Marc Laidlaw Vault

Asknoone

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on nihilanth/combine

capture of vorts is fairly common. That particular nihilanth was the
last of its kind, and never captured, but some of its predecessors might
have been.
xen controllers:

the xen controllers were part of the nihilanth's support network, and
they relied on the nihilanth to throw them around where it wanted them
to go, so if there are any left, they are probably stranded in what
would not have been their natural native environment (nothing's native
to xen). However, without access to a steady food supply (whatever it
is they eat), they may well have simply died out.
race-x:

thanks for writing. Explanations outside the context of the game are
not really something we want to get into. Most of the things that are
hazy are that way simply because the right time and place has not come
about for clarifying these things in the context of the games. So, i
try not to say anything that would spoil revelations and backstory that
we may want to use in the future or are currently developing. The
relation between the nihilanth race and the combine is one of those
things. As for race-x being from xen, i'm not sure any of the aliens
we've seen were actually from xen originally. Xen is a borderworld--a
place you have to go through to get to other places. It was colonized
by certain creatures that could adapt to it. The race-x creatures
didn't seem particularly well adapted to xen. I imagine their home lay
somewhere beyond.
portal storms, headcrabs:

those things came through during the portal storms, which continue erratically to this very day. Some of the critters came early (immediately after the black mesa incident) and adapted to earth. I think the poison headcrabs must have eaten something poisonous at one point, and liked it so much they added it to their repertoire.

The bullsquids are around here somewhere.
eli's leg:

like many things in the hl universe, we like to reserve these things until we can make some use of them. There's no point in carving a story idea in granite, only to get there and learn that it leads to bad, boring gameplay.

I hope mod makers don't spend too much time worrying about whether they're in conflict with half-life. If they get something "wrong", we won't change what we decide to do because of it. They can, if they want, show eli losing his leg to a bullsquid while helping kleiner get to safety in black mesa; but if i have an opportunity to later show eli losing his leg while helping kleiner get into city 17, i'll go ahead and do that. I'm not out to spoil the fans' fun!

Perhaps there are many many parallel universes, in each of which eli loses his leg in an entirely different way.

eli's leg:


he lost it to a bullsquid while helping kleiner get to safety, but i'm not sure if that was in black mesa or later.
metrocops:

cp/metrocops are humans at the first level--basically unaltered volunteers. From here, if you are hardcore, you must volunteer for modification in order to become a soldier, so advancing in rank requires surrendering even more humanity.

This stuff was certainly thought through in advance; sometimes we just make things up though.
xen and beyond:

(lombardi) we had a glimpse of the larger threat when we were working on half life 1. In other words we knew that once you cleared out the nihilanth, you were going to discover something worse beyond it. We knew that some immense threat had chased the nihilanth and its creatures out of their own world and into xen, from which location they were all to glad to seize the opportunity to continue on to earth with suppression through the citadels. But the exact nature of the threat was left to be solved in half life 2
xen/combine relation:

yes, that's fairly accurate, and i'm pretty sure doug was restating something i'd told him; i [am not] clarifying it, since it's the foundation on which the series continues. What we saw in hl1 was the very end of a long struggle between the combine and the last of the nihilanth's race...although it's a bit different than the word "prompted" implies. The nihilanth's "world" (if it could be said to have) was long since in the past as far as the nihilanth was concerned; xen was their final retreat, and they had their back to the wall, as it were, when the fissure appeared that let them spill into our dimension. Xen itself is sort of a dimensional transit bottleneck--an area of continual contention.
episode 2 character:

we try not to answer questions about the story directly outside of the game--believe what you play, not what you read, is my motto. The waters are murky, unfortunately, when it comes to the gearbox titles because we did not make them and i don't feel compelled to abide by every story idea they came up with to make their game more fun. That said, it's now public knowledge that you'll be meeting at least one further survivor of black mesa in episode 2. Hope you enjoy it.
barney + blue shift + expansion involvement:

