Former Valve game writer Marc Laidlaw in a recent interview Rock Paper Shotgun shared a little-known fact about the omniscient Vortigaunt from the cult shooter Half-Life 2.
Recall that towards the end of the water barrier chapter, the omniscient (aka the singing and coughing) Vortigaunt lives in a cave where he cooks a headcrab on a fire and sings, sometimes interrupted by a cough.
According to Laidlaw, the song sung by the all-knowing Vortigaunt actually belongs to Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell during his Tuvan throat-singing frenzy.
“This was a recording of Gabe going through his Tuvan throat singing phase. He even practiced in the elevator and in the studio’s garage.”recalls Laidlaw in an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun.
The presence of a singing Vortigaunt in this cave from Half-Life 2 was a form of defusing the atmosphere – an encounter with an alien (you still have to try to get there) was preceded by a tense section.
In addition to singing, the omniscient Vortigaunt can entertain the player with cryptic phrases on a variety of topics including the Black Mesa Incident, the dimension of Xen, Nihilanth, the G-Man, and Gordon Freeman’s connection to the Vortigaunts.
In the same interview, Laidlaw admitted that he regrets the 2017 release of Epistle 3 (“Message 3”), a thinly-veiled retelling of the possible plot of the never-released third episode of Half-Life 2.