You know why there’s no Half-Life 3, but here it is again

Everyone knows the story of Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Lacking a diktat from on high, folks and teams within Valve have never quite found the inspiration, momentum, or cohesion for another Half-Life, so attempts have faltered and they, y’know, haven’t made it. Everyone knows that. It’s knowledge as common as cleaning windows with white vinegar and newspaper. And yet! You — you there — are still harping on about it and cracking those same awful “Half-Life 3 confirmed???” jokes. Go play something else. There are loads of great games! Go for a walk. Go for a swim. Go swallow needles for all I care! Or, fine, read this Game Informer bit which explains, using an unverified source, what everyone knows. Then please shut up about it.

Andrew Reiner explains that he contacted loads of current and former Valvefolk, trying to find out anything he could about ‘Half-Life 3’ for a piece on Valve’s inner workings. Almost everyone he asked was silent or turned him down, all bar one person who spoke with him for half an hour on condition of anonymity. Then the wall of silence meant he couldn’t confirm it, and he wasn’t happy building upon unverified information. A sound decision! But, with appropriate disclaimers, he has now shared some of what he heard and maybe this will make you stop.

Due to Valve’s buckets of money and weird flat-ish-but-not-really structure, a new Half-Life is an option rather than a requirement. That’s not to say no one has been working on a new Half-Life. Reiner explains:

“I know at various times there have been different groups of people that have started things that they hoped and imagined would be Half-Life 3. I know over the years some of those things have had different degrees of awareness and involvement, whether it’s the inclusion of senior or principle members of Valve, including Gabe Newell. There are also efforts that other people may not have known were going on. All of them are actual, valid things that are happening inside of the walls of Valve. To pick one thing and say, this was absolutely Half-Life 3, or this is Half-Life 3, that’s hard to do given the nature of how Valve works.”

And:

“I’ve heard that some teams have had two to three people working on it, and they eventually ran into a wall, and some teams may have gotten up to 30 or 40 people before it was scrapped.”

Also:

“You have people that were working on Half-Life, people that finished Half-Life: Episode 2, that already imagined where they wanted to go next – they were cooking, and wanted to keep the wheel spinning. You also have a body of influencers and decision makers. When I say decision makers, Gabe is probably the king of that group. When he proclaims where the wind blows, it just blows that way. If you fight it for too long, you are going to find yourself either out or executed or just exiled. It’s really a weird climate for them.”

Furthermore:

“Some people – I don’t want to name names – were excited about their projects. They’ve had some different thoughts about what it should be. Some are all over the place, from one end of the spectrum being what you would expect – a single-player narrative-focused game – to completely different entertainment ideas that are as wild as they are weird. They were thinking about using the Half-Life characters as a brand for entirely different purposes. Some were bizarre, like turning Half-Life into an RTS, or a live-action, choice-driven game. These things have been contemplated by people, but were never being considered by the whole of Valve as “Yeah, that was the plan.” The nature of Valve is there aren’t plans like that. That’s not how Valve operates. Ideas come from the passion and drive of the individuals within the company’s walls.”

All of which amounts to what we’ve known forever: Valve will release a new Half-Life when they’re happy with what they make. That’s great! If they’re not happy with it, they won’t release it. That’s also great! Aren’t your precious memories glad Valve didn’t release a wonky live-action game?

Should Episode 3 (or Half-Life 3, whatever) happen, whatever it might be, I’m sure it’ll be mighty special if it manages to overcome inertia and unite Valve. I am excited about the prospect of playing such a game. But mercy me, I’ll not go on about it and keep making those same tired jokes. There is so much else to enjoy in the world! And your jokes are shit.

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120 Comments

  1. causticnl says:

    sell the IP to an developer that actually has the motivation to release it.

    • Conundrummer says:

      Yeah! Just like Duke Nukem Forever. That was totally better than getting nothing.

      Oh wait, no, I distinctly remember pressing a contextual button to slap some gooey polygon tits in a rape cave and pretty much regretting everything. Thanks, Gearbox!

      • skorpeyon says:

        It is significantly similar to DNF, they have what is essentially unlimited funding thanks to the money they make off of Steam and they keep restarting the project wanting it to be “better”. The issue is that if they’d buckle down and just DO the game, release it, and turn around and make the “NEXT” game better, they’d have been able to make several games by now. I feel the same way about Portal, the first game was amazing, so was the second, and we don’t have a third because… reasons. That could be a regularly churning franchise, same as HalfeLife, if the company actually had any kind of risk/reward scenario, but their safety net has 3,000 more safety nets below it, so they can easily just toss months of work in the trash and start over.

        This bit 3D Realms in the ass, because they eventually ran out. I doubt Valve will anytime soon because their main income source is clearly separate from their actual game production activities.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          Because if there’s one thing PC games are lacking its ” regularly churning franchise(s)”?

        • ThePuzzler says:

          The difference between Portal sequels and Half-Life sequels is that the Half-Life series ended the story abruptly without resolving anything. I want closure. Even if it was just the same game engine as before.

    • TorQueMoD says:

      I totally agree. There are so many other companies that could do an awesome job. One of the guys from Naughty Dog even offered their services. How amazing would that be if they made HL3?

      • skeletortoise says:

        The horror with which I read this post has made me realize that Half-Life is the only IP I see as sacred, maybe in any medium.

        • keefybabe says:

          Yeah, I’m with valve or nobody. I’d rather wish for HL3 and never get it than have some kind of horror that destroys my memories.

