Marc Laidlaw, the Valve Software veteran who wrote Half-Life, its expansions and its sequel, is no longer employed at the company. In an email to Polygon, Laidlaw said that he has left Valve after 18 years.
"I retired very recently," he wrote, before confirming that an insightful email obtained by a Half-Life fan and attributed to the writer was legitimate.
In the message shared on the Half-Life subreddit, the series helmer went into why now seemed like a good time to call it quits.
"There are many reasons, most of them personal," he wrote in his reply to the Redditor who reached out to him about his rumored departure. "An outwardly obvious reason is that I'm old, or anyway oldish."
When asked about what his departure from the company means for the Half-Life series, Laidlaw said simply, "I don't and can't entirely know.
"Half-Life is fully owned by Valve," he continued. "It came into existence before my arrival. Where Valve may choose to take it in the future is not in my hands."
While Laidlaw's tenure at Valve only began during the development of 1998's Half-Life, his professional writing career stretches back far before that. Before entering the game industry, his primary work was in the realm of sci-fi and horror fiction. One of his novels, the 1988 release Neon Lotus, was even nominated for the prestigious Philip K. Dick Award.
Laidlaw explained that his retirement was in part motivated by his desire to return to his novelist beginnings. "Lately I have been feeling a need for a break from the collaborative chaos of game production," he said, "and a return for more self-directed writing projects."
What exactly those projects may be is still up in the air. "I will almost certainly get back to writing more stories of my own; that 's simply my default setting," Laidlaw replied when the Redditor asked about future plans.
"It feels like the time is right to return to my roots and see where that takes me. It might well take me back into games by other routes, but currently that's not part of the plan. I'll be exploring for a while."
Despite his shift away from gaming, at least in the meantime, he expressed fondness for the time he spent at Valve.
"Valve has been my second home, and home to a great many of my dreams and ambitions, for over 18 years," he wrote. "I will always have a connection to the company, the many friends I made there, the games I worked on, and especially the characters I helped create."
The Half-Life franchise, to which Laidlaw contributed not just its story but some level design as well, is one of Valve's most beloved. Its most recent release is Half-Life 2: Episode 2, which was included with The Orange Box in 2007. Laidlaw, who was credited as the sole writer of the first two Half-Life games, served as Episode 2's lead writer as well.
Fans have been clamoring for a third Half-Life 2 episode — or a full Half-Life 3 —ever since the second's release. Valve has not confirmed that it's in development, although a fan site recently shared a peek at a long-canceled fourth episode.