BELLEVUE, Washington—We've visited Valve Software's Seattle-area headquarters in the past, but this week's gameplay reveal for a new release was met with something else: a chance to check out the company's biggest-ever office upgrade. I took my camera on this office visit expecting to maybe see a big new mural or a couple of new things, but instead, I wound up with a memory card full of stuff I hadn't seen in my previous visits, thanks to an office swap roughly six months ago.
So, what does it look like at Valve's new digs—at least, in the spaces I was allowed to take photos? I've broken the answer down in four galleries. The first is a general overview of the space, with a focus on game-related art. In addition to the usual Half-Life, Team Fortress, and Dota 2-themed paintings and sculptures, I also caught some weird stuff, like a lovely tiled mural in the company's cafeteria and a ridiculous rug that portrays TF2 character Saxton Hale facing off against a bear. (I also, er, asked to hold the Dota 2 Aegis, and Valve obliged my silly request.)
Next up is an insane room dedicated entirely to overflow merchandise—which just so happens to be peppered with incomplete and prototype sculptures and toy concepts. This branded-toy candyland includes a few never-before-seen, work-in-progress sculptures for heroes from every major Valve franchise.
After that, we walked past Valve's new kid-friendly playspace, which had no kids in it when we got there. That meant we could, among other things, peer into the colorfully lit, donut-pillow-lined belly of a 12-foot-tall Balloonicorn and pose at the silly table.
To top it all off, Valve had a selection of Artifact card art framed and hung in the game's demo space. These pieces serve as additions to the card-art designs from our article about why the game, even in its early, barely-there state, is already an intriguing mix of thoughtful, expansive, and worrying. But even if the game turns out disastrously, it's hard to argue with how gorgeous these illustrations are.
Listing image by Sam Machkovech