          • best_jeppe says:

            Same here. Naughty Dog while good at making their particular games, story-driven third person action adventure, would totally butcher the Half-Life series because I doubt they would understand what makes it great. They would do cinematic cutscenes or whatever which would be aweful.

            As you said, Valve or nobody.

  2. haldolium says:

    Sad thing is, a linear “story FPS” as pretty much everyone expects from HL (be it just for the sake of concluding the weird story) has barely any place in todays world in terms of big budget titles.

    I can only speak for myself but as far as Half-Life is concerned, I think Black Mesa: Source is the best people will get when its finally done in terms of actual original Half-Life feeling. I doubt that, by now, Valve could ever deliver something worth the conclusion of the universe. I’d be happy to be surprised otherwise (thats also kind of a trait of Valve tbh) but too many years have passed by now to simply wrap up the storyline which I find the worst in all of it. Even Firefly went out somewhat okayish compared to HL.

    • deABREU says:

      Really? What was last year’s Doom, then?
      Yes, it has a multiplayer component, but nobody cares to play that, it exploded the sales charts and critic’s articles purely on its single-player story mode.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Between DOOM, Titanfall 2, Dishonored 2, Superhot, COD:IW and DX:MD I think the single player story-based FPS is doing just fine lately.

      • Premium User Badge

        Topperfalkon says:

        I’d agree with that too, except for CoD:IW. That game started off strong but let bloodlust weaken its ending.

      • Dale Winton says:

        I’d hardly say Doom was story driven

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Wasn’t that exactly what Wolfenstein, which practically everyone loved, did? I mean, it sure as hell reminded me of Half-life 2 (especially the bridge level.)

  3. Kittim says:

    So basically, Valve have got fat and lazy off of the 30% they cream off Steam.

    It must be great being able to go to work and do any old crap that never sees the light of day.

    Not the best way to run a business IMO.

    • Shooty Deluxe says:

      They seem pretty successful.

    • newc0253 says:

      I don’t have figures but it seems to me that their business model seems to be doing well.

      What I find baffling from reading that article is that nobody in Valve seems to care enough about their massively successful game to make the sequel that they appeared to commit themselves to making. Or, if they do care, nobody can seem to get their shit together long enough to release it.

      I could understand if they made Half Life 2 and then decided “okay, that’s it, we’ve told the story we want to tell.” But they made a big deal about how they were going to do episodic content, ended Episode 2 on a huge cliffhanger and then apparently couldn’t figure out what to do next & so lost collective interest in it.

      Also, RPS’s own take seems kinda pissy. Yes, there are many other great games out there. Life is full of wonders. But what is wrong about wondering why a great game remains so obviously incomplete? What is so wrong about that?

      • John Walker says:

        Because it’s been ten years, they obviously aren’t going to make it any time soon, and it’s just silly to dedicate any thought to it at this point.

        • newc0253 says:

          Yes, silly us eh?

          There’s surely no better way for games journalists to patronise the game-loving masses than to jeer at them for still caring about an old game that promised a sequel that never delivered. No, that doesn’t reek of cliquey condescension (“you still hanker for Half Life Episode 3? ah, how naive you are”).

          Never mind that we live in an age in which decades-old titles seem to attract bewildering amounts of funding out of nothing more than sheer lingering interest and nostalgia.

          Never mind that there’s still sufficient interest for someone else to have undertaken an apparently-multi-year investigation and for RPS to have posted its own news item linking to it and discussing it.

          Have your cake and eat it much?

        • Daymare says:

          Alice just wrote an article on it, though. So in that regard, RPS is to blame for reminding us ;) I liked reading it, for what that’s worth.

          Anyway, I agree, they aren’t going to make it any time soon. (I’d rather have a Portal sequel at this point.)

        • Asami says:

          Wow, 10 whole years? Man, we should definitely forget it by now.

          How long have people been talking about Shenmue III?

        • Oduglingen says:

          If RPS hadn’t posted an article about it I wouldn’t have been thinking about it today.

        • jj2112 says:

          Well maybe you didn’t buy the games, but I did and I’d like to see some semblance of conclusion to the story. But it won’t happen of course, and Gabe can eat my donut for all I care.

        • jonahcutter says:

          “Stop thinking about things we think are silly.” -RPS

        • Gwog says:

          Respectfully disagree. Half Life is Important(TM).

      • G_Man_007 says:

        Back then, episodic gaming was all the rage, perhaps the illegitimate child of the bastard that is DLC, and they argued that we’d get more content, more often.

        That didn’t quite work out, and look where we are, whole games cut to the bone in the name of every little penny, and hope of enticing early adopters for a game. It’s interesting to note that the latest Deus Ex is having it’s pre-order DLC given away. I like this, it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s understandable that so many are not happy with it. How’s about just giving us the game for a fair price – I’m looking at you Activision and others…

        Sorry off on a tangent. Remember back to the time of HL2 and the episodes. Remember Sin Episodes: Emergence? I loved that game, it was a great shooter for the time, adjustable difficulty that would adapt to your second by second performance, I remember brilliant firefights in the Source engine, and a real disappointment when the IP got bought by a company that had no intention of using it or making more Sin episodes.

        • JeepBarnett says:

          If Sin wasn’t episodic and they tried to build a full length game it wouldn’t have been completed before their business changed you would have never played any of it. So episodic did get you more content sooner.

