Barny Cumming, artist on hack ‘n’ slash dungeon crawler Crawl, unveiled a new in-game animation on April 1st. It depicted a 20-foot-tall Gabe Newell transforming from mild-mannered Microsoft employee to the floppy-haired, knife-wielding PC gaming deity we know today.
It wasn’t an April Fools’ gag, but a prospective addition to the game - which allows players to control enemies in local multiplayer. And now Valve have given their blessing.
After news reporters began reaching out to Valve about the animation, Cumming began to worry about what Newell would make of it and did the “obvious right thing” - ask for permission.
“I recently realized my silly fantasy of animating you as a powerful god in the game,” he wrote in his letter to Gabe. “If you find this low-res incarnation of yourself objectionable, I will of course not put him into the game.”
In mitigation, Cumming argued that Newell would be the most powerful character in Crawl, “effectively building a perception that you would be a formidable opponent in combat”. And that because Newell’s contemporary bearded look is implied to be his Super Saiyan form, the depiction should also serve as a deterrent to Dragon Ball fans who might otherwise have posed a threat.
“I will of course supply images of myself to enable your retaliatory usage of my likeness into your own video games,” said Cumming. “If you’re still not convinced then of course I will respect your wishes, but please keep in mind any time spent battling your likeness in a game of Crawl, is time not spent making terrible jokes about Half Life 3.”
Silence. And then, on Friday, a “short sweet email” from Valve granting permission.
“Turns out Valve are cool,” wrote Crawl studio Powerhoof on Twitter. “Who knew?”
The Newell update will be introduced “very soon” - and in the meantime Crawl is available on Steam Early Access for £6.99. Think you’ll buy in? Before you answer, consider that Crawl’s local multiplayer conceit renders Gabe playable.