Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 28, 2023, 08:38:33 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Search:     Advanced search
we're back, baby
*
Home Help Search Login Register
f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  Gaming  |  Topic: Valve Handbook for New Employees 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 Go Down Print
Author Topic: Valve Handbook for New Employees  (Read 27068 times)
Paelos
Contributor
Posts: 27075

Error 404: Title not found.


Reply #35 on: April 23, 2012, 08:20:03 PM

It works in the entertainment world.

Still, at some point you have to track the money, and you don't want those guys moving their desks around making up their own assignments.

CPA, CFO, Sports Fan, Game when I have the time
Viin
Terracotta Army
Posts: 6159


Reply #36 on: April 23, 2012, 08:40:16 PM

Don't misunderstand me, I'd love to work for a super rich kooky company that did something off the wall like that - but I still know it's a mostly stupid idea.

It's not just "kooky" companies. Though Google is certainly "rich" they also do this thing, called self-organized teams.  I don't believe they do it for 100% of their work, but maybe 20%? (Quinton might be able to say for sure).

Other progressive software development companies do this as well.

The biggest thing to remember is that while they are self organized teams, they can't just do whatever they want. Typically, if a team forms to do some project, they have to present a business case to management and get approval from them to move into a prototype or design phase. Once they get approval, they have to identify their milestones and timelines, which they are project managed to.

Self-organized teams != free for all. But, you do get better output from people who chose to work on something because it excites them vs whatever they are handed as the next project.

- Viin
Megrim
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2512

Whenever an opponent discards a card, Megrim deals 2 damage to that player.


Reply #37 on: April 23, 2012, 09:15:20 PM

iirc GoreTex runs a similar structure as well. So its not just software developers.

One must bow to offer aid to a fallen man - The Tao of Shinsei.
Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #38 on: April 24, 2012, 01:45:32 AM

If "treating your employees well" would make any video game developer into an id or Valve don't you think they would all be doing that? It's not that simple.


Nothing ever is and for my part need no reminders of the fact.

But taking a stab at making things easier is a good first step and, frankly, what most companies miss.  Seriously.  Once you're up in the rarefied of Upper Management it's all you can do not to look around your colleagues and realise they're all fucking clowns who are deliberately trying to make it harder for your company to succeed.  No-one will ever admit to it, but it's true.




"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
HaemishM
Staff Emeritus
Posts: 42608

the Confederate flag underneath the stone in my class ring


WWW
Reply #39 on: April 24, 2012, 07:36:41 AM

The more corporate culture I'm exposed to, the more I wonder at how so many of these companies don't implode daily from the sheer stupid bouncing off the walls of their offices. It's stunning the amount of sheer incompetence out there.

Surlyboi
Terracotta Army
Posts: 10951

eat a bag of dicks


Reply #40 on: April 24, 2012, 07:46:00 AM

Have to agree with Ironwood and Haem. Even "good" companies have their fair share of idiots running the show that really shouldn't be. They say incompetence rises to its own level, they're absolutely right. Valve gets away with its quirkiness because it's small and agile and can afford to be rather picky. They probably don't have a bunch of know-nothing MBAs running shit either, so that helps too.

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
Paelos
Contributor
Posts: 27075

Error 404: Title not found.


Reply #41 on: April 24, 2012, 07:47:40 AM

If you can destroy the job protectionist mentality, a lot of the corporate issues and "incompetence" go away.

CPA, CFO, Sports Fan, Game when I have the time
Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #42 on: April 24, 2012, 08:10:21 AM

Which is what that handbook would actually do.  With a flat structure like that there's literally nowhere to hide.  Add in ever changing peer reviews and, frankly, it gets rid of the Coffee-Cup transporters and the meeting people that we're discussing in that other thread right off.

I also love the beta-testing process they had.  So much win.

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
Mosesandstick
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2474


Reply #43 on: April 24, 2012, 03:40:54 PM

iirc GoreTex runs a similar structure as well. So its not just software developers.

Gladwell dedicated a significant chunk of one of his books on goretex and the "150" rule.
Quinton
Terracotta Army
Posts: 3332

is saving up his raid points for a fancy board title


Reply #44 on: April 24, 2012, 11:07:15 PM

Don't misunderstand me, I'd love to work for a super rich kooky company that did something off the wall like that - but I still know it's a mostly stupid idea.

