Marc Laidlaw, one of the driving forces behind the design of the Half-Life series, has left his position at Valve and seemingly retired from the business of game-making, Redditor TeddyWolf has discovered.
That's a blow for anyone expecting a third chapter in the series - Laidlaw was the man in charge of scripting the first two instalments as well as designing the levels for them. In an emailed response he said he's left Valve to focus on other writing projects.
"I had a good run but lately I have been feeling a need for a break from the collaborative chaos of game production, and a return to more self-directed writing projects," he wrote.
Definitely maybe not
So now he's no longer at Valve, what is his ex-employer going to do about Half-Life 3? Laidlaw says he just doesn't know: "I don't and can't entirely know [what's happening]. Where Valve may choose to take it in the future is not in my hands... it would be inappropriate for me to answer questions or speculate openly on the fate of the franchise."
That leaves the door open for Half-Life 3 to eventually make a dramatic return - the second in the series came out way back in 2004 - but without Laidlaw on the team it could feel significantly different to its predecessors.
Or maybe he finished it just before resigning. We can dream, can't we?
Speculation surrounding a possible third Half-Life game has turned into something of a running joke at this point. "The only reason we'd go back and do like a super classic kind of product is if a whole bunch of people just internally at Valve said they wanted to do it," said Valve co-founder Gabe Newell last year, clearing up absolutely nothing.
Will Valve confound us all and release Half-Life 3 as the flagship launch title for the HTC Vive? Would that even be the right fit without the ability to move completely free of wires? We'll have to wait and see.
[Edit: An earlier version of this article claimed that Half-Life 2 was released in 2007. It was actually 2004, and the story has been updated to reflect this.]