted to make another game, but they always seem to improve so many things to make the player feel that they're really in the game. After creating Portal 2 they already had an perfect interactive game so I always assumed the next massive improvement they will go is VR.

  10. Gaben saying that Half Life games that he made with is unfinished and abandoned is spoken like somebody who desires self improvement.

  11. I think brain-computer interfaces are going to be so cool, I cant wait for the kinda stuff you could do if you could actually make players feel physical objects in the game world. Like keyboards in VR are really shitty rn because you cant feel them, but with this you could fix that.

  12. Not sure why but the links in the comments are sending me to the beginning of the video instead of the part you want.

  13. With the brain thing technology, I wonder if there will be "spec requirements" , like, are there "better" brains than others, or do all of them have the same capabilities.

  14. it might be because im suicidal, but yea sure i wouldnt mind if they plugged some computer into my brain, i have no attachment to it or my body whatsoever

  15. I had a
    steam machine and an alpha I hacked the steam machine into believing it was an alpha so I could play more games all I needed was a USB drive and a copy the files then factory reset with file memory


  17. I'm really hoping Respawn can work with Valve on a Source 2 modified version that Respawn can use for Titanfall 3!

  18. If anyone ever develops brain-computer interfaces, you can bet world governments will want to get hold of it before we ever do. Imagine the power of being able to read minds. It's scary where the technology could lead, really.

  19. Btw the Brain interface etc is already out but in Half life 1 VR,


    basicaly some NPC can respond to what you say and they are self-aware AI, they 100% look like real person doing role play but it's AI

  20. CSGO STILL NEEDS MAGIC GAYBEN! btw i play server luxembourg ,is that the small pie4ce shitLORD land who do that TAX FREE FOR U ? SHITSERVERS

  21. Man gabe looks so old. So sad seeing one of the greatest game developers maybe so close to the end.

  22. Valve is going to fix all of the issues with VR gaming with their new VR set and somehow make Source 2 the next VR go-to engine.

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