It's not just "kooky" companies. Though Google is certainly "rich" they also do this thing, called self-organized teams.  I don't believe they do it for 100% of their work, but maybe 20%? (Quinton might be able to say for sure).

Google is pretty flexible -- employees are given a lot of opportunity to transfer between groups (though you can't just pack up your stuff and walk over to another building or something without talking to anyone), to pursue their own projects (20% time, etc), but Valve seems to take it a few steps further. 

Google is also two orders of magnitude larger than Valve.  I'm not sure how far this model can scale -- I know we've developed a bit more process in the 7 years I've been here, which is partially a necessity of dealing with an organization of the size we are now.

My suspicion is that for this model to work you need to start with a small team of excellent, motivated people and grow slowly, ensuring you continue to hire excellent, motivated people.   You definitely need people who can hack it in a management-light environment -- some people thrive when they have freedom, others flail around.  It's a model that I've seen work well for 10-30 person teams, but am impressed to see continue to work well for a company of 300.
Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #45 on: April 25, 2012, 01:51:39 AM

The important point here - and one hammered home in the handbook - is that the hiring process is core and they need the right people in the place.

With the right people you can do anything.  With the wrong ones, welcome to meeting hell.

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
Fabricated
Moderator
Posts: 8977

~Living the Dream~


WWW
Reply #46 on: April 25, 2012, 03:57:26 AM

Any company that understands the literal uselessness of crunchtime and gets the million man hour myth is a good company.

"The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist." - George Bernard Shaw
Murgos
Terracotta Army
Posts: 7474


Reply #47 on: April 25, 2012, 05:44:58 AM

The important point here - and one hammered home in the handbook - is that the hiring process is core and they need the right people in the place.

With the right people you can do anything.  With the wrong ones, welcome to meeting hell.

This is the key point.  Some people just won't work without a deadline, structure and clear guidelines/goals and can't be assed to explore an idea of their own no matter how many resources you present them with.  Others will bounce around from idea to idea never accomplishing anything.

There probably aren't too many who fit that happy middle (hence the emphasis on T shaped skill sets).

"You have all recieved youre last warning. I am in the process of currently tracking all of youre ips and pinging your home adressess. you should not have commencemed a war with me" - Aaron Rayburn
Kageru
Terracotta Army
Posts: 4549


Reply #48 on: April 25, 2012, 06:24:35 AM


Which valve can afford to demand because they have an amazing rep and lots of people want to work in games and are self motivated to create once there.

... when it's a work-flow database back end no one will ever see (other than when it breaks) more of a challenge.

Is a man not entitled to the hurf of his durf?
- Simond
Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #49 on: April 25, 2012, 07:38:26 AM

I'm not sure I entirely agree;  if you have a customer need for something you can create the same motivation in your team with the same hiring process.  It just needs a bunch of people who really, really, really want to make the best work-flow database backend they can and understand it well enough.

 Oh ho ho ho. Reallllly?

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
HaemishM
Staff Emeritus
Posts: 42608

the Confederate flag underneath the stone in my class ring


WWW
Reply #50 on: April 25, 2012, 08:18:02 AM

A lot of that is on people finding the thing that they feel really challenged in a good way to do. I can do graphic design and like it, but for my job, I'm actually more intrigued by trying to take a design and make it work as a clean HTML/CSS template. If you don't want to work on a database back end, or don't enjoy that challenge, no amount of freedom or self-motivation will make you or your product any better. Ironwood is dead on. Hiring the right people is the core step. Most companies don't have a systemic appreciation for the individual efforts and talents of their employees - they are systemically interchangeable pieces. The second piece of organizational juju is making sure those great people you hired are actually working on the things that challenge them in an inspirational manner as opposed to a stressful one. The right people for the right product. The last piece and no less important, is treating them like human beings who have value as individuals instead of Energizer bunny automatons to be tuned to a specific production speed based on when the product has to ship.

An organization like EA (and most dev houses I've heard of) does all 3 steps in the exact opposite manner, and thus are hellish places to work at, and produce good products more by accident than design.

Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #51 on: April 25, 2012, 08:20:16 AM

The second piece of organizational juju is making sure those great people you hired are actually working on the things that challenge them in an inspirational manner as opposed to a stressful one.

Very, very true.

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
UnsGub
Terracotta Army
Posts: 182


Reply #52 on: April 25, 2012, 09:04:32 AM

... there's literally nowhere to hide.

