The gaming world is full of endless wonder, but from delays to cancellations, it can also be filled with great disappointments. For some gamers, one of the greatest letdowns remains the end of the Half-Life series - indeed, there was no real end; Half-Life 2: Episode Two finished on a cliffhanger with the expectation that Episode Three would continue the epic story of protagonist Gordon Freeman, but it never materialized.
Over the years, rumors have persisted that Episode Three would eventually arrive, and those rumors later mutated into whispers and speculation that an entirely new game, Half-Life 3, was in development. But over a decade after the last episode was released, the Half-Life saga remains incomplete.
For those who work at Valve, which developed the series, the breathless anticipation of a new game that - as far as we know - isn't actually being worked on is no doubt a source of considerable bemusement. And it seems that some Valve staff enjoy fuelling those rumors with a bit of occasional trolling.
Most recently, Half-Life fans were whipped up into a frenzy by the appearance of the game's iconic lambda symbol as an icon on a Windows 10 PC running a HTC Vive virtual reality demo. Gamers quickly took to Reddit to discuss the significance of the icon, and whether it might be indicative of a new Half-Life VR game. Those rumors no doubt intensified when Valve revealed this week that it is working on three new 'full' VR games.
But as VentureBeat reports, Valve's Greg Coomer told reporters last week that the icon shown on that screen wasn't what some people thought it was. "It's news to us that the picture is out, but it's also news that this icon is on the screen," he said. "Honestly, those icons have floated around this office for quite a while. None of us are going to be able to tell you what that is or why that's there."
Valve founder Gabe Newell went further in admitting that some staff get a kick out of firing up the hopes of eager Half-Life fans. "Some of the more childish members of our company have worn Half-Life 3 T-shirts to GDC," he said.
But even with the knowledge that some of the 'clues' pointing to the existence of Half-Life 3 are little more than the product of some light trolling by the Valve team, it seems unlikely that the rumors, speculation and hope surrounding the game will end anytime soon.