The former Valve writer who wrote Portal 1, 2, and Left 4 Dead has returned to Valve, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Half-Life 3 is just around the corner.
But then again, it might.
Erik Wolpaw is the name behind many of Valve’s biggest hits, including Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 and 2, Portal 1 and 2, and Left 4 Dead. Before going to Valve he helped co-write the 2005 Double Fine classic Psychonauts and only left Valve to help write the upcoming sequel, Psychonauts 2.
But now it seems that Erik is back to work at Valve for some undisclosed projects. A recent Reddit posting noted that Wolpaw’s name appeared in the credits of Artifact, Valve’s recent online trading card game, implying that Erik had a hand in the game’s creation. That same Reddit post goes on to explain that Valve simply lists all employees at the end of each of their games whether they had a direct hand in the game’s creation or not--a nod to the communal mentality at Valve that acknowledges even getting coffee helps make a game.
To see what Wolpaw is actually up to, Polygon emailed him for a bit of explanation. What they got back was perhaps the greatest summary of the last few years of Wolpaw’s career we could ever hope to receive:
“I’ve had a contractor agreement with Valve since the day I stormed out and then immediately timidly stormed back in to ask could I please have my old job back and they said no and I was like good because I’m too busy to work for you anyway and they said but you can be a contractor and I said oh thank god okay I’ll do that,” Wolpaw said. “I’ve been helping Pinkerton and Jaros and Vanaman whenever they need it. It’s been busier on that front lately, but I’m not currently a full-time employee. My main gig is still delivering juice for my niece Jodi’s vegan juice shop plus an unpaid internship playing Slay the Spire three hours a day.”
After being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2004, Wolpaw expected he’d have to leave Valve for good. Instead, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell refused his resignation, reportedly telling him, "Your job is to get better. That is your job description at Valve.”
It seems Wolpaw got better and is back to writing games. The only question is just what game Wolpaw will help write for Valve?