The internet exploded with rumors that Half-Life 3’s announcement was imminent when, earlier this week, an update to the Half-Life 2 beta included a .hl3 file extension. Combined with the recent introduction of the Steam Trading Card system and promises that it would lead to an exciting event, the web was primed when PC Gamer put out their most recent issue, the final page of which included a graphic of what was intended to be an elevator at Valve’s campus.
While most of the floors are either innocuous or tongue-in-cheek, ranging from “Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike” and “Dota 2” to “Money Hose Control Center” and “Basically Just A Big Room Full of Knives,” one stands out. The top floor, number thirteen (which isn’t even present in my US buildings) has been scribbled over. “Half-Life 3 Development” is still legible, but has been half-covered by a sticky note that says “FPS Developer Terrarium.” The button for this floor is also the only one that is lit.
Speculation can now presumably be put to rest. According to PC Gamer’s Chris Thursten, who wrote the page, it was just intended as a harmless joke to accompany the feature he wrote after his visit to Valve HQ. It appears in the “All Over” section of the magazine, which is the joke page at the back.
Still, as someone savvy in the ways of gaming, and who must have been aware of the fervent fandom surrounding Valve in general and Half-Life in particular, it seems very unlikely that Chris would not have assumed that such a joke would provoke at least some negative reaction. This doesn’t excuse the vitriol he has faced since the page’s publication, but his response is surprisingly unapologetic given his position and knowledge.
Here’s hoping this all blows over. Oh, and that Valve actually does announce Half-Life 3. That’d be cool, too.