      • skeletortoise says:

        Yeah, that’s what really gets me. It’s not like not having another Portal or L4D or something. Half-Life is definitively unfinished. The absurd thing is, based on all the articles like this one floating around, it seems like the only thing between us and a game is someone saying, ‘Yes, we’re doing this’. It’s not like they don’t have the resources or talent. As long as they sit around just waiting for a random person or group to conjure something justifying full development it will never happen. Some things can happen super organically and some things can’t.

        And yes, I’m also about a miffed by the preemptive RPS condescension on this.

    • apa says:

      I got the same impression. Would be a really nice place to work, you could just do whatever, claim that it’s gonna be something awesome and trash it when it gets tedious (polishing or bug fix phase).

      Which one is a better line in your CV: made something that was released and made a difference for the company or just was employed by a big name company…

      • Kolbex says:

        Which one is a better line in your CV: made something that was released and made a difference for the company or just was employed by a big name company…

        Honestly, the way hiring is done, probably “was employed by big name company”. Besides, who needs a CV with a job that cushy…what do they DO all day?

      • Shuck says:

        “you could just do whatever”
        No, you couldn’t. Working at Valve would itself have some cachet in the game industry (though part of that is just the resumé you’d need to have to get the job in the first place), but a healthy resumé very much revolves around being involved in the development of released games, so working on games that don’t get released would is a terrible career move. Not only that, but sitting around and not actually working on games at all would be completely contrary to the primary motivation of working in the game industry – to make games. People don’t work in the industry to make money – if that’s one’s motivation, one is going to be disappointed – but to create games that people get to play. So there’s strong motivation to make games that get released. At the same time, Valve offers the opportunity to not rush games, to make sure they’re released only after they’ve received the resources they need to be polished, and not released only partly-finished just to meet arbitrary deadlines. That’s a luxury that most developers can’t afford.

    • Marblehead says:

      Why be productive when you can earn off rentierism like a banker or landlord? Valve used to have great kudos as games pioneers, now they are just rent seekers imho. Shame but hopefully someone new can take the baton.

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        subdog says:

        Yes let’s all pretend that Valve didn’t develop and then operate three of the most popular multiplayer games on the planet. Clearly they are just blood sucking rent seekers who never do anything of their own.

        • zachdidit says:

          While we’re in that line of thinking let’s also pretend that maintaining and upgrading one of the largest content delivery systems in gaming is an easy task that can effectively be done from the couch.

        • fish99 says:

          Except they didn’t develop those games, they bought out the studios making them.

          • yazman says:

            Yeah, people that got paid to come work at Valve and have worked at Valve for years, a decade plus in some cases, aren’t really Valve employees.

          • fish99 says:

            Those games were largely developed outside of Valve, then finished/polished when the studios were purchased and the devs brought in-house. And of course existing Valve staff were involved once they bought those studios, but the idea for the game and most of the development time was before Valve bought them.

            None of those are Valve ideas. Valve did not come up with Portal, L4D, CS or DOTA.

    • Greg says:

      Valve has this pattern throughout the company’s history when it comes to games. If they have something unique that hasn’t been done before it gets done. The manipulation gun mechanic gave us HL2, Class-based matches gave us TF2, Horror Co-Op gave us L4D, MoBA gave us DOTA 2 and FPS puzzles gave us Portal. So now you have HL3 and a decade of FPS titles that have taken the FPS genre everywhere. So I’m not surprised that HL3 hasn’t been released. Unless there’s a brilliantly unique and fun component that HL3 can be wrapped around, we’re just not going to see it done. Anything less would feel like an underachievement.

  4. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    A HalfLife RTS? Yup, someone has already made one: Lambda Wars.

  5. Vinraith says:

    …and that’s why I’ll never buy anything episodic until the entire series has been released ever again. Thanks Valve!

    • John Walker says:

      tbf, the Half-Life 2 episodes aren’t really like anything else episodic. They’re more novellas to HL2’s novel, and both episodes work as complete standalone games. The second ends on one hell of a cliffhanger, it’s true, but it’s a hell of a good time reaching it.

      • Simbosan says:

        Really?

        You actually typed that thinking it made sense?

        They announce an episodic game, call the first one episode 1, then amazingly enough call the next one EPISODE2.. bur it’s not reeeeeally episodic?

        What rubbish

        They made a commitment to release a full game in episodes. They took money off people with the understanding that they would finish the game.

        They led, took money under false pretences.

        Since then they have shown smug arrogance in their refusal to acknowledge their commitment.

        • Archonsod says:

          Just like George Lucas was misleading us all for two decades then?

        • skeletortoise says:

          I mean, you’re not wrong about Valve and their lack of follow through (though I think we disagree on just how mustache twirlingly evil they are), but that’s not John’s point. They couldn’t completely stand on their own because they both end on and follow big cliffhangers, but they were decent amounts of game. Relative to HL they came quicker and were shorter, but that’s not saying much. They were by most FPS standards about a whole single player campaign.

          • skeletortoise says:

            I always got the impression the whole ‘episodic’ thing got away from them a bit. Not that I’m complaining.

        • GepardenK says:

          They were sold and marketed as standalone releases ala how dlc is. There was no more false pretenses involved than a movie that ends in sequel bait without having a followup.

      • Vinraith says:

        To each their own, of course, but I have to strongly disagree. For me, half the fun on the HL2 episodes was the anticipation for what came next in the story, and apparently I’m never going to get to see that. I honestly can’t bring myself to replay them knowing that, the spell is very much broken.

  6. dylan says:

    Who spins wheels while cooking, anyway?

