Erik Wolpaw is fated to only ever be refered to as “one half of Old Man Murray“, rather than “co-writer of Psychonauts and writer of Portal”. So today we bring you our interview with one half of Old Man Murray, Erik Wolpaw. We discuss what it’s like to work for Valve, how GLaDOS came about, the role of cake in games, and, of course, why all plays suck.
Can you explain the path you took from Old Man Murray to Valve?
While I was working on Old Man Murray, I wrote my first game, Alien vs. Child Predator. It remains one of just a handful of games to mix addictive Pokemon-style creature collecting with North Carolina’s sex offender registry. It was self-published and not widely distributed or played or, honestly, even really that enjoyable if you think about it. It did, however, catch the attention of some lawyers who work for Twentieth Century Fox and Tim Schafer, who hired me to help him write Psychonauts. After Psychonauts went on to be very, very popular in Europe, I got busy with my next big project: being unemployed. One day, while I was wondering where I was going to live when I couldn’t pay the rent next month, I got email from Gabe Newell asking if I’d like to be a staff writer at Valve, famous creators of Half-Life. I figured Gabe was a fan of Psychonauts, but it turned out he had absolutely no idea what Psychonauts was. I guess he just really, really liked Alien vs. Child Predator. That’s honestly pretty much how it happened.
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