• HL1 was an exploration of the possibility-space of having objects interact through emitted “energy” (i.e. by broadcasting messages that get attenuated by distance.)
• HL2 was an exploration of the possibility-space of putting a dynamics simulation engine in a game (and also spawned Gary’s Mod to continue said exploration.)
• The major offshoots of the series, Portal and its sequel, were explorations of the possibility-space created by combining “beams” of matter or energy (lasers, hitscan gunfire, tractor beams, paint), gravity, and wormholes.
In other words, each major new entry in the Half-Life universe was essentially a narrative wrapped around the results of playing around with implementing some journal paper (or reimplementing some prototype) of a novel type of realtime physical simulation, that had obvious game-mechanical implications.
I’m not surprised that we never got an HL3, because for the past 10-odd years, there hasn’t really been a big new obvious realtime physical-simulation tech to turn into game mechanics.
I’m also not surprised that Valve would return to making games under the Half-Life brand in order to explore the implications of a new technology (even if it’s not a new realtime physical-simulation technology. Or maybe they’ve got one of those up their sleeves as well...)
I worked on a GPU-based real-time path tracer prototype at Pixar, which became the RTP renderer used for their in-house lookdev tools .
I played FPS games before HL, and I played all the original HL games including Blue Shift and Opposing Force, plus a bunch of single-player fan-produced games and even Gunman Chronicles, all using the engine, and I don't follow what you mean here.
When an HL1 object is “on fire”, for example, it’s emitting “infrared-radiation particles” as hitscan shots off of a point-source at its center. If these hit something, the physics sim checks the “on fire” object’s “hotness” attribute, and its distance from the target it hit, and from these computes a “heat impulse” that should be given to the target, which may or may not be enough to set the target “on fire.” Different things burn with more or less “hotness”, and for more or less time before burning out, depending on the material they’re made of. Explosive barrels don’t have any special code—they’re just “on fire” for a very hot, very short time (but they’re also “concussive”, which is a separate instantiation of this same logic.) The Crossbow’s alternate fire just slides a physical object that’s intensely “on fire” through the scene at high speed. Etc.
This system continues into HL2 as well. Pheropod/bugbait objects are just a copy of this system, where “on fire” is instead “acts as ally”, and antlions can be temporarily or permanently caught “acts as ally” by getting hit by a strong enough dose of pheropod radiative signalling.
This system is basically why HL1 and HL2 play the way they do: rather than only being able to kill things with weapon-objects programmed to emit “kill” signals toward enemies, you can kill things with pretty much any object, in a variety of ways, as enemies are physical-sim objects that can die for physical-sim reasons. And it’s very easy to make a useful new object in these engines, as you can just model something, give it some interesting physical attributes, and plop it into a level. The sim will then take care of making it useful.
Whereas Half Life 2 was definitely a big ol tech demo of the source engine.
Their first product was a game based on technology licensed from Id. It's a fairly different development path from Id and Epic.
The stories of these games have been the subject of discussions for many years.
You may know Bungie as the studio behind Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) and subsequent games.
Before Microsoft bought Bungie, They open sourced the Marathon code and gave the game data for free. Luckily people have been working on bunch ports for modern OSes:
Idk about that. I think Valve has simply changed their identity from "Game Developer" to "Gaming Platform Holder".
They have continued to experiment with new tech like they always have. They've made significant contributions to VR, streaming, and (for better or worse) monitization - technologies that are in service to their platform.
Valve as a game developer isn't dead. It just takes the back seat to Valve as a platform holder.
I’ve given some thought to this, and I invite you to do the same: if there was an HL3 that continued in the tradition of serving as a tech-demo for a new kind of realtime physics-sim tech, what are the possibilities for the tech it could be showcasing?
I’m not too deep into physical-simulation research, so I can’t say whether there’s something just sitting around as a journal paper. What I can say is that I haven’t seen anything in a modern title (even an artsy indie title) that would have made for a good basis for an HL game. Have you?
HL2 had some interesting mostly-environmental exposition intermixed with an extremely lame narrative arc. You are basically just a guy with a gun who spends most of your time in transit. If you swapped places with Barney or a random citizen in an early scene, nothing would have changed. Your character is sterile. The main character was the environments, some of which were very good, but it felt more like a very long "demo" than a game. Everyone expressing surprise at how you are in fact Gordon Freeman and it just doesn't matter at all. You're a lunatic with bullets to spend, plus a couple science fair level physics ramps to complete. Tomb raider, every single one of them, did physics puzzles better, and they didn't have a physics engine!
