Gabe Newell and a few compatriots from Valve answered questions from the Reddit community for a little over an hour today, offering a seemingly informal look into the company's current operations.
The "Ask Us Anything!" thread, titled "WeAreA videogame developer AUA!
", is filled with comments and questions from users and, rarely, Gabe himself or one of his compatriots.
Their answers offer some interesting insight into Valve's current projects -- Source 2, Steam, VR, and more -- along with a glimpse of where the company is headed next.
Hunting down these answers in the original thread (which is over 9,000 comments strong as of publication) is a time-consuming affair, so for your convenience we've highlighted some of Newell's most interesting comments here.
On the upcoming Source 2 engine:
"The biggest improvements will be in increasing productivity of content creation. That focus is driven by the importance we see UGC having going forward. A professional developer at Valve will put up with a lot of pain that won't work if users themselves have to create content."
On Valve's plans to integrate the Source 2 engine with VR:
"Alex Vlachos is working on this now (getting Source 2 working well with VR)."
On whether or not Valve's software development was stymied by the company's forays into VR technology:
"We aren't holding any game until VR is shipping. You don't want to create that kind of dependency."
On whether or not Valve's VR headset is "light years" ahead of the Oculus Rift:
"I'm not sure I'd agree with that. We are collaborating with them, and want their hardware to be great."
On the challenges of adding a game to the Steam store prior to the debut of Steam Greenlight:
"We got bottle-necked pretty fast on tools and decision-making which lead us to Greenlight, and is now leading us to make Steam a self-publishing system."
Have you had any trouble getting developers to add Linux compatibility?
"Surprisingly little. There is a lot of popular sentiment in the developer community about Linux and gaming."
Do Steam Machines signal a shift in focus, from PC to console game players?
"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. 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."
Are low-cost Steam Machines designed specifically for streaming games still in the works?
"Yes. We're making some progress."
What is your vision for the Steam platform and PC gaming over the next ten years?
"I'm not trying to dodge the question, but we 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. It may make more sense if you think of it as 'How can we make Dendi more entertaining to more people'."
At the time of publication the Reddit thread is still active, and you can read it here