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Developer Salute – Valve

Few studios boast the diversity of hit titles like Valve. The Half-Life series is celebrated for its innovative gameplay, seamless narrative, and cutting edge technology. Left 4 Dead accentuates teamwork like no other game before it, and was voted the best cooperative game of all time by the Game Informer staff. Portal is the rare puzzle game that eases you gradually into increasingly complicated physics puzzles that always make you feel smart for solving them. It also pulls off the rare accomplishment of mastering comedic timing, a much tougher feat in interactive entertainment than it is in any other medium.

Over the years, the studio's engineers have developed a reputation for creating some of the best technology in the game industry. The Steam digital distribution service had a rough start, but a series of smart additions has made it the de facto store front for most PC gamers and a hospitable environment for indie developers. The Source engine that powered Half-Life 2 is still going strong, as evidenced by Respawn Entertainment adopting it to build Titanfall (albeit with a highly modified version).  

Valve's legacy doesn't end with its games or technology; it also has a lot to do with its attitude. In an era where many publishers took a hostile approach toward modders, Valve embraced them wholeheartedly, giving a home to Team Fortress creators Robin Walker, John Cook, and Ian Caughley. Later, the company subsumed the popular Counter-Strike mod built off the Half-Life engine.

The studio also isn't bashful about speaking from the heart. Outspoken co-founder Gabe Newell is never afraid to share his opinion, pontificating about the failures of Xbox Live, his disdain for the PlayStation 3 (which he later recanted), and Windows 8's disastrous approach to games.

The company also has a sterling track record of attracting high-end talent. After seeing Kim Swift's DigiPen project, the Narbacular Drop, Valve offered to let her finish the game with the company's resources. The project eventually morphed into Portal. Old Man Murray writers Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek joined Valve in 2005 and played a major role in nailing the comedic tone for GLaDOS. Far Cry 2 creator Clint Hocking also joined the team in recent years.

As we wait impatiently for news on Half-Life 3, Left 4 Dead 3, or perhaps even a new IP, it's worth taking a moment to thank Valve for all of its hard work over the years. Few studios have such a sterling track record, and that doesn't happen by accident. These games and technologies are the result of unwavering creative vision and a hell of a lot of hard work.

 

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