Half Life 2
Half-Life 2 leading pair Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance. Valve

Valve have teased a session at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco for 3pm on 3 March (the third month). These three 3s have naturally got everyone flustered about the possibility of Half-Life 3 being announced.

But let's not get carried away. Remember, Valve cannot be trusted.

It has been nearly seven years since physicist freedom fighter Gordon Freeman last graced our screens, and nearly seven years of waiting to see what would happen next.

The last we saw of him in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, he and Alyx Vance were about to embark on a journey to a lost ship known as the Borealis, before a rude interruption by two slug-like Combine Advisors. It ended with a big cliffhanger, and fans have been left hanging ever since.

The teases and trolls have given Half-Life 3 a part-mythical status, with the phrase "Half-Life 3 confirmed" itself becoming a joke and meme. We've often been given legitimate reasons to be hopeful, but have repeatedly been disappointed.

The talk in question is called "Physics for Game Programmers: Physics Optimization Strategies" and will be hosted by Valve programmer Sergiy Migdalskiy. It could be a front for a fancy reveal, it could be that the game is announced as part of the talk, or it will be just another interesting GDC sessions with no industry-rocking announcements.

Speculation is ramping up of course, but not without a necessary amount of scepticism. After so long, it's much easier to expect nothing than get our hopes up even a little bit. Could it be however?

Valve have been rumoured to be re-introducing their living room PC initiative Steam Machines to the world soon. Were they to attempt to barge their way into the part of the house typically ruled by home consoles, then having a game like Half-Life 3 to sell it would make perfect sense. However, a game as big as that is likely to be sold on consoles as well.

There's hope too in the subject matter of the talk. Half-Life 2 (released in 2004) helped break new ground when it came to physics in video games, thanks to Valve's brilliant Source engine. Half-Life certainly has a link to the talk beyond the involvement of Valve, but still not enough to really get excited.

If Half-Life 3 really was going to be announced, there would be more fanfare, so this announcement seems more like a joke (a bad joke) to try and get people interested in the talk.

If the long-awaited sequel isn't announced tomorrow then Valve can expect nothing but angry responses from fans. Most will hopefully be able to shrug it off as another setback, but with each nudge and wink Valve are devaluing their own chart-topper-in-waiting and making people less enthusiastic about one day seeing it.

The only way they could still come out swinging and not announce HL3 is if they announce one of the other big threequels they have yet to make – Portal 3, Left 4 Dead 3 and Team Fortress 3.