Half-Life’s lead writer Marc Laidlaw has said his vision for the rest of the series was for each game to end in “one cliffhanger after another,” with “Gordon in an indeterminate space, on hold, waiting for the next game to begin.”
Both Half-Life games are on our list of the best shooters on PC, and will remain so forever, for it pleaseth the Gaben.
Laidlaw was speaking about his experiences working on Half-Life 1 and 2. Some of his most interesting comments are in response to the inevitable question about Half-Life 3. Laidlaw, who quit Valve in January last year, has “no idea” if Half-Life 3 will ever be released (it won’t), and he has “no interest in going back” to work on it.
He says he had ideas for Half-Life 2: Episode 3, but that “they were all supposed to take the series to a point where I could step away from it and leave it to the next generation.
“I had hoped for a reset between HL2 and HL3 that was as dramatic as the shift between HL1 and HL2. I honestly don’t know if anyone else shared this goal, but it seemed important to me to give ultimate freedom to whoever inherited the series, with my own personal set of loose ends tied up to my satisfaction.”
Laidlaw “never thought as far ahead as HL3, unless you were to say that HL3 and Episode 3 were the same thing. I will say that I expected every installment would end without resolution, forever and ever…there was some rumor going around that Ep3 or HL3 would end Gordon Freeman’s story, and I don’t think that was accurate. My intention was that Ep3 would simply tie up the plot threads that were particular to HL2. But it would still end like HL1 and HL2, with Gordon in an indeterminate space, on hold, waiting for the next game to begin. So one cliffhanger after another.”
So perhaps the fact that Half-Life 2: Episode 2 left us all in the lurch is appropriate; it seems the franchise’s lead writer never planned to wholly resolve things for Gordon, instead putting him on ice once again at the end of every game. I don't know about you, but for me, this makes the likelihood of us never getting another Half-Life game easier to swallow.
The full interview is well worth a read, touching on how Laidlaw got his job at Valve, the experience of working there, and many aspects of Half-Life's narrative design. You can find it over at Arcade Attack.
Also, turns out Laidlaw's favourite game is Dark Souls – good taste.