hi, daniel, i won't be able to clear up much. It was a deliberate decision to have gearbox never call him barney in blue shift, only calhoun. Raising the bar is not a game, so material is presented differently there; manifestations differ in every medium. Gearbox took our barney and did their own best version, but i'm not sure that barney is the same barney i'm picturing when i picture valve's barney. In the time bs was created, there were many barneys. Only gradually have the redundant creature and character types slowly settled into iconic individuals...it's an ongoing process. Gearbox did what was right for their games. Even though they had feedback and guidance from us, they didn't always listen to it, and they steered by their own lights, etc., etc. I wasn't very close to the creation of the expansion packs, and much more concerned with how to move the story forward and open up the universe; so i only take the games created by valve into consideration when i am working on the story...there are more than enough potential contradictions in our own designs without me worrying about contradictions in the inventions of other developers who were not part of our initial creative meetings. I know this is confusing to fans; it's partly a byproduct of the way expansion packs were created, the way they were packaged and published, and also i was very new to this whole concept at the time. It never occurred to me that large chunks of the story would be taken out of our hands, changes made beyond our control, and then have the stuff handed back with some odd unexpected kinks in it. So try not to worry about it, and simply do my best with material directly in my control. However, as to your last question, there was pressure on us to set half-life 2 at black mesa, which a lot of us felt would be creative death; it was important to break new ground. Nuking black mesa was a good way to ensure that we had a way to avoid setting half-life 2 there. You might say i gave the g-man his orders. The whole issue of canon is something the fans came up with. I guess you will be able to identify as canon those story elements we continue to build on and develop and mention repeatedly as the story progresses. Others might fall by the wayside once they've served their purpose. Couldn't you say the same of us all?
Marc laidlaw
hi, ben, i am going to swear off contributing to this bizarre argument
about canonical versus noncanonical works. If we can make good
entertaining use of the elements of opfor in future games, then we may
well do that, and at that time i guess folks will have a better idea of
where we stand on all this. We can't speak about story ideas outside of
the games themselves--it's meaningless. The games must stand on their
own, contradictions and all. My only hope is to keep unreeling the
story in such a way that it will continue to please the fans and spark
interesting conversations. Thanks for writing!

Marc laidlaw
race-x:

racex was purely a gearbox creation that doesn't figure at all in my thinking about the world. Understand, they wanted to come up with a set of creatures that would create gameplay they knew how to make. They could have been making an original title or an add-on for some other franchise, and plugged racex into that--the reason being that they had gameplay they wanted to explore and needed the freedom of their own race of critters to conduct those experiments with. If gearbox had kept making hl games, i suppose we might have seen these threads develop. Since blackops are not a gearbox creation per se, but an opportunistic use of existing real-life elements, i don't see how the idea of canon applies to them.
black mesa + gordon's big day!:

hm...i don't remember stating that the black mesa incident occurred on gordon's first day of work [note by the author: Above applies to a quote by rosenberg. Or was it keller?/note_end] (barney sure acts like he's known gordon a while) although i might have. Shrug.
test chamber crystal

that crystal sample in the opening, for instance, should have been clearly echoed in the nihilanth’s chamber—and even down inside its gaping cranium. That was the plan. But we ran out of time to make the clear visual association.
the combine

the combine" is a name for a large organization. So asking if the advisors are the combine is like asking if a roman senator is the roman empire . There's no one creature called the combine.
the combine is a combination of different species (including humans) working (or forced to work) together. Other than that, you’ll have to stay tuned for more information as we work it into the games.
the hl saga guide

i am familiar with the timeline you mention although i
haven't looked at it since i first made my ill-advised comment to gary
mctaggart. There was some stuff in there that seemed accurate and some
that was way off. As we've continued to develop the storyline, it's
probably become less relevant, since we have changed our thinking about
events earlier in the series. Anyway, i'm glad people enjoy doing and
thinking about all this stuff. I doubt we will ever issue precise dates
on a timeline of our own, because then we'd just end up contradicting
ourselves. Thanks for writing!
the administrator initials 'lm'

