Has Half-Life 3 and/or Half-Life 2: Episode 3 become the most anticipated game/s of all time? The most sought after game/s of all time? The most legendary vapourware of all time?
Regardless, we’ve been waiting for the continued adventures of Gordon Freeman, Alyx Vance, Dog and the rest of the crazy crew in a brand new Half-Life adventure for years. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was the last game in the franchise that developer Valve saw fit to release to gamers at large – a game that released in mid-2008.
A game that contained a teaser trailer for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, no less!
Ever since then, Valve has remained mysteriously quiet and tight-lipped on anything Half-Life related, instead being content to release Portal 2, create the Left 4 Dead franchise, change how we think about free-to-play games with Team Fortress 2, reboot excitement for Counter-Strike and completely dominate the PC digital download space with Steam.
Despite all of these accomplishments, gamers are still nonplussed and have a single question on their minds:
Where is Half-Life 3?
In a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown, Valve’s head honcho Gabe Newell has finally broken the silence and we’ve been given our first proper reasons for the company’s insistence to remain secretive on the future of Half-Life.
Instead of directly referencing Half-Life or Half-Life 3, however, Newell preferred to use a non-existent game in its place, in this case Ricochet 2 – a make believe sequel to an interesting multiplayer game released years ago.
Whether an attempt to avoid being misquoted or outright mentioning Half-Life 3 altogether, Newell cleverly skirts the issue and talks about the difficulty in making games in general – especially games that have enormous expectations weighing on them.
“In terms of Ricochet 2, we always have this problem when we talk about things too far in advance,” Newell began, trying to explain Valve’s game development process.
“We end up changing our minds as we’re going through and developing stuff, so as we’re thinking through the giant story arc which is Ricochet 2, you might get to a point where you’re saying something is surprising us in a positive way and something is surprising us in a negative way, and, you know, we’d like to be super-transparent about the future of Ricochet 2.”
It’s true – over the course of any game’s development cycle, development through iteration is key to discover the game’s core strengths and test the foundations of the team’s previously thought game designs and story strings. The game a developer begins to create may very well end up looking completely different to the end product.
“The problem is, we think that the twists and turns that we’re going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it, until we can be very crisp about what’s happening next.”
Essentially, Newell is saying that instead of showing us the face of a game one day and presenting that as the final form, before changing that face and presenting another form in six month’s time (which can be confusing and frustrating for fans), Valve would rather work on their games until the developer is confident that the final form is indeed presentable to the public as that – the game we will see and play when it releases.
As someone who has seen this happen both in the triple-A and indie spheres of game development, I agree that Valve’s ‘secretive’ approach is much more pragmatic.
While Newell may not have given us concrete answers regarding when we will catch our first glimpses of the next exciting adventures of Gordon Freeman, Alyx Vance, Dog and the rest of the crazy crew in a brand new Half-Life adventure, we can at least rest easy in the knowledge that Valve is taking good care of one of the most beloved game series of all time.
When the team is ready to reveal the game’s final form, we’re in for a mighty treat indeed!