  7. RuySan says:

    Got HL2 on release (because of the code that came with my graphics card) and I swear it was the dullest shooter I’ve ever played. I really don’t understand all the success and veneration it gets.

    • A7ibaba says:

      Because your brain is to small to comprehend greatness of doctor Freeman

    • CarthAnne says:

      It is paced far slower than almost any other shooter, (including Half Life probably) so I understand why you feel that way. In my opinion, Half Life 2 is probably a bit overrated, and hasn’t aged the best, but I don’t feel it’s terrible. However, It’s not a game for everybody, one supposes.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Yeah, it’s not as good as its reputation, but then, nothing ever could be.

      It’s also aged pretty badly. The two fifths that are mainly tech demo aren’t impressive any more, the fifth that’s exposition dump isn’t that interesting, the fifth that’s novelty gimmickry has lost its novelty, and the fifth where you shoot mans is.. well, you shoot some mans. Hooray.

    • GepardenK says:

      I had some of the same issues though I still like the game. The mechanics are good but Valve’s problem (this can be seen in Portal 1/2 as well) is that they make the pacing way too smooth. It’s a very calculated slowly rising curve and without any difficulty spikes or drops the game becomes very monotonous despite it’s visual variation. You get that “I really should be having more fun than I actually am” feeling.

  8. Peksisarvinen says:

    Well frankly I think the more important question is who cares? Both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 were revolutionary in one way or another, but ultimately, both are extremely mediocre games if you look at them now. Doom is still fun to play, whereas going through Half-Life games is like pulling teeth.

    The storyline, while intriguing, will ultimately end up being nothing more than I AM YOUR FATHER or SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM.

    It’d be nice to see the conclusion, but maybe we should just accept that the best things to see the daylight because of the Half-Life franchise are Counter-Strike, Team Fortress and Concerned, and move on.

    Otherwise you might realize that Half-Life was basically the forefather of Call of Duty and Halo, and that’s not a path that’s paved with misery and shattered dreams.

    • syllopsium says:

      Can’t say I agree, I started playing Half Life for the first time last year and I can definitely see why it got the plaudits it did. On the other hand, Quake 2 just hasn’t aged as well, and I loved that at the time.

  9. Monggerel says:

    IS IT REALLY THAT TIME AGAIN

  10. w0bbl3r says:

    This proves (if the source is real of course) exactly why I have always said the Valve way of making games is a ridiculous one.
    Just letting people shift from place to place, from game to game, doing what they want (within reason I understand that), and walking away from development on a game if they lose interest or see something they like more, is a ludicrous way of making games.
    How are you ever going to get anything done that way?
    Ever since Valve announced they were doing things this way, they have made zero new games. DOTA2? Nope, that’s just a fleshed out mod. CSGO? Same deal, only with a hilarious marketing ploy that proved how dumb people are to buy a skin for an in-game weapon for £300 or more.

    How many new games have Valve made in the last 6-8 years? L4D2? Portal 2? That’s it?

    Valve have no real interest in making games any more. It’s too much work and they make enough money from the steam store and nonsense skins for CS that people go nuts for.

    On top of that, just not even having any set plan for a game you are developing, just dooms it to failure before you even begin.

    Just shows that while Valve might have hit on the perfect money-for-nothing scheme with steam and CS skins, they are actually moronic and talentless when it comes to making quality videogames. Sure a few good games and the odd great game, they have managed that. What else? Taking other peoples idea’s and making millions from them, like portal, L4D, CS and DOTA. None of those were Valve creations at all.
    They just managed to snag the rights to them to maximise profits.

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Yeah, the massive success of Quantum Conundrum, Evolve, and Tactical Intervention obviously shows that Valve is full of dumb idiots who don’t know anything.

  11. killkenny1 says:

    The real reason why Valve haven’t released HL3 yet, is because they still haven’t figured out how to shoehorn weapon skins into the game.

    • stele says:

      Well allright Mr. Wise Guy. If you’re so clever, you tell us what colour hat Gordon should wear!

  12. fish99 says:

    Last thing I played from Valve was Portal 2, in April 2011.

  13. TorQueMoD says:

    To quote Bruce Straley (from Uncharted fame) in an article I read recently about why game development is hard… “The reality is, left to our own devices, we as developers would never ship a game because there’s always something else to iterate on, or new ideas, or more polish to make the game better,”. Valve is literally a company of artists with unlimited funds and completely left to their own devices. The only time they actually make a game these days is when they absorb another company who was already working on cool project (Left 4 Dead, Portal, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress).

    • k.t says:

      I think that’s somewhat less true for Valve, at least for the last five years or so. The whole ultra-competitive stack ranking stuff pushes people away from lengthy development cycles in favor of smaller projects that ‘create value’ rapidly and autonomously — in-game economies and user-generated-content.

  14. Spacewalk says:

    We’ve got two half lives already, that’s equal to a full life. I don’t think you can have more life than that.

  15. Turkey says:

    The third in a series always sucks anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Indeed, Mercury and Venus are far superior to Earth.

      • TorQueMoD says:

        Ok Nauallis high five on the best retort ever! lol

        @ Turkey – Back to the Future 3 was pretty awesome IMO

      • lglethal says:

        Thanks Nauallis, now I’m in trouble at work because I burst out laughing in the middle of the Office, and now everyone knows I wasnt working! :P

        Still awesome retort! I’m going to have to remember that! *Thumbs up!*

      • allthegoodonesweretaken2 says:

        also shitty publishers declaring Pluto non-canon…

    • Shushununu says:

      Season 3 of House and Babylon 5 were those respective series’ peaks.

