Where the F@#! is Half-Life 2: Episode 3?
What other info is there?
Surprisingly little. There’s been almost nothing in the way of non-sanctioned info coming out about the game, and obviously Valve statements on the subject are generally few and far between and also lacking any information of interest.
But there are a couple other rumor-ish things that have come up. First, there’s the concept art for the game that we saw way back in 2008. Then there was last year’s incident in which some of the SDK files for Alien Swarm had references to Episode Three, followed by Combine Advisor code showing up in the Portal 2 SDK this past May. But for the most part Valve has kept the info sneaking out to a bare minimum.
But there are some non-Half-Life comments the folks at Valve have made that may or may not indicate where they’re going with Episode Three.
As far back as 2007, back before we even got to play Episode Two, the folks at Valve began to discuss abandoning the episodic model. The thought then was, and Newell said as much, that they’d sit down after they put out Episode Three and evaluate how the episodic experiment went. But then back in May, Newell said this:
“We went through the episodes phase, and now we’re going towards shorter and even shorter cycles. With episodes, I think we accelerated the model and shortened development cycles with it. If you look at Team Fortress 2, that’s what we now think is the best model for what we’ve been doing. Our updates and release model keeps on getting shorter and shorter.”
I don’t know what that means for Episode Three, but it has to mean something. The popular theory is that Episode Three has become plain ole Half-Life 3, which would make sense when you consider they’ve theoretically been working on the game for four years.
One last thing to think about is that Gabe Newell told Geoff Keighley that, after Portal 2, Valve is done making any “isolated single-player experiences.” Newell has attempted to clarify the comment by saying he means no more single-player experiences without social features, but we don’t really know what that means either.
So are we getting Episode Three, whatever it is, any time soon?
I believe that we are, and I have two reasons for thinking so.
The first is that on September 1, 2010, Gabe said that Valve would have “three pretty big surprises” coming in the next twelve months. As far as I can tell, we’ve only been “surprised” once, and that was with the DOTA 2 announcement. I have to believe, have to believe, that one of those surprises is Episode Three. We’re working on Valve Time, and so you may not want to expect those surprises to actually, literally be coming in the next month. On the other hand, Valve will actually be at Gamescom in two weeks and at PAX in three. They’ll be at those shows to show off DOTA 2, but as I said earlier you never know when Valve is going to make an announcement.
Reason no. 2: voice actress Ellen McLain is doing voice work on some new Valve game. McLain is the voice of the Combine Overwatch in Half-Life 2 and its episodes, so you can expect her to be back for Episode Three. In game development, final voice acting is something you typically do late in the development cycle, so if McLain actually started recording for Episode Three then you can assume they’re pretty well on.
Now, both those reasons assume a lot of things. They assume that Episode Three is one of Valve’s surprises and that Ellen McLain’s new secret game is Episode Three. In fact, I could be way off base about either of those things, but I have to cling to the hope that an announcement about Episode Three is coming literally any freaking second now.
And that’s that.