Marc Laidlaw, the sci-fi author who wrote the story and scripts for Half-Life 1 & 2 and led the writing team on Episode 1 & 2, has retired from Valve.
The news came after Redditor TeddyWolf emailed Laidlaw to ask about the current state of Half-Life 3. Laidlaw, who has often responded to emails from inquisitive fans in the past, replied. Rather than confirm Half-Life 3, Laidlaw said that he couldn't say what the current state of Half-Life was as he no longer works at Valve:
I am no longer a full or part time Valve employee, no longer involved in day to day decisions of 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.
And what Valve's plans are for Half-Life, he can no longer say:
I don’t and can’t entirely know. Half-Life is fully owned by Valve. It came into existence before my arrival. Where Valve may choose to take it in the future is not in my hands. I have been a grateful co-creator, but my time of working on the series is behind me. Since I no longer speak for Valve, it would be inappropriate for me to answer questions or speculate openly on the fate of the franchise. I can speak about games I worked on in the past, to the extent this is public knowledge, but I have talked about those subjects endlessly over the years and don’t think there’s much to add.
As for why he's retiring, he writes that:
There are many reasons, most of them personal. An outwardly obvious reason is that I’m old, or anyway oldish. My nickname when I first started at Valve in 1997 was “Old Man Laidlaw”. The little baby level designed who gave me that nickname is older now that I was then. Imagine how much older I am! I had the unbelievable luck to fall in with the kids at Valve when they could have just dismissed me as an old fogey who didn’t know shit about videogames. The only Zelda I’d ever heard of was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife. They taught me everything. I had a good run but lately I have been feeling a need for a break from the collaborative chaos of game production, and a return to more self-directed writing projects.
I confirmed with Laidlaw earlier this afternoon that the emails are real. He has indeed retired.
Laidlaw's worked at Valve for the past 18 years so it must be a great loss for the company to see him go. Half-Life was already in development when he joined the team but he's been instrumental in detailing the world that fans are so fervently attached to.
As to what this means for Half-Life 3. It's hard to say (especially considering Valve hasn't openly said what state that game is in, if any). It's been more than a decade since half-Life 2 and almost nine years since Episode 2 came out. There's a good chance in that time Laidlaw has fleshed a version of where he thought the story was headed, that may direct or inform Valve's decisions. Though, Valve has other excellent writers so whatever future games are made will likely be equally well crafted, if a little differently-styled to the earlier games.