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Making Games
April 21, 2012 1:14 PM   Subscribe

The Valve Employee Handbook [PDF]. An oral history of computer gaming, with Sid Meier (Civillisation I - V, Pirates!, Railroad Tycoon) and Ralph Baer (Pong, the Simon platform), from Vice TV's Motherboard. Also: interviews with classic computer game programmers: Eugene Jarvis (Robotron: 2084, Defender), Jeff Minter (Gridrunner, Revenge Of The Mutant Camels, Gridrunner, Llamatron) and many more, together with the Giant List of Classic Game Programmers. (Previously, a decade ago).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (28 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
Valve Handbook completely explains their fixation on TF2 and complete lack of progress on any of the Half Life titles
posted by Patbon at 1:19 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Simon is a platform? Wahuh?
posted by JHarris at 1:34 PM on April 21, 2012


Here's a blog entry by PC graphics god Michael Abrash explaining why, after working at many famous tech companies, he gave them all up and went to Valve. (Reddit discussion thereof.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:37 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's Alpha Centauri, chopped liver?!
posted by Brocktoon at 1:38 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Minter ( Llamasoft ) is doing some of his best work ever on iPad right now. If you haven't payed Gridrunner on the iPad you've missed the best shooter on than platform. And it's not the usual IAP-ridden, pastel graphics crap that most iDevice games are either.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:38 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Excuse spelling, poxy iPad keyboard.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:38 PM on April 21, 2012


classy
posted by nervousfritz at 1:42 PM on April 21, 2012


Gridrunner is probably the only VIC-20 game now running natively under iOS. Minter is a living international treasure.
posted by scruss at 1:52 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is the second time in as many weeks that I've read about what it's like to work at Valve, then thought about what it's like to work at my current development position, and then had myself a little cry.
posted by IAmUnaware at 1:54 PM on April 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm pleased that I'm in the Giant List.
posted by plinth at 1:59 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Minter ( Llamasoft ) is doing some of his best work ever on iPad right now.

Agreed. Goat Up is wonderful.
posted by JHarris at 2:03 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


My coworkers and I have been obsessively playing Minter's Goat Up on our iCade over the past year. It's incredibly fun. (Current high score: 2.9 million.)
posted by archagon at 2:05 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the second time in as many weeks that I've read about what it's like to work at Valve, then thought about what it's like to work at my current development position, and then had myself a little cry.

A few years back I considered applying for a job at Valve that looked tailor made for my abilities and experience. That was about the time I decided to move onto greener pastures in a different field. After reading through the handbook, I'm kicking myself a bit for not at least inquiring about it.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 2:21 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a lot of interesting discussion of the Valve handbook at the Hacker News post.
posted by scose at 3:08 PM on April 21, 2012


Another Minter fan nthing the praise for his iOS games. I love Minotaur Rescue, GoatUp, and his latest, "Five A Day" is brilliantly insane - I never thought I'd see a chill-out riff on Time Pilot about stealing bananas and strawberries from bees and spaceships, but there it is.
posted by egypturnash at 3:18 PM on April 21, 2012


Wow, from the end of the Llamatron link:
Watch the skies - and DON'T buy a S*per F*micom!
In the master list of 'worst advice ever given', that quote would show up surprisingly quickly.
posted by Malor at 3:33 PM on April 21, 2012


I discovered the Llamasoft iOS catalog just a couple months ago and squealed with glee. (Okay, there wasn't any actual squealing. There was, however, glee.) I didn't know about Five A Day though, so I just looked up Five A Day and saw:
"Five A Day is a fruit-em-up."
FUCKING. SOLD.
posted by neckro23 at 3:42 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Valve employee contacted me a few years ago about a job. Even though I had already left the games industry, I immediately responded with a "FUCK YES," but after a few rounds of emails they decided to pass. I was so close! And yet, so very, very... not close.
posted by Sibrax at 4:13 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the master list of 'worst advice ever given', that quote would show up surprisingly quickly.

Awww, heh. That's pretty much just joke posing on the part of Minter I think though; most of his games use a low-fi aesthetic coupled with effects that would put a SuFami's Mode 7 graphics to shame.

BTW: My Goat Up high score is 8,727,887. Unfortunately my brief yet fierce addiction to the game faded before I got good enough to challenge the global high score, currently at 13.9M. My distance record is about halfway back down the mountain again.
posted by JHarris at 4:59 PM on April 21, 2012


Michael Abrash talks about working at Valve.
posted by Jpfed at 5:10 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


It must be nice to work at a company with an infinite budget.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:49 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hardest of all to believe is the level of trust. Trust is pervasive.
Can you die of jealousy?
posted by fullerine at 6:32 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Valve hires only the best and brightest. In fact they recently hired George R R Martin to do the dialogue for Half-Life 3, just as soon has he finishes his little book series.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:34 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


The original link isn't working right now, but there's a(nother) mirror at http://cfcdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf
posted by omarr at 11:01 PM on April 21, 2012


So....how does Valve fire people, or, say, discipline them for actionable conduct towards other employees, without regard for their "stack" ranking? (Which sounds to me like an internal popularity contest resembling student council elections.) I bet there's some pretty strong CYA language in their actual employment agreement that goes against the "no mangement" concept. I don't see Valve wanting to admit in a deposition that a bunch of dudes met in the bathroom and decided not to fire Sexual Harassment Programmer because his 'T-shape' was so impressive. As it were.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:56 AM on April 22, 2012


I'm assuming it's a combination of the the pervasive trust and GabeN paying them enormous sums of money to just go away.

Hey Valve, You could hire me as an enforcer!
"So, about Sexual Harassment Programmer *winks* leave it to me."
posted by fullerine at 3:09 PM on April 22, 2012


Interesting... Gabe Newell talks obliquely about HL3
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2012


Valve's Gabe Newell Talks Linux Steam Client, Source Engine
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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