Marc Laidlaw has officially left Valve. The former writer has confirmed it by e-mail and later confirmed it with gaming press. The news originally started as a rumor, but as things picked up and discussions of Half-Life 3 started popping up, it was then revealed that the “sole writer” of Half-Life had departed Valve.
Originally, Game Informer wrote a speculative report on whether or not Marc Laidlaw had officially left Valve. They pointed to a couple of other sources who also stated that they confirmed that Laidlaw was no longer with the popular software developer, publisher and content distributor.
According to PC Gamer, however, they did manage to confirm that Marc Laidlaw has officially departed from Valve and is no longer working with the company after contacting him directly. There is a link to an Imgur folder containing redacted personal information of Laidlaw partaking in a sort of Q&A style e-mail where he explains exactly why he left. Turns out he was just tired of the grind associated with game design, and he felt that he was “too old” to be hanging with the younger crowd associated with the company.
The writer originally got his start with Valve back in 1997, just before they released the original Half-Life. At the time, the big game on the block in the FPS arena was Duke Nukem 3D and Quake II. Valve at the time was working on the original Half-Life and prepping it for its monumental release in 1998. It was interesting that they explained in the old Sierra Interactive Interaction Magazine from way back in the day that they were taking a different approach to narrative game design and telling a story through the real-time actions of the characters in a first-person perspective as opposed to relying on pre-rendered cinematic sequences or typical linear designs where players are pushed along and hand-held the entire time.
One of the things that stood out with the original Half-Life was how the enemy AI were written; many times they were designed to interact with the environment autonomously from the player's influence, meaning that players could walk into a scene where some zombies could attack other guards or military forces and win, while another time a player could walk into a scene and the reverse might happen.
Marc Laidlaw was responsible for writing the original Half-Life, which went on to form its own cult following and become one of the biggest and most recognized memes of all time. The funny thing about it is that in the published e-mails, Laidlaw states that he wasn't really that big into gaming. In fact, he had never played a Legend of Zelda title before joining Valve. He states that he wasn't a gamer and didn't play games and didn't know anything about game design. He expresses his gratitude to Valve for taking him under their wing and fostering him in their iterative culture.
In the original e-mail, the individual who reached out to Marc Laidlaw did so with the intention of asking about Half-Life 3 – they were obviously worried about it and the future of the franchise after finding out that one of the writers in the series had departed. In the replies, Laidlaw does not address Half-Life 3 at all. In his parting words, he leaves it rather open-ended, giving gamers an opportunity to draw their own conclusions about the future of the series.