Marc Laidlaw on Publishing Half-Life 3 Plot as Fan-Fiction: ‘I Was Deranged’

By | March 1, 2023

Half-Life 2: Episode 3 may not be an official endeavor, but that doesn’t mean series writer Marc Laidlaw hasn’t pondered a universe after Episode 2. However, he seems to regret publishing those thoughts as an unofficial short story.

In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Laidlaw explained why he regrets publishing the 2017 Half-Life fan-fiction on his website. The writer had plans for more adventures in the Half-Life universe but touched on the headaches, embarrassment, and fan confusion that followed his decisions. When noting why he did it, Laidlaw kept it blunt.

“I was deranged,” Laidlaw told Rock Paper Shotgun. “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.”

For those not familiar with the Episode 3 debacle, Laidlaw published the “Epistle 3” short story to his website in 2017. The unofficial tale arrived just on the heels of Episode 2’s anniversary and was told from the perspective of someone named “Gertie Freemont” with mentions of “Alex Vaunt” – apparent references to Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance. Though he’s since discussed plans for Half-Life’s future, Laidlaw left Valve in 2016 and was no longer affiliated with the company when publishing Epistle 3.

Laidlaw told Rock Paper Shotgun he would “have come out the other side a lot less embarrassed” had he refrained from hitting publish. Even after the writer described his enthusiasm, ideas, and creative disagreements over Half-Life, he noted the decision caused trouble for friends at Valve and led hopeful fans to believe Episode 3 could’ve followed his vision.

Despite the fiasco, Laidlaw did go into brief detail in the interview, noting his ideas continued with Borealis. However, his final thoughts seem pretty clear – those things don’t shape up until development begins.

Ultimately, Half-Life continued in some capacity with the 2020 release of Half-Life: Alyx, though it’s not the Episode 3 continuation fans are eternally chasing. Since then, other developments on long-canceled Half-Life projects have also trickled into the public eye, including concept art of potential villains.

Andrea Shearon is a freelance contributor for IGN covering games and entertainment. She’s worn several hats over her seven-year career in the games industry, with bylines over at Fanbyte, USA Today’s FTW, TheGamer, VG247, and RPG Site. Find her on Twitter (@Maajora) or the Materia Possessions podcast chatting about FFXIV, RPGs, and any series involving giant robots.