By: Martin Gaston
Turtle Rock Studios, the developer of Evolve which at one point was owned by Valve, has spoken about why the developer decided to leave the Half-Life and Steam creator and go it alone.
“We had a really great working relationship with Valve for like six years as an independent studio,” said studio cofounder Phill Robb in an interview with Eurogamer, talking about the time that Turtle Rock Studios developed the original Left 4 Dead. Following that game, Valve purchased the developer in 2008 during the development of the game “and things changed–as they do.”
Part of the challenge for Turtle Rock, which is based in Lake Forest, California, was coordinating with Valve in Seattle. “Co-developing and working on one product, when both teams, two super tight-knit teams, are 800 miles apart, it’s a nightmare,” said Robb.
“There was a lot of tripping over each other. At the end of the day, after we shipped [Left 4 Dead], no one was really happy with how it worked. So we sat down with [Valve boss Gabe Newell] and talked about it, and it just made the most sense that, y’know, why don’t we go back to what we knew worked, which is us going independent again, and certainly they’d have work for us.”
“This is the best place we’ve ever worked,” said Robb about the studio he cofounded with Chris Ashton. “We’ve worked at EA and all these other places, and we don’t want that to end. Turtle Rock was almost like a sanctuary for abused game developers. It really was–all our guys were senior guys who’ve been in the industry for 10-15 years, and we loved it.”
“Faced with the prospect of that going away, we were like, we’re not businessmen, we don’t know what the f**k we’re doing, but I don’t want to go and work for anyone else. Valve was kind enough to give us our name back, and that’s when we did all the DLC that we did for them. Eventually that work dries up, and I thought if we’re going to do something big, that’s the time to do it.”
Turtle Rock’s next game, Evolve, has four players work together to take out a single alien player. You can read more about Evolve in Mark Walton’s hands-on preview.