Had things gone according to plan, Half-Life 2: Episode 3 would already be old news. After all, when Valve originally said that it would rebrand Half-Life 2: Aftermath as Episode 1 and release subsequent installments on an episodic timeline, the final game in the Gordon Freeman saga was expected to land by Christmas 2007. Of course, Valve ended up releasing its highly acclaimed The Orange Box during that time frame, which included Episode Two along with Half-Life 2, Episode 1, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.
Now, eyes have turned to the long-promised Episode Three. In an interview with gaming blog Kikizo, Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi revealed that information on the game may be just around the corner. "We may at the very end of the year," said Lombardi, when asked when Valve plans to announce or show the game.
Although an announcement may be impending, a release date remains farther away on the horizon. "The next time you play as Gordon will be longer than the distance between [Half-Life 2] to [Episode 1], and [Episode 1] to [Episode 2]," cryptically noted Lombardi. Half-Life 2 was released for the PC in November 2004, with Episode 1 following in June 2006 and Episode 2 debuting alongside The Orange Box in October 2007. Doing the math, that would put Episode 3's release date as far off as 2010.
With its multiyear development cycles, the term episodic is a bit misleading, a fact that Lombardi acknowledged. "I think our philosophy was that, we spent six years on Half-Life 2 and upwards of $40 million, and basically 80 percent of the company ended working up on it for a good chunk of that time. And that was just too much; nobody wanted to do that again... I think the goal is to get away from that 'half a lifetime, mountains of money' to produce the next thing, and we've succeeded in that--and maybe we could have chosen a better word to describe what we were doing."
For more on Valve's Half-Life 2: Episode 2, check out GameSpot's review of The Orange Box.