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film news

Half-Life game creators only want themselves to make the movie

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Thursday, August 26, 2010

One of the most coveted properties today in gaming is Valve's Half-Life franchise. Released in 1998, this first-person shooter borrowed story elements from The War of the Worlds, Alien and Stephen King's The Mist and to give us not just a strong action gameplay element but an equally as compelling storyline. In the game you play a scientist who tries to halt the invasion of an other dimensional alien force.

One of the most coveted properties today in gaming is Valve's Half-Life franchise. Released in 1998, this first-person shooter borrowed story elements from The War of the Worlds, Alien and Stephen King's The Mist and to give us not just a strong action gameplay element but an equally as compelling storyline. In the game you play a scientist who tries to halt the invasion of an other dimensional alien force.

Half-Life 2 followed in 2004 and there's a Half-Life 3 in development (but no one's seen any gameplay footage from it so far.) With such a popular video game title, one wonders why there's never been an announcement about a Half-Life movie. Surely someone must have had that idea? Well, a bunch of Hollywood types have approached Valve over the years about snagging the movie rights to Half-Life but none have gotten them. Why? Because according to the game's creator, they all sucked.

"Where we got into this direction was after Half-Life 1 had shipped. There was a whole bunch of meetings with people from Hollywood," Valve co-founder Gabe Newell told PC Gamer magazine. "Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they'd bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story. And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of.

“That’s when we started saying ‘Wow, the best thing we could ever do is to just not do this as a movie, or we’d have to make it ourselves.’ And I was like, ‘Make it ourselves? Well that’s impossible.’ But the Team Fortress 2 thing, the Meet The Team shorts, is us trying to explore that.”

Newell's referring to the character intros in another insanely popular Valve video game, Team Fortess 2. To be fair to those evil hollywood people, there's a big difference between making a successful CG animated short like the ones found in Team Fortress 2 and making a live-action, 90-minute Half-Life movie. And if Valve were to go the full CG route, there's still a big gap between creating cut scenes for a video game and the process that Pixar goes through in making one of their movies.

"As a WoW player, I would much rather that the WoW team made the movie, right?" adds Newell. "I like Sam Raimi, I’ve been a fan ever since Evil Dead came out, but I would rather see Blizzard making the movie. We think that customers are like, ‘OK, we’re kind of sick and tired of the way you guys are slicing and dicing the experience of being a fan of Harry Potter, or Half-Life, or The Incredibles, and you need to fix it.’ And the people that fix it will be rewarded, and the people that don’t will be on the rubbish heap of history, or whatever the phrase is."

I have my own small anecdote to add to this: back in 1999 I was privy to Valve being in discussions with a movie producer for a proposed Half-Life movie. Rather interestingly it was Valve that eventually broke off talks with the producer, who had a first-look deal with a major movie studio. I couldn't break the information at the time because of a promise of confidentiality between myself and the producer and the fact that a deal had not been finalized yet.

-PC Gamer.
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Posted: 8 years 16 weeks ago

I think Half-Life could be adapted into a pretty kick-ass movie, but not an animated one.  It needs to be live action.  I think the biggest thing standing in the way of a Half-Life movie is the fact that Gordon Freeman, the protagonist, never speaks in the games.  That probably makes adapting the story a rather difficult nut to crack.

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