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Feb 28, 2013
Cartoonist Stephen Lester is "currently on a mission to fill his home with vintage video games and video game memorabilia". Part of that involves his guest bathroom, which is becoming a themed shrine to Valve's Portal series.
Portal may not seem like the most romantic game ever, seeing as how it's populated with a bunch of robots and only a single human character. But even all these years later, people still haven't gotten over protagonist Chell and her doomed relationship with the heart-decorated Companion Cube.
The folks at Random Encounters Entertainment (not to be confused with Jason's weekly JRPG column) have put together this heartwarming duet between Chell and her cube. They seem so happy! Ah, but happiness is fleeting.
In a first for the company, Valve let go an unspecified number of employees across multiple teams including hardware and Android development, according to a report by Gamasutra.
Valve hasn't released official word on the number of departures or how this affects its Steam Box project, but Gamasutra says it's hearing such descriptions as "great cleansing" and "large decisions" from those let go. "We've seen the number '25' tossed around, but are unable to confirm this," the Gamasutra article claims.
Yesterday, hardware hacker Jeri Ellsworth, who was hired by Valve to join its hardware team, tweeted a sudden announcement that she'd been fired and was moving on to "new and exciting projects." Elsewhere, the LinkedIn profile of Ed Owen, a senior mechanical engineer, shows an end employment date of February 2013 at Valve.
Though layoffs happen from time to time in the industry, Valve's reputation as one of the most secretive (and lucrative) studios in the business underscores the peculiarity of this development, especially when the terms "layoffs" and "fired" aren't normally associated with a company known for its free-form work philosophy.
We've reached out to Valve for an explanation and for further confirmation about how many people have been let go. We'll update this story if more information arrives today.
UPDATE: Garry's Mod creator Garry Newman tweets the appearance of a number of differences on Valve's staff page seen through Diff Checker. The comparison tool indicates the removal of nine employee bios from the People section of Valve's company page, listed below:
Moby Francke, Half-Life 2 character designer and Team Fortress 2 art lead
Jason Holtman, director of business development for Steam and Steamworks
Keith Huggins, character animator and animator for Team Fortress 2 "Meet the" video series
Tom Leonard, software engineer for Half-Life 2 and Left 4 Dead
Realm Lovejoy, artist for Half-Life 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. She was also part of the original DigiPen-turned-Valve team that created Narbacular Drop, the inspiration for Portal
Marc Nagel, test lead for Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and patch updates
Bay Raitt, animator for Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal
Elan Ruskin, engine programmer for Left 4 Dead, Portal 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Matthew Russell, animator for Team Fortress 2 "Meet the" video series
UPDATE: Valve boss Gabe Newell sent along his response to Engadget: "We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons. There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I'd take the unusual step of addressing them. No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing. No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or . We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."
The DS still is home to a robust homebrew scene, as we see here in this Portal port that modder Smealum has been working on for about the past six months. "Still nowhere near playable," he writes under the latest video, but it's brought along Portal staples like turrets, cubes, switches and energy balls.
"This is still extremely early footage so please don't be too harsh," smealum writes. "Lots of debug features are present, including the ability to fly, see portals through walls and move cubes from a distance. Also, keep in mind this was shot in an emulator which provides good but still less than perfect rendering. As such, be aware that most (not all, but still) of the graphical glitches you can see in this video don't happen on hardware (mostly the portal transition is a lot nicer on an actual DS)."
Feb 7, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (John Walker)
The faux movie poster that five minutes and Photoshop made.
Gabe Newell and director J.J. Abrams conversed on stage this morning at the D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) summit in Las Vegas. After a back-and-forth about player agency and storytelling (via Polygon's live blog), Newell revealed that the duo had been "recapitulating a series of conversations going on," and that they're now ready to "do more than talk": Newell suggested "either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie," and Abrams said he'd like to make a game with Valve.