dear x, thanks for poring over those letters...i wondered if anyone would ever notice those lowly initials, appended by whichever administrative assistant happened to be in the office that day to do the official typing. As you may know, before coming to valve, i held a number of emp word processing and admin jobs; manpower sent me for a stint to the alaskan pipeline, but it was already finished and there was no one needing typing at that point, and then immediately after to black mesa, which ran out of funding for temp administrative assistants shortly after my arrival. In fact, i lasted one day in new mexico, and quickly fled. So as not to confuse my word processing career with my developing reputation as a professional writer, i did not want to sign "ml" to any of my typing. So i reversed the letters. For this, and many greater transgressions of which you may become aware shortly, i apologize. Oh, one more thing: This hasn't happened yet. - lm in the mirrorworld.
clothing/misc

the only readily available new clothes for humans are made in combine facilities, so if you happened to have or find a set of comfortable clothes that weren’t bland citizen uniforms, you held onto them. It’s probably a good thing that we’re not running an odor simulator.
it’s a fair question. I don’t recall coming down hard on an answer in the game itself, so i don’t want to make something up now. If you don’t hear specific reference to tokens in conversation, then it’s hard to justify their existence. There may well be token slots on vending machines, etc…but in fact if you push the button for a can of breen’s private reserve, it appears to be free of charge. Citizens are given or issued basic standard clothing and food, so it seems like the combine don’t encourage currency in their dealings with humans, and among citizens there may be something more like a barter economy. For your roleplay, you should come up with whatever generates interesting gameplay. I don’t see any egregious conflict with the game.
 
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Marc Laidlaw, when asked about where poison headcrabs, fast headcrabs and antlions appeared from and where bullsquids went:
Those things came through during the portal storms, which continue erratically to this very day. Some of the critters came early (immediately after the Black Mesa Incident) and adapted to Earth. I think the poison headcrabs must have eaten something poisonous at one point, and liked it so much they added it to their repertoire.

The bullsquids are around here somewhere.
Marc Laidlaw, when asked if it will ever be decided at which point in time Eli lost his leg:
Like many things in the HL universe, we like to reserve these things until we can make some use of them. There's no point in carving a story idea in granite, only to get there and learn that it leads to bad, boring gameplay.

I hope mod makers don't spend too much time worrying about whether they're in conflict with Half-Life. If they get something "wrong", we won't change what we decide to do because of it. They can, if they want, show Eli losing his leg to a bullsquid while helping Kleiner get to safety in Black Mesa; but if I have an opportunity to later show Eli losing his leg while helping Kleiner get into City 17, I'll go ahead and do that. I'm not out to spoil the fans' fun!

Perhaps there are many many parallel universes, in each of which Eli loses his leg in an entirely different way.
Marc Laidlaw, when asked about what happened to Eli's leg:
He lost it to a bullsquid while helping Kleiner get to safety, but I'm not sure if that was in Black Mesa or later.
Marc Laidlaw, when asked about the classification of humans as part of the Combine and to what degree such story elements are thought through in advance:
CP/Metrocops are humans at the first level--basically unaltered volunteers. From here, if you are hardcore, you must volunteer for modification in order to become a soldier, so advancing in rank requires surrendering even more humanity.

This stuff was certainly thought through in advance; sometimes we just make things up though.
Marc Laidlaw expanding upon the choice of primarily using mimesis ("Show, Don't Tell") as a narrative technique in Half-Life:
We're getting a bit of flak for sticking to that golden rule, which is certainly not the norm in games, but I know we did the right thing. Trying to push the narrative technique as much as we push the technology! Hopefully it's like a good record, though...doesn't quite make sense the first time you hear it, then you discover that you can't get it out of your head, then you just have to play it again, and you start to notice things you didn't catch the first time, and after awhile you accept it for what it is.
 

Asknoone

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Yes, as do all the other Xen aliens - wasteland. Thanks Marco.
 

BigBoss7556

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It was good that Marc confirmed about the xen controllers because there are still people asking questions about what happened to them. The alien grunts suffered the same fate probably.
 

