Ken Birdwell

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Ken Birdwell
Ken Birdwell.jpg
Biographical information
Title(s)
  • Senior Software Development Engineer
  • Software Developer
Time period

October 1996 – 2016

Ken Birdwell is an engineer who worked at Valve.

Contents

[edit] Biography

Ken had worked at many wide range of projects before joining Valve in October 1996 as one of the first employees. Since then, his primary focus has been animation software. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Evergreen State University.[1]

[edit] Work

[edit] Half-Life

Ken has designed and implemented the animation system and many other engine components of Half-Life, which was used by designers to create complex characters and scripted sequences.[1] He worked on most of the weapons, and secondary artificial intelligence functions of several enemies, including Apache and Female Assassin.[2] He worked with Harry Teasley to put the Half-Life SDK together.[3] He came up with the original concept of the G-Man.[4]

[edit] Half-Life 2

The non-player characters in Half-Life were well received by the players. Ken began research how he might create life-like in-game characters. He spent some time working with Ken Perlin, and studied a research done on facial expressions by Paul Ekman. He developed the facial animation system, and is responsible for most of the acting system that underlie the characters in Half-Life 2. He also coded and developed the artificial intelligence for the cut Hydra.[5]

[edit] Trivia

Ken's surname appears in Half-Life as an Easter egg in the Anomalous Materials Laboratory on a locker. There is a player model using Ken's likeness in the multiplayer portion of Half-Life.

[edit] Gallery

[edit] Selected gameography

[edit] Official biographies

Ken Birdwell - Senior Software Development Engineer
Ken has contributed to a wide range of projects in the last 15 years. These include in-circuit emulators (CodeTap), 3D surface reconstruction (Surfgen), 3D prosthetics design tools (Shapemaker), and satellite networking (Microsoft's Broadcast PC). He also wrote one of the first graphical shells for multiplayer on-line games for Compuserve's Sniper. Oddly enough, Ken has a BFA from Evergreen State University, where he studied painting, photography, and animation. Ken has designed and implemented the animation system and many other engine components for Half-Life.
Ken Birdwell - Senior Software Development Engineer
Ken has contributed to a wide range of projects in the last 15 years. These include in-circuit emulators (CodeTap), 3D surface reconstruction (Surfgen), 3D prosthetics design tools (Shapemaker), and satellite networking (Microsoft's Broadcast PC). He also wrote one of the first graphical shells for multiplayer on-line games for Compuserve's Sniper. Oddly enough, Ken has a BFA from Evergreen State University, where he studied painting, photography, and animation. Ken designed and implemented the skeletal animation system and many other engine components for Half-Life.
Ken Birdwell - Senior Software Development Engineer
Ken interrupted his fine art studies to join Gabe at Valve as one of their first employees. With a background mostly in simulation and medical software, Ken's primary focus at Valve has been Animation software, and is responsible for most of the acting systems that underlie the characters in Half-Life 2. Ken is the only Valve employee to actually grow up here in Bellevue, and spends countless hours regaling his office mates with tales of what the town was like "when I was a boy".
Ken Birdwell - Software Developer
(No changes.)

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Biography on Valve's official website (January 11, 1998) (archived)
  2. Interview with Ken Birdwell on Voodoo Extreme (1998) (archived)
  3. Chat log on Wavelength (April 22, 1998) (archived)
  4. Interview with Marc Laidlaw on ComputerAndVideoGames.com (December 23, 2006) (archived)
  5. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar

[edit] External links

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