Yesterday’s release of Half-Life: Alyx has ushered in a new era for Valve. Not content to simply let its massively popular Steam marketplace sell other games, the company is making a grand return to the type of experiences that made it a household name. Half-Life fans have waited more than a decade for this moment, but there’s still a burning question among the diehards: What happened to Half-Life 2: Episode Three?
In a new interview with IGN, level designer Dario Casali opened up about why the company dodged making Episode Three for so long and why Alyx was the natural progression of where the series should go. For the fabled episode, “score creep” is to blame for the lack of a conclusion to the Half-Life 2 story.
“We found ourselves creeping ever forward towards, ‘Well, let’s just keeping putting more and more, and more, and more stuff in this game because we want to make it as good as we can,'” notes Casali, “and then we realized these episodes are turning more into sequels.” While Episode One had been successfully completed in a year, Episode Two took double that amount of time to come to fruition. It stands to reason that Episode Three would be triple the amount and so on, which led Valve to abandon the episodic format.
“I think at that point we realized, ‘Okay, maybe this episodes thing, it was a good concept, but we’re not executing terribly well as far as getting things out quickly enough.'” Still, a shift in development doesn’t mean Episode Three had to be dropped. The main culprit comes from Valve wanting to develop a new engine, namely Source 2.0.
During the development of the base Half-Life 2 game, Valve concurrently created the first Source engine to power its vision. Because of taking on such a heavy workload, Half-Life 2 ended up getting delayed numerous times and released roughly six years after the original. Valve didn’t want to make the gap between releases so big, which led to the episodic format. Obviously, that also didn’t pan out.
Still, those combined factors and the desire for more innovation are what led to Valve distancing itself from Episode Three. With Alyx now out in the wild and Valve returning full force to Half-Life, there’s a chance the long-awaited conclusion will finally become a reality.
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