  16. zachdidit says:

    There’s quite a few people that seem to think Valve’s work style is the sole reason HL3 hasn’t been made. There’s been quite a few games that have died soley based on hype. Think Wildstar, Warhammer Online, etc. The hype trains for these games completely crushed them when players realized it wasn’t the golden unicorn pony they expected. Imagine what the hype for HL3 would be. It’s a high target that moves slightly ever higher as years come on and nostalgia grows. Anything they release will have to be beyond stellar.

    Also I want to touch on the idea “Valve doesn’t make games anymore”. I mean you’re entitled to your opinion, but the amount of content they push to their current games and the amount of out of game support in the form of workshop and APIs I think the argument is pretty silly. Sure they aren’t spewing out a serial game every couple years, but man they support the heck out of what they’ve got. That takes work and we should all appreciate that a game like TF2 which is well past its prime still even gets attention.

    • TorQueMoD says:

      Creating content for existing games and making new games are two totally different things though. There were more than 150 employees at Valve the last time I looked. You don’t need 150 people to make content for 3 titles (CS, TF2 and Dota2 are the only ones still getting updates). I’m not criticizing Valve for not making games, I love the company and I love what they do. I’m just saying that they don’t really release games anymore and even the ones they did release somewhat recently as I said, were projects that were started by other companies.

      I’m still holding on to my fanboy dream that the reason they’re taking so long to make HL3 is because they’re re-making 1 and 2 in Source Engine 2 and are going to release the Half-Life trilogy as a way to beat out the awesomeness that was Orange Box.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        As of last year, a third of Valve is working on VR. Then you have the people working on Steam itself, the people working on the various hardware projects, the people working on Source 2, and the people working on Left 4 Dead 3 (if that’s still happening.)

    • Sin Vega says:

      Yeah, I think it’s a mistake to make out that it’s just because of how Valve works internally. Fact is, whatever they released as Half Life 3 could not possibly stand up to the ridiculous amount of hype gamers have worked up for themselves. Even before the last few years, when screeching histrionics became the normal response for any game that failed to deliver on its ambitions, it was already a no-win prospect.

      I also think that it would be outright anachronistic to have such a story driven, on rails game with a silent protagonist now. Freeman has zero personality and the limit to what can be done with his mute act was reached ages ago. There’s just nowhere for his story to go that wouldn’t be perceived as a massive disappointment.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Fact is, whatever they released as Half Life 3 could not possibly stand up to the ridiculous amount of hype gamers have worked up for themselves.

        The fourth, recent Doom game would be a counterpoint (a counterstrike ?) to that, though.

        • Silvarin says:

          I fail to remember the hype building up before the Doom release. If anything, it was more surprising than anything else that it turned out to be a very good game. That’s not comparable to HL, where people will expect the impossible. Who wants to be the one not delevering on that?

      • Gwog says:

        Screeching gamer hystrionics is not even remotely a recent phenomenon.

    • Shuck says:

      “There’s quite a few people that seem to think Valve’s work style is the sole reason HL3 hasn’t been made.”
      Yeah, expectations must have a significant role, although they’re interacting with the work style to multiply complications. For the people working on it, I’m sure the bar is raised for the target quality that needs to be reached where they feel it’s worth continuing to work on it. If it was just a matter of expectations, they would have released another game, if it was just a matter of Valve’s work culture, they might have released another one, but the two together…

  17. pillot says:

    I’d be surprised if the Valve of today resembles in any way, talent wise, the valve that made the likes of half life back in the day.

    • Werthead says:

      Marc Laidlaw left last year, which I think was the final nail in the coffin. Writing a new game in a series when the main writer has left is never a good idea (Mass Effect 3 suffered from this quite spectacularly).

  18. Viral Frog says:

    The Half-Life games were, IMO, absolutely dull. And I played them while they were extremely hot names in the gaming world. I’m curious as to why they are held up as the golden standards of video game design.

    I’m also curious as to why so many people are complaining about Valve not releasing games regularly. I bet if Valve decided to release more games, the same people complaining about the lack of games they release would then start complaining that Valve is the new UbiSoft/Activision/EA because they release new titles too frequently.

    Valve gets a lot of flack, sure, but look at how great they do supporting their titles. The only other company I can think of, and correct me if I’m wrong, that supports their titles as well as Valve is Blizzard.

    I still thoroughly enjoy booting up any of Valve’s old games (other than Half-Life) and playing. And I have over 100+ hours in almost all of them (countless more than that in CS between all of it’s previous incarnations). And, again, one of the only other companies that makes games I will return to long after they should have died off would be Blizzard, because of the level of support they provide.

    • aircool says:

      I was never really impressed much by them either. Too many damned loading points as well.

      Can’t remember much else that was big at the time though.. Baldur’s Gate? Total Annihilation?

      Now, go back a year or so and Terra Nova was a game that should be remembered above Half Life.

    • Booker says:

      “I bet if Valve decided to release more games, the same people complaining about the lack of games they release would then start complaining that Valve is the new UbiSoft/Activision/EA because they release new titles too frequently.”

      Nope. No one wants yearly cycles, true. But releasing a game every 3-4 years sounds perfectly fine. That’s the period after which something doesn’t feel like trash.
      If they would have done that, we would have gotten 3 more games from them by now. And there wouldn’t even have been a need to just call them 3,4,5… They could have made a HL3 and then turn to an entire new and different franchise.

