half life tooooSteam / ValveThe story of a video game called “Half-Life 3” is a long and complicated one. 

As many gamers will recall, the final installment of the “Half-Life” episodic trilogy (formally known as “Half-Life 2: Episode 3,”) was first announced back in 2006, to the delight of a dedicated cult following of the series, but the game has yet to be released 12 years later, and the company behind the series has no official plans to manifest the game any time soon.

While this substantial delay would normally be enough to convince any fan base that the project had been abandoned long ago, there have been just enough cryptic updates, leaks, and rumors out of Valve, the game platform that created the franchise, to keep the Half-Life diehards on their toes, and many gamers are still holding out for the lost-but-not-forgotten conclusion to the beloved series.

And while this long, tragic story isn’t likely to have a happy ending, it’s a fascinating look at just how far fans of a beloved franchise will go to keep their hope alive, and how it even resulted in the creation of an internet meme that still continues to crop up on social media and forums.

So for those who haven’t kept up with the series over the last 12 years, here’s a brief timeline of the Half-Life saga: a tale of broken promises, disappointed fans, and undying hope: