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Half-Life Writer Says Sharing Episode 3 Story Was "Deranged"




A few years ago, Half-Life and Half-Life 2 writer Marc Laidlaw published something... a little strange. Titled "Epistle 3," the short story was written as a letter from "Gertie Fremont" to someone named "Playa," and although all their names were changed, the letter clearly outlines events following Half-Life 2: Episode 2. Many fans assumed at the time that what Laidlaw had written was actually a summary of the plot of Half-Life 2: Episode 3, which naturally caused a bit of a stir.

The story has since been taken down, but you can read an archived version of it if you want. But you should know that Laidlaw himself has disavowed the story in a new interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, saying it was the product of a temporarily "deranged" mind.

Related: Half-Life 3’s Cancelled 2015 Build Was The Perfect Sequel

"I was deranged," he told the publication. "I was living on an island, totally cut off from my friends and creative community of the last couple decades, I was completely out of touch and had nobody to talk me out of it. It just seemed like a fun thing to do… until I did it."

Half-Life Alyx G-Man standing in a black void looking at the camera

Laidlaw retired from Valve in 2016 just as development for Half-Life: Alyx got underway. One of the major reasons for his departure was the restrictions Valve placed on the narrative to fit with what Game Technology could accomplish at the time.

"I had always hoped that we’d stumble into a more expansive vocabulary or grammar for storytelling within the FPS medium, one that would let you do more than shoot or push buttons, or push crates," admitted Laidlaw. "Ultimately, I just got tired of the FPS altogether, as a form, and less interested in trying to solve the story problems inherent in a Half-Life style of narrative."

But that meant Episode 3 was never written--a sore spot with both Laidlaw as well as millions of Half-Life fans all over the world. So, to tie up all those loose plot threads from Episode 2, Laidlaw published Epistle 3, something he now regrets.

The story "caused trouble" for Laidlaw's friends still at Valve as the Half-Life community assumed Epistle 3 was a sign that Half-Life 3 might be on the way (it wasn't as we now know it was canceled in favor of Half-Life: Alyx). But it was also a false conclusion to Gordon Freeman's story. As Laidlaw tells it, Half-Life can't be written by one man on an island--it has to be written by a team working on a Game.

You can read the full interview, along with insights into Half-Life’s development, over on RPS.

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