      What really angers me, is that they even put Portal in the same world. There was no need to do this. Now there are only all the more questions left unanswered. This just stinks.
      I’m not even saying that they have to make games, that they have to produce sequels, but why end everything in a cliffhanger, if you have zero intent to continue your games? I wouldn’t be bothered by this, if the last HL game would have had an ending. Closure. But no…

    • GeoX says:

      I bet if Valve decided to release more games, the same people complaining about the lack of games they release would then start complaining that Valve is the new UbiSoft/Activision/EA because they release new titles too frequently.

      Yeah! Those damn hypocrites I made up based on no evidence sure are hypocrites! They’re the worst!

  19. fuzziest says:

    It seems kinda odd for all their free wheeling hey man do whatever you like company atmosphere they mostly only produce F2P e-sports games with well developed monetization schemes. Like no one decides to make a platformer or strategy game? Maybe Gabe frowns at them during a meeting and everyone gets the idea.

    Over the last decade they’ve mostly picked up games designed elsewhere and polished the hell out of them and then cranked on the F2P potential. Steam is cool at all, but it seems a shame they don’t actually produce any interesting games anymore.

  20. Booker says:

    “Due to Valve’s buckets of money and weird flat-ish-but-not-really structure, a new Half-Life is an option rather than a requirement.”

    I don’t really buy that. If they are this disorganized, then why is Steam still a thing. I’m sure at some point someone was bored with patching Steam. So something had to make him go on regardless or at least replace him – otherwise it would have vanished years ago, because it would have ended up completely broken and nonoperational.
    So since this is somehow different for HL, the issue must be something deeper.

    • Chemix says:

      Flat-ish-but-not-really-structure: I believe the key words here are ‘not really’. It can seem flat, but it really isn’t; below the creative types are likely dozens of people who do systems maintenance, and getting a job at Valve today probably means landing a job in that area because they aren’t launching any creative ventures that need talent, (as far as we know). Much of the artwork (for DOTA 2 atleast) currently comes from community sources, which provide content that is then monetized.

      There’s a big difference between an employee and an independent contractor.

      If a company can get people to provide a steady stream of content without actually hiring them, and then find a way to monetize that content, they’ve hit a gold mine. There are limits however, some of which were established when they faced backlash for attempting to do expand their monetization scheme to modding outside of their hat economies. Other limitations come in the form of what people are willing to do in their spare time for a pittance.

    • behrooz says:

      Steam is still a thing because it makes literally billions of dollars, and making it work is an infrastructure project, not a creative project.

      A reasonable estimate puts Valve’s revenue in the same ballpark as EA or Vivendi, giant media conglomerates with tens of thousands of employees.

  21. syllopsium says:

    I think it’s wise not to wish for something that may not be all we could hope for.

    I played (still haven’t finished) Half Life for the first time last year and can see why it’s loved. I love Portal 1 and 2, and admit Portal 3 would probably still be an instant purchase.

    ..and yet, whilst Portal 2 had a much stronger story than Portal, humour, pathos, better visuals, and sound, it was less focused and well designed than Portal. It’s still excellent, and addictive, but I think there’s a distinct danger of not being able to meet the same standard again unless they’re very careful and tweak gameplay to perfection (that means a story driven first person puzzle game which has no twitch reflexes required, and solutions that are neither heavily signposted or impossible to crack).

    As mentioned, it could turn into a DNF, or an Ultima IX..

    I don’t think it’s impossible, but care is needed.

  22. Sui42 says:

    I think the truth is that Valve can’t do HL3 justice, and they know it.

    Half-Life was the most innovative FPS ever released, for the simple reason that the first 30 minutes just tried to tell a story, in a 3D space, without cheesy dialogue boxes or tedious level design. It let you wander through a place that felt somewhat real. At the time, that was pretty avant-garde.

    But the rest of it was still just a 90s shooter. It was good for a game, but most non-gamers would still look at it and think, ‘that’s rubbish’.

    Same goes for HL2. The first 30 minutes? Spectacular (though, going back now- as an adult – the dialogue is actually pretty cheesy & a bit crap). But the vast majority of the game, replaying it now, is actually quite boring. You sprint around shooting things, and occasionally solving puzzles. I played it recently and got bored. And this is coming from someone who spent most of his teenage years obsessively posting in the HL2.net forums.

    Half-Life was, in my opinion, the most important stepping stone in gaming. It will always be remembered for how it changed the gaming landscape. But its legacy has moved on; with the likes of Dear Esther, Everybody’s Gone To Rapture & the plethora of amazing altgames which put story infront of shooting people.

    But really? As a PROPER WORK OF ART? Half-Life is bit of a mess. The characters are pure cliche. The story is of a man in an orange suit who runs for hours and hours shooting everything he sees. And the best stuff in the series either came from Viktor Antonov or George Orwell.

    I just think that Valve, like many gamers, have grown up – and no longer want to make / play games about shooting everything that moves. That’s why they made Portal 2, which I think is probably the closest we’re going to get to HL3 (and to be honest, it was probably better anyway).

    I do really hope Valve return to making full-length games again. But I don’t really care if I get to return to the HL universe or not. I feel like it’s had its day.

    (Also – there’s a lot of talk about DNF. I don’t think they’re comparable, because – from everything I’ve read – it seems like Valve really haven’t been putting much effort into HL3. Perhaps for the reasons stated above, they’re happy to rest on their laurels. It’s hardly a DNF scenario, where they’re throwing all their money into a game which is stuck in development hell. Valve are smarter than that).

