Is Valve scared of progression?

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Okay, before the flaming begins, hear me out. I like Valve, I use Steam all the time and have enjoyed playing Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 for hours. I enjoyed getting a free copy of Portal and I enjoy the whole Steam experience for the most part. There is no doubt that Valve has definitely dominated the PC market with Steam and they have very loyal followers, however it seems to me that they have not really progressed any further than the COD series has. They rely on the Source engine which is arguably quite out-dated, they frequently re-use audio files and textures, in terms of focusing on what their audience wants they seem to ignore their fans (when's the last time you heard anything bout Half Life 3? Or Half Life 2: Episode 3?), they spend more time making hats and items for TF2 (still a popular game, but it is an old game), and whilst they've made unique games with new/interesting mechanics, none of them have been explored much further (Portal 2 isn't my game, but it's unique gameplay makes me curious as to why they aren't making new maps/a new game based on it's gameplay mechanics).

TL;DR: Valve re-uses stuff, don't listen to their fan base and don't explore their games any further than 1 sequel.

So people, what's your 10 cents? Have Valve stagnated and stopped moving forward, or am I simply speaking too soon/being to cynical?

Valve has barely any corporate structure. It's just a group of game designers doing whatever the hell they want for the most part. The fact that they don't stick to sequels and such is because they just don't feel like it. They probably get bored of doing that and instead just do whatever they're interested in.

Interesting fact, Valve has only ever actually originated one new IP as far as I can tell. Portal, L4D, Alien Swarm, Counterstrike, DOTA2, Team Fortress, Day of Defeat and Ricochet were all based on mods or games other teams were working on that Valve bought out.

Saying that

sextus the crazy:
Valve has barely any corporate structure. It's just a group of game designers doing whatever the hell they want for the most part. The fact that they don't stick to sequels and such is because they just don't feel like it. They probably get bored of doing that and instead just do whatever they're interested in.

This person just solved the thread. Valve have no management, no strategic plans, no goals. It's impossible for them to have feelings and motives like this really. People just work on what they want to and things come out. And since they're really finicky about quality you see lots of delayed releases and games not coming out when you think they would

It's Valve. A bunch of game devs working on games. What motivation is there for them to innovate since they have such a fanbase? Why should they?

I was ninja'd, but repetition for emphasis helps.

Just keep in mind, most of valve's business comes from steam, not from their games. They used to truly make games or at least take existing idea's and turn them into games, but with steam becoming such a success that's what their focus started to become.

That and what sextus said.

they spend more time making hats and items for TF2

I don't think any new items are made by Valve for quite a long time now, most of (if not all) the new items made for Dota2/TF2 come from the community.

(Portal 2 isn't my game, but it's unique gameplay makes me curious as to why they aren't making new maps/a new game based on it's gameplay mechanics).

They've released a map maker, a really simple one used in game, not Hammer. They don't need to make maps as there are hundreds available.

DazZ.:

they spend more time making hats and items for TF2

I don't think any new items are made by Valve for quite a long time now, most of (if not all) the new items made for Dota2/TF2 come from the community.

(Portal 2 isn't my game, but it's unique gameplay makes me curious as to why they aren't making new maps/a new game based on it's gameplay mechanics).

They've released a map maker, a really simple one used in game, not Hammer. They don't need to make maps as there are hundreds available.

And they've been putting in mostly just cross-promotional items from other games in TF2 as of late, with most of the community focus going towards the Dota side of things.

DazZ.:

they spend more time making hats and items for TF2

I don't think any new items are made by Valve for quite a long time now, most of (if not all) the new items made for Dota2/TF2 come from the community.

(Portal 2 isn't my game, but it's unique gameplay makes me curious as to why they aren't making new maps/a new game based on it's gameplay mechanics).

They've released a map maker, a really simple one used in game, not Hammer. They don't need to make maps as there are hundreds available.

