on Jul 26, 2012
And so we come to the end of Half-Life 2. I know I joke about this show being a podcast with a quasi-related video feed. That might be particularly true here. This series has been fun. We’ll probably just roll on into the episodes as time allows, although the plan now is to cover Mass Effect 3.
Breen’s office is where the final installment of After After Curfew was shot.
These are the Wayans Brothers I was talking about, and this is Damian Wayne. Chris mentioned Sphere, the movie. An interesting note about Sphere is that it starred Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Awesome, and Dustin Hoffman. At the time it was rare to get those kind of names into Sci-Fi movies, and yet I never heard of Sphere. Nothing. I didn’t know it existed until I saw it on Netflix almost a decade later.
I made reference to the Valve Employeee Handbook, a document so amazing I literally feel a rush of adrenaline when I read it. In the past I referred to my childhood, where I became excited to the point of agitation during my first encounter with a quasi-computer. Three decades later, I feel the same sort of trembling-hands excitement when I read the handbook. Not because, “Oh! Valve makes videogames and that’s fun!” but because their development philosophy and company culture crystallizes everything I’ve said about how a creative company needs to work: Hire good people, trust them to do their jobs. At Valve they take this idea to its logical extreme, and the result is a company and set of products unlike any other. While I like me some Valve games, I’m more excited for their ideas about motivation, creativity, organization, and hierarchy than I am about the next installment of Half-Life.
In short, there is a reason that Steam is the way it is, and Origin is the way it is. Valve is making money, making hit games, growing in power, and steering the industry. Their methods and ideas are public, and yet other companies are physically incapable of copying them because in order to copy Valve you have to change your culture. Valve culture is completely antithetical to the people running EA, to the point where, if you suggested running a company that way, they would probably imagine some sort of BioShock-esqe dystopian madhouse of feuding and destruction. In the EA mindset, the only way people can make something great is if you tell them exactly what to do and then squeeze them really hard. The same is true for most of the other big publishers as well.
I mean, how could a smart, motivated, educated, personable employee with good communication skills POSSIBLY do good work unless you stood over them for 14 hours a day?