In light of recent chatter about Stranglehold having cost USD 30 million to make, we thought we'd ask Valve's Gabe Newell how much Orange Box ran to. "I don't know," he told us at Games Convention. "We don't track that."
"One of the nice things about being an independent developer is we just keep everybody busy. We're making lots of money, and we just focus on what we're trying to build and then build it."
All well and good, of course, but surely there must be a number they want to hit? Somebody in the company who's going to measure their work against a big number? Apparently not. "No," in fact.
"We're trying to make the decisions that a gamer would if they were given the opportunity to run a games company," says Newell.
"We've never really even had a conversation internally where we say 'we've put enough money into this - let's just cut it off'. That's not even a conversation that happens at Valve."
All this comes from today's interview with Newell, which also touches on the Orange Box contents (as you'd imagine), Steam, Wii controls and what's going on with those TF2 movie shorts.
But you'd have to look back to our previous interview with Newell for an insight into why Valve might not give much of a damn about sales figures. We'd asked why Valve was set up in such a freeform way, with developers moving between little cabals.
"If you're making cars or you're doing product support, repeatability and defect-detection are critical aspects and you need to build an organisation that works well," he said, "but I think that the challenges that we have right now in the games industry, specifically and more broadly in the entertainment industry, are about inventing new things, about seeing things that occur between disciplines."
"So a lot of time the people who are most successful doing that here at Valve are people who are engineers who have fine arts background, and our goal is not to make them increasingly narrow and increasingly specialised but instead push them to be broader in their perspective."
Which is all very well thought out. But less interesting than finding out how we got him to swear in today's chat, so see to that instead!