Half-Life 2 writer and Portal co-writer Erik Wolpaw has reportedly returned to Valve, with eagle-eyed players noticing that the veteran’s name appears in the credits for the developer’s latest game, Artifact. Wolpaw is a big name in the industry, with him having written Half-Life 2 Episode One and Episode Two, along with co-writing Portal, Portal 2, and Left 4 Dead. He left Valve in 2017 to work with Double Fine Productions on Psychonauts 2, though has now returned to the company in which he penned his biggest hits.
Wolpaw’s name was spotted by Reddit user u/Trenchman, who noted his appearance in the Artifact credits in the r/Games subreddit. The user then claimed that he emailed Valve owner Gabe Newell in order to clarify Wolpaw’s return, to which Gabe allegedly replied: “He’s back.”
The legitimacy of the email was reportedly verified by the Valve News Network, a popular YouTube channel focusing on news pertaining to the developer:
The sender of the email confirming the return of Erik Wolpaw to Valve has given me the specfics to prove it's legitimacy. He is back, holy shit. @Wolpaw
— Tyler McVicker (@Tyler_McV) January 4, 2019
Wolpaw’s return to Valve comes after Portal 2 co-writer Jay Pinkerton also returned to the company in 2018. This means that two of the three Portal 2 writers have returned to Valve, with Chet Faliszek still working for Bossa Studios after leaving Valve in May 2017.
Wolpaw and Pinkerton’s recent returns suggest that Valve has some new projects up its sleeve. The company has been criticized in recent years for taking a backseat when it comes to game development, with most of its focus being put on its Steam digital distribution platform. However, with game writers now being re-hired by the company, we could see some brand new Valve games in the near future.
Artifact is the company’s latest release, its first since 2016’s VR game The Lab. However, many were disappointed by the announcement of the digital card game, with it not falling in line with the studio’s classic series such as Half-Life, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. It’s unclear if Wolpaw has been rehired to work on a follow-up to one of his previous games, if he will be working on a new IP entirely, or if he will stick to Artifact for the time being. Either way, for those who have been waiting for Valve to return to games development once again, this is heartening news.