“The narrative had to be baked into the corridors”: Marc Laidlaw on writing Half-Life

“I was deranged,” says Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw of his decision to publish the plot of Episode 3 as fanfiction. “I was living on an island, totally cut off from my friends and creative community of the last couple decades, I was completely out of touch and had nobody to talk me out of it. It just seemed like a fun thing to do… until I did it.”

Laidlaw first discovered that community in the mid 90s, in the office of Valve, where Gabe Newell and team were already hard at work on Half-Life. “I’d seen bits and pieces of the levels they were working on, but as soon as I heard the name, I just got this amazing buzz,” Laidlaw says. “I could see the whole world they were aiming at somehow, and I felt it was a collective vision. This is one reason it’s so weird to me when people try to attribute authorship to me that I’ve never felt. It was all there when I got there, in embryo.”

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