Gabe Newell vanished yesterday after arranging a Reddit AMA, certain sensationalist individuals might say that it was because he was busy with Half-Life 3 business. Whatever the reason, he returned today. For an hour, the Valve head honcho along with Greg Coomer, Ido Magal, Erik Wolpaw and Erik Johnson answered Reddit’s questions. Some of them. And no, they didn’t say anything about Half-Life 3. Which obviously means it’s on its way.
Many of the answers reveal pretty mundane things, like Gabe’s love of Mario 64, the fact that he spends 20 hours a week playing games, that his current go-to title is Dota 2, he started programming when he was 13 and he really, really likes knives.
Underneath the biographical stuff are a few interesting titbits, however. Gabe sees Steam Machines (and the OS and controller) as a service update to steam, for example. “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,” he said. “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.”
As well as saying that he plays a lot of Dota 2, he explains why Valve chose to develop the title and revealed a bit of information about the next International. “We knew there were a lot of people playing Dota 1, and quite a few of those people worked at Valve, so our hope was that we'd do a good enough job on it that those people would play Dota 2,” he explained.
“We haven't finalized where this year's International will be,” he continued. “We are pretty sure it will be at Key Arena in Seattle, but we haven't gotten everything finalized, and there is always a risk that our schedules and theirs won't align in some way. As soon as we get everything finalized one way or another, we'll get the dates out there for everyone who would like to attend. Should be fun this year.”
He also discussed his original vision for Valve, and how it’s panned out. “[W]e find it more useful to think in terms of feedback loops than in terms of visions/goals. Iterating with the community means that your near-term objectives change all the time. The key benefit to Steam is to shorten the length of the loop. Longer term, we see that working at the level of individual gamers, where we think of everyone as creating and publishing experience. ‘How can we make gamers more productive’ sounds weird, but is an accurate way to characterize where we're going.”
And then he vanished into the aether once more.