Develop Conference: 'These mod devs are able to iterate and ship straight away', if we can't do that we'll lose'

Indies inspire Valve team structure

Valve’s much-publicised flat team structure was inspired by indie developers and early FPS mods, says the studio’s Robin Walker.

Speaking at the Develop in Brighton Conference, Walker said in the early days of modding the studio was interested in how indie developers would work on a project, but often without clearly definied roles.

He added that Valve felt if it did not adapt to a similar structure, and one that was also able provide a service similar to game mods that constantly iterate a post-releease, then it would eventually lose out.

"You could view a large part of what we do as a big company as like a small team," said Walker.

"To some extent our company is structured by observing the success of the pre-indie mod days. CounterStrike is a good example.

"There are games built by very small numbers of people, which were better games than we were making. We thought there was something interesting about the way they were working. These people were just working on a product but not defining specifically what their role was.

"In the early days FPS mods probably did more new things than anyone else. We decided at Valve that to survive we needed to adopt these methods.

"These mod folks are able to make changes in their mod and ship it the next day, if we can’t do that we’ll lose."

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