Reddit’s AMA or Ask Me Anything is a popular online Q&A session where personalities from different walks of life answer. Typically, Reddit users post their questions by replying to an AMA thread, to which the celebrity can then choose to answer.
Recently, Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve ventured into the subreddit, The_Gaben – a virtual veneration chamber dedicated to him. While there, he answered many questions, dodged a fair bit and even participated in some light-hearted banter regarding the lack of part-3 releases of Valve’s game titles. Here is a look at some of the major takeaways from the Gabe Newell AMA discussion thread.
Portal 2 Is Gabe’s Personal Favorite
When asked about his favorite single-player game developed by Valve Corporation, Newell’s reply was Portal-2 and not Half-Life. This was surprising for many given that Half-Life is by far one of the most critically acclaimed series of all time. So, when he was pressed to talk about regrets that he may have had with Half-Life, his answer was understandable.
According to Gabe, the reason for him to rate Portal 2 over Half-Life had to do with the level of his involvement with both of them. Given that Half-Life was first released in 1998, the amount of personal involvement for Newell was too high for him to actually sit back and enjoy the game for what it was – a game.
Thus, its hard for him to look at HL series in any other way than him regretting not having incorporated all the ideas that should have been. There are always trade-offs that one has to bear when developing anything and with Half-Life series, those trade-offs seem to have had a big impact on Newell.
In comparison, he was less directive with the Portal series, and Portal 2 in particular that released in 2011. As such, it’s easier for him to be a fan of the game. It wasn’t surprising to see him rate Dota 2 as his favorite in the multiplayer category.
Why Valve Doesn’t Talk Of Upcoming Developments So Freely?
A common gripe of the Valve community is the lack of communication from the company on subjects such as upcoming games and apps. This becomes especially evident when other game studios provide constant updates on every little aspect of every game they are currently working on.
Newell’s response to the question was that decision making at Valve Corporation is way more conditional than what it is at other companies. What he meant by that is the amount of changes and modifications they do on their previous decisions regarding a certain game can get annoying and outright frustrating for a normal reader if they decided to share every little development with the valve community.
In fact, according to Newell they have never been afraid of changing or canceling some portion of game at latter stages of development, primarily because they have the customer’s interest in mind. Unlike other companies, they do not think it wise to waste customer’s time and money on a game title that is glitchy or worse without the necessary updates as and when required.
Another point of view offered by Newel was that they preferred to communicate with the community through their final products and updates, rather than talk about how well the developments were going with an upcoming title. But that in no way should mean that Valve doesn’t value the community’s feedback. On the contrary, reading and listening to the most ardent fans of their games has helped the company provide better gaming experience.
Moreover, Valve generally chooses to respond almost always through Steam, especially when it concerns updates that either add functionality to the game or address in-game glitches. But Newel did concede that this form of response instead of the conventional blogposts can give the impression to some that Valve isn’t interested in talking to them.
He did however assuage concerns citing that this feeling is nothing more than latency imposed by way of choosing to take the longer route of listening and providing updates as opposed to getting on a forum and discussing them ever so frequently.
Source Engine 2
There has been a lot of chatter regarding Valve’s latest game engine, Source 2. And not surprisingly, redditers were interested to know how its going to the shape the games that are currently running as well as those that are to come in the future.
The first bit of information Newel gave on the Source 2 was that it has now become their primary environment for game development. As of now, Dota 2 is being moved on to Source 2 and the engine shall serve as a bedrock for future unannounced games. The aim, according to Gabe is to have everyone working at Valve on game creation to incorporate Source 2, so that certain foundational consistencies are achieved.
This could mean better things in the future, since multiple games developed over a single engine generally leads to faster debugging and better cross platform solutions. Moreover, the fact that Valve wants more of the game developing community to make use of their free to use engine bodes well not just for the company but also for independent developers.
Case in point being Counter Strike, which was developed independently using the Valve engine at the time and went on to open a whole new genre of multiplayer online battles, not to forget the amount of sales it garnered since it got released more than a decade ago.
Valve’s Direction For The Future
From what we gathered from the Gabe Newell AMA, the company is looking at enhancing the range of options so as to create better experiences for the gamer. In that respect, Valve has begun investing in hardware; the knuckles controller being a prime example.
The other area that Valve seems interested in is Virtual Reality. And Gabe actually went ahead to confirm that they are indeed working on a VR based game of their own.
Furthermore, AI work and environments for machine learning are of great interest to the company. For Newell though, brain- computer interface seems to have captured his fascination.