This article is non-canon.
The subject matter of this article does not take place in the "real" Half-Life universe.
- "Open your mind. Open your eyes."
Valve's Ray Ueno stated he worked with Gabe Newell and their colleagues to develop the "guy in the logo" when they decided to call the company "Valve" around 1995-1996, and needed to develop the visual brand vocabulary to go along with it. Both men in the logos have yet to be identified.
Back then, the casting agencies Valve was using to find models for the Valve Guy only proposed attractive models, while they were searching for "heavy-set", "normal" ones. They then asked their agencies to walk the streets of Seattle and find more interesting people. In Seattle's Broadway district, they took many Polaroids of the types of people Valve was looking for and brought the shots back to them. The team then selected a bald, heavy-built man and a thin man with a goatee from the batches of"off-the-street" Polaroids.
The two comprised the "Open your mind. Open your eyes." concept for Valve's initial brand, respectively for the heavily-built and goatee men. As of today, the identities of both the Valve guys appear to be lost, as Valve apparently did not keep any trace of their identities, the fact they are not professional models making it very difficult - if not impossible - to identify them.
The GoldSrc demo
The first Mr. Valve to be used was the thin man with a goatee. He originally appeared as a model in a demonstration map created by Valve to showcase the GoldSrc engine abilities, which was also an early idea for an introductory logo for their games. The map was designed by Greg Coomer, the models were designed by Steve Theodore, and Doug Wood provided the animations.
During the demonstration set in some sort of forge/workshop, the man appears as bald, bare-chested and wearing trousers, and is implanting a valve into the right side of his forehead with a machine, showcasing the "Open your mind" slogan eventually used for the heavily-built Valve guy.
The map used in the demonstration, dated September 9, 1998, is simply named "
valve.bsp", and the model "mrvalve.mdl". Only one other model is used in the map: "spiggot.mdl", the valve itself. The model "mrvalve.mdl" can be found in the Half-Life: Day One model files; the map "
valve.bsp" was given by Chris Bokitch to the users of the now defunct website Valve ERC.
Open your eyes
The real-time introduction was eventually replaced with an .avi video showing a static sepia photograph of the man with a valve in his left eye, showcasing the "Open your eyes" concept. This was launched for Half-Life but is not used in the PS2 version and Steam version.
Open your mind
In 2007, for The Orange Box, the goatee Mr. Valve was replaced by the heavy-built man, photographed with his back turned, with the valve this time in the back of the head, showcasing the "Open your mind" concept.
The two "Open your eyes" and "Open your mind" montages were both made at the same time in the late nineties, but the "Open your mind" one was never used in the games until 2007 when it replaced the "Open your eyes" version. Before that, it was used only on Valve's official website from as far as early 1998, first alone, then changing to the "Open your eyes" version then back to itself as an animated gif (two .jpgs at first) from early 1999, as itself again when the website was revamped late 2005, then removed when the website was revamped again in 2010. The valve detail of the picture is also present in the Half-Life texture files and used as the favicon for Valve's current website.
In the May 26, 2010, update applied to Half-Life 2 and Episode One, the "Open your mind" version replaced the "Open your eyes" one, the latter now only used for the GoldSrc games.
In Dota 2, Portal 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a similar logo is used, however there are differences in the head sizes, and facial features. The new "Open your mind" intro has a different man compared to the 1999 version. In this new intro, the man also turns his head towards the camera.
With the release of Half-Life: Alyx on March 23, 2020, a new iteration of the logo was unveiled. This time modeled in 3D to complement the VR experience, the "Open your mind" logo was again recreated, with the man similarly beginning to turn his head slowly towards the camera as the view fades out, as in the previous version.
- "The guy in the Valve splash screen" at Reddit's /r/Gaming
- Chris Bokitch's post at VERC Collective
- Snapshot of http://valvesoftware.com/ as it was on February 16, 1998
- Snapshot of http://valvesoftware.com/ as it was on January 25, 1999
- Snapshot of http://valvesoftware.com/ as it was on December 15, 2005
- Original map and model files
- (complete video of the demo map)
- Ever Wonder Who The Guy At The Beginning Of Every Valve Game Is? on Kotaku