Reply To: So Ken, how much were you involved in Half-Life?

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(re: So Ken, how much were you involved in Half-Life?)
Half-Life was a Sierra product, and was one of the last products I shipped during my time running Sierra. That said, Valve deserves 99% of the credit for Half-Life. It was developed at Valve, and Sierra wasn’t really a big part of the creative effort.
Sierra was unique in the industry, in that essentially ALL of our development was inhouse. We had over 700 people just in product development. I was opposed to external development for dozens of reasons, many of which I’m sure Sierra has come to understand in recent years.
Half-life (and, Homeworld) were the very rare exceptions to this rule. Even though I didn’t want to deal with external developers, I changed my opinion after meeting the team from Valve. The demo for Half-Life blew me away. It was early in development, but clearly going to be a megahit.
I was heavily involved with the negotiations on Half-Life, and made the decision on our picking up the product – but, was not on the front-lines during development. During development, I spent a day reviewing the product about every 90 days, but that was about it. Scott Lynch, who I believe is presently with Valve, worked for Sierra as a divisional General Manager. Scott was the person at Sierra who “found” the Valve team, and pushed me to “change the rules” and sign Valve. He was also the person who dealt with them on a day-in, day-out basis. Most of my involvement was at the corporate level making big-picture decisions about things like how many marketing dollars to allocate Half-Life.
On most other Sierra products I was much more directly involved.
Most of my time was spent going from project to project (we had as many as 50 games in various stages of development at times), and talking to the teams. This wasn’t easy. Our development groups literally spanned the world (Yosemite, San Francisco, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Berkley, London, Paris, Boston, Seattle, and more). By the time I would complete one road trip it was time for the next one to start. I loved hanging out with developers, and liked being able to directly impact products. But, ultimately, it was the travel that lead me to “burn out” on Sierra. I was sleeping in hotel rooms over 150 nights per year!
-Ken W