L4D was mostly done by turtle rock, but I’m under the impression that the main valve team did most of the work on l4d2. TF2 was pretty much all valve - sure, it’s based on a 10 year old mod, but only in concept - it plays quite a bit differently. CSS is a translation of cs 1.6 into a new engine so it isn’t a new property, but I’m pretty sure valve worked on it.
I like Valve as a game dev, although I think their games are probably a bit overrated (but still good), but I love them as a publisher, and as a retailer/distributor.
Basically, everyone in the publishing business are huge dicks. Activision? HUUUUUUGE dicks. EA? Big dicks. Ubisoft? Big dicks. THQ… not… the worst ever. 2K… hit or miss. The best you can generally hope for in video game publishers is that they’re not actively trying to be evil.
Valve, on the other hand, is just awesome. I have a friend who works at activision, so I know a little bit about how they run. Bobby Kotick actually set policies in the various dev and testing studios specifically to stifle any sort of positive attitude amongst the workers because he thought that work shouldn’t be fun. They skirt the labor laws as much as possible to crunch people for unpaid overtime before releases and let them go for the next quarter to improve the bottom line and then hire them back to crunch again, etc.
Valve, on the other hand, is one of those companies that actually treats their people really well, has all sorts of creative benefits, doesn’t try to rush everything out the door to hit optimistic deadlines, doesn’t release half-baked products, just in general is a really laid back company that treats people well and focuses on putting out good products rather than hitting quarterly stock price goals. I wish the rest of the economy worked like this because, like, say, Costco vs Walmart, you can somehow treat your people half decently and make/distribute good products without being absolutely cut throat and shitty about it.
Valve created Steam, which is the greatest thing that’s come to gaming in a long time. They dominate the market due to having a good business model and good prices and all that - but they haven’t tried to leverage that market dominance into raising prices or forcing exclusivity or anything like that. They go out of their way to try to ally with and promote indie developers with innovative ideas. They treat their customers well. They have crazy amounts of gaming value always available. Their DRM is about as unrestrictive as you can get. They’re generous about using their bandwidth to allow you to download/update games even if you didn’t buy it from them (if it’s steamworks and therefore they have the ability to authenticate it).
TF2 has had 300+ free updates since it was released years ago - constantly releasing new maps/modes/weapons/cosmetic stuff/balance tweaks/whatever. You pay $15 for 3 fucking new maps in a COD game.
Basically, they act like decent people, treating their employees and customers well, putting out quality products that aren’t rushed, supporting what they do put out. And they do it in an industry that’s full of dicks who would stomp their own fucking children to death if it meant they could squeeze out 2% more quarterly revenue. They are a shining beacon showing that you don’t have to be a fucking plague on humanity to run a business and turn a profit.