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 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?
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.
Mirrors lined with blue and red LEDs have long been a staple of Portal-themed decoration. Taking it to the next level, however, is jamin101wolf. He bought the Portal gun prop available through ThinkGeek and Amazon, then plugged the two mirrors into remote-control power boxes. With this he pulls off the effect of firing a red and blue portal (which are located on opposite walls, creating the requisite hall-of-mirrors effect.)
The remote control is not built into the Portal gun; as we speak, a more skilled modder may be integrating it with the toy's trigger. jamin101wolf said he didn't want to risk destroying his. Still, it's a neat trick and one I wish I'd thought of first.
Portal Mirrors Build [imgur. h/t Victor B.]
Those wanting to work for WibiData better have impeccable Portal problem solving skills. Part of the application process for the San Francisco tech startup involves completing a custom level, based on the company's offices, says the New York Times.
A teaser of the custom level can be seen above. WibiData, a computer engineering firm, created the mod as a test for new applicants. The company's CEO said that playing Portal (and Portal 2, upon which this mod is based) he felt the game challenged his reasoning in the same way as a complex programming problem.
WibiData commissioned modder Doug Hoogland to create the level, which features WibiData's offices and a secret (nonexistent) test laboratory beneath them. Hoogland, notes PC Gamer, came to WibiData's attention after he built a wedding proposal mod in Portal for a customer of WibiData.
The level is available for download at WibiData's website.
WibiData, a startup data applications developer, uses a rather interesting recruitment process: it tasks prospective hires with puzzling out a lost PIN code in a recreation of the company's offices in Portal 2. Yes, that includes hearing modulated insults from a GlaDOS soundalike as you gather reset keys and jump through walls.
Speaking to the New York Times (via VentureBeat), WibiData CEO Christophe Bisciglia said the mod's genesis arose from how Portal 2's layered puzzles "makes me feel like I exercise the same part of my brain that programming and problem-solving does."
Bisciglia commissioned modder Doug Hoogland to design and create WibiData's virtual workspace and the puzzles housed beneath it. Hoogland earned Bisciglia's attention after he fashioned a Portal-ized wedding proposal for an earlier customer, which is both romantically adorable and the best chance to see a murderous computer become a third wheel.
We presume WibiData's employee insurance policy now covers injuries sustained from teleportation ovals and scheming sentient AIs. You can check out the mod for yourself on the company's website.
If you hadn't previously heard of Zachariah Scott, then you've got a fun (and entirely unproductive) afternoon ahead of you. The Bioware cinematic designer has been doing some amazing things with Valve's Source Filmmaker in his spare time. But with this Portal 2 short, The Turret Anthem, he's possibly outdone himself.
The video features music by Lars Erik Fjøsne. Of the project, Scott says, "This video was shot on black void, using a rebuild version of glados' chamber that I put together by hand. Fun story about this video, I've been trying to make it for about 6 months, it's a super late Turret Week video. I kept overthinking it, and had much of the principal synchronization done but couldnt' figure out how I wanted to shoot it, well I sat down this weekend and knocked it out in two days, and I'm pretty sure nobody will have any problem with the results." Too right.
The video above is a Turret Anthem, internally known as Megadub, and it's a fantastic song. The video is great too, of course, as you watch the tiny turrets slowly overtake GLaDOS in her confusion.
Definitely something I will listen to on repeat.
Someday, Valve will eventually run out of wonderful features to pack into its mega-gaming-hub Steam. Let's hope it's a long way off, because we'll all be busy poring over the user-written manuals, walkthroughs, and tips for our various games in the newly launched Steam Guides section of Steam's Community area.
Anyone can create and submit a guide for the game of their choice by clicking the new Guide tab on a game's Community Hub page. You can pretty up your words with images and embedded YouTube videos as well, and the guides also appear upon Steam's overlay whenever you're running a program. Neat. I can finally whip up my "How to avoid tigers" guide I've been planning for Far Cry 3 quickly and easily.
Head over to the Steam Guides page to take a look at the over 1,000 guides already created.