I think valve has made a economy for a game self sufficient. Think about it. Modders make hats and weapons for TF2 for free but everyone who buys those items are paying Valve. Ingenious.

tehpiemaker:
I think valve has made a economy for a game self sufficient. Think about it. Modders make hats and weapons for TF2 for free but everyone who buys those items are paying Valve. Ingenious.

The hat's/weapons modders get paid as well, the max anyone's got was around $300,000? Complete guess at a number I can't remember but it seemed high to me.

Edit: $500,000
[Source]

Their strategy of just doing whatever they want has played to the companies benefit over the years, though. They've dabbled in just about all things game related, from the games themselves to distribution services and now even consoles. Also, the steam platform, while having a rocky start, has become one of the most prolific game distribution services out there. Valve tends to remind me of better days, before corporations had to be built to fund mainstream titles.

I think Valve is putting too much time or focusing on one or two things a bit too much (IE TF2) with a number of games having pre-order bonuses having TF2 hats or a weapon or some crap like that.

sanquin:
Just keep in mind, most of valve's business comes from steam, not from their games. They used to truly make games or at least take existing idea's and turn them into games, but with steam becoming such a success that's what their focus started to become.

That and what sextus said.

Pretty sure the game devs at Valve have absolutely nothing to do with Steam, so I don't see how the continued success of Steam could impact in any way on Valve developing new games. As you said, what sextus said is spot on.

I find the notion that Valve are scared of progression odd though - Valve have been huge advocates of innovation in all aspects of gaming, and have come up with a couple of their own innovations along the way.

Glaice:
I think Valve is putting too much time or focusing on one or two things a bit too much (IE TF2) with a number of games having pre-order bonuses having TF2 hats or a weapon or some crap like that.

The problem, if you want to call it that, with Valve is the exact opposite - a lack of focus is why we don't see new games coming out regularly. Personally, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I'd rather a dev take years to release a great game, rather than a mediocre game on a yearly schedule.

Glaice:
I think Valve is putting too much time or focusing on one or two things a bit too much (IE TF2) with a number of games having pre-order bonuses having TF2 hats or a weapon or some crap like that.

Almost all of TF2's pre-order bonuses are made by the developers of the other game or the community. They just implement them.

Not exploiting IPs to create new sequels equals to not being progressive? What? Don't we hate CoD and it's kind for yearly sequels? Didn't peopel boycott valve for releasing l4d2 one year after l4d?

I do agree they kinda stagnated a bit due to hats and microtransactions, but I wouldn't say they stopped going forward completely. The marketplace and the workshop are two amazing tools for the community. Portal 2 has a crazy amount of maps there, and most dota 2 items comes from workshop

I guess it's time for Source 2, but so far source is working perfectly well for them. The graphics may not be top notch anymore, but the physics and it's flexibility still are great. And we know that valve has a great art direction, so even if their engine falls behind technically, they still make beautiful games.

The answer is simple: Stop viewing Valve as a developer. Because, for all intents and purposes, they're not. What they are is a digital retailer. And I'm okay with that.

Oh, and the last time I heard anything from Valve about Half-Life 3? Never. All I've heard about it has come from butt-hurt fanboys who whine that Gabe Newell avoids the number three at all costs. I will say it again: Half-Life 3 is the new Duke Nukem Forever.

sextus the crazy:
Valve has barely any corporate structure. It's just a group of game designers doing whatever the hell they want for the most part. The fact that they don't stick to sequels and such is because they just don't feel like it. They probably get bored of doing that and instead just do whatever they're interested in.

What sextus said, in answer to the OP. Valve doesn't operate like normal studios, where publisher's fund specific projects with development milestones as deadlines along the way.

Apart from Gabe (though I believe he wouldn't say so), there is so management structure or set teams at Valve. Developers work on what they want and with whoever wants to be involved. This process gave us Portal and Left 4 Dead. Both were so popular and innovative that sequels were in fact made, one soon after (which caused a lot of anger and a call for a boycott of L4D2), the other years in the making.

