Half-Life Artist Ted Backman has left Valve

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After nearly 20 years at the company, there's an unconfirmed piece of information that indicates Ted Backman left Valve this past May.

This is especially sad news because Ted was responsible for designing some of the most iconic lifeforms and environments in video game history. The Headcrabs, Zombies, Rebels, most of the Combine faction, and much more, were a staple in the Half-Life series, and now it looks like Ted's inspiration will be absent from future Valve titles.

Thanks, Ted, for crafting such incredible and memorable experiences.

art.png

Thank you to AYKO for the tip.
 
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hogsy

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Really don't know what to say, really hard to get my hopes up that Half-Life 3 is even being actively developed any more. Desperately depressing news.

Feels like the end of an era to me.
 

MFL

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HO-ly-SHIT

Wheel keeps turning I guess. ****.
 

Aizawa

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There are enough other talented people at Valve.
 

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They definitely are still brimming with talent, and this doesn't mean that Half-Life is in the bin, but the future of the series is going to be different than what the veteran fans are used to -- which was inevitable, but it's happening sooner than what I expected. I'm sure glad that Marc Laidlaw is still there, though.
 

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In case you don't have Facebook, here's what it says on Ted Backman's timeline (posted on July 3, 2015):

facebook.png

/EDIT 1: The entry on his timeline has since been removed from public viewing.

/EDIT 2: It's kind of too late, but I've decided to remove the direct link to Ted's Facebook out of respect for privacy.
 
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Lolcomputer

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shieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet

hl3 is dead guys, it's over.
 

forthewyn

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Guys it's kinda unreasonable to expect anyone to stay at a given company for their entire lives. Sometimes people need new challenges. Look at it this way, now he can move on and create more awesome somewhere else :)
 

Fatikis

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I remember years ago I said Valve was not actively working on HL3 and everyone on the official HL forums went full Hammer Legion Member claiming it wasn't possible for Valve not to be almost finished with it. I still have to wonder if it is gathering dust.

I wonder if just like Viktor Antonov Ted Backman left because he was bored and underutilized.

It would make sense. The stuff Valve is doing now must be really boring for artists. I wonder how the writers feel.
 
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It would be really great to read memoirs of core Valve's departured employees (V. Antonov, T. Backman, etc.) 10-20 years later, after Valve's inevitable future demise. They would really go in lengths how internal company culture was toxic to productivity and how flat structure and "voting with wheels" basically meant nothing would be done. Also it would be fun to hear about draconian NDAs new employeees had to sign in order to work there.
 

Fatikis

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It would be really great to read memoirs of core Valve's departured employees (V. Antonov, T. Backman, etc.) 10-20 years later, after Valve's inevitable future demise.
It will be very hard for Valve to fail. Not impossible but it would devastate PC gaming.

What I think would be more likely is for Valve to split into two companies the Game Designers and the Steam Overlords.
They would really go in lengths how internal company culture was toxic to productivity and how flat structure and "voting with wheels" basically meant nothing would be done.
I seem to remember Google running a test and finding that a flat structure was inefficient. All I could quickly find on it. http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/07/17/google-management-is-evil-harvard-study-startups/
 

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What I think would be more likely is for Valve to split into two companies the Game Designers and the Steam Overlords.
I don't think the entire Valve company is working on Steam together. There surely is a team developing Half-Life 3, or at least considering it's potential, inside Valve I would think. Ignoring Half-Life 3 or abandoning it seems like such a foolish idea.

In all fairness, we should also remind ourselves that it's not an easy task to create one of the most anticipated FPS in the world. Besides, we can't really be sure if Valve truly have forgotten about Half-Life 3 just because they're not communicating with us; I think that's an attempt at protecting themselves from 1337 h4x0r leakers.
 

Fatikis

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I don't think the entire Valve company is working on Steam together.
I don't at all think this. My comment was directed towards "after Valve's inevitable future demise." I don't see Valve ever completely dissolving. I could imagine them splitting though. I doubt either will actually happen.
There surely is a team developing Half-Life 3, or at least considering it's potential, inside Valve I would think. Ignoring Half-Life 3 or abandoning it seems like such a foolish idea.
I'm not so sure about that. Maybe a more recent team. It looks like Half Life3 was not in development for a number of years. With Source2 we may start to hear more soon.

