According to a series of reports on the internet, Technical Illusions, a company formed by former Valve developers Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson, has been shut down. The reports claim that the company's primary source of funding was cut. Left with no other option, the company was forced to shut down and lay off their staff.
Ellsworth was let go from the company in February of 2013 during a "great cleansing" as described by her. She was given permission to take the research that she had done for the company with her. Johnson left the company to join Ellsworth. The duo formed Technical Illusions to continue their research and work on castAR, an Augmented Reality device.
In 2011, a photo of a mysterious Combine Soldier artwork appeared on the internet. The photo was taken by an unknown person when he or she visited Valve's office. Some fans claimed that the image was created for a possible new Half-Life title in development even though it contradicted with style rules set for Half-Life 2 by former company artist Ted Backman.
In reality, it was part of a series of fan images created by artist Manny Llamas, who also worked at the company many years ago. It was placed on walls with other fan creations in the company's office. Llamas published two of these images on his personal website for a short time. The other images were also available on unlisted pages of his website.
The images were done when Llamas was employed at LucasArts Entertainment, so it is possible that he created them to apply for a job at the company the second time. We tried to reach him for a comment, but he did not (or could not) respond to our email.
In today's news post, we're going to talk about Left 4 Dead 3 characters. In July of 2015, Steam Database received an early version of Aperture Robot Repair, a virtual reality demo that was created by Valve. Our former site contributor Nick worked with them to document all the findings, which were published after the demo's release in February of 2016.
The demo features numerous references to Left 4 Dead 3 and other projects. In the files, there are textures for a character called "adult_01". This character is referenced in the map "vr_l4d_characters" but the model for it is missing. It should be noted that some of these files are not included in the final release of the demo.
• npc/adult_01/materials/boots (missing)
In February of 2013, three years before the release of Aperture Robot Repair, artist Moby Francke left the company. After his departure, he published concept art for two characters on his personal website in June.
These images depict two middle aged Middle Eastern men armed with weapons. They appear to be created for "adult_01" from the leak. When we were working on the Aperture Robot Repair article, we saw these similarities but we had no evidence to support our speculation.
Shortly after we published the article, one of our contacts who wishes to remain anonymous revealed that the original filenames for these concept images bear the prefix "npc_adult", which confirms the connection. We'd like to thank Martin Benjamins of Steam Database and our former site contributor Nick for their help.
Some of our followers on our social media profiles requested a list of developers who either left or joined Valve in recent history. The following list covers staff changes between 2016 and 2017. For more detailed descriptions, you can click on associated links under names (if they're available).
Click here to view the list.
Sometimes our research and investigation for proposed articles can lead nowhere. We consider these "Cold Cases" that have reached a dead end and are subsequently canned as articles. Sometimes, these investigations can hinge on us contacting individuals who may be associated with the subject matter of the article. Some can refuse to speak to us, while others may have signed a legally binding contract that prevents them from disclosing information.
Cold Case #1 surrounds October Moore, an actress and voice actress who is perhaps best known as the voice of the female Wii Fit Trainer in the US localization of Nintendo's titles. In 2013, our researchers came across posts from May of 2010 made by Moore's brother on a public forum where he claims that his sister may be the face and voice of an in-development Valve title.
He went on to say that she was legally not allowed to say what game it was, but speculated that she might be in Portal 2 (which had previously been announced just a few short months before his earliest posts) as that was being actively developed at the time.
Some further research unearthed that October Moore had had public connections with Valve developers as far back as January of 2010. We reached out to her for comment, but she did not (or could not) respond to our email. Despite our best efforts, we couldn't find out what the project was and the decision came to archive the research.
What role in Portal 2 was she to take, if Portal was even the game? Tell us your thoughts or theories or help us fill in the gaps if you know more on Cold Case #1.
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