They aren't "scared of progression", whatever that means. If anything, they consistently break new ground. Halflife set a benchmark for story-focused FPSs, Portal for puzzle games and L4D created an entire new genre. HL2 was the most played MP shooter in its day and TF2 also created an entire genre, the class-based MP shooter. If that's not progress or innovation, I don't know what is. But it's not releasing the same game with an incremented number on the box (*cough* Activision).

BrotherRool:
Interesting fact, Valve has only ever actually originated one new IP as far as I can tell. Portal, L4D, Alien Swarm, Counterstrike, DOTA2, Team Fortress, Day of Defeat and Ricochet were all based on mods or games other teams were working on that Valve bought out.

Portal was based on a game called narbacular drop, which was made by students of digipen institute of technology. Valve hired the creators and they made portal.

The only original IP that Valve has ever made is Half-Life.

ExploreHer:
Dota 2 is the shit. That is all.

You are wrong, that is all.

On topic:

I personally see the Source engine still as very capable (it gave us Portal 2). But even if disregarding this: They already said that they worked on a new engine and are just 'waiting' for a proper game to be released on this enginge.

The hat thing: They are not done by Valve. They are either done by the community (the creator gets a nice cut from the sales) or the publisher who wants to promote his game.

If I look at their game release schedule: They thrown out at least one game a year since 2008ish and each and every one of them took so many hours of my life (Portal with ~16 the least). Last year they gave me CS:GO and this year I'm playing the shit out of DOTA2.

I hope this doesn't seem like making a strawman but why are you berating them for not releasing a new game every year? Isn't this the exact same thing CoD does and why gamers hate the franchise (even though its userbase ishappy with it.) They announce L4D2 "early", people bitch about it. They don't announce anything about Half Life till they are ready for it (unlike every other developer that is perfectly happy making teasers for their teasers for the sake of hype), people still bitch about it. They support their games, people bitch about it. They distribute user made hats, both making cash for themselves and the artist and people still bitch about it.

Is there anything left to bitch about. Actually yes. Why is that catapult so fucking OP Valve. Are you scrubbing yourself with too much money to notice this menace among our lanes.

They reuse their engine as everyone does, otherwise the games share very little resources (obviously the iconic sounds will be noticed every time).
But when it comes to mechanics all their games get a unique setup, and they don't pump out sequels like mad because they know what bullshit that produces.

That being said they did make a shift from developer to retailer, last Gabe interview I watched all he really had to share was content creation, statistics, marketing and monitoring... it is really rather sad, if not downright scary.

I think they are scared of disappointing their audience. Meaning that they will prefer not to release a game at all rather than release something they aren't sure about.
I guess its kinda like with blizzard, they will release a game only when it's ready. So if none of the projects they were working on this year were deemed good enough for release you will just have to wait.

Costia:
I guess its kinda like with blizzard, they will release a game only when it's ready.

Pre-d3 blizzard, anyway.

Valve are the smartest publisher on the block by a mile, and like Activision keep their mouths shut and don't antagonise their customers. EA who is very similar should change it's name to Evlav, one is run by an ex developer with a passion for games while the other is by corporate execs who know more about bread then games.

Shamus Young was bang on with his article, EA needs a CEO who lives and breathes games not a std corporate exec, those guys are ten a penny and can fill supporting roles.

EDIT
Not that Valve is the wise in all things. They really need to get a grip on curating new games on Steam. Sure it was a smart move to go to the first Japanese BitSummit. However telling Japanese indie / doujin devs the ins and outs of steamworks and how to go about publishing on Steam is trolling imo when all the doujin localisers and western devs like WayForward who make traditional Japanese style games can't get off Greenlight.