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In the September 2005 issue of PC Zone, Doug Lombardi stated in an interview that the Combine wern't in control of Xen during the course of HL1. He said that the Nihilanth's homeworld was invaded by the Combine, prompting the migration and takeover of Xen by [the Nihilanth]. Is this HL2 canon? And if so, are the Vortigaunts enslaved only the Earth Vortigaunts, or is the Combine in control of Xen at the contemporary date?
Yes, that's fairly accurate, and I'm pretty sure Doug was restating something I'd told him; I [am not] clarifying it, since it's the foundation on which the series continues. What we saw in HL1 was the very end of a long struggle between the Combine and the last of the Nihilanth's race...although it's a bit different than the word "prompted" implies. The Nihilanth's "world" (if it could be said to have) was long since in the past as far as the Nihilanth was concerned; Xen was their final retreat, and they had their back to the wall, as it were, when the fissure appeared that let them spill into our dimension. Xen itself is sort of a dimensional transit bottleneck--an area of continual contention.
.
We had a glimpse of the larger threat when we were working on Half Life 1. In other words we knew that once you cleared out the Nihilanth, you were going to discover something worse beyond it. We knew that some immense threat had chased the Nihilanth and its creatures out of their own world and into Xen, from which location they were all to glad to seize the opportunity to continue on to Earth with suppression through the citadels. But the exact nature of the threat was left to be solved in Half Life 2
 
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iminthepink

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Marc Laidlaw, when asked about the return of Adrian Shepard.

We try not to answer questions about the story directly outside of the game--believe what you play, not what you read, is my motto. The waters are murky, unfortunately, when it comes to the Gearbox titles because we did not make them and I don't feel compelled to abide by every story idea they came up with to make their game more fun. That said, it's now public knowledge that you'll be meeting at least one further survivor of Black Mesa in Episode 2. Hope you enjoy it.
 
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Broso

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One further survivor eh? Adrian Shepard Adian Shepard! Well from what has said I think we can pretty much bank on it. He is basically saying "I'm not compelled to include stuff from the Gearbox titles because we didn't make them BUT there will be another character who survived Black Mesa you will be meeting." :)
 
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Sub-Zero

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One further survivor eh? Adrian Shepard Adian Shepard! Well from what has said I think we can pretty much bank on it. He is basically saying "I'm not compelled to include stuff from the Gearbox titles because we didn't make them BUT there will be another character who survived Black Mesa you will be meeting." :)

would be nice if it was shephard, might actually get to see his face


Perhaps shephard is the character that is going to be killed off perhaps
 

xirow

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One further survivor eh? Adrian Shepard Adian Shepard! Well from what has said I think we can pretty much bank on it. He is basically saying "I'm not compelled to include stuff from the Gearbox titles because we didn't make them BUT there will be another character who survived Black Mesa you will be meeting." :)
I don’t think Samon is going to appreciate this …in his thread. :p
 

kupocake

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would be nice if it was shephard, might actually get to see his face=
That sir, is exactly the problem with what you want. How are you supposed to visually identify a character you have never seen before?
 

99.vikram

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If they showed him as more than the stereotypical gunslinger/asskicker, i'm all for Shephard's return. If he has any depth to his character, it would be nice - maybe a reminiscing alongside Freeman about Black Mesa. But if he's still wearing the mask, I'll defect to the Combine side...

That said, I would much rather meet Rosenberg. <3 Rosenberg :)
 

Tagaziel

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I'd actually appreciate Shephard's return, it'd be an opportunity to reintroduce the PCV... maybe even the old BDU, if he was pulled out of the vortex not too long ago.

The vorts might've went shopping at G-Man's:

"Hey look, Freeman. Grab him, before G comes back."
"Hey guys! Lookie what I found! *has Shephard* Got Marine?"
"Yeah... we can keep him. Take-- OH SHIT! G IS BACK! Zap him, zap 'eem! Get Freeman and Sheep and GTFO here!"

Though I must say it'll be propably Dr Rosenberg.
 

