Longtime Valve Employee Erik Wolpaw Leaves Company

Longtime Valve Employee Erik Wolpaw Leaves Company

erik wolpaw

Erik Wolpaw is credited as one of the lead writers on the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead series.

Longstanding Valve employee Erik Wolpaw has left the company, Gamasutra reports. According to a Facebook post from Wolpaw, and a Twitter post from former co-worker Marc Laidlaw, the exact circumstances surrounding his departure are unknown. Wolpaw joined the company back in 2004 and he has writing credits on the majority of Valve's franchise, in particular the story-driven titles such as Portal 2 and Half-Life 2.

Wolpaw's resignation comes a little over a year after Laidlaw, also an influential Valve writer, revealed that he was leaving the company.

Wolpaw hasn't announced what he'll be working on yet, but Double Fine has credited him as a writer on its upcoming Psychonauts 2.

What does this mean for Valve? Well, if you haven't noticed, Valve has considerably distanced itself from story-driven singleplayer titles as of late. The last of these was Portal 2 all the way back in 2011. The company no longer has need of writers such as Laidlaw and Wolpaw, as it moves more and more towards a hat-based economy.

This also makes fate of Half-Life 3 even more bleaker than it already is.

Source: Gamasutra

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Well, when you actually haven't done anything for like... 6 years, I guess you would want to move to another company where you'd actually work.

Exclusive look at what the meeting at Valve was like:

Can't say I blame him. If this guy truly was in charge of Portal and the Half-Life storylines, odds are he's more frustrated than we are about this whole thing. He probably has the general idea of the stories and wants to tell them, wants to see them come to life, but kept getting stonewalled or told, "That's not our focus right now" for six God damn years. There are few things more frustrating for a writer than not being allowed to finish your work.
Honestly, I'm surprised he stuck around this long. What did he do all day? Sit at his desk and just stare into the abyss, dreaming up countless ways he could continue those two series, but knowing he'd never get the chance?

"Who cares about compelling stories? We have more hats and crates to ruin our games with!"

-Valve

...No, I'm totally not bitter. Wherever did you get that idea?

image

Who needs good stories when you can have gimmicky VR bullshit. Ooooh, it's soooo immersive!

Sniper Team 4:
Can't say I blame him. If this guy truly was in charge of Portal and the Half-Life storylines, odds are he's more frustrated than we are about this whole thing.

I certainly sympathize with Half-Life, but does Portal technically need continuation plot-wise?

Neverhoodian:
"Who cares about compelling stories? We have more hats and crates to ruin our games with!"

-Valve

...No, I'm totally not bitter. Wherever did you get that idea?

image

Chocolate rain will take away the pain.

If the last thing he worked on was Portal 2 what the fuck has this guy been doing for the past 6 years and why did he decide to leave now?

Aerosteam:
If the last thing he worked on was Portal 2 what the fuck has this guy been doing for the past 6 years and why did he decide to leave now?

Thinking about it led me to an interesting scenario- what if he was working on Half-Life 3 and all the writing and pre-production stuff he would be working on is now done? 5 years would still be a long time for that but not crazy for Valve. Now that it's done he wants to move on.

This could actually be hopeful news for people hoping for a new title soon, rather than some kind of death knell. I don't really love the Half Life series that much myself, so I don't follow it so closely, might be wrong.

Neverhoodian:
"Who cares about compelling stories? We have more hats and crates to ruin our games with!"

-Valve

To be fair, Valve hasn't cared about compelling stories since 98. The guys who made Portal and were briefly subcontracted in don't count as Valve.

Hawki:

Sniper Team 4:
Can't say I blame him. If this guy truly was in charge of Portal and the Half-Life storylines, odds are he's more frustrated than we are about this whole thing.

I certainly sympathize with Half-Life, but does Portal technically need continuation plot-wise?

No, it doesn't. You could just have another test subject instead of Chell, but what about an antagonist? The game's story is still done, at least when it comes to GLADOS.

