After 18 years at Valve, working on everything from Half-Life to Dota 2, writer Marc Laidlaw has confirmed that he’s retired from the company. That’s an eternity for the games industry! He wrote novels before getting into video games, and it sounds like he’s getting back to writing for himself.
This revelation is sparked from an unlikely source: a demanding e-mail from someone complaining about Valve’s silence over Half-Life 3. Laidlaw responded that he couldn’t say, because he’s retired from Valve. ‘TeddyWolf’ posted his exchange with Laidlaw on Reddit, and Laidlaw has since confirmed to Kotaku that yep, he’s out and he’s gone.
Explaining why he’s retiring, Laidlaw said in the initial e-mail:
“There are many reasons, most of them personal. An outwardly obvious reason is that I’m old, or anyway oldish. My nickname when I first started at Valve in 1997 was ‘Old Man Laidlaw.’ The little baby level designer who gave me that nickname is older now than I was then. Imagine how much older I am! I had the unbelievable luck to fall in with the kids at Valve when they could have just dismissed me as an old fogey who didn’t know shit about videogames. The only Zelda I’d ever heard of was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife. They taught me everything. I had a good run but lately I have been feeling a need for a break from the collaborative chaos of game production, and a return to more self-directed writing projects.”
He adds that “it feels like the time is right to return to my roots and see where that takes me.” He might end up back in games somehow, but it’s not his plan.
“Yes, yes, great, good for him,” you hiss under my door, desperate for attention, “but what about Half-Life 3?” Ah. To be honest, I thought I’d killed you stone dead last night throwing my boot out the window at you caterwauling “Freeeemaaaaan!” You holding up alright? You seem even more agitated than usual. I’ll leave a saucer of milk out if you promise to keep quiet. Naturally, Laidlaw won’t talk about it:
“Half-Life is fully owned by Valve. It came into existence before my arrival. Where Valve may choose to take it in the future is not in my hands. I have been a grateful co-creator, but my time of working on the series is behind me. Since I no-longer speak for Valve, it would be inappropriate for me to answer questions or speculate openly on the fate of the franchise.”
Best of luck to you, Marc! May that be the last angry Half-Life 3 e-mail you ever receive.
Do have a read of this fine interview with Laidlaw in 2014, chatting about his work at Valve and his own fiction with RPS pal Dan Griliopoulos.