RW article Safe article logo
For other uses, see Bailey (disambiguation).

Kelly Bailey is a composer, musician, game designer, conceptual artist, and programmer. He is a senior game designer of sound and music at Valve.[1] He is notable for being behind the Half-Life series' music and sound effects.


On the defunct Half-Life website, his function was described as follows: "Kelly did all of the music and sound effects for Half-Life, and wrote sound code to create character speech and DSP reverb effects. He spent last Summer and Fall working primarily on Half-Life game design. (Translation: spent 6 months in a big, trashed corner office, all day & night with Guthrie, Casali & Riller eating bad food, making bad jokes, working out tons-o-puzzles, and never ever seeing the sun. It was great.) There is a vicious rumor that at one time he was an engineering manager at "a large software company in the Pacific Northwest." However, he has long since had the Borg implants removed, and is feeling just fine now."[2]

On the previous version of Valve's official website, his function was described as follows: "Kelly has a programming background that includes consumer multimedia, database engines, and networking. He created all of the music and sound effects for Half-Life. He is also lead singer for a Seattle band, Lucy's Fishing Trip, and, therefore, shaves less than the rest of the staff."[3]

On the current version of Valve's official website, his function was described as follows before it was removed after he left the company: "Kelly is Valve's senior audio producer, responsible for creating sound effects & music."[4]

Bailey also built the test chamber disaster sequence featured at the beginning of Half-Life with John Guthrie in a weekend, during which they worked for 48 hours straight. After going home at the end of the weekend and coming back in the offices on Monday, "still in a zombielike state", Guthrie and Bailey were glad to see that the rest of the team loved the sequence after playing through it.[5] He also sketched out the journey through Silo D for the Half-Life chapter Blast Pit.[5]

Bailey about designing the Half-Life levels: "Final editing of Half-Life maps was something we had to do ridiculously quickly; the time from when we'd finish a design idea and playtest, to the next iteration was often a matter of a few hours. We were under a strict delivery deadline, and I don't think any of us had finalized software and gameplay features at such a pace before. Several of us spent most of our waking hours, for over six months, packed into a single office we not-so-affectionately referred to as 'the submarine'. For most of us in the room, it was our first time shipping a game. We pulled an indecent number of 16 hour days, and it was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I've had at Valve".[5]

It appears Bailey used stock sounds also used by other artists. For instance, the track "Radio" from the Half-Life 2 soundtrack can be heard during the 2002 film 28 Days Later, in the background at 00:26. Another example is the track "A Red Letter Day" from the Half-Life 2 soundtrack, that makes up the start of the track "London Deserted", this time from the soundtrack of the 2007 film 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to 28 Days Later. Whether this was made by complete chance or not is unknown. Also, this very track has appeared in the video game version of the 1999 film called The Blair Witch Project. The track is used at 1:25 on the track from Volume 1 of the game called Rustin Parr. When heard, "A Red Letter Day" and "Spookhouse Headquarters"; the song in the Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr soundtrack; are exactly the same track, although "Spookhouse Headquarters" is an extended version of "A Red Letter Day".

Half-Life 2's Gordon Freeman's face was based on him, among other Valve employees, such as David Speyrer, Eric Kirchmer and Greg Coomer.[5]

Around March 2011, Kelly Bailey left Valve with colleague Mike Dussault to work on their project Sunspark Labs LLC, launched in December 2010, developing iOS applications, their first being "Morfo", released in June 2011.[6][7] However he may probably work again for Valve in the future.[8] The news caused some concern and displeasure from the Steam community due to the lack of any public farewell or notification regarding Bailey's depature.[9][10]

Bailey returned to Valve some time later, as he was present in several mailing lists found on Valve's internal project tracker, Jira, during the 2013 leak. [11] On January 15, 2014 his return was officially confirmed by Mike Morasky during the Steam Dev Days conference. [12]

Work for the Half-Life series


  • His name appears in Half-Life as an Easter egg on a Sector C locker and can be heard in announcements. His name also appears as an Easter egg on a sign in the Hospital featured in Episode One.



External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.