This is a quick one-off opinion piece by Mikee, who has contributed to the old Alien Lion Blog. Stand by for his standalone blog very soon.
It’s almost that time again and I’m not talking about the World Cup, but you didn’t even think I was, did you, nerd? Yes, E3 is just around the corner and we are all getting ready to be blown away, as if there was some unique excuse for the consistent disappointments over the past years. Reading through all the predictioins and rumors though, one can bet that this is the year when something truly amazing happens: a massive unexpected sequel, the next monster IP, a new console future that doesn’t suck balls, or something so goddamn cool that it’s plain unimaginable. The only thing that’s certain right now is that one topic is conspicuously absent from all the speculation. I would bet that it is in the back of everyone’s mind but nobody wants to be the asshole to bring it up yet again. As one would expect, that’s where I come in, and yes, it’s the “will they or will they not” of Valve’s Half Life 3.
If you head over to Steam forums right now, you will find a thread titled “Half-Life 3 — Where are you?” that’s almost 800 freakin’ pages long. In forum thread terms, that number is the infinity, but even more notably, the topic was started in 2008 and the last comment was posted today (regardless of what day it is). Some people in that thread are pissed enough to actually stand out on the Internet, while others accuse them of being self-entitled, whiny bitches. That’s pretty much how the gaming world feels about Half Life right now and I’d like to offer a perspective on this at, what I feel, is a very appropriate time.
Let us take a moment and really consider the following: since you were first able to play Half-Life 2, you have arrived in a whole new age bracket and are possibly closing in on that second one. Not pointing any fingers here but what has passed is 14.8% of an average person’s lifetime. America has since elected a black-ish president, and Christopher Nolan has completed a Batman trilogy (equally important) and introduced Dr. Zoidberg as a Batman villain.
In gaming terms, an entire video game console generation has come and gone, and massive video game franchises have been introduced and given numerous massive sequels. As a matter of fact, since any actual outing in the Half-Life series, Assassin’s Creed has come out and spawned 6 major sequels and a whole bunch of mobile fart particles that don’t matter. That’s just one example and here is another: BioShock was another game that was introduced at that time and that series has received two sequels and a whole new development studio, which has since managed to close.
Most importantly, in most countries, 7 years is enough time to delcare death in absentia, or legal presumption of death when someone goes missing. It just so happens that as of November 2014, it will have been exactly that long since Half Life 2: Episode 2…
Imagine, for a second, being a huge fan of Half Life. Sure, life is unfair and great things do end, or inexplicably disappear before their time (see HBO’s Hello Ladies and also my hamster) but this particular case is different. First, this is a franchise that has decided to tell a decent ongoing story. When one played through the first Half Life game, they received an implied promise of a certain level of commitment to that aspect of the product. If the second game came with a complete lack of a story, or if it sucked complete ass, fans would have been right to be angry. That did not happen, but instead, the last Half Life entry ended on massive cliffhanger, which is actually much worse. Valve had promised a story of a quality that one could care for, only instead of succeeding or failing at finalizing it, they completely abandoned it.
Now, I am starting to sound self-entitled but all this would be understandable if the series were not very financially successful but Half Life is a massive franchise. It is a franchise that built Valve. This company owes at least some of its’ success to Half Life and its’ fanbase and they appear not to give a shit, instead talking about Steam Machines, Steam OS, and who the fuck knows what Steam else. Yes, we all love Steam and Valve and we all know that they lose sleep every night caring about the welfare of gamers (or not) but at this point in time, there is simply no excuse not to communicate any progress of Half Life 3. I can appreciate wanting to keep a project under wraps but not when you already drive most of your fans to completely lose hope and all but stop giving a shit about the franchise they had agreed to invest in, financially and emotionally. Sorry to say but as of this moment, this becomes a legitimately shit move by Valve.