The company explains the abrupt end to the episodic releases.
Today, we got the very long awaited next entry in the shooter franchise, Half-Life: Alyx. It wasn’t the return many thought they’d see (and to be fair, most people had probably long given up hope of seeing any type of return), but it’s a solid affair all the same. But what exactly happened to the franchise to put it on ice for so long, and not just that, but leave us with a massive cliffhanger in Half-Life 2: Episode 2? Well, a part of that mystery was unveiled today.
In an interview with IGN, Level Designer Dario Casali explained what happened. The simple crux of things is that it all became bigger than they expected. Part of the reason of doing the episode format was to create smaller, bite-sized continuations of the narrative. But the ambition of the episodes got out of hand, as they added more and more, and in the end they decided the overall project was going farther than originally intended, especially as more crew had to be brought in to finish things.
“After working on Half-Life 2 for six years we decided we didn’t want to go dark for so long. That’s why we started doing the episodes where we thought, ‘well, we have the stable technology now. We understand the characters, we understand the story, we have most of the mechanics. Let’s just bite off little chunks and then release more often. We think players are going to prefer that from waiting six years and going through however many delays we went through.”
“We found ourselves creeping ever forward towards, ‘Well, let’s just keeping putting more and more, and more, and more stuff in this game because we want to make it as good as we can,’” he continued, “and then we realized these episodes are turning more into sequels.”
While many people assumed that the biggest reason the games were put on ice was Valve’s continued building of the Steam storefront, it seems that was only part of the reason, and that the whole thing grew well above what it was intended to be. It makes sense, considering Half-Life has always been an ambitious series that has utilized new tech, such as Half-Life: Alyx does with VR. So will we ever see a Half-Life 3 keeping this in mind? Well, only time will tell.