Valve Concept Push – Artifact

I just returned from spending two weeks at Valve as part of a concept team for their upcoming card game, Artifact. I was joined by Tyler Jacobson and Lake Hurwitz.

This is only the second studio I’ve worked in-house on a contract basis. I’ve worked as a full-time employee at other game studios, but working in-house as a freelance artist isn’t as common. I think things are shifting in the industry and more freelancers are working on-site for a couple of weeks at a time to flesh out the game.

Ramping up and down is common in game studios, so it makes sense to hire freelancers for a short period of time. From personal experience, this seems like a better business model than say, hiring full-time employees and then laying them off. It’s cheaper for the studio and it’s less traumatic for the workers.

Usually it doesn’t matter where you live as a freelance artist since most of your work will be done online. However, it does help if you live in an area with several different game studios. It increases your chance of getting hired to work in-house on a contract basis (they won’t have to pay to fly you in) and it can help broaden your client pool. Will living near game studios result in get extra work? Not necessarily, but it can’t hurt. I know I’ve received a lot more work because of my proximity to WotC and other gaming studios.

Valve is awesome, what can I say? I was incredibly nervous going in because I’ve never worked with Valve before. I always get a little nervous when I have to work in-house, but even more so for a new client. Luckily I’ve worked with Tyler and Lake before, so I had some friends to help ease the transition.

I grew up playing Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, although, I guess I was 27 when Left 4 Dead came out, so I can’t really say I “grew up” playing it. I guess I should say I’ve been a big fan of Valve games for a long time, so I was like a kid in a candy store. Hopefully I didn’t let my nerd show too much.

The team there was great and I’m honored that they wanted me to work on their game. I just want to thank everyone and I hope that I’ll see everyone again in the future.