|This article is non-canon.|
The subject matter of this article does not take place in the "real" Half-Life and Portal universe and is considered non-canon.
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.
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 track of their identities, the fact they are not professional models making it very difficult, if not impossible, to identify them.
A 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 abilities of the GoldSrc engine, an early idea for an introductory logo for their games rendered in real-time. The map was designed by Greg Coomer, Steve Theodore designed the models, and Doug Wood provided the animations.
During that demonstration set in some sort of forge/workshop, the man appears bald and 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 Mr. Valve model can be found in the Half-Life: Day One model files while the map was given by Chris Bokitch to the users of the now-defunct website Valve ERC.
The first logo
The real-time introduction was eventually replaced by a pre-rendered video showing a static sepia photograph of the goatee man with a valve in his left eye, showcasing the "Open your eyes" concept, and launched for Half-Life: Day One and Half-Life shortly after. This version last appeared in Codename Gordon in early 2004.
In late 2004, the video received an update for Half-Life 2: it lost some of its color for an almost black-and-white look (with the exception of the red valve), the framerate was improved greatly, and new "trembling" post-processing effects were added to the edges of the picture. It was last used for Episode One in 2006.
The second logo
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, and with even more "trembling" effects.
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 only used on Valve's official website from as early as 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 pre-Steam versions of the original GoldSrc games and Codename Gordon.
The third logo
In the Dota 2 beta released in 2011, a brand new version of the "Open your mind" logo was introduced. The new sequence consists of what seems to be new footage of another actor slowly turning his head towards the camera and then quickly looking back as an edited variation of the Valve Theme is played. The Valve logo is then shown. This new sequence was also originally featured in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta but replaced later by the second logo. Following the release of the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC in May 2012, this version was also added to Portal 2.
"Open your eyes" Mr. Valve spray featured in the Half-Life: Further Data files.
- (complete video of the demo map)
- Original map + models for Half-Life (to be loaded using the console)
- The guy in the Valve splash screen on Reddit