Valve Outgrows Its "Episodes Phase"

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Valve Outgrows Its "Episodes Phase"

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Gabe Newell says Valve is over its "episodes phase" and is now focused on creating games as platforms that can be constantly updated and evolved through Steam, with very short development cycles.

It's a fact that Valve makes awesome games. It's also a fact that historically, the studio has taken it's own sweet time about it. The episodic system that debuted with the release of Half-Life 2: Episode One was meant to address the issue of overlong waits between releases, but from a gamer's point of view that hasn't exactly worked out to perfection. But that concept is now out the window, replaced with an approach that treats "entertainment as a service."

"We went through the episodes phase, and now we're going towards shorter and even shorter cycles," Newell explained in an interview with Develop. "With episodes, I think we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it. If you look at Team Fortress 2, that's what we now think is the best model for what we've been doing. Our updates and release model keeps on getting shorter and shorter."

"Left 4 Dead 2 is starting to approach the TF2 cycle. Portal 2? We'll have to see how much our customers want us to push in that direction," he continued. "In general, our approach to our customers is, every day, to ask what we can do for them."

The inspiration for this approach came from the mod community, according to Valve co-founder Robin Walker, who noted that releases like Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Day of Defeat and Garry's Mod were all regularly and frequently updated by their creators. "And when you realize that these were the most popular mods and see that they update all the time, you think, yeah, maybe there's something remarkably valuable in building your product iteratively in front of your own customers."

Valve isn't necessarily walking away from major, multi-year projects, however. "I think you'll still see projects from us that are huge in scale," Newell said, "simply because we have the ability to do that."

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...So, this means that episode 3 is half life 3? Or does this mean it will be 1/2 1/2 life?

In Valve speak it means "IT'S NEVER COMING OUT, HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA *strokes a white cat*".

HA! I was right! There won't be an episode 3!

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I think this was pretty obvious, considering it's been four goddamned years since their last episode.
DERP DERP

Come on Valve, we aren't stupid.

I think there's something to be said for full, complete, polished releases. This constant-update stuff just smacks of laziness a lot of the time. It can also become very obnoxious, as in the case of TF2, which doesn't even seem like the same game it started as.

I'm guessing that's not the only thing Gabe Newell has outgrown

nyttyn:
...So, this means that episode 3 is half life 3? Or does this mean it will be 1/2 1/2 life?

I think he's saying there will be a, lets say, Half-life 3 and it will come out as a full game with updates every few months or so. Maybe testing stuff like the L4D2 mutations thing.

Well at least Gabe is coming out and telling everyone whats going on, it makes a change from trying to interpret valve time.

ok, so hl3 is gona come out with a bunch of free DLC released after the launch

Yeah Valve I think we got that already when you defeated the entire purpose of episodic gaming by not releasing Episode 3 within a year after Episode 2.

And yes Valve, Portal 2 customers will want you to go the TF2 route. Keep the co-op playable!

Makes a change from Gabe ranting about something, we all love that.

Seriously though, the ongoing development cycle model works if done properly, look at minecraft or hell, even WoW.

...So no more Gordon Freeman, then? Or just no Episode 3? Or will Episode 3 be the last episode?

They should become politicians, they say so little with so many words.

Although I'd love to interpret this as meaning we're getting Half-Life 3 instead of Episode 3 as I've predicted for a while, it could just as easily simply mean that Episode 3 is the last episodic game they will have ever made. If it's the latter though, this still seems to imply that Episode 3 is done or at least almost done.

...so no Episode 3 then?

Valve has decided to stop releasing episodic games? Well, that certainly explains a few things :P

I said a years ago that there wont be Episode 3, but Half Life 3.

That's fine, but it'd be nice if you went ahead and released episode 3. Also, you might want to avoid sounding too self-satisfied regarding your "acceleration of the cycle". Most people would disagree that you've accelerated things.

Either he will pull a half-life rabbit out of his hat soon or he has a different understanding of community service than most forums I've seen.

Well this pretty much confirms Half-Life 3 and no Episode 3.
Also

Team Fortress 2 is the fastest frequency we work on with comparatively fast updates. Er, Half-Life is apparently the slowest! [Laughs] Although, from the outside world, we have no evidence that Half-Life is working on any frequency at all. [Laughs]

Yeah I can't really laugh about this Gabe but at least he also confirms that they are working on it on a certain frequency, unfortunately we don't know what frequency that exactly is.
Anyway, I agree with him. Just look at Minecraft, it's the perfect example.

.... JUST GIVE US THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF HALF LIFE BLAST YOU!!!!! What ever the fek your going to call it. I don't care, just give s it!!!!

Toasty Virus:
HA! I was right! There won't be an episode 3!

Does being right about not getting something bring you any joy?
(This is assuming you like Half Life of course.)

ooh, a hint about HL3 :D or am I naive?

I had heard rumors in the past that Episode 3 was in fact going to be Half-Life 3, and this would probably be a clear indication of that.

Captcha: consider riabli

wha?

If you want to make an MMO, Valve, just make an MMO.

Half Life 3

Which will be after...

Oh

Thats right

NEVER!

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAH

So Valve says they want shorter development times on their games. Isn't that what they were trying to do with Episodic games in the first place? :-P
Seriously though, I had a feeling that Episode 3 might turn in to Half-Life 3. I'm curious how they're going to stretch out the plot they had planned for Episode 3 into a full game, though.

Andy Chalk:
. But that concept is now out the window, replaced replaced with an approach that treats "entertainment as a service."

Sorry to nit pick, but you repeated replaced.

Also, good for VALVe! :D

Now Chris, VALVe needs time to create, and we need to learn to be patient./family guy refrence

The Goodyear Newell says so much yet so little. Maybe he should take a break from the bacon grease sandwiches and focus on getting Episode 3 out the door before at some point in the near future. There is simply no excuse outside of apathy or laziness as to why Episode 3 isn't out already. Valve is well aware at how ridiculously overdue it is and simply can't be bothered to give a shit because games like Left for Dead and Portal 2 are easier to monetize with DLC and the like.

"With episodes, I think we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it."

Half Life 2: episode 2 came out in 2007.
Half Life 2: Episode 3 is still not out four years later.

So they certainly have taken normal development times and threw them into hyperdrive!

Valve, I love you, but you drive me up the wall sometimes. How about you release Episode 3, and THEN grow out of your episode phase, huh?

I've said that Ep3 will never come out due to the inability to slap hats on it and so far I stand corrected.

"We went through the episodes phase, and now we're going towards shorter and even shorter cycles," Newell explained in an interview with Develop. "With episodes, I think we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it. If you look at Team Fortress 2, that's what we now think is the best model for what we've been doing. Our updates and release model keeps on getting shorter and shorter."

What bizzaro version of VALVe does this guy own?

VALVe didn't outgrow the Episodic release strategy - It completely, utterly and undeniably failed at it. To suggest anything different is utter bullshit.

Ahh, Valve.

Constantly telling us everything except that one particular thing that we all want to hear.

I think this is cool, but it does create some problems. Reviews are going to be reviewing products that simply don't reflect what they are 2 or 3 years later (or, potentially overcompensate) and very few other companies are in the situation where they can do this (continual development for a single fee product).

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