I think everyone was wowed at the tech at the time and didn't realize just how bad the rest of the experience was. Replaying it, its very easy to feel (compared to replaying Deus Ex or Thief or HL1)
There was no emotive force in HL2. The story become uncompelling. I think they realzied HL3 would fall super flat without some new technology to showcase, because they made the Gordon story so damn boring. (You'll notice in a lot of fanfics, people actually talk, or they aren't about Gordon at all.)
Now combine that with what the GP said about HL1, some A-tier object manipulation and the impressiveness of VR and you have a game that's a lot of fun to play even if you're just along for the ride (in terms of plot). Throw in a decent story arc, hook people with letting them actually make some tough decisions (earth is descending into a dystopia in the time it's set so plenty of opportunities to force the player to choose between a bunch of bad options and feel guilty about whatever they choose) and you have a highly immersive experience.
I don't mean to make it sound trivial, each one of those things is hard to do right and they all have to be done right but it should not be rocket science. Valve just needs a Decent(TM) game using their existing principals. The hard part is going to coping with the constraints of VR without neutering player freedom within the story or botching the VR part.
A good analogy in other media would be Citizen Kane (movies), NWA (music), or Akira (japanese animation). Neither of those would garner mass praise if they were released today, but they were first of a kind and paved the way for moving their respective medium forward.
But I think their goal with HL2 wasn’t really to deliver a compelling narrative, any more than the point of a modern Mario title is to give a compelling narrative. It’s a sandbox with a goal condition. (Sort of like Scribblenauts, now that I think of it.)
> Products are usually the result of an intersection of technology that we think has traction, a group of people who want to work on that, and one of the game properties that feels like a natural playground for that set of technology and design challenges.
> When we decided we needed to work on markets, free to play, and user generated content, Team Fortress seemed like the right place to do that. That work ended up informing everything we did in the multiplayer space.
> Left 4 Dead is a good place for creating shared narratives.
Half-life basically helped kick start story-driven FPS games (Bioshock, etc)
Half-Life 2 helped kick off physics based FPS games.
Portal basically kicked off the FPS puzzle genre (Talos Principle, QUBE, Quantum Conundrum, etc).
L4D basically kicked off FPS co-op games (Borderlands, Killing Floor, PayDay), as well as asymmetric co-op.
For better or worse, TF2 with hats and later CSGO basically started the microtransaction/crate system.
Lastly, Dota 2 did a lot to push e-sports forward too.
This is the kind of advances Valve is interested in. It's hard to tell now, but this game could easily have a huge impact on how VR games are made in the future.
This isn't a technology, rather it's a set of game mechanics.
Both Portal games are cool though.
HL:A possibly represents a watershed. The 40-hour, single-player narrative action VR experience (not to mention a Counterstrike VR mod). What recently released Asgard's Wrath referred to as "God-scale" gaming
But I would say that, most of the time, Nintendo (and similar allied shops like HAL and Intelligent Systems) just invent novel game mechanics out of thin air, then ask how the player should interact with those mechanics; they make the interaction with the mechanic as a prototype, and playtest it on its own; and then, if that turns out to be fun, they wrap a game around that.
This is why, for example, the Paper Mario series looks the way it does. Nintendo + Intelligent Systems both agree that you can’t just take the same mechanics and make a new game, even if the mechanics you came up with the first time were really good. They already explored the possibility-space of those mechanics as well as they could manage in the first game!
VR could play a part in a physics simulation.
(This is all coming from someone who's probably going to jump back into PC/VR gaming for this experience, depending on the reveal and pre-release coverage...)
Given what other people in this thread have mentioned, you will not be moving within a virtual space via VR inputs with full body mapping to in-game movement, as that's a recipe for getting sick.
Given my experience with VR and playing games that required a fair amount of movement, Superhot VR and BeatSaber, the space needed was just enough to stand up, and move my arms around. I am really unsure of why this space requirement issue keeps popping up. Unless you're doing full room mapping, which I highly doubt this game will utilize, I cannot imagine that most people with an entertainment center or with a desk dedicated to their PC, don't have enough room to stand up and move their arms around...
Yes you can play some VR on a couch, but not Superhot, not Gorn, not Space Pirate Trainer. Very likely not Half Life Alyx.
I've used my VR setup from within cramped confines, but it's not something a non-enthusiast will do.
Edit: Also were forgetting a very important point mentioned above
"I'm not going to [...] lock my dogs outside just to play a video game."
At least for me, in all the spaces I have computers, if I stand up I have some stuff or shelves within arm's reach, because I want that stuff to be accessible - but that makes those spaces unusable for VR, because I'll hurt myself those things or myself if I'm swinging around without being able to see what's there.