In all fairness, we should also remind ourselves that it's not an easy task to create one of the most anticipated FPS in the world. Besides, we can't really be sure if Valve truly have forgotten about Half-Life 3 just because they're not communicating with us; I think that's an attempt at protecting themselves from 1337 h4x0r leakers.
I don't know if I'd consider Half Life 3 the most anticipated FPS either. The younger generation has never played HL1 and many haven't even played HL2. Valve has not forgotten about HL3 for sure. We would never let them. That doesn't mean it is a top priority or has been a top priority in the past. Everyone for years assumed everything else Valve has worked on was side projects.

I believe differently. If HL3 was being developed at all over the years it was the side project.
 

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I don't know if I'd consider Half Life 3 the most anticipated FPS either. The younger generation has never played HL1 and many haven't even played HL2. Valve has not forgotten about HL3 for sure. We would never let them. That doesn't mean it is a top priority or has been a top priority in the past. Everyone for years assumed everything else Valve has worked on was side projects.

I believe differently. If HL3 was being developed at all over the years it was the side project.
Everything's speculation, but I personally think that Valve is just nervous that they'll **** up, so they're taking their sweet time finishing it and making sure it's quality is top notch.

Right now in this presence I don't think it's one of the most anticipated games ever, but I think it will be when it gets announced. It's like Duke Nukem Forever all over again, except that no one knows if the game will be recieved well or not.
 

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The stuff Valve is doing now must be really boring for artists. I wonder how the writers feel.
Valve's writers are probably having a blast (apart from the bit about most good writers feeling as if their work never lives up to their own expectations). They're writing for a number of different projects (some released, some unannounced) in multiple styles (comics, videos, character dialogue, etc), and are allowed to freely experiment with the thing most of them grew their careers out of - comedy.
 

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Valve's writers are probably having a blast (apart from the bit about most good writers feeling as if their work never lives up to their own expectations). They're writing for a number of different projects (some released, some unannounced) in multiple styles (comics, videos, character dialogue, etc), and are allowed to freely experiment with the thing most of them grew their careers out of - comedy.
Except for poor Marc Laidlaw, reduced to writing dialogue for some ESPORTS MOBA shit. That BreenGrub thing was pretty much a major indicator of a video game writer with nothing to do, which is rather unfortunate.

Maybe Laidlaw, other old valve employees and Kojima go make awesome single player games together.
 
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Maybe Laidlaw, old valve employees and Kojima go make awesome single player games together.
Alyx with flashlight fighting headcrabs and other spooky monsters in the world of industrial decay, rusty metal and toxic smoke.

 
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In all fairness, we should also remind ourselves that it's not an easy task to create one of the most anticipated FPS in the world.
The large number of people I have seen and personally spoken to who no longer care, or retrospectively realize how much they disliked or realized how basic things about Half-Life 2 were and no longer care about the franchise, plus how many franchises have advanced and taken hold of the industry these days, Half-Life 3 is nothing more than an industry joke akin to Duke Nukem Forever or Agent.
 

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HL2:E2 I think is Valve's SP magnum opus. If they would just release something, anything--that builds on that level of FPS immersion, I'm in on day one.
 

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Except for poor Marc Laidlaw, reduced to writing dialogue for some ESPORTS MOBA shit. That BreenGrub thing was pretty much a major indicator of a video game writer with nothing to do, which is rather unfortunate.

Maybe Laidlaw, other old valve employees and Kojima go make awesome single player games together.
whatever you think of the Moba genre, the character designs for Dota 2 are really cool imo and offer a lot of room for great writing (They overhauled some characters completely compared to Dota 1). Unlike League of Legends and Blizzard´s games (Overwatch more than Heart of the Swarm) where they just take every stereotype on the planet and make a character out of it.
 

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Valve's writers are probably having a blast (apart from the bit about most good writers feeling as if their work never lives up to their own expectations). They're writing for a number of different projects (some released, some unannounced) in multiple styles (comics, videos, character dialogue, etc), and are allowed to freely experiment with the thing most of them grew their careers out of - comedy.
Giving an artists unlimited resources to work on something that he does not want to is a curse. I imagine writing for Dota2 or TF2 is getting old at this point. Don't get me wrong I love both. I have over 2000 hours in each. I imagine writing a more mature game has a completely different feel. I really enjoy these new styles. I hope they translate well into other games. Can you imagine a good Half Life comic?

And do we know they are writing for unannounced projects? I hope at this point they are but we have no idea.

