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Video: A look inside Valve's creative process
Valve writers Erik Wolpaw, Marc Laidlaw, and Ted Kosmatka provide some off-the-cuff thoughts on the studio's creative process, touching on character writing, world building, and much more.
Have you ever wondered how Valve created its memorable characters in Portal or Team Fortress 2? Perhaps you've been curious to know how the studio manages to write games that are actually funny? If so, you're in luck, as three of Valve's top writers answer these questions – and much more – in the above GDC Vault video. In this roundtable discussion from last year's GDC Online, Valve writers Erik Wolpaw, Marc Laidlaw, and Ted Kosmatka took a moment to answer audience questions about nearly all aspects of the company's creative process, from crafting virtual worlds, to writing clever dialogue, and much more. When asked about Valve's silent protagonists, for instance (think Portal or Half-Life), the trio explained that creating a character that doesn't speak is actually a huge challenge, as it really limits what a game writer can do in any given scenario. When writing for Portal 2, for instance, Valve created a number of scenes in which the main character [SPOILER] is forced to partner with the antagonist, GlaDOS, and the team wanted to create some fun buddy-cop style banter between the two characters. "It honest to god didn't occur to us that the buddy-cop thing doesn't work if one of you is quiet," Wolpaw said. "It’s funny now, but at the time it was a true moment of incredible panic when we realized we had painted ourselves into a corner." "[Creating a silent protagonist] is not something I would recommend," Laidlaw added. "It's an interesting challenge, and it's always great to have limitations on your design," but developers will often spend most of their time just trying to work around the limitations of their mute hero. Throughout the rest of their panel, the writers offered even more off-the-cuff thoughts on how they approach writing and game development, and you can check out the full presentation for yourself in the above video.