GED Interviews Gabe Newell

To kick-off the opening of GamersEd we managed to snag an interview with TF2 stud Gabe Newell. It was tough, but we managed to slip this by the security guards at the front door of Valve Software.

Here are the questions, in no particular order.

1)Working for an isp has me wondering about the work that Valve is doing with Cisco to improve networking code. What impact will the work you are doing have on system IOS that isp’s run, and what will they be required to do to in order to support it?
[Gabe Newell] The changes an ISP would need to make to support PowerPlay are pretty dependent upon what kind of hardware they have installed (principally routers and access concentrators) and how that hardware is currently configured. Matthew Lodge at Cisco can be a lot more specific about what an ISP needs to do to be in compliance with the specification.

2)What is Valve’s role in powerplay?
[Gabe Newell] We got involved because of Team Fortress 2. We were thinking about what the barriers were to getting large groups of people to enjoy on-line gaming more, and it became clear that we could only do so much without talking to the people building the hardware and provisioning the service. Initially PowerPlay started out as a set of proprietary things Cisco and Valve could do specifically for our application. It very quickly became clear that that would be dumb, and we started asking other developers to participate. Our goal is to become just another PowerPlay developer, as it has taken a lot of time to spearhead PowerPlay — time which we’d rather spend on our games.

3)What is Cisco contributing to powerplay?
[Gabe Newell] Cisco basically represents the hardware parts of the problem and also has the infrastructure in place to work with all of the ISPs around the world on deployment. Having the people who actually build routers and access concentrators involved in the discussions means you can solve much more interesting problems.

4)With the recent out-break of pak file cheating in Counter-Strike and some other well know games/mods, are you going to implement some sort of pak file checking to help prevent cheating in TF2?
[Gabe Newell] Actually we will fix this prior to TF 2.

5)Taking the previous question into consideration, how will customized skins and other quick add-ons be handled, as that seems to always be one of the first things to come out of the mod community.

[Gabe Newell] That will be left to the mod authors and the individual server operators to administer (whether or not they allow them on their server). Valve’s SDK 2.0 provides a variety of file consistency checking options, leaving specific choices up to the mod authors.

6)Are “spammers” going to be a concern with the new voice communications in TF2? God only knows how many times I have connected to a server only to see “Your momma’s a friggin snow blower!” displayed about 500 times on my screen from some immature player. It’s one thing to have text displayed to your screen, it’s quite another to actually hear someone say it.
[Gabe Newell] Thinking through the realities of voice given the, uh, sociology of the net is one of the more interesting parts of TF 2’s design. We obviously need to have mechanisms for not only coping with this, but adding value to the game experience. One of the tools commanders will have is controlling access to the “radio” channels.

7)With the ever-growing popularity of Massive Multi-player games like EverQuest and Ultima Online have you thought about taking the idea of TF2 and making a Massive Multi-player online War possibly for your next project? I think if anyone could pull it off successfully, it would be Valve.
[Gabe Newell] That would be a lot of work.

8)What are the minimum specs for a dedicated server going to be, and how many players will that support at a time?
[Gabe Newell] The game logic should be about the same per user as TFC (the code is faster, but it does more). The voice component I don’t know yet.

9)Will powerplay be using any of the IPV6 standards or is that too far off to include?
[Gabe Newell] IPV6 tackles a different set of problems than PowerPlay is trying to address.

10)Will the teams in TF2 be balanced, as in only 2 snipers 2 HWGuys etc… on a team? This would be one way to make sure that certain roles are filled in the game. I can understand where it might be annoying to jump on a server and not be able to play your favorite class, but that’s all the more reason to try a new class.
[Gabe Newell] I’ll treat this as a feature request and pass it on to Robin.

GED would like to thank Gabe and all of Valve Software for the time and support they give back to the community. And for making some of the best games to date.