Episode 3/Half-Life 3 on the other hand I'd really like to see. No, it's not going to be the second coming (and no one is expecting it to be), but I can at least expect it to be a decent FPS with something seriously lacking in modern titles original enemy designs

While the Combine infantry, striders (tripods), and zombies aren't winning originality awards, the poison headcrab/poison zombie, antlions, and the Combine APC, attack chopper, gunship, and hunter all have unique behaviours in gameplay that are well thought out and stand out. Even though in three cases (APC, chopper and gunship respectively) those behaviours are "shoot homing missiles at player instead of machine gun", "drop lots of timed bombs at player" and "try to shoot down guided rockets fired by player" which don't sound different on the surface, in gameplay these have a very big effect and I very much want to see more of this. Yes, there are enemy types beyond generic human or humanoid alien soldiers in many modern shooters, but these never go beyond modern human vehicles, "science fiction" versions of modern human vehicles, zombies (I don't care if it's on fire and can shoot, it's still just a zombie), and occasionally a robot or attack drone. But in gameplay they are no different, a laser machine gun is just a machine gun with different particle effects, the robot is still a generic "heavy" enemy, the zombie is still a zombie, even if you call it "infected" and cover it in mushrooms it is still, at the end of the day, a zombie.

If we can't get a new Portal or Half Life game out of him, maybe he can reboot Old Man Murray.

I can dream, can't I?

So..... wait.... so, in a way, Valve essentially turned into Microsoft?

It was never going to happen anyway.

Citizen Graves:
So..... wait.... so, in a way, Valve essentially turned into Microsoft?

That would require them to develope their own oper.... OK, but their own conso..... periphe....... have ambitions for always-onli........... their selling platform must suck..... nah, it's not that bad. And for the better part, they had to be assholes. And in comparison, Valve pales in that.

So; not at all.

That hat based economy joke would've made for a great Critical Miss strip if the guys behind that weren't doing their own mediocre plot.

Hey maybe they can hire this guy!

Are we Buzzfeed now? What the fuck?

Bogos:

Wolpaw joined the company back in 2004 and he has writing credits on the majority of Valve's franchise, in particular the story-driven titles such as Portal 2 and Half-Life 2.

As do at least a dozen others at the company, including Jay Pinkerton. Wolpaw and Laidlaw were hardly the sole contributors to the stories and narratives of Valve's catalog of games, comics, and videos.

Sad to see him go, for sure, and I'll miss some of his signature comedy-quips, but there is still a lot of writing talent employed at the company.

What does this mean for Valve? Well, if you haven't noticed, Valve has considerably distanced itself from story-driven singleplayer titles as of late.

Hold on. Weren't you the one who reported on the very recent Newell AMA on Reddit? The AMA in which, when asked if Valve were working on any narrative-driven singleplayer games, Newell said, "Yes." If it wasn't you, you at least had to have seen the article on this site.

Is this a case of accidental or purposeful memory loss?

The company no longer has need of writers such as Laidlaw and Wolpaw, as it moves more and more towards a hat-based economy.

Eesh. You gotta work on your joke game, dude. This is Uncle-at-a-wedding level, at best. Would have been better to go with a 'paid-mods/greedy-bastards' joke. Or something involving Steam Machines or VR.

wildstars:
If we can't get a new Portal or Half Life game out of him, maybe he can reboot Old Man Murray.

I can dream, can't I?

Would be nice, wouldn't it?

Aerosteam:
If the last thing he worked on was Portal 2 what the fuck has this guy been doing for the past 6 years and why did he decide to leave now?

Portal 2 wasn't the last thing he worked on. He's credited with work on everything from the Left 4 Dead games and comics, Team Fortress 2 comics, and most recently work on Dota 2 and The Lab.

He did a lot more than writing. Like many at Valve, he was responsible for more than just one specific task when involved in a project.

Sniper Team 4:
If this guy truly was in charge of Portal and the Half-Life storylines

He wasn't, really. No one is. While they have a 'Lexicon/Bible' detailing certain, specific timeline events in the Half-Life/Portal story, the rest are open to interpretation. And, as has been the case with most of the games in either series, the narratives tend to revolve around the gameplay. They think up interesting things to do and find ways to interweave the narrative and the mechanics.

As for the rest, see above.

"Why do we have these writers on retainer? We don't make games."

"Good point."

Turn the picture by 90 degrees. His glasses look like a 3. Half-Life 3 confirmed.

Citizen Graves:
So..... wait.... so, in a way, Valve essentially turned into Microsoft?

Gabe Newell was a Microsoft employee before forming Valve. It's the circle of life I guess.

Redlin5:
"Why do we have these writers on retainer? We don't make games."

"Good point."

It's funny because it's true.

 

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