I'm not sure they ever really innovated to begin with. I know for a fact that Portal 1, and the ideas and mechanics for portal 2 came from the final projects of groups of students at the game design school I went to (DigiPen). They simply hired those students and gave them money and time to make the game. Since then, I've not really heard of anything those people have made or done there, but I know most of them still work there. From what I've heard from someone who works there, almost all of their IPs are simply based on mods made by users, or projects made by game design students that they then buy using their ludicrous amounts of income from steam. It all seems a bit lazy to me.

distortedreality:
Pretty sure the game devs at Valve have absolutely nothing to do with Steam, so I don't see how the continued success of Steam could impact in any way on Valve developing new games. As you said, what sextus said is spot on.

What I meant is, their development team is not the focus of Valve as a whole any more. So they probably have a smaller team than a normal full development company would have, and the team might also get less funding to work with. (which doesn't necessarily mean games will be worse, just developed more slowly.)

I also imagine that they are spending a lot of their time working on the Steam box as well, designing and making a console from the ground up is no small feat.

Look at all the changes that have happened in Steam recently, and the fact that Valve are about to enter the console market with some pretty innovative hardware. The company is not scared to progress, it's just that their first priority is distributing games rather than making them, so they spend more time on the client.

Newby_Newb:

BrotherRool:
Interesting fact, Valve has only ever actually originated one new IP as far as I can tell. Portal, L4D, Alien Swarm, Counterstrike, DOTA2, Team Fortress, Day of Defeat and Ricochet were all based on mods or games other teams were working on that Valve bought out.

Portal was based on a game called narbacular drop, which was made by students of digipen institute of technology. Valve hired the creators and they made portal.

The only original IP that Valve has ever made is Half-Life.

Thanks for the confirmation, I found it pretty hard to believe when I first saw it. In a way, although it sounds bad, it done a whole lot of good for the modding community where most of the games came from

sanquin:

What I meant is, their development team is not the focus of Valve as a whole any more. So they probably have a smaller team than a normal full development company would have, and the team might also get less funding to work with. (which doesn't necessarily mean games will be worse, just developed more slowly.)

It's an interesting idea, but I'm not completely sure. According to Wikipedia valve have 400 employees, we still don't know if they have any corporate structure for stuff like finance etc but considering they have bought out at least 3 development teams and took on staff, a large chunk of those are developers.

And Valve doesn't have funding for different teams. So resources can't be slipped that way. They don't have funding or teams per say as far as I can work out. Everyone gets paid a wage based on the peer evaluated work they've done (after it's been done) and people attach themselves or detach themselves to whatever project they feel like.

Valve could be distracted by the Steam but it would be odd, because you'd think a company of game makers given absolute freedom would choose to make games (but then, we've already shown that most of Valve has never created an IP so that means most people at Valve have never chased one of their ideas or worked on their own baby project)

Reusing the source engine is smart. Why? Because it's slightly dated. Therefore, it's going to run on plenty of systems with a variety of hardware. Which in turn means they will make a decent number of sales. It doesn't look too bad with the updates they have done to it over the years.

Shiny graphics are not a priority for them.
They would rather focus on enjoyable gameplay.

I like Valve, they do their own thing. And I feel they don't need to make more than two sequels.
They also make good use of people in the modding community and similar areas.
It's true that lately, they have been more of a digital distributor, but I'm ok with that.

They have spent quite a lot of effort in the past month turning Virtual Reality into reality.

I wouldn't be surprised if by combining the Oculus Rift and Steambox, Valve would be the ONLY ones to bring forth a true next generation of gaming.

And I'm not only talking about a next 6 year "console generation", but about a whole new paradigm of gaming.

On the subject of them still using the Source engine you can argue that it's outdated but you can also argue that's it's incredibly well optimised and very easy to run on even low end systems (seriously Left 4 Dead will run an GS 7100 128MB and any decent dual core cpu), much like Call of Duty still using the IW engine, it's the same thing but tweak and refined each release, it's easy to optimise, it's familiar to work with, it's easy to run.

