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The esteemed employees of Half-Life developer Valve are well known for soliciting email directly from gamers; more to the point, they are known for responding. Shackers often send inquiries to Valve developers, and they get real results--even when the questions are somewhat unorthodox in nature.
Here are a few actual questions and responses Shackers have sent to and received from Valve.
Flush with enthusiasm after completing Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Shacker filthysock sent this email off to the Valve crew to share some of his thoughts:
1. The grenade puzzle: I did it with a blast from the gravity gun! Looked down and primary fire and the floor bounced me up. Would love to see more gravity gun bounce puzzles
2. The little forest bit was BRILLIANT, it had the perfect feel as you walk in and it got darker and quieter but looking up the HDR made the leaves against the sky look great. It would be fantastic to have an extended time in a forest, i think even combat would work in there.
The response from Valve's Chet Faliszek demonstrated the company's hard-line attitudes:
Thanks for the email.
We do not allow cheaters. We are matching you against our steam subscriber list and you will be banned for cheating in the grenade puzzle.
Justice is served!
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Day after day, Shacker Robotic Puppy Eater saw the same enigmatic image (pictured left) on the Team Fortress 2 map Gravel Pit. Baffled by its existence, consistent placement ("I see it ALL THE TIME," he posted, "in the exact same spot."), and artistic inconsistency with the rest of TF2's decor, he sent this email to the folks at Valve:
I keep seeing this picture above one of the spawn area exits in
gravelpit. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks.
The astute response from ever-vigilant Valve:
It appears to be a duck.
(As was later determined, the image is the personal spray of fellow Shacker pyide.)
Shacker and dedicated Team Fortress 2 player Rosewood is known for staying connected to servers reserved for Shacknews readers even after he is no longer playing, occupying a valuable player slot. Shacker deveus1 was sick of it, and composed the following email:
Rosewood went AFK again on the shack's TF2 server. He's been like for the last 6 hours and he just won't leave :(
Is there anything you can do? He's a nice guy and all, but we've gotta make room for some people.
Thanks in advance.
Valve designer Robin Walker made it clear that this kind of behavior is not tolerated:
After some discussion about possible solutions to this problem, we decided that the easiest one was to just permaban Rosewood's steam account.
Glad to hear you're enjoying TF2.
But Valve didn't stop there. Valve's Erik Johnson decided it wasn't enough just to stop this egregious TF2 idler from playing games--he must be punished internet-wide. The following email was sent to Shacknews founder Steve Gibson and cc'ed to deveus1:
Steve - Can you ban his Shack account too please? Thanks
Shacker Lionhart32935 had a minor gripe with one of Half-Life 2: Episode Two's commentary recordings:
One [of] the commentators in episode 2 sounded really bored. I believe his name was Stevie or Steven, can't quite recall. Tell him to sound more excited. He makes games, he should be off the wall to talk about what he worked on. He sounded like Ben Stein was having more fun than he was.
Valve's Chet Faliszek wasted no time in righting the wrong, going straight to the source:
Thanks for your email.
Based solely on your feedback we have decided to fire the offending party, Steve Kalning. Instead of sending him to HR and wasting their time, I have cc'd him on this email and this will act as his official notice. Clean out your desk Steve.
Thanks Lionhart for helping us make Valve a better place.
It wasn't long before a second email response followed:
Pat, after careful study, I realize steve bond could have also been the culprit. So since we can't really be sure, and really no sense wasting any more time on this.
Mr Bond? Please clean out your desk as well.
Concerned that his complaint had already resulted in the loss of two jobs, Lionhart32935 replied:
How about just giving him a hug instead? I heard that cheers up many
people. Buy him a drink, even better! It will make the work
environment more exciting for him if he gets unexpected surprises from
Faliszek was having none of it:
That is the kind of weak thinking we don't need aroud here Lionhart. Hugs
never got a 96 on the metacritic score.