Marc Laidlaw speaks out on answering Valve Software related questions
Hello everyone, Jar of Flies here.
Recently, our good admin and avid community member Витой contacted Marc Laidlaw via email regarding some of the prototype coast maps. His email is copied verbatim below:
Hello again, mr. Laidlaw!
Recently I was looking into some of old prototypes Valve made for E3 2003 and there were few maps that look like prototypes for "Coast" demo you showed on that conference.
What is interesting there is that the jeep you drive had a monitor attached that was to show Eli Vance talking to player, commenting his actions.
The scenes and voice acting for them are missing, but it looks like they were made by you. Do you by any chance remember what they were about?
Marc Laidlaw’s answer was pretty much average at first, detailing Valve’s intentions with the maps and going into some detail about the gameplay mechanics therein:
They weren’t “about” anything and that map was not prepared for E3, it was just a test map to see what it would be like if we could have a character talking to the player continually as they drove around. If Eli said anything, it would have been along the lines of “Go over there!” The idea was to break up long stretches of the player being alone and make them feel connected to others. But when we made the driving sections linear, it was easy enough to station events along the route. At that point we were wondering if we could get away with a big driving sandbox area (we determined that we couldn’t…it was too hard to make a big open space interesting and full of events).
However, the last line is troubling. Marc stated that fans of the Half-Life franchise should “be directing these questions to Valve from now on… I’m going to have to start cutting back on time I spend answering questions about Valve products. I can no longer be a spokesman for the company.”
This news is troubling, because Marc was a key source of information; he had been working with Valve extensively during Half-Life and Half-Life 2’s development, and he was open to answering questions from the community. His answers have been pivotal sources of information for many people, and this news doubtless comes as a great shock.
However, I believe that this news is easy to understand from Marc’s perspective; Laidlaw has officially retired from the video game industry, choosing instead to work on his own science fiction writing. It is certainly fair to say that Marc wants to get on with his own life, and he perhaps does not have time to answer Valve related questions.
Therefore, I believe that, for the foreseeable future, we should not ask Marc any more questions related to Half-Life’s development. Marc has given us so much; speculation about the Beta that has been the backbone for mods, insider information about Valve’s internal machinery, and he has even released plot information about Episode 3. We owe Marc much more than we give him credit for, but now it is time that we leave Marc to his own devices.
Perhaps the closing words that Marc gave in Epistle 3, his musings on the fate of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 are relevant here too – “Expect no further correspondence from me regarding these matters; this is my final epistle.”