I don’t really know where to begin here. Yesterday I went to the offices of Valve Software. Being an aspiring game designer, having the opportunity to visit was not only incredibly fun, but educational also.
I’ve read a lot of articles about the processes of Valve, and how they do things differently. From the moving desks, to the way they collaborate on projects. Yesterday I got an example of that in person.
Upon entering the Valve suite, on the left, down the corridor, there are two walls which have a large collection of awards given to the company, as well as a huge magazine wall with covers related to their games. It was really cool to see the awards in person for once.
To the right of the elevator is the main lobby. The lobby area is filled with all sorts of different models and memorabilia, as well as a large red Valve which greets you as soon as you walk through the door.
In the corner there is a highly detailed model of Atlas from Portal 2, with similar detail to the Team Fortress sentry that used to be there. The television set in the lobby rotates different concept and fan art.
The tour itself took us all around the offices, and was led by one of the front of house staff members. It was very informative. She talked specifics about how games go from being a small project, to gaining momentum, and then to release. She also talked about how Gabe occasionally sets challenges for the company to rise to. The tour was packed full of information, more then I can cover in a single blog post.
Valve has an insane benefit package. They treat their employees really well and want to keep their people for life. We were told that the kind of innovative people who work with Valve are usually the type of people who eventually want a career change. Because of that, the company will pay for any education advancements their employees want, all they need to do is ask. They will even host basic classes on site.
At the end we were taken back to the main lobby and given some goodie bags. Megan and myself both got one and they were filled with shirts, key rings, plush, trading and post cards.
After the tour Megan and I were taken aside, our contact at Valve had arranged some play testing of some unreleased content for us. The entire experience was very enlightening and it was a very fun afternoon. Big thanks to Valve for having us, we really enjoyed ourselves and would love to come back again in the future.