This is my first time posting in Valvetime.net. To my best knowledge, this is the successor of Half-life2.net. I used to spend countless hours on Half-life2.net. Of course, college life got busy and I was spending less and less time on the forum. I still checked out Half-life2.net, and then Valvetime.net, from time to time, though I didn't post anymore. So I had never actually posted on Valvetime. I want to say hi to all. I hope I won't get infractions from not post on the noobie welcome louge. The first time I joined the forum was at my grade 11 (junior high school). I lived in Hong Kong back then. I first saw on the news session of this site the amazing graphics of Half-life 2, especial the water reflection effect. So I bit-torrented a copy and encountered the infamous "Node Graph out of date. Rebuilding..." error. I was poking around in the forum to get a hint on a fix for the "bug". Naturally, I realized what's going on. A year later, I pulled up my courage and begged my father to buy a legit copy of Half-life 2. Then I decided to join this forum, a what used to be foreign forum to me, to discuss about secrets and theories on this awesome game among the friends who shared the same appreciation. And that was 2006. I remembered the time on either Lounge or Politics, I discussed about global warming, gender equality and how evolution's a lie (to my luck, I has been converted to an atheist now). I spent a lot of time discussing in the Lounge with old friends like ríomhaire, Raziaar, Vegeta897, Asuka, Krynn72, Danimal, etc. I especially remembered CptStern was killing me in the Politics forum. As a kid I was, I spent most of the time trolling and commenting on games that I didn't play. Those were some fond memories of childhood. I devoted most of my leisure time playing counter-strike and replaying Half-life 2, and later the Episodes. Valve was such a huge part of my life. Life was simple, happy and chill back then. There was always something to fight for, something to expect. Every few days the site was flushed with news about the upcoming Half-life additions or other Valve games such as TF2 and Portals. There were words from Valve employees, new screenshots, concept arts and even leaks. Everyday I clicked into the forum and its news section, I was looking forward to something new. The whole community was anticipating the future Half-life narration, and the eventual conclusion. Outside the forum, I was preparing for two of the public exams for college admission, each two years apart. I was busy preparing the exams, heart pounding for the results, then the great anticipation for college life. It was 2009 I went to a college in Hong Kong, and started studying physics as major. Life started to get busy, as well as with the diminishing announcements for the infinitely postponing Episode 3, I stopped posting on the forum and moved on to various aspects of my life. Gaming became less and less important to my daily hours spent. I aspired to be a physicist, since a long time before high school. Life was not as easy as I imaged. After 3 years of college, I tried to apply for graduate schools. Then I failed. I spend another 2 years on a Master program in physics, before I was finally admitted to graduate school at the east coast, in US. The road was a little bit swirling, probably not too bumpy. Soon afterwards, from the start of researching, my years flew fast. It was but a blink of the eyes when five years of my PhD program had passed. I am now preparing for my final PhD year and setting up for my thesis. From living with my parents in Hong Kong to renting a house by myself in US, from being told to setting up my own career in my way, life has changed a lot. The easy life where I lay on my back watching cartoon is no more. Various burdens rest on my shoulders. There is a lot of duty to attend to everyday, but so little worthwhile memory to retain. Each day, each month, each year seems passing by vacuously. My old life in middle-high school seems like days ago. Every morning I wake up and is ready to pack my school bag, feast on the breakfast prepared by my mother and go to my school to see my good old schoolmates. Instead, I realize I has to return to my office for another forgettable day. Life is hard to bare, if not for the good friends I meet here in the US. Now I easily spend 40 bucks on a bar on a Thursday night drinking with my graduate school friends. I laugh at my old self when I beg my father for the puny 30 bucks needed to purchase a 1-year old game. Then again, though money I have, there aren't that many games that pull me into, and pull a community together. Maybe I have just grown up since then. Nonetheless, in all aspects of life, there seems to be less to expect, less to get excited about. Life slowly cools down, like the forum, like the ValveTime news videos, like the Valve's game production. The days of anticipation are gone. What's left is more or less a void. A few hours ago, I was casually browsing the drama of the game "Agony (Unrated)" on its Steam community hub - such a nice comeback from the Madmind Studio after a completely PR crisis and almost going defunct. It is a game with some interesting artistic choice that I finally do not regret buying. Then when I am browsing, I realize there is a little half-life2.net community member icon on my Steam hub, which reminds me of my little old friend here. I am sorry about the little sentimental here as I am a little bit drunk. So... If you happen to see this thread, how's life going? When and why did you join this forum? And how's life?