Some peole cannot function and leave in our agile process for this reason.  Daily accountability on what you are working on or not working on is not for everyone.
bhodi
Moderator
Posts: 6817

No lie.


Reply #53 on: April 25, 2012, 10:22:25 AM

An organization like EA (and most dev houses I've heard of) does all 3 steps in the exact opposite manner, and thus are hellish places to work at, and produce good products more by accident than design.

Which is why they buy smaller development studios and wring them dry.
Murgos
Terracotta Army
Posts: 7474


Reply #54 on: April 25, 2012, 10:23:49 AM


Which valve can afford to demand because they have an amazing rep and lots of people want to work in games and are self motivated to create once there.

... when it's a work-flow database back end no one will ever see (other than when it breaks) more of a challenge.

Considering that Valve's largest and most successful and continually improved product is basically an enormous database (Steam) I think that the opposite is true.  No one seems to want to work on games (See: HL3 release date) and everyone wants to work on the DB.

"You have all recieved youre last warning. I am in the process of currently tracking all of youre ips and pinging your home adressess. you should not have commencemed a war with me" - Aaron Rayburn
kildorn
Terracotta Army
Posts: 5014


Reply #55 on: April 25, 2012, 10:53:32 AM


Which valve can afford to demand because they have an amazing rep and lots of people want to work in games and are self motivated to create once there.

... when it's a work-flow database back end no one will ever see (other than when it breaks) more of a challenge.

Considering that Valve's largest and most successful and continually improved product is basically an enormous database (Steam) I think that the opposite is true.  No one seems to want to work on games (See: HL3 release date) and everyone wants to work on the DB.

Quite frankly, I find the idea of MMO Operations teams fascinating for a few reasons. Most of which have to do with the logistics and new stress points in dealing with exceptionally high volume systems. Most Operations gigs I can get will talk up their setup's stress levels, but in reality the whole thing is running at 30% with 4-6 hours of minimal use all over the place. Things like Steam or WoW have low usage points, but by and large the setup behind that has got to have some fascinating support structures built.
Surlyboi
Terracotta Army
Posts: 10951

eat a bag of dicks


Reply #56 on: April 25, 2012, 04:08:45 PM

A lot of that is on people finding the thing that they feel really challenged in a good way to do. I can do graphic design and like it, but for my job, I'm actually more intrigued by trying to take a design and make it work as a clean HTML/CSS template. If you don't want to work on a database back end, or don't enjoy that challenge, no amount of freedom or self-motivation will make you or your product any better. Ironwood is dead on. Hiring the right people is the core step. Most companies don't have a systemic appreciation for the individual efforts and talents of their employees - they are systemically interchangeable pieces. The second piece of organizational juju is making sure those great people you hired are actually working on the things that challenge them in an inspirational manner as opposed to a stressful one. The right people for the right product. The last piece and no less important, is treating them like human beings who have value as individuals instead of Energizer bunny automatons to be tuned to a specific production speed based on when the product has to ship.

An organization like EA (and most dev houses I've heard of) does all 3 steps in the exact opposite manner, and thus are hellish places to work at, and produce good products more by accident than design.

All of that.

On point and correct. Now to get some people where I am to remember that doing the things you mentioned is what made us great and get them to start doing it again.

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
WayAbvPar
Moderator
Posts: 19268


Reply #57 on: April 25, 2012, 04:19:43 PM

Once they get that going, feel free to hire me (I need very little responsibility and quite a lot of money...can you make that work?).

When speaking of the MMOG industry, the glass may be half full, but it's full of urine. HaemishM

Always wear clean underwear because you never know when a Tory Government is going to fuck you.- Ironwood

Libertarians make fun of everyone because they can't see beyond the event horizons of their own assholes Surlyboi
Chimpy
Terracotta Army
Posts: 10611


WWW
Reply #58 on: April 25, 2012, 07:22:13 PM

What I got out of it was less about the time table stuff or the organizational structure stuff but the simple fact that they have, as a company, devoted themselves to a culture that says people matter. Be that your employees or your customers, they are what matter the most.

They emphasize hiring quality people, and treating them well. They then ask them to constantly be concerned about serving the customer.

It is the polar opposite of most companies (at least in the U.S.) where people are seen as unimportant in any way other than as a means to transfer money from one place to another. The customer is there to give you money, and your employees are there to take their money.