HL2:E2 I think is Valve's SP magnum opus. If they would just release something, anything--that builds on that level of FPS immersion, I'm in on day one.
HL2: EP2 was amazing, but I still have to go with Portal2. Nothing has compared to that level of immersion for me.
 

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Giving an artists unlimited resources to work on something that he does not want to is a curse. I imagine writing for Dota2 or TF2 is getting old at this point. Don't get me wrong I love both. I have over 2000 hours in each. I imagine writing a more mature game has a completely different feel. I really enjoy these new styles. I hope they translate well into other games. Can you imagine a good Half Life comic?

And do we know they are writing for unannounced projects? I hope at this point they are but we have no idea.
Write an entirely new game should be far more exciting. It's an all new plot to build and endless possibilities are constantly open. It should be harder too, what means that it's far more challenging. I think that a talent writer forced to stay limited to previous already established plot lines (such as Tf comics) it's a shame and a limit to their creativity. Write stories for their old games must be fun... but, only that? Don't seems a good thing to work over the years.

HL2: EP2 was amazing, but I still have to go with Portal2. Nothing has compared to that level of immersion for me.
I have to agree. Portal 2 is what i consider the best SP that ever came from Valve.
 
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whatever you think of the Moba genre, the character designs for Dota 2 are really cool imo and offer a lot of room for great writing (They overhauled some characters completely compared to Dota 1). Unlike League of Legends and Blizzard´s games (Overwatch more than Heart of the Swarm) where they just take every stereotype on the planet and make a character out of it.
The designs for the heroes in Dota 2 look pretty much the same as most medieval fantasy designs. Crystal Maiden, Drow Ranger and Wind Runner in particular.

LoL designs are just waifu bait.
 

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Write stories for their old games must be fun... but, only that? Don't seems a good thing to work over the years.
Probably a good thing you're not in their shoes then.
And do we know they are writing for unannounced projects? I hope at this point they are but we have no idea.
Dota 3 isn't going to write itself.
 

Mauferr

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Probably a good thing you're not in their shoes then.
Maybe you're right. New challenges and new projects are essential to keep productivity and creativity. But, they are probably working in a lot of other things in Valve (and they probably have their personal projects too). Or maybe they don't have my need for new challenges. I can't imagine talented artists working at something where they can't be creative anymore (and enjoy working at it) and be OK with that. :D
 

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I actually wonder how long Valve can go without announcing a new game...

2 years?

3 years?

100 years? Perhaps a year after when they're done with Steam hardware...

Seriously though, Valve should really communicate with their fans more, so we at least have a slight idea of what they will do in the future.
 

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I actually wonder how long Valve can go without announcing a new game...

2 years?

3 years?

100 years? Perhaps a year after when they're done with Steam hardware...

Seriously though, Valve should really communicate with their fans more, so we at least have a slight idea of what they will do in the future.
With steam alone, they don't have to make another game ever again. Especially with such a naive and disgustingly loyal fanbase that is content with buying unfinished products, 3rd party dlc with no quality control and always online DRM.

Valve is like the British Empire trying to spread its culture and conquer the rest of the PC gaming space. The sun never sets at Valve Corporation.
 
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Fatikis

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Probably a good thing you're not in their shoes then.
The crazy thing is we know two people that should have had enormous impact on HL3s art and style are gone. Isn't that troubling? I'm worried we are going to lose one of the major writers too. I can't imagine a new Half Life without Marc Laidlaw, Erik Wolpaw, and Chet Faliszek.

But hey maybe Ted Backman is leaving because he has finished his work on Half Life 3 and he was only sticking around to complete it. Regardless the man is talented, and I'm sure he will continue to do great work wherever he ends up.
 

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With steam alone, they don't have to make another game ever again. Especially with such a naive and disgustingly loyal fanbase that is content with buying unfinished products, 3rd party dlc with no quality control and always online DRM.

Valve is like the British Empire trying to spread its culture and conquer the rest of the PC gaming space. The sun never sets at Valve Corporation.
A bit of a dramatization, no? Don't ever compare one of our glorious corporate empires to the English. We stopped drinking the Queen's tea in 1776 KIDDO.

Valve is out to get you btw run
 

Fatikis

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Valve is out to get you btw run
They kind of are. Maybe not you but they are out to get your green cash dollars with as little effort as necessary. Like all large corporations they do everything they can to siphon your cash. They use every single psychological trick in their repertoire to make the maximum number of people spend the maximum amount. They are really quite devious.
 
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