Are we This Desperate for Half-Life 3? Yes, Apparently We Are

For Half-Life 3 Believers everywhere, this week had a couple good scares. By “scares,” I mean that through very complicated, honestly brilliant leaps of logic and cryptological handiwork, the Internet tried to believe that Half-Life 3 was coming.

“Believe,” as one poster on a related NeoGAF thread put it this week. That’s the frenzy Valve has everyone worked up into. Kind of amazing.

So here’s what happened.

The Half-Life 2 Update Error, That Is (Isn’t) Related to Half-Life 3

It’s true that prior to the announcement of Portal 2, a Portal 1 update started teasing a sequel. So when a Half-Life 2 update this week made NPCs randomly speak in Korean, it was cause To Believe. Valve even tweeted about it, seemingly pouring a little kerosene on the fire. They’re messed up in the head like that:

The update was apparently just an error, though, one Valve fixed speedily. But can’t we still Believe? Yes, until a Valve developer noted this in the comments for the patch update: “No ARG sorry, just me mucking up.” Belief shattered.

Close though, right? I was kind of Believing for a few minutes there.

Surgeon Simulator TF2 Update = Half-Life 3

This one is a little goofier. Earlier this week, Surgeon Simulator 2013 received an update allowing players to operate on a Heavy from Team Fortress 2. As part of the update, you obtain the item shown below.

This is where the Believing got REALLY wide-eyed, and kind of awesome. Read through the Reddit thread about it. There’s some serious work being done in there. People are talking about planets, Morse code, all kinds of decoding work. Theories were varied. Half-Life 3 was a top contender for what this code was supposed to hint at, though too was the launch date of the Steam Summer Sale.

Again, though, it all ended in disappointment. A spokesperson for Surgeon Simulator developer Bossa Studios issued Kotaku the following statement:

“Indeed it’s an ARG, but I’m afraid it doesn’t have anything to do with a Valve game. It’s a key piece of an upcoming update to Surgeon Simulator, and the info found there is relevant to the puzzle — we just had no idea it could have been read in such a broad way to fit so many theories! Hope this helps, and sorry for the trouble.”

So what have we learned? For one thing, Valve is perhaps the greatest video game marketing entity of all time. They don’t create PR/marketing programs; they create disciples, who evangelize the mere idea of their product at the smallest sign of hope.

As Jim Sterling noted in an editorial on Game Front quite a while ago, Half-Life 3 needs to shit or get of the pot. Personally, I agree. I’d like to see all of this come to an end. I’d like to stop Believing, and start playing. It’s exhausting.

But here’s a theory. Maybe this IS Half-Life 3. Maybe we’re actually playing it, right now, by merely living our lives in rabid anticipation of it. It’s out, and has been for years now. This is the game. We’re all Freeman. Valve is just waiting for us to wake up and realize it.

UPDATE 07/01/2013: As a commenter pointed out, I neglected to include the detail that the Surgeon Simulator item included Korean writing, which logically invited a connection to the earlier botched Half-Life 2 update that changed in-game dialog to Korean. My mistake, consider this noted now.

Couple that with Valve’s tweet about the issue, which included Korean text that translated to “Prepare for unexpected results…” and you can sympathize with HL3 Believers.

It does make a wicked kind of sense. Shame.

Follow Mark Burnham on Twitter @MarkBurnham

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12 Comments on Are we This Desperate for Half-Life 3? Yes, Apparently We Are

Paul Martinson

On June 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm

we are in a virtual reality simulation ,according to physicist Leonard Susskind. The universe as a hologram is very much a possibility according to quantum theory. We just need our 3rd mission from Valve. Half-life 3 will do just fine…..please please please!


On June 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Aside from the portal games Valve hasn’t done anything of interest to me since Half Life 2, episode 2.

Look Valve, Half Life 3 doesn’t need to revolutionize the FPS. It just needs to be good. Hell at this point I’d just be happy knowing its being worked on and that valve is doing something other than making TF2 hats.

Please! We’re drowning in a sea of utterly mediocre shooters, please Valve give us something to hope for!


On June 28, 2013 at 9:46 pm

If you had asked me years ago whether I was looking forward to Half Life 3, I would have said, “Yes.” Now though, I don’t really care. It has been too long for me to keep caring about a game that hasn’t even been announced.


On June 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

You neglected to mention that the Surgeon Simulator code-thing had Korean text on it. THAT’S why people really thought it has to do with Half-Life 3, especially with the Korean text after the Valve tweet.

So, that’s why people were so torqued about that. It actually makes 85% sense.


On June 29, 2013 at 10:32 am

Who gives a shiit? Half Life was never anything more than a mediocre Wolfenstein ripoff. No chance of ever being in the same league as Call of Duty.


On June 29, 2013 at 11:04 am

Never understood the hype over HL. It was a completely linear FPS like dozens before. It pushed the gfx envelope a little, but so did other games of the same period. The only unique factor was really the fact that the protagonist wasn’t a soldier or typical macho man but rather a research assistant. I didn’t find HL particularly engrossing to be tired of the puzzles really quick. I blame HL for creating the template for weak horror shooters like FEAR.


On June 30, 2013 at 1:32 am

*Scratches his head wondering what drugs lol is on.*

Valve needs to hurry up and get HL3 done and released, otherwise it’ll wind up being another Duke Nukem-ish game that everyone gets tired of discussing or thinking about.


On June 30, 2013 at 5:35 am

If HL3 is being released on 26th September 2013, Valves Birthday. You can believe it will be tested to the point of the cat incident that still haunts Barney.


On June 30, 2013 at 9:07 am

“… Valve is perhaps the greatest video game marketing entity of all time. They don’t create PR/marketing programs; they create disciples, who evangelize the mere idea of their product at the smallest sign of hope.”

Well said!

Images of Life of Brian come to mind (the shoe is a SIGN!!) I wonder if Gabe is Brian? :-)

Mr Flibble

On June 30, 2013 at 2:51 pm

HL2 did a great job of being an enjoyable experience with great characters and telling an entertaining story.
Episode 1 did a great job of furthering that story and expanding on the technology.
Episode 2 kept the trend going and left it on one hell of a cliffhanger.
But that feels like it was so long ago that any personal connection I had to the game, characters, or world in general has fizzled away to nostalgia. Will I play HL3 when (if) it comes out? Probably. Do I really care enough about it to anticipate its release anymore? Nope, not at all.


On June 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Half Life 3 would have been cool a few years ago.

Now I’m just waiting for Watch Dogs and GTA V. They’ll keep me busy for a while I think.


On June 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Valve is so LOL the way they troll the hell out of everyone. People complain that they aren’t interested, but lets be real. When they officially announce it, everyone will freak out in their nerdgasm, like a bunch of marks.

Or, as Mark Henry stated: