In the four years since Valve dropped the critically acclaimed Half-Life 2: Episode 2 on us. They’ve gone All Quiet on the Western Front in regards to the third episode. Company reps have mentioned several times that Episode 3 is eventually coming, and they gave us a few pieces of concept art years ago; that’s been it. But yesterday, a post arose on the official Steam forums that struck readers as a plausible confirmation of what most fans have long-since assumed: Half-Life 2: Episode 3 had indeed been turned into full-fledged Half-Life 3.
Don’t go getting yourself in too much of a crowbar-bludgeoning fervor just yet, though. Before we break down the scuttlebutt, you should know that Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded to it by flat-out saying, “Fake.” On top of that, he also told Game Informer: “This is fiction (aside from the fact that Mike D is a real person)”. That’s a strong condemnation; but, since there’s isn’t diddly else to say about the next Half-Life, we’ve got the rumor details for you, right here.
The aforementioned post on the Steam forums originated from user “ryuuk”. The supposed freelance artist referenced a resume of a former Valve team member that had purportedly worked on the project for a few years. Here’s the direct quote from his post, “Half-Life is officially confirmed!”:
Mike Dussault, a long time programmer at Valve, recently left the company. I didn’t know him until last week. Let me introduce myself. I’m a freelance artist. I do contract work for a studio in Seattle, through the internet. They have a client access system on their site. I came across Dussault’s resume, while browsing the files section. Now, I know you’re all curious about Valve’s in-house development, but I’m only going to talk about the Half-Life series.
According to his resume, Episode Three was put on hold when Valve decided to move away from the episodic model in late 2007, right after Episode Two’s release. He was a techinal advisor on a cancelled Half-Life title, made outside of the company. Dussault’s work on Half-Life 3?s world programming, and the scripting system (between 2008 and 2010) is also mentioned in the resume.
Now, you may be thinking that anybody can jump on a forum and claim to have insider information from a friend at Valve; but, the events that followed added some credence to the post. Once administrators caught wind of the thread, it was promptly deleted and ryuuk was permabanned. It’s possible that the Valve employee who took these actions was just trying to quash hype for a false announcement before it built to monumental levels. At the time, however, it seemed more plausible that the post was legitimate and the developer didn’t want the internet to find out about their most well-guarded secret.
It has since been proven that Mike Dussault did indeed work under Valve’s employ for 10 years, but has since moved on to a not-for-profit outfit. Lombardi’s comments disavowed any truth to this rumor, aside from Dussault being an actual person that worked for Valve at one point. Still, when you quietly work on an episodic expansion for four years, rabbid fans are going to make the obvious assumption that it’s more than an expansion.
Ultimately though, we’re now left right back where we were before this maelstrom broke loose: waiting and wondering what shape The Last Free Man’s next outing will take. This type of speculation will undoubtedly continue until the time at which Valve sees fit to show us whatever they’re working on. For the millions of fans out there, that moment can’t possibly come soon enough.
[Images via Gameranx and The Gaming Liberty.]