Modinterrogation – Tom Bui of Valve Confesses about Steam Workshop!

With the Steam Workshop’s Recent Release and support of Team Fortress 2 and Skyrim, I was anxious to know a little bit more than what the book’s cover had on it. So the crew here at Modinformer infiltrated Valve Laboratories and took Tom Bui hostage, who told us everything that we wanted to know. Below is a transcript of the interrogation.

The game selection screen for Steam Workshop.

Did you guys have plans to make the Steam Workshop before Skyrim Came along?


Behold the birth of Steam Workshop!

Tom Bui:
Yes. The Steam Workshop was the natural successor to the TF2 Contribution site (first detailed here:, except it was built from the ground up to be integrated into the Steam Community and have support for multiple products. Our goal with the Workshop has always been to provide a way for the community to create and decide what content got into their games. So while Team Fortress 2 was the first product on the Steam Workshop, Skyrim was also natural fit because it has such a great and active modding community.


I never knew that the contribution site ever existed. Thats awesome!
How about the Hosting? Was finding extra hosting and bandwidth an issue? Or did you just add it onto what you allready had?
Do you think you’ll run out of space from all the mods?

While we did take into consideration hosting and bandwidth costs, those factors were far outweighed by the potential benefits that the Steam Workshop could provide to players. Also, Steam in general has such massive bandwidth capacity (delivering 780 petabytes of data in 2011) that it was not really an issue adding the Steam Workshop into the mix.
There are quotas per user for their Steam Cloud storage, but we’d consider ourselves really successful if our community was contributing so much high quality content that they started hitting that limit.

780 petabytes, woah!
What games can we suspect to see in the steam workshop?
Will it only be games that the steam store sells?

Any game that uses Steamworks can use the Steam Workshop to share user generated content. We have several partners that have expressed interest, but we want to keep that information under wraps for now until we can more definitively say all the cool things that they will be doing.

And that is understandable!
How about yourself!, Please fill me in on your role around valve and the workshop?

My primary role on the Steam Workshop team is that of a programmer, but I also contribute to its overall design, which is not unusual for any Valve employee.

I started my career at Valve as a programmer and designer on Team Fortress 2, where every day my TF2 teammates and I would see great things being submitted to the contribute site. We really wanted the rest of the community to see all the high quality content that their fellow players made and give them more of a voice in deciding what got into the game. The Steam Workshop was born from that idea and also the idea that we could make it easy for our community to have the same experience in any game on Steam: allowing the players to extend and customize the games they love.

Sounds fun working for valve.
Also that idea of giving the modding experience to everyone.
So what about the existing steamworks mods?
Will we see those on the workshop when the games get supported?

Getting existing Steamworks mods up on the Workshop would be great, but there are a few issues we’d have to work through to get to that point. We’re mostly focused on content that can be more easily shared right now.
Any game can use the Steamworks SDK to integrate with the Workshop–it is actually really easy. At the most basic level it is just having some tool publish the content to the Steam Workshop and then download it when the user subscribes to it on the website. The Steam Workshop takes care of everything else: storing the files in the Steam Cloud, rating system, comments, searching and filtering, etc.

What are your personal favorite mods?

This mod seems to be very popular here at Valve:

Would you like me to check the time for you sir?

For TF2, we’re having a lot of fun with this item:

Portable breakdancing anyone?

They both look pretty cool, D o you like any Half -Life 1 Mods, Half- Life 2 Mods at all?

Garry’s Mod of course! We love to see the wacky and crazy things that come from that.

So, this might be one of those – i gotta keep it confidential sort of questions.
It might not be a question for you either… but…

For half life 2 ep 3 or half life 3, or even CS GO, what efforts is valve taking to make your games more moddable by the community?

I know that hammer was horrible according to some modders, is the next map editor going to be more user friendly?

We really think modding is important to the life of not only our games, but any game. However, unfortunately I can’t answer your question.

To get a mod onto the steam workshop, do you have to be the mod owner, if so, how can someone go about getting older mods on there?

Yes, you need to be the person who created the mod to upload it to the Steam Workshop.

I really think thats about it that i have for questions… is there anything extra you want to add for any of the readers?

Just that we’re excited to see what everyone can do! It’s been amazing so far watching all the awesome contributions roll in. Also, if anyone has feedback or suggestions for the Steam Workshop, feel free to post them on our blog.

Well Tom, it’s been great emailing you these past couple days, and i bet your extremely busy, so thanks for taking time out of your schedule to email me when you can.
I cant wait to see alot of new, and old mods on the steam workshop. All of my questions have been answered Tom!

I really appreciate it!

Great! Happy modding!
*I would like to say thanks to Tom, once again for answering all my questions.

Don’t forget to keep on supporting Valve by buying their games and as long as you do we should have some great mods to play! -Deadrawkstar


  1. Nice, great interview, love the new workshop.

  2. Pandango /

    A really great interview modinformer!

  3. Damn you deadrawkstar, you beat me to this story by a mile!

    Now valve’s tastefully kerned buttons can take up even more of my screen time then they already do.

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