If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, you’ll know that I have a special rule when it comes to watching TV shows: “I will not start a show until its entire run is finished.”
Why? Because closure is everything. Journeys should not be abandoned. They should be completed. Nothing irritates me more than an unfinished story. And in this age of peak TV, where television shows are barely given a chance to succeed before being cancelled, it’s all the more important for me to be ridiculously choosy.
So there are a great many popular shows, such as Westworld, Supergirl, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Americans, that I flat out refuse to watch. Yes, this means that I can’t keep up with the average water-cooler conversation, but I feel it’s an acceptable sacrifice in order to guarantee that when I start a watching a TV show, I will be delivered some form of closure.
But when it comes to other forms of entertainment, such as movies, books or videogames; this issue isn’t quite as prevalent. Yes, you occasionally get films that don’t finish properly, like Terminator: Genisys. Or you might get a certain series of fantasy books that seem to take an undue length of time to finish, mostly because the author is doing GOD KNOWS WHAT?!?! ISN’T THAT RIGHT, GEORGE????
But for the most part; movies, books and videogames tend to tie up their stories in one go.
And then there’s Half-Life.
In our world of Call of Duty’s, Bioshock’s and Wolfenstein’s; it’s somewhat difficult to remember the early days of first person shooters. Games such as Doom, Quake or Duke Nukem made no qualms about the fact that there was barely any story. It was just an excuse to shoot monsters in the face with as many bullets as possible.
But that all changed in 1998 with the release of Half-Life. Here was a game that was technically a first-person shooter, but it was also so much more. Developer Valve didn’t build a game. They built a world. A world that felt it was filled with living, breathing people who had their own lives.
But in the same way that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight blew it’s predecessor out of the water; the very same charge could be laid at the feet of 2004’s Half-Life 2.
In that award winning sequel, every single aspect of the previous game had been built upon and polished within an inch of it’s life. Along with Gordon Freeman, we discovered bigger worlds, more engaging characters, amazing physics, stunning story-lines, and the greatest gun since Doom’s B.F.G.
Followed by the equally groundbreaking entries of Episode 1 and Episode 2 (as well as it’s heart-breaking cliffhanger); it seemed that Value could do no wrong when it came to the Half-Life franchise.
And then nothing.
Delay after delay. Year after year. Every so often a snippet of information would leak out about Half-Life 3. But eventually we would return to the status quo.
I know it sounds strange, but that lack of closure ate at me. It got to a point where I had absolutely no interest in a new game. I just needed an ending to the story. A novel, a comicbook, hell, a children’s picturebook would have done it for me!
And then a few days ago, Marc Laidlaw, one of the main writers on all the Half-Life games, released on his blog a 2000 word pseudo-letter written by the oddly named Gertrude Fremont.
Gotta give points to the internet, but it must have taken no more than a couple of minutes before someone realised it was a potential story-line for Half-Life 3, even if Mark insists that it’s actually fan fiction.
Let’s be honest, no one believes Mark for a second when he says that. Yes, the game was never made, so I suppose it’s technically true. But personally I like to believe that what he wrote was what he intended the game’s plot to be, and the only thing that held him back for this long was an NDA.
And you know what?
I want to say thank you.
Thank you Mark Laidlaw for giving me closure. You didn’t have to do it, and considering the state of the world we live in now, finding out the ending to Half-Life was hardly going to be the most important thing going on in people’s lives.
But it was important to me.
Yes, there may be a few questions left over, and we may never play Half-Life 3; but because of you Mark, I’m finally at peace with it.