Erik Wolpaw (writer of Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Portal, and Portal 2), has seemingly returned to Valve after apparently having left the company in 2017 to work on Psychonauts 2.
The discussion surrounding Wolpaw’s return began when Reddit user Trenchman noticed that Wolpaw’s name appears in the credits for Artifact (Valve’s recently released CCG title based on DOTA 2). Given that there had been no formal announcement of Wolpaw’s return to the company at that point, or even vague hints, his inclusion in the game’s credits struck many as being odd.
At the time, there was some discussion regarding whether or not Wolpaw had perhaps worked on Artifact in some capacity during his time with Valve. However, Reddit user Trenchman actually reached out to Gabe Newell’s Valve email address and was informed that Wolpaw had indeed returned to Valve. Trenchman has posted screens of the email and seems to have confirmed it is real, but this information is still being verified at this time.
Considering that Valve and Wolpaw haven’t denied the writer’s return to the company, though, we’re left to believe that he has indeed returned to Valve. The question now is: “What is he doing there?”
While it used to not be a big deal to hear that Valve has hired some writers, the fact that the company hasn’t made any narrative-based games (which used to be one of their trademarks) in some time now means that the apparent re-hiring of a name as big as Wolpaw is quite the big deal. Valve representatives (which include Newell himself) have stated that they are interested in making games again, so it’s highly likely that hires such as this might become more common as they seemingly put those plans into action.
Having said all of that, don’t expect Wolpaw to start work on Half-Life 3 as that project is pretty much confirmed to be dead at this point. However, there have been rumors of a Half-Life VR project, and we certainly wouldn’t discount the possibility that Valve could create another Portal or Left 4 Dead title (which Wolpaw also worked on).
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.