Being a hardcore fan of the video game Half-Life hasn't been an easy experience for almost a decade now. Twelve hours ago it became even harder.
Marc Laidlaw, the writer of the hugely popular 1998 game and its sequel Half-Life 2 has retired from Valve, the company that makes the game and his place of work for more than fifteen years.
The subreddit /r/halflife is a particularly sad internet place right now. A redditor with the username TeddyWolf emailed Laidlaw asking about the fate of Half-Life 3. The response he got back said that Laidlaw doesn't "and can't entirely know" what's to come for the next installment in the series, which has lain dormant since a short episodic expansion released in 2007.
No news about the game itself comes as no surprise, since Valve is notoriously quiet about development. What did come as a surprise was Laidlaw's declaration in the email that he's "no longer a full or part time Valve employee, no longer involved in day to day decisions or operations, no longer a spokesman for the company, no longer privy to most types of confidential information, no longer working on Valve games in any capacity."
The email goes on to explain Laidlaw's reasons for retiring (mostly it's that he's retirement age), and to say he's not sure what his retirement means for the Half-Life series.
The subreddit did not take this well. These are a couple samples of the front page as of this writing:
This is the video posted. Its description on YouTube reads "i just lost hope."
The comments on the original TeddyWolf thread itself are marginally less hopeless, but not by much. One fan wrote "This is pretty disheartening but if he thinks this is for the best, it's his decision of course." Here's another fairly representative exchange:
If this seems like an overreaction: fair enough. But imagine if this were a widely anticipated movie, or album. What would the reaction be like among fans if Rihanna announced (after a 9 year wait) that ANTI wasn't going to come out? Probably pretty despondent, right? While this isn't an outright cancellation, it certainly doesn't bode well for the series. Valve is unlikely to say much of anything, plus they continue to make plenty of money off of the immensely lucrative Steam platform and other products.
Anyway, hang in there Half-Life subreddit. It's a bummer, but in time things will be okay.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org