The First Non-Valve Game On Steam Began With A Bad Kung Fu Movie

In this era of overstuffed digital shelves, it can be hard to imagine a time when Steam wasn't crawling with a million anthills' worth of games. A little more than a decade ago, though, it only carried Valve games. Then came Rag Doll Kung Fu.

Image: Rag Doll Kung Fu

People Make Games' Chris Bratt (who, full disclosure, is a friend of mine) put together a great look back at the physics-based kung-fu fighter, which - through an improbable series of events - ended up becoming the first non-Valve game on Steam way back in 2005.

When Rag Doll Kung Fu first released, I remember being confused. It seemingly came out of nowhere and was linked to Lionhead, a studio known at the time for ambitious Peter Molyneux brainchildren Black & White and Fable - not, er, whatever Rag Doll Kung Fu was.

It turns out that's because the game really did come out of nowhere, starting with a very bad kung-fu movie spoof filmed in a park by a bunch of Lionhead employees.

In short, then-Lionhead artist (and now Media Molecule creative director) Mark Healey decided to make a small fighting game to scratch his programming itch, and then he realised he could stitch it together with "that stupid film" he made as cut-scenes.

The game's physics-based controls - which came from an out-of-left-field decision to add code for rope physics to characters - caught Valve's eye at GDC that year. Shortly after GDC, Healey hopped on a plane to Seattle, met Gabe Newell, and unknowingly made history. Also, he lost his wallet and had to borrow money from Valve to make it back home.


    I remember buying this for the novelty. It never seemed like it'd be a good game, but I thought to myself "A non-Valve game on Steam! How quaint!"

    At the time I never would've suspected this world we live in now, especially since Steam was still incredibly buggy and unstable back in those days, and if you're going to make some quip about 'it still is'... just trust me, not like it was back then.

    Ah, nostalgia.

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