Have you ever found out one of your heroes is doing an ask-me-anything on reddit…. only to realize that it already ended like 10 hours ago?
Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve (the studio behind Half Life, Portal, Left4Dead, the Steam store, etc.) and all around really-cool-guy, is doing an AMA. Right now. It started 20 minutes ago. Go! Go! Go!
Update: Aaand it’s over. You can find our recap of some of the most interesting answers below.
I don’t normally link to ongoing reddit AMAs unless some huge bit of news comes out of it because I’d be posting a zillion of these things a month, but this one is going to be the exception because: 1) It’s Gabe Newell, shut up, and 2) If you don’t know it’s going on, you’d probably miss it. Gabe and co. (he’s joined by Valve’s Erik Wolpaw, Erik Johnson, Ido Magal, and Greg Coomer) posted the AMA as, simply, “WeAreA videogame developer AUA!”
Quick! Someone ask him when Half-Life 3 is going to be announced.
Because no one has ever asked that.
Fun side note — Gabe actually tried to do an AMA yesterday afternoon, and it seemingly got rejected for the dumbest of reasons: it was posted more than 30 minutes in advance..
(We’ll keep an eye on the thread and wrap up any big things that pop up below. Otherwise, you can find the entirety of the in-progress AMA right here)
On the biggest improvement coming to the next version of their game engine, Source: “The biggest improvements will be in increasing productivity of content creation. That focus is driven by the importance we see [user generated content] having going forward. A professional developer at Valve will put up with a lot of pain that won’t work if users themselves have to create content.”
rbino asks: Is Valve planning to release any exclusive for SteamOS? [Note: SteamOS is Valve's take on an operating system. It's Linux-based, open source, and primarily meant to play games on dedicated "Steam Machine" consoles built by myriad third-parties.]
Gabe says: No.
dudelsac asks: When did Valve originally start to research VR technology and why?
Gabe says: Abrash was thinking about it for a while, and started to get serious around 2 years ago. He thought that we’d reached the point where VR problems were getting tractable. [Editor's note: you can read our coverage of Valve's early research into VR here]
On developing games as virtual reality headsets start to find their footing: “We aren’t holding any game until VR is shipping. You don’t want to create that kind of dependency.”
On why Valve recently introduced Steam Greenlight, which lets the community vote on what games are sold on Steam: “We got bottle-necked pretty fast on tools and decision making which lead us to Greenlight, and is now leading us to make Steam a self-publishing system.”
biruy asks: Do you ever play games such as tf2 on a secret steam account?
On recent reports that Valve’s own Virtual Reality headset prototype was “lightyears ahead” of the Oculus dev kit: “I’m not sure I’d agree with that. We are collaborating with them, and want their hardware to be great.”
On why [Valve game that you really, really want] hasn’t been announced yet: “When we announced our products years in advance in the past and then were really late delivering them, it was pretty painful for both us and the community. We’d rather not repeat that.”
On what Valve looks for in a hire, besides a degree: “We look for a history of shipping things. There is no substitute for shipping things that make your customers happy.”
On whether their recently-launched Steam Music feature (which lets you more easily control/change your music while in a fullscreen game) will expand to support things like Spotify and Pandora: “Yes, we’ve got some things in the works that we think you’ll like.”
On the gaming community’s efforts to figure out who leaked the source code to Half-Life 2 (a leak which resulted in the game’s delay): “Obviously we were working closely with the FBI during that time, but they could not share with us which sources led to the arrest, and which ones didn’t. From what we could tell, though, you guys were doing far more to uncover Ago than anything the Feds could do. We think it was one of the first cases in which the authorities were humbled by what a community of motivated people on the Internet can do.” [Note: "Ago" here is Axel "Ago" Gembe, the German hacker who was ultimately arrested for the leak]