If you think about it, most of the problems in the world can be traced back to willful ignorance. Ignorance of scientific data, or ignorance of other people’s problems, or ignorance of your own problems…ignorance of the truth, which they prioritize lower than keeping their opinion.
The internet has caused hundreds of problems in our everyday lives, but it’s eliminated thousands more. As a good example, people are still ignorant, all over the web (go to any website that discusses politics even in the slightest!), but though they have a justification, with the itinerant, instant gratification mindset encouraged by Twitter and news sites, they have much less of an excuse. All the answers are literally at your fingertips, and it’s only due to good old-fashioned apathy that you don’t look for them.
A Google News Search for ‘Half-Life 3’
…Man, that was a polarizing and self-important way to start an article about nerds arguing about a popular video game that no one has ever played. But it is a real good example of just what I’m talking about. When Gabe Newell talked about Valve’s future in the inaugural episode of Gameslice, Geoff Keighley’s new podcast, he made some comments on why games are made by Valve, not just how.
See Also: Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson Sit down in New Internet Podcast ‘GameSlice’
The statement that everyone has picked up on comes roughly 42 minutes into the interview, when Gabe talked about the frustration among the community from the lack of official information on future Valve projects.
“The only reason we’d go back and do a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people internally at Valve said they wanted to do it and had a reasonable explanation for why it was. If you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we’ve learned, you know, in shipping Portal 2, and all the updates on the multiplayer side, you know, that seems like a bad choice.”
– Gabe Newell
Now, if you’re on this site, chances are you’re quite a bit more informed about Half-Life than the average gamer. So you know that Half-Life 3 is in active development, and have been for some time now.
See Also: Episode 3 AI Nodes found in the Alien Swarm SDK
…what, you don’t think that’s true? Well you’re just plain wrong. First off, Half-Life 3 is in development because let’s face it – it would be stupid and illogical on Valve’s part to not develop it. Simple as that.
Half-Life 3, do you believe?
Second, that oft-stated notion that Valve is now solely focused on microtransactions and Steam revenue, and so has completely abandoned single player experience? Yeeeeeeeeah, NO. Valve has done some pretty money-grubbing things in the past, but at their heart they’ve always had a very auteur spirit. Just look at Mr. Keighley’s earlier work, The Final Hours of Half-Life 2, where he explains the spirit behind the game’s development:
“Newell told the team that, at least initially, they had a virtually unlimited budget and absolutely no time pressure. ‘There’s going to be no producer making bad decisions about what has to happen on this project,’ Newell told the team. All the money Valve made on the original Half-Life would be rolled into the sequel. And since Newell was well-off from his days at Microsoft, he was willing to personally endow the development if necessary. ‘The only pressure we have is to build a worthy sequel to Half-Life.’ “
Valve is a multi-billion dollar company, they know they don’t need more money, and they’ve said on several occasions that their turn toward microtransactions was the culmination of their foray into “Entertainment as a service” that started even before Half-Life 2’s release. They exist to serve the gaming community above all else, just like they always have. And the gaming community wants Half-Life 3, so Valve is working hard on it.
Next, let’s address the comment from Gabe about only making Half-Life 3 if people at Valve want to. This lines up with what we do know about Half-Life immediately after Episode 2 in 2007 – namely, that after several years of Half-Life having complete priority among Valve’s many projects, the development team was collectively burned out on the game.
And so, immediately after the release of The Orange Box, Valve collectively shut down for almost three months, and broke up into small specialized teams to pursue very specific and innovative projects. When the company reconvened in early 2008, there were so many interesting ideas on display that projects were immediately started to turn them into full fledged games. Several of these concepts are evident in Valve’s subsequent releases – the AI Director, Portal 2’s gel rendering, and its backstory of Aperture Science all owe their creation to this period of directed design.
This is what I mean when I say Valve wants to serve the gaming community: They felt that this project, resulting in “More innovation in a few months than most devs would see in their lifetimes”, would be better for everyone involved than a half-hearted, passionless end to the grand Half-Life 2 story. And that was pretty much static until roughly 2011, when the hype for Portal 2 was soured somewhat by longtime fans complaining that they were neglecting their flagship franchise, and some developers realized that they agreed, and joined the relative skeleton crew that had been on the project up until then.
Since then we’ve seen a steady trickle of accidentally released code and assets for post-Episode 2 Half-Life games, but absolutely nothing about those is any surprise, or hint at changes to the series. This is where Gabe’s second comment comes in, and the one people are outright misinterpreting instead of just taking out of context:
“If you want to do another Half-Life game and you want to ignore everything we’ve learned, you know, in shipping Portal 2, and all the updates on the multiplayer side, you know, that seems like a bad choice.”
What people don’t seem to realize is that not only are Valve making Half-Life 3, but they’re making it to be just as much of a literal and figurative game-changer that the other games in the series have been. When Gabe is talking about “another Half-Life”, he means the picture of Half-Life 3 most of us have in our minds – ‘basically the same game as Half-Life 2, maybe with some Advisors as enemies, and better graphics I guess.’
Half-Life 2: Episode 3 concept artwork, released 2007
When we do see what the game will eventually look like, it won’t conform to our expectations, but it also won’t be shackled to all the next-gen trends, and it definitely won’t be something on the order of D00M (The under-wraps reboot of Doom), which is so devoted to a retro aesthetic that if features double-jumps and larger-than-life floating power-ups.
So, that’s the story. Bottom line: Don’t take comments out of context like that, and stop mourning the demise of Half-Life 3, because it’s obviously on its way. In fact, what Gabe said in the podcast only makes me more anxious to see it soon, as if that’s possible.
What are your thoughts on the topic? Let’s hear in the comments below.