Highlights from Gabe Newell’s Ask Me Anything on Reddit

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Gabe Newell, the big boss guy over at Valve, very kindly (and somewhat bravely) volunteered to do an Ask Me Anything on Reddit last night with a bunch of other Valve employees. The answers they gave provided some interesting insights into what’s going on at Valve, Gabe’s personal life but, of course, there was no word on Half-Life 3. No surprises there.

There were also a bunch of really weird questions directed at Gabe, but then that typically happens when you open yourself up to questions from the internet, and you just happen to be a superhero to many members of the PC gaming scene.

We’ve sifted through the whole thing to bring you some of the most interesting questions and answers, as well as a sampling of some of the stranger questions directed at Gabe. Enjoy!

Reddit AMA with Gabe Newell – Highlights reel

Q: What improvements will we see out of the Source 2 engine?

A: The biggest improvements will be in increasing productivity of content creation. That focus is driven by the importance we see UGC [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.

Q: What are your thoughts on Valve making new IP’s?

A: An IP is really a tool for a development team more than anything else. The key is to have clarity around what is uniquely of value in what you are trying to do and not waste your effort on things that don’t directly contribute to that.

Q: Was there a point in your life when you considered selling/leaving Valve and get away from gaming industry to do something else?

A: Not really. I really like the people I work with and being part of the community.

Q: Hello! This question is directed to Eric Wolpaw [writer of the Portal games]. I’m sure you’ve had this question asked many times, and if that is the case I apologize for repeating the past, but I’m curious as to how the process of writing a game looks like? A brief summary perhaps. How many fresh pots of coffee per hour? Etc.

A: Wolpaw: It’s a lot of loose sketching at first, and then a lot of dot-connecting and backfilling as the game gets closer to being done. Lots of procrastinating, too. Lots.

Q: Seeing as you (Valve) are now rolling out the steam OS and steam machines will be coming to market soon, what do you think your core target market is, the desktop, pc gamer, or the living room console player?

A: We see Steam Machines (along with SteamOS and the Steam Controller) as a service update to Steam, porting the experience to a new room in the house. As we’ve been working on it, we’ve focused first on the customers who already love Steam and its games. They’ve told us they’re tired of giving up all the stuff they love when they sit in the living room, so it seemed valuable to fix that.

Q: Thank you for doing this ama. I am planning on majoring in Computer Science, and I want to someday work in game development. What do AAA companies look at, other than a degree? Past experiences, etc?

A: We look for a history of shipping things. There is no substitute for shipping things that make your customers happy.

Q: Hi Gabe, first of all many thanks for all the work with valve and the steam software. With the success of Dota2, and then with CS:GO, what do you think is the future for esports on the PC? Also, with micro transactions in the games helping fund prize pots for tournaments, when do you think we will see a tournament fully funded by micro-transactions?

A: We still think we have a long way to go to get to the point where all of the different people that are contributing value to competitive play get everything out of it that they should. Feels like we are making pretty good progress though.

Giving the consumers of content a direct relationship with the creators of content is something we think about a lot. That is what drove our thinking about how the community could be more involved in the tournaments that mattered to them.

Q: Is it possible for some sort of [Steam Music] integration with services like Pandora and Spotify, in the future? I don’t have a music library, per se, and mostly just use internet radio, so it’d be great if I didn’t have to alt tab to change stations or skip songs. Could this happen?

A: Yes, we’ve got some things in the works that we think you’ll like.

Q: Do you ever play games such as tf2 on a secret Steam account?

A: Yes. [Ed’s note: Awesome!]

Q: GabeN, what are your specs?

A: Well, I’m a handsome man with a charming personality.

Q: What hobbies do you have outside of your job?

A: Machining. Motorsports.

Q: How do you feel about the Internet’s obsession with you?

A: It’s entertaining for my friends.

The most important question of them all, “WHERE IS HALF-LIFE 3 DAMNIT?!?” was asked in various forms, and this was Gabe’s ultimate answer, which is actually pretty reasonable (if still annoying):

A: “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.”

So there you have it. Despite there being no real Half-Life 3 news, Gabe’s AMA was interesting nonetheless. To read the AMA in full, complete with unbridled internet strangeness, click here.

[Image Credit: Techradar]

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.

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