See Gabe Newell's 10-year journey from Half-Life 3 enthusiasm to complete shutdown | PCGamesN

See Gabe Newell's 10-year journey from Half-Life 3 enthusiasm to complete shutdown

Gabe Newell

There was a time when Gabe Newell was fresh-faced, enjoyed speaking to the press and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about development on Half-Life 3. Someone has put together a video that shows this side of Newell, but it quickly moves onto the depressing truth: Half-Life 3 probably isn't ever going to happen. Sad times. 

I suppose we'll just have to play through our best FPS list forever.

In a world where Doom and Wolfenstein reboots are actually excellent, I'm optimistic about Half-Life 3's chances if it were ever released to a modern audience.

I think Valve could pull it off, despite expectations. Obviously time has moved on since the last game, but it was truly groundbreaking at the time. How much have shooters evolved since, really? Not much at all. There's still room for Valve to step in and show everyone how to proceed in the FPS genre. 

There was a two year period where Gabe Newell wouldn't shut up about Half-Life 3 and it was glorious. Between August 2006 and August 2008 he was relentless.

"From our point of view, there's enough newness in there that we want to spring it on people and say 'here's a bunch of things you've never seen before', and have multiple of those," Newell said to Geoff Keighley in a February 2008 interview. "There's stuff that visually hasn't been in games before and there's certainly a bunch of game elements on the [level] or Portal that have never been done before."

"New gameplay paradigms?" asks Keighley. Newell nods his head.

Fast forward six months and Newell now refuses to talk about the game to anyone, even Jonathan Ross - a habit he's kept up until now, eight years later.

Have a watch of the video and make yourself cry below:

Subscribe to PCGamesN on YouTube

Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
QDP2 avatarAnAuldWolf avataricheyne avatarSilentius avatarFraser Brown avatarRogDolos avatar+2
QDP2 Avatar
1 Year ago

Has anyone questioned him in the past couple years over whether the game is production, pre-production or simply on hold? At the least he could shut up so many people with as simple an answer as this.

AnAuldWolf Avatar
1 Year ago

I think he's just sick of people demanding an answer. The thing is is that Half-Life is just a different zeitgeist, it's not from today. The '06 Shitfall (as I like to call it) changed a lot about video games. It was the true emergence of the mainstream in video gaming, and it's pretty much gone downhill from there. We've seen the occasional perk with things like Kickstarter and bigger indie teams, but largely? That kind of video game has been killed by the big money that publishers lust after, now. And Gabe isn't sure what audience is out there that would enjoy it.

As I see it, he has two options:

1.) The Reboot

This option basically completely redoes Half-Life according to modern sensibilities. Two-weapons at any one time, filled with spectacle, the most dumb kind of male power fantasy, overly cinematic, and with a multiplayer mode designed by Certain Affinity. Admittedly, some games are getting away from that, but not even '16 DooM could get away from Certain Affinity. Heh. I think '16 DooM would've been better with open modding and no multiplayer, but that's just me.

2.) The Niche Gambit

Design Half-Life with a smaller team, don't advance the technology much beyond what it was like in HL2. Say 'fuck you' to fidelity and go with actually new gameplay paradigms instead. Make it a very 'creator driven' approach, like video games used to be. Have a strong sense of identity, and try to hit on a bunch of niche demographics to make your money. If you also don't put out so much money (by not having a massive crew, and not going for fidelity) then you'll likely make a profit.

The thing is? Thanks to the mainstream, the video games industry is having something of an identity crisis right now. One that might be killing it from the inside. Just look to Japan and how its gaming industry has dwindled to see an example of that. I felt things were getting bad when we even stopped having video games outside of our homes (arcades), that we could visit when on vacation, but... Well, that was nothing.

I think this is just indicative of the industry as it is. It's kind of at a turning point and it's tearing itself apart. Valve is kind of at the centre of it. Portal 2 shows us that they want to make '90s games, based around identity, personality, and intelligence, which aren't desirable traits when it comes to mainstream gaming. Not desirable at all. You don't want to make your audience feel stupid when they don't get your jokes, cleverness, and/or philosophies, or when they can't even figure out how to play your games. And that's what's causing the problem right now. Do you make bland, uninteresting, unchallenging, lifeless games without a shred of personality to cast the net wide for the mainstream? Or do you find a new way?

