After 18 years with the company, Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw has retired from Valve.
Laidlaw’s departure was revealed by a Redditor who had reached out to the now-former Valve employee in hopes of unearthing details about the long-awaited Half-Life 3 (source). Since this was made public, Laidlaw has confirmed the exchange as authentic.
According to the Valve website, Laidlaw joined the company in 1997 to work on Half-Life. He is credited with being the lone Half-Life writer, as well as the lone writer of Half-Life 2 and the lead writer for the Half-Life episodes.
In the correspondence with the Redditor, the Half-Life writer explained why he decided to ride off into the sunset:
An outwardly obvious reason is that I’m old, or anyway oldish. My nickname when I first started at Valve in 1997 was ‘old man Laidlaw’. The little baby level designer who gave me that that nickname is now older than I was then. I had a good run but lately I have been feeling a need for a break from the collaborative chaos of game production, and a return to more self-directed writing projects.
Of course, we wish Marc Laidlaw the very best in his retirement, however there is one lingering question this news brings: what does the writer’s retirement mean for the release of Half-Life 3, the game that’s been teased for release more times than Dr. Dre’s Detox and Guns and Roses’ Chinese Democracy? At this point, the only difference between those two albums and Half-Life 3 is that Chinese Democracy eventually was released and revealed itself to be terrible whereas Dr. Dre flat out admitted last summer that Detox had been cancelled.
What is the future of Half-Life now that the Half-Life writer that’s been there from the beginning is gone? “Where Valve may choose to take Half-Life in the future is not in my hands,” Laidlaw wrote. “I have been a grateful co-creator, but my time working on the series is behind me.”
There are two things we have inferred from meticulously studying Laidlaw’s correspondence.
- Laidlaw walked away from Valve because the seemingly decade-long freeze on Half-Life 3 wore him out.
- Half-Life 3 is complete and Marc Laidlaw is either fed up with the series or content with its conclusion.
We certainly hope that it is not the first option because we would love to finally play Half-Life 3, even if it ends up being a disaster. And while we really would not be surprised to find out that Valve cancelled Half-Life 3 ages ago and forgot to tell anyone, we are holding out hope that the Steam leak that named Half-Life 3 as a title coming soon to the Valve-owned game distribution platform means it is really happening.