Cod will stop being yearly when they build a new engine. It also takees them 2 years to put a Cod together, there's just a fair few studios working on it.

Know whats worse? Assassins Creed. 10 months to make a sequel and seven studios for a huge sandbox. No wonder 3 wasn't finished for launch.

I would like to see more games coming out of Valve though, just a little more.

I have to disagree with you.

#1
If Valve would make Half-Life "progress" like CoD, we'd have 6 or 7 by now.

#2
Source is dated, but they already confirmed to work on a new one.

#3
That TF2 is played and supported despite its age is the sign that they actually do listen to their fans. Otherwise they would have dropped TF2-support years ago. Everything that MW2 and MW3 did, could have been an update to MW1 (multiplayer that is).

bug_of_war:
They rely on the Source engine which is arguably quite out-dated, they frequently re-use audio files and textures,

Re-using and constantly updating the source engine was a brilliant move on their part. It let them make more games faster, and with an engine that has always done what they needed and runs on the majority of computers. I'm sure they'll come out with a new engine or complete overhaul of Source when they feel the time is right (probably in the next couple of years), but they've been much smarter about managing their technology than a lot of other companies. As for re-using audio files and textures, I have to wonder why this matters? Why make something from scratch every time you need a rock when you've already made a perfectly good rock in the same engine for a previous game? Wasted time and money unnecessarily duplicating effort just seems silly to me.

in terms of focusing on what their audience wants they seem to ignore their fans (when's the last time you heard anything bout Half Life 3? Or Half Life 2: Episode 3?),

The funny thing about audiences is that they're incredibly short sighted and you're probably better off not listening to 90% of them 90% of the time. If the fans had their way, we'd have Episode 3 instead of L4D, Portal 2, etc. And it wouldn't be a big change over Episode 2 and the original Half-Life 2. Basically, we'd be missing some great games in favour of the stagnation of the HL series in the same way COD and other series have repeatedly stagnated with quick release schedules. It's ironic to say that because they used the same engine and haven't made the sequel their fans constantly ask for they've stagnated when the truth is the exact opposite happened.

they spend more time making hats and items for TF2 (still a popular game, but it is an old game),

I don't think they even make the items anymore with the workshop being a thing that exists. Even if they did, they've released at least a game a year since TF2 game out making this statement objectively wrong.

and whilst they've made unique games with new/interesting mechanics, none of them have been explored much further (Portal 2 isn't my game, but it's unique gameplay makes me curious as to why they aren't making new maps/a new game based on it's gameplay mechanics).

When I see this argument, it really sounds to me like "Valve hasn't released sequel after sequel to the same game using the same basic mechanics instead of making new and interesting titles that actually push boundaries." It really seems like you're asking them to go the COD route instead of innovating and I have to wonder if you actually know what stagnation means at this point.

Valve hasn't stagnated. In fact, they're probably the least stagnant company in the business right now. They are always willing and able to use the copious amounts of money they have to simply go off and do whatever they want whenever the mood strikes them rather than chasing COD levels of sales by making COD every year.

BrotherRool:
It's an interesting idea, but I'm not completely sure. According to Wikipedia valve have 400 employees, we still don't know if they have any corporate structure for stuff like finance etc but considering they have bought out at least 3 development teams and took on staff, a large chunk of those are developers.

And Valve doesn't have funding for different teams. So resources can't be slipped that way. They don't have funding or teams per say as far as I can work out. Everyone gets paid a wage based on the peer evaluated work they've done (after it's been done) and people attach themselves or detach themselves to whatever project they feel like.

Valve could be distracted by the Steam but it would be odd, because you'd think a company of game makers given absolute freedom would choose to make games (but then, we've already shown that most of Valve has never created an IP so that means most people at Valve have never chased one of their ideas or worked on their own baby project)

Oh well, guess I could be wrong then. :P

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