Valve chief Gabe Newell has poked some good-natured fun at the long-running saga surrounding the (non-)release of Half-Life 3, his company’s now mythical next big game, in a skit during the Dota 2 International tournament. In the video, Newell appears in a recording booth and delivers some deadpan lines for a Dota announcer pack – these are akin to custom TomTom voice packs, used to acknowledge in-game achievements like killing multiple enemies in quick succession – but he gets stuck when told to say “triple kill.”
“I don’t understand,” pleads Newell, “what’s my motivation?” His exasperated producers, Kaci Aitchison and Jake Kanner, who usually have the unenviable task of interviewing fans inside the arena, are by this point losing the will to live. They’re emotional, enervated wrecks, husks of their formerly composed selves, and all they want to do is just finish the recording and move on with their lives. Much like anyone still holding out hope for Half-Life 3. Unperturbed, Newell remixes the triple kill announcement by describing it in literal terms, but avoiding the number 3: “you’ve killed more than two people, and less than four.”
An optimist might think that Valve wouldn’t just reopen old wounds like this merely for the sake of a joke, and perhaps Newell is in fact teasing something more concrete yet to come. A realist, on the other hand, would note it’s been over a decade since Half-Life 2: Episode Two was released, and we should probably all move on from this unhealthy relationship.