At this point I prefer throwing $60 at 4-6 indie games and usually I'll find something with a couple of days or weeks playtime. Increasing the title's cost by an entire VR headset doesn't really improve my trust. Especially because a lot of the VR games I've seen on stream so far are just .. lackluster horror scare fares and entirely whacky things.
Born in 1992, HL1 was what really got me into gaming.
I worked on a game called Luna (https://store.steampowered.com/app/605770/Luna/) and many of the people who play tested it said it was the first VR game they played that didn't make them sick, previously they thought "VR makes me sick". It was optimized for player comfort and is a pretty slow paced relaxing game so I think that helped.
I don't get this move. But hey, maybe I'm wrong and this'll be what takes it mainstream... somehow.
I think it'll be fine. Half-Life hasn't had a proper entry in a long time -- though it's worth pointing out that Portal takes place in the same universe and has some mechanical similarities, at least -- but it still has legendary status among gamers.
I doubt so. There are inherent issues with VR currently (stuck in a small environment, limited interactions), I can't see how they could make a first-person game extraordinary enough for people to suddenly open and empty their wallets and embrace VR just for one game. But I may be wrong.
I played Fallout 4 like this a bit, and my wife spent nearly 100h in Skyrim VR.
In any case or kind of makes sense for something called Half-Life to slow down over time.
the only way to alienate fans would be to use it as a platform to deliver a political message; many game players take offense at such and it horribly dates games that do much like music
Going back on those claims would ruin so much goodwill towards Valve among the VR community.
Sauce? I tried googling, didn't find anything immediately relevant. I'd be curious as to their exact wording of that claim.
> Play on any SteamVR system
Anecdotally it feels like VR never really took off? From casual perusals of the steam store at https://store.steampowered.com/vr/, there are very few VR games and the ones that do exist are fairly mediocre looking - things you've never heard of from indie developers self-publishing to steam.
Seems like an odd move from Valve - I don't suspect that this on its own will be enough of a draw to lure people to purchase a VR headset for. Especially since this started out as an "exploration of VR" ... I am left wondering if this is basically going to end up being some glorified DLC or mod that adds a couple of levels with a few neat little VR-specific touches/gimmicks rather than a full-blown installment in the HL franchise?
They may well prove me wrong and trigger a renaissance in the VR gaming industry and wow us with a huge and well-executed sequel to HL2 that will lure people in, but I remain skeptical for now.
This is exactly the move many of us in the VR community have been expecting. It may seem like a tiny percentage (because it is) but the VR numbers themselves have been growing massively since launch of Vive/Rift.
The community is alive and vibrant, not what you'd expect of dead technology.
There may be some awesome VR experiences out there and a handful of people that enjoy them, but sales numbers don't lie - VR is not currently succeeding. If you compare VR sales to Kinect sales, it makes the Kinect look like a roaring success - and Microsoft abandoned it due to lack of consumer interest.
I can find dedicated communities to restoring antiquated decades old computers - a niche does not make a growing vibrant market. Anecdotally (and I welcome people to provide real data instead) everybody I know that used to work on VR for a living has moved on with their careers, including several engineers who got acquired by Facebook.
There's many sites which report the proper number of headsets and their absolute growth. Headsets are still doubling every year, even if it's a small number.
People also tended to hate the Kinect, which only made sales due to marketing bundles. I've never met a single person who's tried VR that doesn't like the tech bar it's rough edges (display quality, PC requirements and long term comfort) but these problems can be solved.
The fact that you've never met someone that tried VR that didn't like the tech shows your overwhelming bias. Most people I've met didn't enjoy it - many were literally too nauseous to use it. It's extremely well studied that a lot of people get sick from VR and yet you are claiming everyone that tried it loves it. One of my friends at Facebook left because he didn't think they'd ever get it so VR wasn't nauseous for too many people. Even Palmer Luckey, the poster boy for VR, moved on years ago (not to mention Iribe and Mitchell).
As long as you're using solid VR game design principles, the biggest being: don't move the player using artificial locomotion, people do not feel sick. The hardware is ready in that regard - motion sickness is a solved problem.
Many games ignore that and have you moving with a joystick - you can get used to it, but it should always be optional imo.
My bias is simply from people I've showed my own hardware to, family and friends, not tech people who have a vested interest. The excitement is there, just not as a mass-market consumer product yet.
I admit the hardware is immature in every other respect: comfort, weight, audio, cables and display quality.
It wasn't mobile VR - it was a dedicated space with external sensors and (usually) a complete Oculus headset.
