Just two days ago, on the 13th of June, Steam Forum user ryuuk posted a thread titled: “Half-Life 3 is officially confirmed!”. The opening post read as follows:
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.
And here is a screencap of the thread as it looked back then, for any non-believers. Ignore the watermark.
So, what makes this particular case interesting? Surely it’s just another troll having his daily dose of laughs with the Half-Life fanbase? Well, what is interesting is that the thread in question was completely deleted not long after it was posted, and ryuuk was permanently banned from the Steam Forums. I don’t know about you, but this sounds a bit strange to me. If this really was just a trolling attempt, then why was ryuuk permanently banned, and the thread completely deleted? This doesn’t seem like ordinary procedure for trolling. Let’s not forget that Valve has been known to abruptly delete threads in the event of a leak, most notably, when Valve posted some very interesting things relating to future TF2 updates on their Translation Server. The information found its way to the Steam Forums, where the thread was deleted, although the information remains in this thread, on NZFortress.
In addition, it turns out that Mike Dussault is a real person, and has in fact left Valve. He had been with the company for over 10 years. He left in September of last year, which fits the development timeline that is in this supposed resume (“2008-2010”). He was then working with Dreamfly, a non-profit organization, right up until April. So ryuuk had one detail spot on in this story.
Furthermore, ryuuk mentions that Valve put Episode Three on hold in late 2007, which does fit with what we knew – that Valve was moving away from the episodic model as early as the aftermath of EP2’s release, and that by mid-2008, plans had completely changed for Half-Life.
Another interesting detail is the mention of Mike serving as a “technical advisor on a cancelled Half-Life title made outside of the company”. When I heard this, I instantly thought of the infamous “Episode Four”, which we talked about in March when an EA concept artist revealed concept art for some sort of cancelled Half-Life title being developed at EA. At the time, many of us thought it was the elusive Episode Four.
Since then, however, more info has surfaced on this mysterious project. Doomed, a regular poster on the Episode Two Steam Forums, created this thread back in May, in which he mentioned that he had been informed, that somewhere in the data leaked by hackers following May’s network intrusion on Eidos’ servers, was the CV of one individual, which mentioned that he had worked on Episode Four, at Arkane Studios during 2006 and 2007, before “Valve decided to put their episodic efforts on hold”. (Perhaps Episode Four went through the hands of multiple game companies, or the concept art we saw was for a completely different HL project being done at EA?) This is another detail that seems to be legitimate – he worked on Episode Four, outside of the company, which was cancelled not long after EP2’s release, possibly due to the same reasons Episode Three became Half-Life 3.
The final piece of information ryuuk gives us is that Mike had done work on HL3’s world programming and scripting from 2008, until his departure from Valve in September 2010. If real, this confirms many fans’ suspicions that the next installment in the Half-Life series has been in fact in development for all this time. He did not share or mention anything else.
So… is this real, or have we been had? Who knows? But this is one hell of an interesting story, and we feel that all of the Half-Life fans out there deserve to know. We’ve asked Valve, but have received no reply as of yet.
Well – what are you waiting for? Get speculating in the comments section!