Conceptually, I love the flatland thing. But I know that I would probably not function that well in one as many of my skillset is best suited to a more hierarchical structure. Though as I think about it, when I worked in the scenery construction business I could very much have been considered T-shaped, and a lot of companies I worked for valued that. But that was a business that was almost without fail peopled by creative types and thus working in a collaborative environment was something they could handle well.

'Reality' is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes.
Khaldun
Terracotta Army
Posts: 15127


Reply #59 on: April 26, 2012, 11:07:40 AM

When things work right, a lot of academia has the same "flat" structure. Except that we can't move our desks around and choose who we're teaching with. (Believe me, I would love that.)

When things work wrong, a lot of academia has the same "flat" structure.

This is the tricky problem with any organizational structure. They're all prone to certain intrinsic weaknesses or diseases. They all have certain possible advantages. And if you have great people, they often can overcome every bad structural obstacle put in their way. If you have shitty people, they can often shit up every possible structural affordance and tool they're given. 

To me the smart move is, build a diverse structural ecosystem. Checks and balances: hierarchy against flatness, flexibility against fixed structure. Let people find the structures that are most productive them; let structures find the people who are most unproductive.
Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #60 on: April 26, 2012, 12:42:46 PM

Ohhhhh, I wouldn't put Academia in with that at all.  I really, really think that's apples and oranges mate.

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
amiable
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2126


Reply #61 on: April 26, 2012, 01:02:20 PM

As much as I love the valve model it really only works if you have a bunch of high-quality, self-motivated and actualized employees.  Even one weak link can be an enormous drag.  The sad truth is that very few people would meet their requirements.  Most people kind of suck.
UnsGub
Terracotta Army
Posts: 182


Reply #62 on: April 26, 2012, 01:14:15 PM

Was working on Windows NT when Abrash started at MS.  He now works at Valve and comments on what it is like.
Ironwood
Terracotta Army
Posts: 28240


Reply #63 on: April 26, 2012, 02:43:59 PM

Hey, Sam got a mention.

 awesome, for real

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
UnSub
Contributor
Posts: 8064


WWW
Reply #64 on: April 26, 2012, 06:16:27 PM

As much as I love the valve model it really only works if you have a bunch of high-quality, self-motivated and actualized employees. 

... and over a billion dollars a year in revenue whether you release a new product or not.

Kail
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2858


Reply #65 on: April 26, 2012, 06:32:33 PM

As much as I love the valve model it really only works if you have a bunch of high-quality, self-motivated and actualized employees. 
... and over a billion dollars a year in revenue whether you release a new product or not.

We just did this chicken-and-egg argument a page ago, you really wanna go through it again?
NiX
Wiki Admin
Posts: 7770

Locomotive Pandamonium


Reply #66 on: April 26, 2012, 06:43:32 PM

Any company that understands the literal uselessness of crunchtime and gets the million man hour myth is a good company.

I just had my annual performance review and one of their comments was that I don't spend enough overtime in the office, which makes them think I'm not learning.

I read the Valve employee handbook the next day and was sad.
UnSub
Contributor
Posts: 8064


WWW
Reply #67 on: April 26, 2012, 07:13:26 PM

Any company that understands the literal uselessness of crunchtime and gets the million man hour myth is a good company.

I just had my annual performance review and one of their comments was that I don't spend enough overtime in the office, which makes them think I'm not learning.

I read the Valve employee handbook the next day and was sad.

Did you read it at work?  awesome, for real

Viin
Terracotta Army
Posts: 6159


Reply #68 on: April 26, 2012, 07:29:31 PM

I just had my annual performance review and one of their comments was that I don't spend enough overtime in the office, which makes them think I'm not learning.

Any company that expects overtime and *dings you for it during a performance review* is retarded. Find a new job!

- Viin
CmdrSlack
Contributor
Posts: 4388


WWW
Reply #69 on: April 26, 2012, 08:59:51 PM

Worse yet, companies that are very passive-aggressive about taking time for family/personal health are a "GTFO" situation. Too bad that the economy and some industries prevent the GTFO mobility that everyone should have.

I traded in my fun blog for several legal blogs. Or, "blawgs," as the cutesy attorney blawgosphere likes to call 'em.
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 Go Up Print 
f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  Gaming  |  Topic: Valve Handbook for New Employees  
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.10 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC