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    The developer of many acclaimed game franchises such as Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Day of Defeat, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, and Dota. They are also responsible for the massively successful PC digital distribution service Steam.

    Half Life 3's Plot outline posted by Marc Laidlaw

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    lpug21

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    About an hour or two ago, Marc Laidlaw (ex-Valve-and-Half-Life writer) posted a letter, which is quite obviously the plot outline for Half Life 3. Seems designed to give people some closure, in lieu of the fact that HL3 is never coming out.

    His website has been hugged to death, copies are here:

    Original, names changed by Marc (for legal reasons?)

    Version with names re-inserted

    Apparently, the NDA for HL3 expired recently, which may explain the timing.

    It looks like the book is closed people, the saga is over.

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    TravisRex

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    Could it be he was just bored and wrote a fanfic?

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    forteexe21

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    I wonder if Valve will allow a game that follows that plot outline on Steam, of course removing stuff that will make it obvious.

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    fox318

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    That last paragraph describes valve as a wasteland where nobody recognizes you and an office culture that is dead where people go to add to their retirement fund.

    Makes sense Brad Muir would go there.

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    TravisRex

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    Onemanarmyy

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    #6  Edited By Onemanarmyy

    Doesn't sound like a story that would blow my mind away. To be fair, i came to Half Life for the physics / weird guns & enemies, not for the story. I guess we would've seen a lot of ice, snow and water in HL3, maybe they could've done something fun with that.

    Still nice for the folk that wanted some closure.

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    lpug21

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    @onemanarmyy:While I'm on the other side of the fence from the story PoV, I can totally see your point in regards to physics/weird enemies etc. The Half Life series has always done work to define the genre, and it's quite hard to see how HL3 would be able to fill those breeches, and I think you'd find it leaving a bunch of disappointment in it's wake.

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    xanadu

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    Skimmed through most of it so maybe I missed something...but g-man isn't gordan freeman from the future? Bullshit.

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    ripelivejam

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    Onemanarmyy

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    #10  Edited By Onemanarmyy

    @ripelivejam: Funny enough, in Dota2 they released the second act of the multiplayer campaign recently. And there's totally a segment where you snowboard on top of a pinguin from A to B. You even get battlepass points for it if you can snowboard on the pinguin without bumping into anything for a number of seconds.

    There's no ship that phases in and out of different dimensions though. Also a lack of labcoats.

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    clagnaught

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    "Thank you for reading Half-Life 3. We hoped you have enjoyed this letter. Thank you for your patience over the past ten years."--Nobody at Valve

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    BisonHero

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    #12  Edited By BisonHero

    How does one company swing so hard from 2007 when they were putting out The Orange Box (bunch of games) and Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 in back to back years, then a bit of a gap leading up to Portal 2, and then have almost no meaningful creative output in the time since then? Did the success of Steam, and Valve's more or less pointless focus on VR, really ruin them so completely?

    It's not that I cared that much about Half-Life 3 particularly, but they've made nothing significant since Portal 2. I don't count the VR stuff because about 0.1% of the gaming population is ever going to play it. At best they're making the VR equivalent of short films. VR short interactivities, if you will.

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    fox318

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    ArtisanBreads

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    A company that has redfined showing you a story in a game in many ways with their first two games isn't going to have a follow up story that you read off a page have the same impact. No point to me.

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    JellyCube

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    Wouldn't it be funny if HL3 hadn't been developed since like 2011.

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    Ezekiel

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    Remember when someone leaked Half-Life 2 and Valve delayed the game so they could make it better? Fuck this guy.

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    deactivated-60dda8699e35a

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    Huh, I liked certain parts, but it's a bit of a gloomy ending if that's truly what they were going for. Then again, I don't think any of the Half Life games have ever really ended on a triumphant note.

    Edit: So I thought about it a bit more, and after having it explained that the last paragraph was more of Marc speaking, I'm just kind of disappointed. If Valve never intended to keep the series going, I wish they would have just said something, rather than let speculation run rampant. There were people like me who were kind of holding out hope that perhaps MAYBE this would eventually come out, and now I'm reading that it pretty much stopped development in 2013. It's ridiculous that we had to wait for a NDA to end before we finally got any form of finality to this series. It's just extremely disrespectful to the fans to not say anything about it. Instead they're more focused on making a card game to try and drain out more money from people - I know this is a tangent, but I think micro-transactions may be one of the worst things ever put into video games.

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    Onemanarmyy

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    #18  Edited By Onemanarmyy

    @bisonhero:

    Some educated guesswork:

    2012 - Making CSGO the definitive place for Counter strike after Source failed to be that. Making steam THE place for PC games, and making sure that both developers and customers had a good experience.

    2013 was Dota 2 time. As Oculus's first devkit was released around this time, this would seem like a timeperiod where they were starting to make their own VR product.

    2014 / 2015 was probably a lot of research how to make SteamOS / Steamboxes / Steamcontrollers / Vive a thing. Partnering up with various companies to make production / distribution a reality.

    2016 They shipped the Vive with HTC and made the lab stuff.

    2017: Partnered with various tournaments for a more intense year-long season schedule for the International and updated their games. Artifact the cardgame will probably show up soon-ish. There is also talk about 3 more VR games coming, but people seem wary to put their faith in that.

    Looking back on this, Especially the whole push for linux gaming in the livingroom seems like a mistake and wasted time. But i guess if your only care about Valve as a singleplayer game developer, all of these activities (except for Steam activities perhaps?) are probably dissapointing.

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    BisonHero

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    #19  Edited By BisonHero

    @onemanarmyy: I can see why all of their writers just gave up and left, given that post-Portal 2, the combination of CS:GO, DOTA 2, and DOTA 2: The Card Game isn't exactly thrilling material to work with.

    It's just disappointing that they were a pretty good software company, but they've spent so much energy and time in recent years on hardware and OS-level stuff that is not going anywhere (Steamboxes and Linux, VR).

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    myke_tuna

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    "And here we are. I spoke of my return to this shore. It has been a circuitous path to lands I once knew, and surprising to see how much the terrain has changed. Enough time has passed that few remember me, or what I was saying when last I spoke, or what precisely we hoped to accomplish. At this point, the resistance will have failed or succeeded, no thanks to me. Old friends have been silenced, or fallen by the wayside. I no longer know or recognize most members of the research team, though I believe the spirit of rebellion still persists. I expect you know better than I the appropriate course of action, and I leave you to it. Except no further correspondence from me regarding these matters; this is my final episode."

    I feel like Marc added this to the end just before posting or added it at the very moment he realized Valve was never going to create another Half-Life anything ever. He's describing the vestiges of the OG Half-Life team at Valve as much as the original research team from Black Mesa. Speaking through Gordon as much as anyone can speak through a silent protagonist.

    I can't wait until a mod makes this unofficial official ending to the saga a reality. Bigger budget mod on the scale of Black Mesa perhaps. Not for sale for obvious reasons. Either way, this will serve as the ending to the series for me until something better comes along.

    If fan fiction comes from the original author, is it still fan fiction? I don't know but it works for me.

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    Teddie

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    Does this... count as closure? It sounds like episode 3/HL3 would have just been setup for another sequel that never would have been made.

    Valve sounds like a shitty place for a creative person, so I guess I understand why all their writers have apparently left, and why this guy felt the need to post this for himself and the fans. At some point Valve holding the rights to their old franchises is as depressing as Konami holding theirs.

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    whitegreyblack

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    #22  Edited By whitegreyblack

    @ezekiel said:

    Remember when someone leaked Half-Life 2 and Valve delayed the game so they could make it better? Fuck this guy.

    Just about anyone at Valve who would have any interest/capacity/part in crafting Half Life 3 are now no longer at Valve. Mark Laidlaw is one of them. Maybe... have a little respect?

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    Onemanarmyy

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    Just realized that this thread calls it Hl3, while Mark says this is episode 3. The end of this also seems like a setup for the actual half life 3

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    Bollard

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    I still can't believe there were people who thought Half Life 3 would ever get made.

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    gunflame88

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    I'm never touching anything Valve makes. They are creatively bankrupt at this point, making money off children gambling for hats and skins. Disgusting.

    Yeah, I feel strongly about this whole thing.

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    monetarydread

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    superfriend

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    Just realized that this thread calls it Hl3, while Mark says this is episode 3. The end of this also seems like a setup for the actual half life 3

    Yeah, this. It seems pretty clear this was supposed to be the third episode. If at some point it got changed and made into HL3, it might have been completely different at that point.

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    isomeri

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    That sounds like a Half-Life plot alright. No Valve game has interested me since Portal 2 and I can't see that changing any time soon.

    Steam continues to be a fine store and library tool for games, but it's definitely aging and (luckily) becoming less integral. I'm frankly surprised that the likes of EA or Microsoft haven't already come up with a better system.

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    Panfoot

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    @teddie said:

    Does this... count as closure? It sounds like episode 3/HL3 would have just been setup for another sequel that never would have been made.

    Both Half Life 1 and 2 has similar "you accomplished the task but are left in a weird place" endings, so it totally fits in with that. More importantly though we would have had the progression/closure of some of the dangling plot threads from Episode 2, mostly followup to that massive fucking cliffhanger that still makes me mad to this day.

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    Luchalma

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    @bollard said:

    I still can't believe there were people who thought Half Life 3 would ever get made.

    I've thought it wasn't for a while, and stopped caring if it did long before that. But if an actual threat to Steam's dominance ever did start eating into its business, you can bet your ass Half Life 3 would magically come out in some form.

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    Evilsbane

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    What a sad pathetic way to end this, I picked the wrong favorite game series.

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    ArtisanBreads

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    #32  Edited By ArtisanBreads

    @isomeri said:

    I'm frankly surprised that the likes of EA or Microsoft haven't already come up with a better system.

    Origin is quite good for me. Certainly night and day customer service wise. I also had Access for a while and that was good too.

    And some of this is the audiences fault to a fair degree for just constantly bitching about anything that wasn't Steam.

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    someoneproud

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    Erm..

    @bollard said:

    I still can't believe there were people who thought Half Life 3 would ever get made.

    I can't believe that there were people that thought HL3 wouldn't get made, the first two games were critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Valve was rather prolific and productive at the time of Ep 2's release and HL was their flagship property. Granted as time went on it became painfully clear valve had dropped it, but you'd have been mad not to have expected it at the time.

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    Pixel_Junkie

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    #34  Edited By Pixel_Junkie

    This is the way a game ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

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    Ezekiel

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    @ezekiel said:

    Remember when someone leaked Half-Life 2 and Valve delayed the game so they could make it better? Fuck this guy.

    Just about anyone at Valve who would have any interest/capacity/part in crafting Half Life 3 are now no longer at Valve. Mark Laidlaw is one of them. Maybe... have a little respect?

    No. I don't tell people what I did for a certain company while I was under contract, so I don't see why I should give this guy a pass.

    I haven't given up all hope yet. The Last Guardian was in development for nine years and was shown off long before it had any right to be. It took James Cameron fifteen years to make Avatar. He ran into problems and limitations and focused on other projects in the meantime, like Valve at one point.

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    ArbitraryWater

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    For better or worse, this certainly seems like a Half Life story. I'm not someone who thinks that HL2 is the greatest game ever made, but there's definitely something tragic about the way this has all turned out.

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    Lazyimperial

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    #37  Edited By Lazyimperial

    What an interesting read, especially since the narrator is Gordon Freeman himself, the franchise's player character who never spoke a word in any of the games.

    It sounds like this could have been quite a romp, and the plot ideas sound intriguing (a luxury liner trapped in non-linear time and space, a neural back-up of Dr. Breen's consciousness imprinted onto a giant female grub-queen... which sounds like a brutally cruel thing to do to an innocent back-up file, the return of G-Man, etc.).

    However, I think this could have also turned out to be an excessively dreary, bleak, emotionally monotonous, and potentially cliché journey. I didn't see a single glimmer of hope or mirth in this entire "letter /aborted game plot summary," and hours of doom and gloom with an utterly silent main character from the 90s school of "don't give your lead a personality or players won't be able to project upon it" character design sounds... awful. Oh, and another sci-fi "guess what? You're the Aztecs and they're the Spaniards. You never stood a chance, Colony X!" twist. *sigh* Between Mass Effect 3, the Resistance franchise, and others... I've kind of grown weary of hopelessness and fighting wars you can't win because "what other choice is there?" and all that.

    Now if the Borealis crashing into the Combine invasion nexus fractured time and space and transformed reality into Zen from Half Life 1, thereby indicating that the Vortigaunts are actually from a future-past and their love of the "Freeman" is actually their love for the being who birthed their dimensional realm of twilight and eventually became their floating fetus-god... then you'd have my undivided support. :-P I love time loops, which totally aren't as cliché as the "we never stood a chance" trope. *self-aware drum roll*

    Edit addition: man, playing Saints Row recently has made my concept of good game plots take a turn towards psychotic... and I love it. Freeman, who frees the Vortigaunts from the Combine hordes, inadvertently making himself the god of cruelty that he himself killed... which actually freed the Vortigaunts of him too but also left them vulnerable to the Combine hordes that would conquer them. A truly awful savior. Haha

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    BabyChooChoo

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    #38  Edited By BabyChooChoo

    I'm not necessarily mad that they didn't give us a sequel, I'm baffled that a company with all this money and resources just dropped this series at what was very clearly not the end. And it's not like it was a failure like other series that get cancelled. Half-Life 2 was a massive critical and commercial success. It just seems cruel to leave the fans hanging, especially after promising they were going to continue the story a year after Episode 2 came out.

    In any case, I'm glad people are finally able to get some closure. It's been far, far too long.

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    Efesell

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    Disappointed.

    Loading Video...

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    matatat

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    #40  Edited By matatat

    @fox318: From what I've heard through people who worked with Valve on the Vive, that is sort of on the right track haha.

    I imagine the environment there has gradually shifted with the launch of Steam and it's popularity. I work with a lot of people who were part of the Xbox team through original to One and after 360 when corporate MS realized it was popular and a viable platform and engulfed that product. And that's how MS ended up with a shit product. Although, some of the people (the same ones I work with) seem woefully out of touch with the gaming community. So that might have had to do with it as well.

    Considering Valve used to try and poach from MS pretty frequently parts of the culture might have traveled with it, but I'm just speculating at this point.

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    CheapPoison

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    @fox318 said:

    That last paragraph describes valve as a wasteland where nobody recognizes you and an office culture that is dead where people go to add to their retirement fund.

    Makes sense Brad Muir would go there.

    Damn! Dark.

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    TheHT

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    That was great!! Woulda been a great way to end the episodes.

    Half-Life for me was always about the weird sci-fi world. Gameplay-wise, I really only cared for the first game. The crawl through the destroyed research facility may not be the most original setting, but it was executed wonderfully, and was the first game to really draw me into its space. The second game was fine, good, with some occasionally less-fun-to-actually-play-than-think-about stuff (i.e. vehicles). They built upon the mystique of the first game's world and fleshed out the enemy, setting up this whole underdog milita thing that I wasn't super into. It was only in the episodes, when the free vortigaunts started to interfere with the G-Man, that intrigue reminiscent of what I felt during Half-Life 1 really began to build.

    Here the whole adventure comes across as some good techy sci-fi, almost going into cosmic horror territory. That, opposed to the survival horror of the first one or the actiony rag-tag rebellion and body horror stuff in the second plus other episodes. Easy to see how they might reconfigure the Borealis tech to have HL3 start to dabble in dimension-hopping, maybe even having you actually hunt down the G-Man and get into whatever cross-dimensional hero-racket he's got going on.

    It was always such a cool and weird sci-fi-ass sci-fi world for me. There was a certain strangeness to it I didn't get from much other sci-fi at the time, if any (obviously they exist, I just wasn't gettin em). Even if this is just one rough outline or an idea for what they might've done, or even something he completely made up for this post, it's still super cool to see!

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    KillEm_Dafoe

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    This makes me sad to read. It would've been great to see this story play out like this. I think it really still captures the sense of ambiguity and mystery the series has always maintained. Always a thread hanging somewhere. I like that's it's still bleak and undefined.

    Fuck Valve at this point. Seriously. There was a long time there where I enjoyed holding out to see what brilliance they would come up with next in between their TF2 hat and DOTA2 bullshit. As it turns out, they are likely completely devoid of any creative integrity these days. If they are working on anything meaningful, I'm sure it'll be great, but it's just been too long.

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    Cold_Wolven

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    That was an enjoyable read, got confused at times by the name and gender swaps but overall I liked it and until Valve actually put out an actual sequel I'll treat it as canon.

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    Darson

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    Please don't get mad at me, but was the story of Half-Life ever a major thing, or was it more the way it was actually told that captivated people? Because one of the top 3 points that people speak about HL1 is how it "revolutionized story telling in video games" especially in the context of a first person shooter. But no one ever commonly cites (from what I've seen, still pls don be mad at me) that the story itself was anything ultra special.

    That's not to say it was bad, but I feel like people are more or less awaiting EP3/HL3 because of the technological implications that the previous Half-Lifes brought, more than the continuation of the story.

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    deactivated-5e851fc84effd

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    Is anyone actually surprised that Valve followed the money? They're a business. Half-Life 3, while highly anticipated would almost certainly be disappointing, require way more artistic effort, and not be nearly as lucrative as multiplayer stuff.

    Maybe a bit disappointing, but not surprising.

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    BoOzak

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    I was enjoying everything (especially the combine Breen creature) up to when Mossman was suddenly shot. After that it felt a bit tacky to me. Still, it's better than nothing. Endings are hard to write, especially in Sci-Fi. This will do in lieu of an actual Half-Life 3 that will never get made because hats...

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    Ravey

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    #48  Edited By Ravey

    @darson: I think in Half-Life 1 it was the way the game was made, how the way the story was told, the quality of the content, the game's user-centric design, and to some extent, the technology.

    Valve were the masters of the subjective experience. Half-Life was the first game that felt simultaneously like a movie, a book, an immersive RPG, and a (Mario) game in terms of how it played, how it was structured, how things were presented, how the game was paced, how it was perceived, and so forth.

    It was one of the first story games that honestly felt engaging almost from start to finish. It was the first game to use the intuitive WASD + mouselook control scheme out-of-the-box. It was one of the first action games set in a believable world that tried to get across the feeling of being there. The game had a bit of mystery and didn't try to explain everything. It was one of the first first-person games that effectively communicated its affordances instead of pulling you out of the experience, and it allowed you to formulate plans based on intuition rather than trial and error or reading a walkthrough. Just a lot of little things that made it an engaging, progressive and relatively sophisticated experience for its time.

    The story of Half-Life 1 was pretty much just nailing down the user experience and creating an interesting, well-conceived fantasy with as few barriers to immersion as possible. Around that time, more action-y games were starting to get a little more ambitious with their writing and their game worlds. As a result though, Half-Life 2 was bigger and had more story stuff to dig into and it's interesting and highfalutin and all of that... but I feel like Valve cared more about raising the bar than telling the greatest story ever told in a video game.

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    Hayt

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    I liked that a lot. Would have been a nice end to the Episodes. I wonder if modders will use this as a blueprint to make episode 3. It'd be a cool job for the Black Mesa people.

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    Luchalma

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    More than anything, the thing that angers me about Valve's apathetic attitude to doing anything of any real importance is that Brad Muir went and worked there. That guy dreamed up Iron Brigade (Trenched forever in my heart) and Massive Chalice. He was a man of ideas. A creative mind. And he's totally and utterly wasted there. Now, I'm sure there's lots of really talented people there with atrophying gifts at Valve. But it hurts with Brad because he was always such a fantastic person to have around in GB videos.

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