    • Frank says:

      Your first sentence kind of goes against the whole rest of the post. If the HL series sucks so much, it would be a very low bar to do it justice.

      • lesslucid says:

        …but he’s not saying it sucked, he’s saying it was revolutionary for its time but the innovations it introduced have since been incorporated into every shooter and its brother and so, relatively speaking, you go back and play it again and it seems like “just another shooter”. It’s the gaming version of this phenomenon:
        link to tvtropes.org
        …so, what can Valve do? Well, they could just make a good, standard modern shooter, wrap up the story, and call it HL3. This would be fine and some people might be happy, but as a capstone to the series it would in some ways be a major disappointment, because both HL1 and HL2 made major *advances* in the genre. They did things that moved the whole genre forward.
        OTOH, if Valve try to move the genre forward, they face a significant problem: this might be very difficult, slow, and expensive to do. They might fail. They might do something innovative that people don’t like. It might work out fantastically, but when you try to catch lightning in a bottle, there’s absolutely no guarantee you’ll succeed. If this was all they had on their plate, they might well do it anyway – why not swing for the fences and see what happens?
        However, they do have something else on their plate – Steam. This thing spills out hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the company, and if you figure out some clever way to make it 2% better at doing what it does, that’s worth tens of millions of dollars. So… devote your time and energy to getting a big, difficult, potentially-worthless project off the ground (within a company where it’s already been tried and failed twice)… or… spend another month or two looking for ways to optimise Steam a little bit more? Well, I know what I’d do.

    • Marclev says:

      “But the rest of it was still just a 90s shooter. It was good for a game, but most non-gamers would still look at it and think, ‘that’s rubbish’.”

      You either have a very poor memory if you thought Half Life was “Just a 90s shooter”, or simply passed out between the prologue and Xen. It set a new benchmark for FPS games in a lot of ways:

      – No loading screens (it did to be fair pause the action while loading the next level, but never just jumped to a whole new environment).

      – Scripted events instead of cut-scenes

      – Realistic(ish) environments (most FPS games where far from that)

      – Tactical squad enemy AI

      – An actual coherent plot that evolved throughout the game (most FPS games were just a bunch of levels or “chapters” stuck together and the “story” was something you’d miss if you blinked)

      – NPC design.

      And this wasn’t just the first 30 minutes, it was the whole game. These days you might play it and not see what’s so special about it, but at the time it was revolutionary (I say that as someone who bought it when it was brand new at the time).

      By the time of Half Life 2 other games had caught up a little bit (but not as much as one might think), but the source engine blew anything else away, City 17 as an environment was mind blowing in that it actually looked like a devasted city, and the general game mechanics again set a new standard for FTP games in different ways.

    • AaronSteinmetz says:

      I think what we’re really seeing here is the failure of their silly flat structure. It’s not a business model. It’s a comfort-zone model. It’s a fantasy built on the success of Steam that wouldn’t and shouldn’t last in a competitive market. Imagine if Toyota failed to release a new Prius for ten years with no promise of another one. What if Apple hit the brakes on iPhone development for a decade or so and just, you know, whatever-ed every request for a new one? They would fail, and they would deserve it. It’s time for Valve to fail just once, and taste what Rockstar North would feel if they stopped making Grand Theft Auto games, or what Blizzard would feel without World of Warcraft, ArenaNet without Guild Wars, Bioware without Mass Effect. Valve has created a nice, comfortable place for creative types to wait on inspiration. It’s time to let the professionals do their job and crack some skulls. I mean seriously: it’s a game. It’s not that hard to make a game. Other companies do it all the time.

  23. Frank says:

    Hey, as long as Beyond Good and Evil 2 is really gonna be a thing, I’m totally fine with all other franchises terminating immediately.

  24. RichUncleSkeleton says:

    Bureaucratic inertia, time, and apparently the vague whims of Gabe Newell keep Episode 3 from happening, and HL3 can’t happen without Episode 3. That’s my takeaway.

    Side note: Valve sounds like an utterly terrifying place to work, judging by this description:


    You also have a body of influencers and decision makers. When I say decision makers, Gabe is probably the king of that group. When he proclaims where the wind blows, it just blows that way. If you fight it for too long, you are going to find yourself either out or executed or just exiled.

    This genuinely sounds like a borderline cult, honestly. Gabe seems like the kind of guy who hides totalitarian tendencies under a thin veneer of false egalitarianism.

    • ThePuzzler says:

      That’s basically how all corporations work though. The guy at the top decides what’s going to be done, and you either accept it or quit. Valve’s just a bit less formal about it.

      • ThePuzzler says:

        And that’s probably the real answer to why there’s no HL3: those games require a lot of resources, and that’s only going to happen if Gabe provides leadership, and for whatever reason, Gabe just doesn’t care enough to get it done.

      • RichUncleSkeleton says:

        Sure, he’s the guy at the top and he decides what’s going to be done. That’s fine and proper. But at the same time he seems to go out of his way to indulge the fantasy that Valve is less of a business environment and more of a utopian genius workshop where smart people do what they want, when they want, and how they want to, while passive-aggressively enforcing his desires through indirect means like veto-driven ‘group interviews’ for new employees (gee, I wonder whose priorities these ‘groups’ reflect?), and, in all likelihood, lots of factions and cliques with varying measures of perceived (or real) authority, which, again, is derived from how closely they hew to the master’s will. I’d much rather work under a guy like, say, Ken Levine, who has a reputation for being a tyrannical son of a bitch, but at least he’s upfront about it.