AJ Rimmer

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It should be mentioned in the quotes in the first post what they are referring to.
 

d00d

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About: Citadels and Nukes
Originally Posted by Cuthbert
Hi Mr. Laidlaw,

We were discussing what's Kleiner planning to launch in Ep2, and I
remembered reading somewhere, or having a friend whose friend knows a
friend who read it somewhere, that during 7 Hour War, nukes were used
against the Citadels but they weren't even scratched. Is this accurate?

Thanks
Originally Posted by Marc Laidlaw

Hi...we've never said anything about that, so it's certainly not info
from the games. Thanks for your interest!

Marc Laidlaw
 

ríomhaire

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The lead designer of Portal made a slip of the tongue where where she said 'she', and them immediatly corrected herself and said 'the main character'.
 

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hmm she is hiding something, maybe it is the 2 female characters from HL: Decay!! :O

Perhaps shephard is the character that is going to be killed off perhaps
WOO-HOO!
 

Max35

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I wouldn't mind if Shepard returned. As long as it was done in a thoughtful manner.
 

Ridge

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Agreed. Not just some portal appear in front of you and a Marine walks out with a half dozen weapons strapped to his shoulders and back....
 
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well int he context of that statement from marc, he could very likely be refering to otis, the magnum weidling fat security guard.

Though i think it was implied somewhere that the new character was a scientist.

Still, i'd love to see Adrian make an appearance, if only to be the only other character who is willing to talk about the gman.

Just imagine that you meet him at some point in the game, and he gets nervous, looks over his shoulders and begins to ask you what you know about the guy in the suit, telling you what he knows. That he's creeped out to all hell. And that the guy in the suit put him there and he doesn't know why. etc. Basically it'd just be nice to meet a character who is being used as a pawn, just like you.
 

Crimo

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forget about shephard, i dont think he'll return ever, i like shephard though
 

Ophiguris

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FORGET ABOUT SHEPHARD??? Never, they have to bring him back eventually, I mean, we've seen every other character return to the game, but we still have not seen Shephard... I know that LOTs of you hate him, but he's too good of a character to give up, even if he becomes a Synth like boss and Gordon has to kill him, I still want to know what happens to him!
 

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AMUSING??? how?

No, let me guess, you hate him too. How is he not a good character??? Honestly, because I still haven't had one person fully explain to me WHY they hate Shephard...
 

Asknoone

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How is he not a good character???
How is he character??? Quite like Gordon, though he's more of one than Shephard due to the player. If that sounds confusing, it is, but I can't word it any better.
 

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Marc Mails

When asked about Barney's identity and the fate of the Black Mesa:
Hi, Daniel, I won't be able to clear up much. It was a deliberate decision to have Gearbox never call him Barney in Blue Shift, only Calhoun. Raising the Bar is not a game, so material is presented differently there; manifestations differ in every medium. Gearbox took our Barney and did their own best version, but I'm not sure that Barney is the same Barney I'm picturing when I picture Valve's Barney. In the time BS was created, there were many Barneys. Only gradually have the redundant creature and character types slowly settled into iconic individuals...it's an ongoing process. Gearbox did what was right for their games. Even though they had feedback and guidance from us, they didn't always listen to it, and they steered by their own lights, etc., etc. I wasn't very close to the creation of the expansion packs, and much more concerned with how to move the story forward and open up the universe; so I only take the games created by Valve into consideration when I am working on the story...there are more than enough potential contradictions in our own designs without me worrying about contradictions in the inventions of other developers who were not part of our initial creative meetings. I know this is confusing to fans; it's partly a byproduct of the way expansion packs were created, the way they were packaged and published, and also I was very new to this whole concept at the time. It never occurred to me that large chunks of the story would be taken out of our hands, changes made beyond our control, and then have the stuff handed back with some odd unexpected kinks in it. So try not to worry about it, and simply do my best with material directly in my control. However, as to your last question, There was pressure on us to set Half-Life 2 at Black Mesa, which a lot of us felt would be creative death; it was important to break new ground. Nuking Black Mesa was a good way to ensure that we had a way to avoid setting Half-Life 2 there. You might say I gave the G-Man his orders. The whole issue of canon is something the fans came up with. I guess you will be able to identify as canon those story elements we continue to build on and develop and mention repeatedly as the story progresses. Others might fall by the wayside once they've served their purpose. Couldn't you say the same of us all?

