Remember in the first Batman movie when Joker is watching Batman do his superhero thing, and Jack Nicholson famously quipped, “Where does he get all those wonderful toys?” I kind of feel like that every time I read interviews with Valve, who are just so good at what they do that it astounds me. Whether you like their games or not, you have to admit that they’re at the very least smart, and good at talking about games.
To me, the most respectable thing about Valve is the drive to always one up themselves, and to continue delivering experiences that will give the most value to their customer base and build up community around games. Take their recent interview with Game Developer Magazine, where project manager Erik Johnson talked primarily about Portal 2 and what it means to create a sequel for a much anticipated title.
Reading over the article, it seems like Valve really understands what made the first Portal click so well for such a huge audience. Check out some awesome quotes after the jump.
In general, we try to be the servants of their opinion. We try to build the kind of game that they want, and one of the ways to engage with customers is to point out knowledge that they have, like “Hey, we know that you guys played Portal 1,” to give them something to hold on to.
For many people, it was this perfect experience. It was the game that, far and away, more people finished than any game we’ve made — we can see in Steam if the game gets finished, and it was huge in that respect.
We looked back to find the core things players liked about Portal. We felt it was the story and the tone, the type of story it was, and the delivery mechanism of the story. We felt like for a lot of people, their reaction was surprise about the gameplay.
Johnson goes on to talk about the issue of single player vs. multiplayer, and how not every game needs a multiplayer component. This is a common misconception that’s going on around the culture of gaming right now, so it’s cool to see that a developer thinks that additional value can be added without mundane game modes.
I think there is an interesting question in how many projects should be offline products and how long that is going to be viable. Half-Life 1 was a really offline product. I think customers want to find ways to talk about the thing that they are a big fan of with other people, and ideally experience it the same way.
That doesn’t mean every game needs to be multiplayer. With single player games that were completely in a box, and there was no way to experience anything else, I think there are things that customers want that those games don’t take advantage of.
That could just mean that you want to be able to chat with other people who are playing through the same part of the game as you, or the fans can write commentary nodes in the game and everyone can experience those to take advantage of the fact that there is a huge community of people that want to interact with each other.
I still think the analysis that every product needs to be a competitor in multiplayer, or an MMO, is incorrect; there are a lot of people who want an experience without the stress, so I don’t see that changing.
I think these are some great quotes, and the interview itself is an interesting read for sure. But then again, that could just be my fanboy showing. Where is your excitement level for Portal 2? Do you think Valve will make a worthy successor, or will it try to do too many things? Also, what do you think of the assessment that not every game needs multiplayer?
Source – Gamasutra