        • k.t says:

          The shitty recruitment process isn’t really down to Gabe, it’s all the people trying to maximize their bonus who veto impressive candidates because they don’t want the competition. That extends beyond hiring as well. If people don’t seem to care about your project then it’s probably a good idea to move on to something else, but if they’re actively trying to stop you from pursuing it then it’s almost certainly a winner.

  25. thelastpointer says:

    I too found HL2 boring. And it’s responsible for spawning the cinematic, story-driven FPS “genre”, which is entirely uninteresting to me.

    However, it was a game changer, and the Source engine played a big part in that. The things people remember fondly — the physics puzzles, facial animations, the gravity gun — was all made possible because their new engine.

    So for a successful HL3 they would need a new engine packed with interesting features; I think that’s the biggest obstacle in the way.

    Assuming, of course, that we’re actually talking about Half-Life 3, and not Half Life 2: Episode Three, which some people seem to confuse here.

    • Werthead says:

      They clearly planned to make Episode 3 after 2 but then something happened and they slammed the brakes on. I suspect this was down to Team Fortress 2 taking off and starting the hatocalypse, then Valve purchasing Left 4 Dead and that taking off as well, both convincing Valve to put more resources in multiplayer and easy-to-monetise extras.

      On top of that, they seemed to get really excited by Portal and decided to expand on that in the sequel. You can see in Portal 2 the hints that the wanted to roll into the next Half-Life afterwards, like setting up the Borealis and then booting Chell out of the facility (presumably so they could – if they wanted – tie that into Half-Life). My guess is that at that point Episode 3 died and they planned to make a full Half-Life 3. Rumours at that time said as much.

      For whatever reason – probably related to Steam exploding in popularity after that point and Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: UO taking off – they didn’t press on with HL3 as they wanted to back around 2011-12. I suspect the lack of new tech, the lack of a gimmick to hang the game on and growing fears about meeting expectations took hold, combined with a lack of leadership from Newell, who seems to be ambivalent about another HL game.

      What is a bit more baffling beyond that, however, is the lack of a Left 4 Dead 3, or a new Counter-Strike, or a Team Fortress 3. All of these would be much easier to make than a new Half-Life and would still do good business and also allow them further monetisation options afterwards.

  26. PiiSmith says:

    The last game Valve released was DOTA 2 and that was 2013. I am not confident, that they will release anything anymore.

  27. kavika says:

    Growing the PC empire, with everything it stands for, is the only important thing now.

    If Valve spends forever just making sure varying specs and standardized open-ish hardware is the solution, GE style gaming appliances die, e-sports is real and legitimate, VR is a household thing, and that small fry indies with truly novel ideas become AAA developers, then I’d be fine with that.

    Ideas for new games are everywhere. Crowding out the competition with fully novel GOTD titles doesn’t help the industry thrive, anymore.

  28. alfie275 says:

    I’d like to see something that I guess would be called “Half-Life: Episodes”: Basically valve would reach out to mod creators/mappers, and provide them with assets/story scripts/funding. Then each 6 months a new 30-minute – 1 hour “episode” could be released, consisting of a few maps that serve as a standalone unit of gameplay whilst also continuing the story.

  29. OscarWilde1854 says:

    Have any of you obsessed people ever considered the reason it hasn’t been made is *because* you’re so obsessed? There is this weird air of anticipation and secrecy following a game that doesn’t exist, hasn’t ever existed, and (at least according to this article) has barely ever even been worked on. Half life 2 is still raking in money because people talk about it as if it is the greatest thing that ever happened to video games (and I don’t mean at the time… people still talk like nothing better has EVER happened in games, at any time).

    The smartest thing they can do is keep making you all beg, and plead, and be obsessed with it. Constantly drawing attention to a 10-year-old game, constantly drawing attention to Valve, and constantly advertising for them through memes, blog posts, RPS articles, etc.

    If I was making the decisions at Valve I too would milk it as long as possible. Wait until the hype *almost* dies and then BOOM Half-Life 3 confirmed. Better yet, wait until the hype *almost* dies and then BOOM Half-Life 3 rumor from a reliable source. Then keep that cycle going for another 5-10 years.

    You can all pretend like you’d lose interest completely eventually but every single time they released a plausible rumor you’d all be pulling out wallets and jizzing your pants in seconds!

    Well played Valve.

  30. Gwog says:

    Never understood gamers willing to defend a company that abandoned a narrative being laid out across many titles. This thread literally has someone saying “well sure it ended on a major cliffhanger but..”

    Anyway, after buying multiple games in large part because of the story and characters and the mysteries being developed, I remain HUGELY resentful about how all this was handled. Just one example, the fact that we’ll probably never know what the hell the GMan is, is a massive fail.

  31. Jaffa says:

    Half life 3 confirmed???

  32. Symarian says:

    You must be fun at parties.

  33. gebrps says:

    For me, if there would be an ending to the saga, should be something where your decisions totally change the game while playing it. And I mean TOTALLY. And there should be a super strong Sci-Fi plot that blows your mind, with a super ending (let’s face it: Gordon should die saving everyone and finally paying for his big mistake. But with “sci-fi agent Smith” behind, he may never die anyway. It could be a cosmic experiment forever, where Gordon is the mouse-star that can’t escape from the cosmic maze).

  34. mcbob13 says:

    After hearing that there may be a ending to this game I came to the conclusion that, I don’t care anymore.
    I grew up, moved on and found other games.
    I just prefer that this series fade away into history and be done.