Marc Laidlaw
when asked about Race X:
RaceX was purely a Gearbox creation that doesn't figure at all in my thinking about the world. Understand, they wanted to come up with a set of creatures that would create gameplay they knew how to make. They could have been making an original title or an add-on for some other franchise, and plugged RaceX into that--the reason being that they had gameplay they wanted to explore and needed the freedom of their own race of critters to conduct those experiments with. If Gearbox had kept making HL games, I suppose we might have seen these threads develop. Since BlackOps are not a Gearbox creation per se, but an opportunistic use of existing real-life elements, I don't see how the idea of canon applies to them.
and finally, when asked about the credibility of Gordon and Barney's firendship, cause they can't know each other for very long, if Gordon came from Austria just a week before asigning to the facility and triggering the resonance cascade:
hm...I don't remember stating that the Black Mesa Incident occurred on Gordon's first day of work [note by the author: above applies to a quote by Rosenberg. Or was it Keller?/note_end] (Barney sure acts like he's known Gordon a while) although I might have. shrug.
this all the interresting information I managed to gather from him so far.
 

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Very interesting stuff W4d5Y, very interesting indeed. So Barney in HL2 isn't actually the one in Blue Shift. Hmm. I always found it odd when someone said Laidlaw wrote the expansion scripts, because I'd never seen confirmation. But hey, now we know he didn't.


First post - updated!
 

Ophiguris

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How is he character??? Quite like Gordon, though he's more of one than Shephard due to the player. If that sounds confusing, it is, but I can't word it any better.
I think I get what you're saying, but I only have 2 good guesses

1. Gordon ha dmore history and concepts about his character, Here was the MIT Ph.D Professional scientist and such who has this history of playing games with Barney and such where as with Shephard, he's a soldier, who comes in BM after his Osprey (the plane) is shot down.

2. Gordon has more instances that show some amount of attitude, like what the player can do and you are more open to act like a true scientist trapped in BM rather than being stuck with the soldier stereotype and (even though you may not notice) because you are playing as asoldier, your brain (or sub concious) begins to alter your messages in a more serious manner just because of one suggestion of Adrian's history.
 
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TheEpicShephard

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Shephard's awesome, and he's coming back, there really shouldn't be anymore arguing about it- it's just boring

Hope we can all just shut up about!
 

Darkside55

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Shephard sucks, and he will be coming back. Don't forget that Gabe likes him, Samon.

Interesting stuff, Wadsy. Thanks for all that. Valve's said Gearbox stuff should be taken as canon, yet Laidlaw is refining that statement to "only the elements we continue in the HL story should be considered canon." Which isn't nullifying the previous statement, just blacking out a lot of needless/questionable/stupid content that came from the expansions. Or rather, you could consider everything from the expansions to be canon up to the point where they conflict with the main HL storyline, something like an errata. "Where x conflicts with y, substitute x." X being expansion material and y being Valve's continued content. He even says the same for contradictions between HL1 and HL2.

It's also interesting what he says about Barney. Valve wanted him to be called Calhoun, not Barney, and Gearbox took that and developed their own story with him. But Marc doesn't picture the same Barney from Blue Shift when he's writing for HL2, and he doesn't take the Gearbox expansion into account when writing HL2. Which seems to suggest, rather than there being two Barney Calhouns (one from BS and one from HL and HL2), that there was only one Barney Calhoun at Black Mesa, and Blue Shift never happened.
 

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well... I felt that thing about barney like a kick in my b**ls... its just not fair they play with names like that... what i see is valve is like pissed off with gearbox forever, and we have to pay for that... baaah
 
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