Your experience differs from mine. As someone who used to love VR and considered moving across the country at one point to work on it, I've since fallen out of love. Ultimately I look at sales as my grounding data, and I don't think VR is going to take off for years.
Of course as I type this, Valve is announcing Half Life for VR - which is huge news. So maybe I'm wrong?
Oculus store has the quality games, for the most part. Many Rift owners do not have their headset connected when not using VR. Like for example when playing a flat game on Steam.
I've enjoyed quite a few VR games over the last few years, but part of why I'm excited about this one is that they are able to design the hardware and the software in conjunction.
Hopefully this will lead to something which can really take advantage of that co-development, like we sometimes see when Nintendo or Apple are able to do both.
Shame is generally an indicator of un-dealt with trauma. Good to keep digging into those feelings and see the source if you can.
Have you ever been that obsessed in the past? Did anyone say something about it to you?
However, at a first glance it seems like it should have been relatively straightforward to create sequels that just have more levels. But maybe it's not that easy to actually do it.
I'm from Europe and it's especially bad in that sense cause for example HP and Lenovo has a generic budget headset with controllers for $150 but that's US only. You won't find anything that close in price here
The controllers worry me the most since I don't know if they're required or if they need certain buttons I can map things to.
So yeah, right there with you. I hope it's worth trying to buy it all, but it's a big hurdle in a lot of ways so the game has to be amazing.
Lastly, since my life has changed a lot in the last twelve years, I no longer even have a real gaming PC (I assume I'm not the only one who lost that as they aged). So that's one more cost I have to factor unless maybe they release it on PS and I can buy that and it's VR rigging.
That said, we don't actually know the requirements yet - as far as we know it'll require full finger tracking or be straight up Index-only (as unlikely as I personally think that is, it's still possible). Definitely don't pull the trigger on anything until the full announcement on Thursday.
I don't think that strictly applies here; the stores don't play a predominant role in marketing the games (at least for popular titles), so they don't have exclusivity over an audience.
I think the relevant question is the extent customers decide not to purchase a game because it's exclusive to an alternative store.
To some extent this is intentional. Epic Game's market research culminated in a decision to include fewer social features, and less visual clutter than Steam.
Epic Games seems to be competing more on the back-end, offering better rates and licensing to developers in return for distribution exclusivity, rather than the front-end with features for users. That said, as a user, I appreciate the minimalism of EGS.
As an old fart, developer and gamer, I don't feel much sympathy for those who are wooed by intentional ignorance.
Personally, I will not buy products without reading user reviews; and I find that most professional reviews aren't worth the bandwidth to download.
Due to some of the technical limitations with people (motion sickness does not make a popular game) I don't think this is not going to be an open spaces and free-movement heavy game like HL2. Not having some really good expansive panorama scenes would be a disservice to the VR tech but don't expect to be able to drive a go-kart around in them. I'm expecting a lot of semi stationary scenes where the player is free around a small space as the environment smoothly and steadily around them (like all the various freight elevator and rail car scenes in HL1). I expect that in typical Half-Life fashion there will be lots of object manipulation and head crab batting practice while the player remains nearly stationary.
Budget Cuts and Apex Construct give a taste of it, but I find myself really wanting to just be able to play some version of Portal 2 that was somehow suited for VR and wouldn't make you instantly throw up.
I'm excited to see what the release brings, but I'm expecting revolutionary VR mechanics. I hope it'll be as big of a leap forward as Half Life 1 and Half Life 2 were.
That's what I'm hoping for.
The reverse is also true.
This was what I always liked about HL2. It is a game but also a kind of protest against oppression.
Valve isn't the same company they were back when they developed things like HL2. They've basically been sitting back and sucking up money for a long time. They're good at that, but there's no indication they're good at anything else at this point.
I'll go out on a limb and say this game is going to suck, and after the initial hype people are going to hate that Valve did this.
You mean apart from creating and still consistently updating CS:GO and DotA 2, which are both some of the most played games in the world?
Their "The Lab" VR demo, which is a collection of mini games, is also one of the most enjoyable VR experiences, so I'm very optimistic they can make something great again if they put their mind to it.
Yes, I mean exactly those games, which are neither new nor ground breaking, and which were originally authored by outside firms/contractors, not valve. Since then, most of Valve's additions to the games are in the form of monetization.
If you didn't notice the news articles, they even laid off almost all the people responsible for HL2 and its episodes, including the writer.
Valve has also released DOTA Underlords and Artifact in the two years. With HLA and Underlords Valve is actually releasing two games this year.
Yeah Valve has barely made any games this decade.
What work is has been done for taking VR only games and using not VR controls/interfaces? Even if it's not optimal.