Valve on Half-Life movie dilemmas

Half-Life, developer Valve's multimillion dollar baby, has inevitably been targeted by movie-making hit-sniffers in the past. And with good reason - the series is a powerfully crafted chain of adventures, with real atmosphere and character. The problem, though, is Gordon.

"[A movie] project always crashes up against the hard reality that Gordon Freeman is a conduit for the player's senses," explains Marc Laidlaw, one of Valve's longest serving writers. "As soon as you try to turn him into an actual character, he loses whatever it is that makes him an interesting FPS protagonist."

But, unsurprisingly, that hasn't stopped Hollywood-types attempting to bend Half-Life's rules. "Anybody from outside Valve who gets a hold of the project instantly turns Gordon into the perfect starring vehicle for that week's top celeb," Laidlaw reveals to our UK sister mag PC Zone in this month's issue. "And the arbitrary changes just get worse from there."

As a professional author, Laidlaw knows his onions. But how could things really get much worse than Brad Pitt donning specs and answering to "The Freeman"? You'd be surprised.

"The first Half-Life movie treatment pitched to us," reveals Laidlaw, "climaxed with a tearful reunion between enslaved Vortigaunts and their Vortiwives and children."

"The last one I saw had Black Mesa invaded by a cavalry unit, just so as to feature a scene of bullsquids tearing into armored horses... Which I admit is sort of cool," Laidlaw concedes, "but it has nothing to do with Half-Life. "

But don't worry fans, Valve isn't going to make the same mistake: "Even if Valve make the movie independently, we would have to solve the Freeman dilemma - but at least I believe we would solve it in such a way that it would be true to the rest of our vision."

July 13, 2007

Ben Richardson is a former Staff Writer for Official PlayStation 2 magazine and a former Content Editor of GamesRadar+. In the years since Ben left GR, he has worked as a columnist, communications officer, charity coach, and podcast host – but we still look back to his news stories from time to time, they are a window into a different era of video games.