The thing is? A lot of the creators (the artists, the writers, the designers) actually prefer the old way. You an see it in interviews and such, and in how they're abandoning publishers to do their own thing. That's happening more and more. There's a divide between rich "UNGA BUNGA GIF MONEE!" publishers, and the people who'd make this content. You can only make it so unfun for them before they can't take it any more. And for creative people, the mainstream is like a never-ending stream of brown, porridge-like sludge that goes on as far as the eye can see.

Valve's just caught up in this. Do they do a reboot? Do they try and capture the niche? Where could Half-Life exist in today's world? I wouldn't blame them if they made it a horrible freemium mobile game, just to make a statement.

Silentius Avatar
1 Year ago

Hey AnAuldWolf, nice post! Well written! Articulate! I agree/disagree with your views in a few ways.

Firstly, I agree, the HL franchise belonged to a different age, but there’s no use harking back to the good old days where big studios were willing to take a punt on ideas from way left of field: it’s never going to be like that again. Gaming as a medium has matured and, like it or lump it, HAS become mainstream. Personally I don’t have a problem with this. The same economic laws that have applied to Hollywood for generations now apply in the world of gaming. The budgets involved in bringing a triple A title to market are such that to invest in anything but a sure fire winner would be financial suicide (just ask THQ). Triple A games are now like the annual Hollywood blockbusters that rely on tried and tested tropes and sheer ‘spectacle’ to gratify their audience, but, like movies, these games wouldn’t be made if there weren’t a market for them. People like what they like and as long as they like it big studios will keep giving it to them. Also, like Hollywood, games production has developed a big fish/little fish eco system where the little fish (indie studios) take all the risks on avant-garde ideas and, if they’re successful, the big fish (major studios) feed off of them. It might seem unfair but it’s the natural order of things. What we have to do is make sure that a vibrant indie scene remains viable by putting our money where our mouth is.

Secondly, I think you’re doing the thousands of ‘creative people’ who’re happy to work at major studios a disservice by confusing originality with creativity. Sure there have been some notable ship jumpers in recent years, but many highly creative individuals remain content to express themselves in the production of ‘mainstream’ titles. Equally, a lack of originality doesn’t necessarily lead to “a never-ending stream of brown, porridge-like sludge”. I agree, it’s a little depressing to see yet another re-skinned iteration of the same COD formula trotted out each year, but that’s not the be all and end all of triple A gaming. IMO big studios produce plenty of titles which, while not particularly original, remain enjoyable.

Thirdly, you’re giving Valve too much credit (or not enough depending on your point of view). When referring to a paradigm that you clearly dislike you state that “Valve’s just caught up in this”. Valve isn’t caught up in anything. For better or worse, as the operator of the world’s single biggest PC distribution platform, Valve is fully complicit in the creation and the maintenance of the paradigm to which you refer.

Anyway, there’s my tuppence worth. It’d be nice to get a response… I love a good debate me.

Fraser Brown Avatar
1 Year ago

"New gameplay paradigms?" asks Keighley, actual robot.

RogDolos Avatar
1 Year ago

This video confuses Episode 3 with Half-Life 3. There's no mystery as to what happened with Episode 3, Valve decided against continuing with episodic content. The amount of time + energy they put into those episodes was as much as a full game, but much less content than one.

MrJinxed Avatar
1 Year ago

It'll never come out. It can never live up to expectations at this point. It's shitty of Gabe to not have kept his word. They're too busy raking in the money from steam, and any product that aren't received critically well will hurt their image and is not worth the risk if it turns people off the money machine. Not that it will, but I can readily imagine that's the train of thought.

SteveCrook Avatar
1 Year ago

Agreed, it'll never be seen. What saddens me is that I've stopped caring and moved on. More or less.

Mind you, if Newell's beard spontaneously combusted, I'd think there was a measure of justice.

I don't need ground breaking anything, what I want is a proper conclusion to the story. I *still* feel I'm owed that much.

icheyne Avatar
1 Year ago

Half Life is in the past. We've all moved on. If there was a sequel, it'd be lazy fan service like Star Wars VII.