Valve has set the internet a-flutter by filing copyright notices for "Half-Life 3" and the game's logo in Europe, while fans have found evidence of internal progress.
Should "Half-Life" developer and Steam Network operator Valve have merely filed a copyright claim, its action could have been categorized as a mere legality designed to prevent the name from falling into the wrong hands.
But with "Half-Life 2: Episode 2" ending on a tremendous cliffhanger in 2007, there's always hope that eventually, finally, at last, Valve will draw the ground-breaking trilogy to a long-awaited close.
And so, following the emergence of trademark applications filed with the European Union's registration office -- the "Half-Life 3" name on Sept. 29 (mark no. 012180394) and a relevant logo on July 1 (mark no. 011945961) -- fans probed Valve's public-facing project management database for further proof, before access was locked down.
Those investigations revealed two related groups: a 46 strong "Half-Life 3" team, up from 42 in June, and a newer, 10 member "Half-Life 3 Core" group.
June's attempt had also brought to light "Left 4 Dead 3" and "Source 2," whose supposed existence was solidified in August by a photo taken during a guided office tour.
Jokes surrounding Valve's reticence to produce anything related to "Half-Life 3" involve the company's apparent aversion to the number three.
The "Portal," "Team Fortress," "Left 4 Dead" and "Dota" series have all received second but not third entries at the hands of Valve's engineers; even "Half-Life 2" gave way to two further episodic downloads rather than the trilogy's conclusion.
And Valve appear to be in on the joke too: CEO Gabe Newell cameoed in Klang's Kickstarter pitch video (youtube.com/watch?v=vuWCEpcTbww), hitting an anvil three times and saying "these things, they take time."
Just last week, the company staged a three-part hardware division announcement, teased with an illustration of a three-button controller -- but, rather crushingly for some, none of the dispatches resulted in the further adventures of "Half-Life" scientist-hero Gordon Freeman and resourceful accomplice Alyx Vance.