An alpha version of the Dota 2 Workshop Tools software was released a couple of hours ago, and there's some very interesting secrets hidden away inside it.
If a bunch of DLLs, new mapping file types and directories are to be believed, Workshop Tools is the first official evidence of the Source 2 engine from Valve that will almost certainly power Left 4 Dead 3, Portal 3 and Half-Life 3.
The Reddit thread, titled "So, The Workshop tools isn't just a modding platform. It's Source 2. And it's running Dota 2", goes into detail on some of the not-so-subtle hints in the Workshop Tools' updated version of the Hammer mapping tool.
Like, for example, the fact that everything in the update that used to refer to the original Source rendering engine, like engine.dll, now sports a shiny new 2 on the end — engine2.dll, vphysics2.dll, and so on.
The new mapping file type in Workshop Tools' Hammer is .vmap, with the existing .vmf files now referred to as "Source 1.0". A Valve developer screenshot of the new tileset editor shows the software's directory as /source2/. These clues, along with everything else, point to Workshop Tools running on a new version of Source that we haven't seen before. Gamescom kicks off in Cologne next week, and Valve will be there, showing off, if nothing else, its revamped Steam Controller. Maybe they have more to show?
If Source 2 is finally being released into the wild, over 15 years since the release of GoldSrc and Half-Life, and 10 years since the release of Source and Half-Life 2, then chances are looking good that soon enough we'll be seeing something soon. Will it be Half-Life 3? Will it be Left 4 Dead 3 or Portal 3? Can we dare to dream?
Let's not get too hasty; only Valve time will tell. Here's a video of the new Hammer editor in action. The 'major update' is the first in nearly a decade, and according to NeoGAF and Valvetime commenters has a built-in model maker and live lighting previews, two features that have been sorely missing from the long-running original Hammer tool.