Dear Esther, Mirror’s Edge Artist Goes To Valve

Mirror's Edge 2 confirmed for Half-Life 3

Valve might prefer to be extra super special secret quiet about it, but they do, in fact, still make games. And games, well, they tend to be more enjoyable when they’re easy on the eyes. Now that I have cracked the eons-old mystery of Why Games Have Graphics, let’s get down to business: Valve has scooped up Mirror’s Edge and Dear Esther gorgeous vista warlock Robert Briscoe. Good for Valve, because Briscoe is astoundingly talented. But wait, wasn’t he in the process of moving Dear Esther’s painterly world into Unity’s less-costly frame? What’s going on there?

Briscoe explained his decision to join Gabe Newell’s traveling circus and knife enthusiast club in a blog post:

“I’ve decided I need a break from the solitary life I’ve been living these past years. I think I need to be around people for a while; A lot of my energy and enthusiasm comes from being in the presence of people, sharing different ideas, methods and techniques, different views, outlooks and inspirations, and mostly by just being out of my comfort zone (which I have very much slipped into).

“Over the past 11 months I’ve been in the process of applying for a US work visa, which was successfully approved a couple of months ago, and consequently, as of March 20th, I will taking a break from indie development and moving to Seattle to spend some time working on cool stuff with a company I’ve long since admired: Valve Software.”

The Dear Esther Unity port, meanwhile, is apparently almost done, with just some “backend and scripting stuff” remaining. Briscoe believes that should be doable in his spare time, and if not other folks at developer thechineseroom can handle it.

But what about his other indie endeavors, include an exceedingly enticing “STALKER-like” project? Well, for obvious reasons those are going on the backburner. At least, for now. Briscoe has “no doubt” that he’ll keep tinkering away on his basement project brain children, but for now those can’t be his only focus.

So off to Valve he goes. We wish him the best in whatever capacity he chooses to operate, even if that means turning Half-Life 3 entirely red, blue, white, and orange. And convincing everyone else to add really great first-person free-running. Actually, I kind of hope that happens.


  1. Edgy Mirrors says:

    First-person free-running should be added to everything. Except for my morning to commute to work (unless I’ve already had mah coffee).

    • golem09 says:

      Good thing they added it to Dead Island, then.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I am glad to see that the OP clearly has Faith

    • The Random One says:

      I think a bit of free-running would do wonders for my commute. And, uh, it’s already first person.

  2. LunyAlex says:

    I like how casually he describes his Indie-to-Valve transition.

    But anyway, lets not kid ourselves. This man has a bright future in designing Holiday Sale Backgrounds for Steam.

  3. Pich says:

    This does not bode well for Mirror’s Edge 2 (not like it had any chance).

    • rhubarb says:

      Far as I know, he was never attached to it. Which is a bit sad for all involved.

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      Briscoe did amazing work, but he wasn’t solely responsible for the look. It sounds like the development team already had minimal (to no) overlap, which could be both good and bad. Hopefully the visual template – I’d say the strongest part of the game alongside the score – is established enough to give the new team something to build from while re-imagining some of the…less effective elements.

      (I say all this as a massive, massive fan of the original. I should also note that I have no good reason for faith in DICE except that I’ve missed the last two Battlefield installments.)

  4. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    It’s nice that Valve are picking up talented people and all, but it’s not like we’re going to see any more Minerva since they assimilated cargocult is it?

    • Doomsayer says:

      I’m pretty sure that he worked on Portal 2, along with the ARG stuff.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Oh he did, and seems to be thriving and enjoying himself, so good for Adam.
        But as an over-entitled fan I kind of wish he’d stayed making (amazing) mods.

        • frymaster says:

          to be fair, it’s not made that much of a difference to the release frequency :P

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Yeah that’s who I was thinking of immediately too. Valve has a habit of eating talented modders and developers and then just digesting them. Where’s Half Life 3, now with massively reduced load times thanks to brilliant map design by the Minerva dev? Hell where’s Half Life 3!

  5. The Dark One says:

    He should apply Dear Esther’s narrative approach to a first-person desk pushing simulator.

  6. staberas says:

    You guys, they obviously hired them to make new hats drawings and heroes for dota2.

  7. Kollega says:

    So, a great artist joins Valve. I wouldn’t say this is big news… Valve already had great artists, like HL2 art director Viktor Antonov (who, thankfully, now works on Dishonored rather than virtual hats) and the team that made TF2’s brilliant art style before running it into the ground, past the mineral deposits, and towards the planetary core.

    The point is, I don’t think this will change much. Valve have good artists already, but after the TF2 fiasco, that doesn’t mean anything anymore.

    • Tom Walker says:

      Maybe not, but I take this story as good news just because it shows us that Valve still has some interest in releasing new, in-house games.

      It’s been far too long since one of those happened.

      • staberas says:

        Remember that leaked art we show at VALVE HQ? Yes the one with the spaceships? and the allegedly HL3 concept art ? yeah they’ll make more of that but not an actual game out of it… :(

  8. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Nononononoooooo throw Gabe’s money away and MAKE THE STALKER THING ♡♡♡

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Nonono. Take Gabe’s money and do the STALKER thing.

      • TWChristine says:

        Nonono, I think stalking Gabe to get his money is better all around!

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Hmmm. Interesting. I wonder what a Valve open world would be like.

      • Scumbag says:

        Nononohellohello take Gabe’s money and GET OUT OF HERE STALKER!

      • The Random One says:

        No, stalk the thing and gabe the money! Or stall the thing and monkey with the bagels?

        • TWChristine says:

          I actually kind of like that one! Do we get to visit Ikea with our monkey stylin’ in a fancy coat?

  9. bear912 says:

    I wish him the best of luck, and I hope one day I will be able to see his work in Half-Life 3.

  10. PikaBot says:

    That’s a pretty solid hire. No matter how you felt about Dear Esther, there’s little denying that it had some ridiculously pretty landscapes.

  11. Stellar Duck says:

    I’m sure amazing games will come out of this like when they hired Clint Hocking.

    Or not.

    I wish Valve would just decide if they want to make games or hats and stick with one or the other.

  12. HisDivineOrder says:

    I’ve seen this story before. Lots of “big names” go to Valve. It’s almost like they go and take a break there. It’s like a vacation spot for the game maker. Then when they’re “recharged” they’ll announce they’re leaving Valve. Usually happens about a year after they go.

    I’m pretty sure Gabe must have a spa or something in the building. They always look so tanned, too.

    “How was Valve?”

    “It was magical.”

    • Josh W says:

      Yeah, that’s quite astute, you can go over there, tinker around with bits of other people’s games, half start a few projects, test vr goggles for a few months, and then go off and start your own team as an “ex-valve developer”.

      On the other hand, if you stay, you get paid to work on whatever you think is best and you can get other people to help you with. I think once I got there, I would never leave!