Marc Laidlaw, the sole writer for Half-Life and Half-Life 2, as well as the lead writer for Half-Life 2 Episodes One and Two, has retired from Valve.
Laidlaw confirmed his departure in an email exchange with a fan, wherein the fan laments he's tired of waiting for news about Valve's beloved sci-fi series (like the rest of planet Earth).
"There are many reasons [for retiring], most of them personal," Laidlaw writes. "An outwardly obvious reason is that I'm old, or anyway oldish."
Laidlaw was born in 1960 and discovered a love of storytelling through games thanks to titles like Myst. He's published several writing works outside Valve, and he admits he'll be getting back to some old-fashioned tale-writing.
"Working on games has been an amazing education, a vocation, an entire career I never expected to have. I found a calling that didn't even exist when I was a sprout. But it feels like the time is right to return to my roots and see where that takes me."
In his email, Laidlaw also suggested Valve fans should stop asking about the state of Half-Life 3, as they're probably not going to receive any confirmation or denial about the project.
Half-Life fans are understandably glum about Laidlaw's departure. For one thing, Valve's series is still regarded as a high point in sci-fi games writing thanks to its grim setting, dark sense of humor, and intriguing cast members. Even the ever-silent Gordon Freeman carries himself with an authority and purpose that's rare in mute protagonists. Laidlaw has talent, and now that talent probably won't be available to the games industry any longer.
Of course, it's possible he wrote the scenario for Half-Life 3 at some point before his departure -- but don't hold your breath waiting for Valve to dish. You'll die.
Laidlaw's retirement also kicked off a fresh round of mourning for Half-Life 3. We haven't seen any stirrings in the mainline Half-Life series since 2007's Half-Life 2 Episode Two, which ended on a cliffhanger.
Now's as good a time as any to ask ourselves if it does any good to pine for a series. Games arrive when they arrive, and beyond contributing to a Kickstarter campaign or simply assuring developers we're interested in seeing a continuation of Series X (and buying preceding games in said series), there's not a lot we can do to directly influence their development.
Besides, it is highly doubtful Valve is sitting on Half-Life 3 because it believes nobody is interested in the game. Between Steam, the upcoming HTC Vive virtual reality headset, and working on maintenance and updates for Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and DOTA 2, Valve has a lot on its plate. Maybe Half-Life 3 isn't top priority.
"So when will it be top priority?" is a valid response, and again, all you can really do is shrug your shoulders and put your faith in Gabe Newell. There's no point obsessing over it.
At the same time, there's no point in giving up on your noble video game dreams. Look back at what E3 2015 gave us. The Last Guardian. A Final Fantasy VII remake. Shenmue 3. Games that were, until that point, considered dead or impossible. E3 2016 may go down in history as the time when the words "Half-Life 3 confirmed" moved beyond "bitter internet meme" status to become reality.
Until that day comes, relax. Make a sandwich and start whittling down your Steam backlog.