Last night my heart leapt when I saw the headlines: Half-Life 3 slated to appear at Gamescom. Could it be? I thought, wistfully hoping for the next and final chapter in the epic Half Life chronicle to finally be announced, to the sound of trumpets blaring and confetti cannons firing. But it was not to be, and there's an important lesson in this for everyone.
Mark over at Kotaku wrote about an official listing of games due to be shown at Gamescom that included references to Half Life 3. He rightly said that it could all just be a mistake, but I wasn't listening. This was it. The time for Freeman is now, I thought. But alas, the story was updated minutes later with this:
UPDATE: Eurogamer has confirmed that, sadly, the Half-Life 3 listing was indeed a mistake. No explanation was given as to why the game was listed. Shame.
In light of this, let's settle the problem with rumours once and for all: they're stupid. Wait. No. Let me rephrase:
Rumours aren't stupid, people who believe them to be gospel truths are stupid.
Take the iPhone 4S for example.
Rumours before the release said that the next iPhone would be thinner, faster, lighter and a radically new design from the fruit stand that would make grown men weep at its beauty. Instead, we got an iterative update (which it was always going to be) and a beta voice-control tech that set the fanboy-rage meter to 11 for months afterwards.
We're now seeing rumours that point towards an incoming iPad Mini and the iPhone 5 (or New iPhone or whatever it will be called) in September, but what we need to remember is that none of this should be considered real until Tim Cook strolls onto stage to tell us about the something special he and Apple have planned.
The mistake I made last night was wanting Half Life 3 too much. If you want something bad enough, you'll believe anything you read, but what we must remember is that everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt unless it's coming out of an official, on-the-record source's mouth, or you can see the absolute proof before you.
There's nothing wrong with a rumour. It's interesting to see what leaks out here and there before the official release date, but you need to be aware that it may not be entirely true all the time. "Sources close to the matter" can get it wrong.
I've now wiped the tears away from my Half Life 3-wanting eyes and I'm ready to start following my rumour policy again. You should too.