Abrams is the currently reigning king of big franchise sci-fi filmmaking, taking his throne in the director's chair of both the Star Trek and Star Wars series. He's also known for producing Fringe, Cloverfield, and the maddening tale that was Lost.
In 2010, Newell told us that if Valve were to make a Half-Life movie, it wouldn't hand over control to any Hollywood studio, saying:
"There was a whole bunch of meetings with people from Hollywood. Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story. And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of.
"That’s when we started saying 'Wow, the best thing we could ever do is to just not do this as a movie, or we’d have to make it ourselves.'"
There are no details on Newell and Abrams' project—be it game, film, or both—outside of the tease that they're talking. But they're talking, so how about some fun speculation? Who would you cast as Chell? Alyx Vance? Gordon Freeman? We love Bryan Cranston for the latter role, but he may have aged beyond Freeman. Is Hugh Laurie still a favorite?
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Nathan Grayson)
I’m off in the strange, far-away land of Las Vegas right now, and I just got done watching Gabe Newell and JJ “Warring Trek of the Stars” Abrams chat each other up on stage. I’ll have more from the talk for you soon, but here’s the big take-away: Valve and Abrams are officially collaborating. “What we’re actually doing here,” Newell said at the talk’s conclusion, “is recapitulating a series of conversations that have been going on [between Abrams and I]. This is what happens when game and movie people get together. And we sort of reached the point where we decided that we needed to do more than talk. So we’re gonna try and figure out if we can make a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie together.” Meanwhile, Abrams added: “And we have a game idea we’d like to work with Valve on.” Finally, Gabe wrapped it up: “It’s time for our industries to stop talking about potential and really execute on it.”
Appearing with the director J.J. Abrams at D.I.C.E. Summit today, Valve's Gabe Newell said the company would "find out if there's a way we can work with you on a Portal and Half-Life movie."
Polygon reports that things may be a little further along than that. Speaking after the panel, Abrams told Polygon "We are really talking to Valve, we are going to be bringing on a writer, we have a lot of very interesting ideas."
However, "it's as real as as anything in Hollywood ever gets," he added. Which means it could be a sure thing, or could amount to nothing, or could take forever to bring to life. Like, well, Half-Life 3.
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
Kicking off the DICE summit in Las Vegas today was a keynote presentation by Valve head Gabe Newell and Star Trek director J.J. Abrams. At the talk, the two teased that they were interested in working together on future collaborations. "There's an idea we have for a game that we'd like to work with Valve on," Abrams said, while Newell said: "We're super excited about that and we also want to talk about making movies, either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie."
But how serious are the pair in making their wants a reality? Apparently, pretty serious. "It's as real as anything in Hollywood ever gets," Abrams said. "Which is that we are really talking to Valve, we are going to be bringing on a writer, we have a lot of very interesting ideas."
"Both a Portal and Half-Life movie are things I want to see," Abrams told Polygon, noting that he's well aware of the pitfalls other game-to-movie adaptations have faced. "We're also aware of the cautionary tales of movies that became games and vice versa. Our goal here to is to treat the world Valve has created in both these properties like anyone would a book or some great story that comes from a pitch or original script--just to treat it with the respect they treat their games and their players with."
Of course, Abrams has his hands tied for quite some time, having already signed on to direct Star Wars: Episode VII, which is aiming for a 2015 release. Valve fans, however, are known for being a patient bunch, so the years-long process to make a movie a reality shouldn't faze them too much.
Gabe Newell and J.J. Abrams spoke about storytelling in each of their mediums. When the panel ended, this exchange happened:
Abrams: There's an idea we have for a game that we'd like to work with Valve on.
Newell: We're going to find out if there's a way we can work with you on a Portal and Half-Life movie.
And the two men walked off, without any further details. Both creators are renown for keeping secrets, so don't expect any details about these proposed projects anytime soon. But just the very notion of a collaboration between the company behind Half-Life 2 and the man behind Lost is a tantalizing prospect.