Today in News You Should Probably Be Glad You Never Heard About At The Time Because You're Already Disappointed Enough And This Would've Been Frustrating And Yeah I Guess You Would've Written A Lot Of Annoyed Comments On The Internet And TBH Neither You Nor I Want That But Boy, What If This Had Happened: Deus Ex director Warren Spector and his (now-closed) studio Junction Point were at one point working on a Half-Life game.
The mystery game would've been a Half-Life 2 episode separate from Valve's own core episodes, introducing a new physics-y magnet gun. But it was not to be, and Junction Point went on to focus on Epic Mickey instead.
This first came to light in a recent interview with Game Informer. Spector said that they started concepting the game at a time when Junction point was struggling to land work, and "Valve actually stepped in and saved us, frankly." He explained the premise and the problem:
"[Valve] was really into episodic content at that point. We were working on an episode that would fill in one of the gaps in the Half-Life story. So we were trying to flesh out a specific part of the world of Half-Life and we created a new tool. A thing we elegantly called the magnet gun, which I still wish they would do something with. We came up with so many cool ways to use a magnet gun that were completely different from anything [Valve] had done and was really freeform in its use. I still think it'd be cool, but when the deal with Disney really started to bear fruit, I just couldn't say no to Disney. I'd always wanted to work there, so we never completed the work with Valve."
He expanded a little in an 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit on Friday:
"Junction Point had a project cancelled (we can talk about that, too, if you want). There was no money. Basically, Valve came in like a white knight and offered us some work on a Half Life episode set in a part of the Half Life universe that hadn't been explored deeply. In addition, just because my team couldn't just do anything the easy way, we decided to add a new tool to the Half Life universe - the magnet gun. We came up with some COOL stuff to do with the magnet gun. Valve decided to move in another direction but I still wish they'd do something with the magnet gun. It was fun."
He also noted the Magnet Gun was a separate weapon from the gravity gun, and "the two would have been super complementary." Oh, the physics puzzles we'll never get to solve! And I do wonder that that unexplored corner of the HL universe was. Commenter speculatron: activate!