Saturday, September 25

From Half-Life to Steam Deck: Valve Corporation turns 25 | Digital Trends Spanish

In mid-1996, two Microsoft employees who had been involved in the development of the Windows operating system were looking for a change. With their experience in software, they decided to quit their job and form their own company. So on August 24, 1996, Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington founded Valve LLC.

Upon leaving Microsoft, former employees approached John Carmack of Id Software for advice; Newell knew Carmack after developing the version of Doom for Windows, as previously it only ran under MS-DOS. Carmack recommended that they license a game engine to develop their own title (like him with Quake Engine), and thus began development of the successful game. Half-life.

Initially, they worked with the Quake Engine, but by modifying 70 percent of the code — they added skeletal animation and Direct3D support — they generated a new engine that they called GoldSrc. Later, after a long search for a company to publish the game, Valve signed with Sierra On-Line.

Half-life was shown at E3 1997, and quickly everyone started talking about the new first-person shooter game. After some delays, the title was released in November 1998; generated millions of sales and positioned Valve as a studio with a bright future.

Unlike other titles from those years, Half-life it had no cinematics. This allowed players to experience everything through Gordon’s eyes, giving them almost uninterrupted control of the character and making them feel like they were in an interactive movie.

Half-life It was praised for its graphics, gameplay, and originality in its storytelling. It won several Game of the Year awards on PC and is considered one of the most influential FPS in history. In fact, after the success, Valve developed several titles of the franchise that made its fans happy, although they are still waiting for a third installment.

On the other hand, the impact of Half-life was so big that it generated a lot of mods, What Counter-strike, Team fortress, Day of Defeat, Ricochet, The Ship and Alien Swarm (originally a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004). However, instead of condemning them, what Valve did was adopt them, hire the modders and transform them into commercial games.

Valve released Counter-strike in November 2000; To date, it is still the most popular FPS on PC. Its competitive atmosphere, its demanding tactical skills and its immersive maps made the game a success, which subsequently had many expansions and sequels. Additionally, the first LAN cafes to feature the game laid the groundwork for eSports.

Apart from Half-life and Counter-strike, other popular Valve franchises have been Portal, Team fortress, Artifact, Left 4 Dead and Dota, which have influenced in some way in the development of other video games in each genre with their playability. However, Valve not only impacted the industry with its titles, but also with its own digital distribution service: Steam.

In September 2003, Valve launched Steam. It was originally used to provide patches and other updates to the company’s online games, but today it houses more than 30,000 games (not counting DLC ​​and software). It is the largest digital game distributor on the PC platform – it offers a game store, a community / social network, early access to certain titles, and more.

But despite the success of its platform and its games, Valve wanted to go further, thus entering the field of hardware with the intention of approaching the console market. In November 2015, Valve released the Steam Controller and Steam Link, an adapter that could play games from the Steam library on any TV in the house, ideal for those who wanted to play with a controller from the comfort of an armchair.

Valve also ventured into virtual reality. Together with HTC, in March 2015 it introduced SteamVR and HTC Vive, a virtual reality platform and a VR viewer, respectively. Then in June 2019, Valve released its own viewer called Valve Index, and a year later the virtual reality title Half-Life: Alyx to get the most out of your hardware.

Finally, we have the Steam Deck, Valve’s most recent project. It is a portable console that allows you to run Steam games, although the company assures that it is much more than that. This has been touted as a laptop, because you can even install Windows on it to run external applications. It is expected to come out in December.

It’s been 25 years since Valve’s founding and its future continues to look bright. Currently, Valve Corporation is one of the most successful companies in the industry despite its competition with Epic Games. Steam has more than 24 million users. Counter Strike: Global Offensive from 2013 together with Dota 2 of the same year are the most played titles on Steam, with more than 650 thousand players each.

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