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Valve Corporation

Par Pierre MAESTRACCI Publié le 29/10/2019 à 13:00:51 Noter cet article:
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Valve Corporation is most certainly the largest video game development and digital distribution company of our century. Founded in 1996 by former Microsoft employees, Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, Valve became known in 1998 for its first critically acclaimed and massively sold title, the Half-Life game developed under GoldSrc that will be discussed later. This article will focus more on targeting the main softwares developed or used by Valve during its evolution rather than describing its evolution in the world of video games in itself. We will of course start with a chronology of the biggest titles, then we will focus on graphical engines and other resources developed or used by Valve. We will then describe their architectures and compare them to equivalents (rivals) on the market of the time.

Course in the video game

The iconic series

Due to its success with Half-Life in 1998, Valve is equally known for its short series of video games. Indeed, with series like Half Life or Portal that have never seen a third part, Valve has earned a reputation for not knowing how to count to 3, being afraid of this number.

So let's start with the first set of Valve. Half Life is the flagship series of the company. Even if there are only two titles, the series actually consists of 9 games or episodes that trace the same story line. Games published in chronological order, each of which is either a continuation of the previous game or an approach to the game by a different character. The entire series uses the GoldSrc graphics engine developed Valve which will be discussed later.

The legitimate successor of Half Life is the Portal series, I would like to make an aside and not least on a modification for Half-Life: Counter Strike. The first game appears in 1999 and is immediately found intellectual property of Valve. It follows a long series of 8 games running until 2014, including online versions. In 2004 the 3rd game of the series named Source is designed to run under the graphics engine Source that is considered to be a successor to GoldScr. The rest of the series will run on the same engine.

Another big series of the group is the Portal series. The first game appearing very late (October 10, 2007), the series of 4 games is fully designed to run under Source.

The Team Fortress series is basically a modification of Quake and QuakeWorld games developed by TF Software Pty. The team was working on a sequel (Team Fortress 2) when she was hired by Valve to write a Team Fortress as a modification for Half Life which would act as a promotion of the graphics engine. This mod comes out under the name of Team Fortress Classic in 1999. Team Fortress 2 comes out in 2007 under Valve ownership and runs under Source.

With Left 4 Dead, Valve released 2 main games with a DLC suite. Both shutters run under Source.

DotA2 is the successor, released by Valve, of DotA a mod of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. It runs under Source 2. DotA being owned by Blizzard Entertainment, a Trademark criminal case starts. Valve will then keep the commercial rights on DotA and Blizzard reserves to the fans the non-commercial use of the game.

Canceled games

We are talking about a lot of series whose last parts remain incomplete or under development. Myths such as Half Life 3, a new Portal or Team Fortress are anxious fans and it seems that Valve literally delights in this semi mystery and the reputation that the franchise is created.

Moreover, some of his projects will never see the light of day. We note, for example, Prospero or Stars of Blood where Valve tried to reinvent herself in Role Play. We can also note that the last episodes of Half-Life 2 (Episode 3 and Episode 4) may never be published.

Softwares of the video game and other projects

Engines

We talk a lot about GoldSrc in the first Valve games. Developed in 1998, it is written in C, x86 assembler and C ++. The genesis comes from another video game, Quake, with huge modifications from Valve, they keep the graphics engine. According to one of the creators, most of GoldScr is however written completely by Valve such as artificial intelligence.

Source is the legitimate successor of GoldSrc. The engine is written entirely in C ++. In addition to the unique evolution provided to GoldSrc, Source provides users and developers with a suite of tools. SDK Source as a development kit, it comes with many command-based programs as well as GUIs for more complicated functions to manage. Source SDK comes with 3 applications: Hammer Editor, Model Viewer and Face Poser.

Hammer Editor for game maps and to create levels. Model Viewer allows users to observe models and their different animations such as the behavior of human body attachment points, boxes, weapons, etc. It can therefore be used other than for simple development. Face Poser is the tool that manages the facial expressions of characters.

Source Dedicated Server or SRCDS is an independent program for online interfaces of Source games without the need for creating a client. Most external servers run with Metamod: Source and Source Mod which together form an additional framework for SRCDS for modifying existing files.

Source Filmaker is a video capture system. Used to create mini-movies or cutscenes inside games independently of the graphics engine, it is now open to the public and available on Steam.

Destinations Workshop Tools is for virtual reality.

Valve's intellectual property, Source is nevertheless used for development by other developers than Valve's. We have about thirty games including for example NeoTokyo or the Titanfall series that run with the Source engine.

As a successor to Source, Source 2 also written in C ++ will replace the old tools in terms of ease of use and especially efficiency and speed of creation. Source 2 is free to use as long as developers use Steam as a launch pad for their games. New features include enhanced voice handling and handling, a new engine for physical animations, native OpenGL support on all platforms, new editing tools, and support for the Steam sound system.

Steam

Steam is one of Valve's biggest projects. It is written in C ++, Objective-C for Mac and Java for Android. It is not only a distribution platform, but also offers multiplayer gaming, video streaming and a social network interface. To post games, you must be a member of Steamworks, which is also a platform and social network for development.

Steam has also appeared as a gaming station. Indeed the SteamOs is a Linux distribution based on Debian! The latter is mainly used as a platform for Steam games without going through our usual PCs (so Windows). The latest version 2.0 (brewmaster) is based on Debian8 for a Monolithic type kernel.

Other

VAC : Valve anti-cheat

An anti-cheat program originally developed as a Steam component for Counter-strike. The mechanism is simple, when a form of cheat is detected, the players are banished without warnings. However, the procedure is long, so players can be banned several weeks after detection. To give figures, in 2014, 2.2M of Steam accounts were banned following cheat attempts.

VOGL

VOGL is a debugger for the graphical rendering of the OpenGL API. It is written in C ++, originally designed to support Linux OS.

Conclusion

Valve is already 22 years old and has never stopped making us dream. A conclusion would be misplaced here, we will speak rather of openness.

When we talk about the video game industry we are coming back, and more particularly today, in a booming world, Valve is hiring more and more people to develop their own games as well as to improve Steam.

Finally, I just regret not being able to provide more information about the development of their products, including the many intellectual properties.

https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valve_Corporation

http://store.steampowered.com/steamos/

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