Marc Laidlaw's Half-Life development documents


Retired Content Creator
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Jun 11, 2004
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Former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw recently published several never-before-seen documents from the development of the original Half-Life on his personal website. You can read the documents from the links below.

Marc retired from Valve early this year after working at the company for 18 years. For the past few months, as part of his post-retirement purge, he's been organizing his archives and looking for the occasional piece of information worth saving. Ending up with a stack of 3.5” floppy disks, he bought an external floppy drive and found several Half-Life development documents from 1998 on one of the disks.

While not mentioned on his website, Marc also revealed that, for a time, the last section of the game was to take place inside a gigantic alien organism.

Writing for Half-Life
Created on November 9, 1998.

Created on June 4, 1998 and last modified on July 21, 1998.

Created and last modified on July 21, 1998.

Afterthought Overkill
Created in 1998.
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I find it interesting that the big focus on first person was only because they didn't have the time and resources for third person stuff.
Marc Laidlaw said:
The G-Man is [REDACTED].

So was that redaction an original part of the file, or was it removed for this publication?
We don't know. I sent an email to Marc Laidlaw and asked him a couple of questions about the documents. Here are the questions and the answers:


You mention in your "Afterthought Overkill" document that there were plans to implement a working time system into the game. The player was able to return to previous levels, and they would encounter new monsters, and moss would grow on the walls. Was there any other reason to have working time other than these? I can imagine it could be used for the artificial intelligence of the creatures, and they could act different at different times of a day.

Also, was there supposed to be a time limit based on this time system? The original press release said the government operatives were to plant explosives around the base and possibly trigger a nuclear blast big enough to destroy the entire Western United States. Was this intended to be used as a possible time limit the player had to work against?

Marc Laidlaw

No, the only aspect of time I ever heard discussed was Gabe's famous statement that moss would grow, so you could come back to the starting areas and see how it had grown there. There was never any gameplay impact. There was also never any time system. This was just something said early on when Gabe's head was swirling with possibilities and eventually it just turned into a joke about how we really didn't live up to expectations.


You said for a while, the last section of the game was to take place inside some gigantic alien organism. Can you elaborate more about this?

Marc Laidlaw

No...if I ever found documents describing it, maybe I could, but otherwise I barely recall it except as something we talked about and never built.
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