Valve Chats Multiplayer, Crafting Sequels and Portal 2

Portal 2

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

Written by

I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

3 thoughts on “Valve Chats Multiplayer, Crafting Sequels and Portal 2”

  1. I *would* believe them that mulitplayer is not necessary to be competitive, if it weren’t for the fact that they’ve been very successful in jumping on the mulit-player bandwagon.

    L4D & L4D2, in my opinion, are survival-horror games and should stick to their strengths. Versus – though widely used – induces more rage than any game I have ever seen, and really takes away from the original feel.

    A nice line by Valve, but I’m a bit sceptical about their record of recent.

    1. Good point with the L4D mentions, but I feel like they prove this by daring to make games like the first Portal and Half-Life 2, which don’t have multiplayer components to them at all and still do well. I think they know how to take one great game mode and make it work. It’d be like adding a single player component to TF2: it’d be silly.

  2. He’s right in that not every game needs a multiplayer portion to be competitive, but what he’s forgetting is that it’s VALVe. THEY don’t need a multiplayer portion to be successful in any game, they could poop and make it digital and we’d f*cking love it. However, I think for a lot of developers, it’s key to try to steal the crowd from the last big multiplayer game every time, which is basically why we see so many clones in shooters.

    Like i always say, Counter-Strike did it right so I don’t care about multiplayer in almost any other game. Just give me a strong story and great memories and I’m happy: Valve always fulfills that.

Comments are closed.