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Half-Life: Alyx (half-life.com)
586 points by arthurfm on Nov 21, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 437 comments

A criminally overlooked feature of this game is the release of the dev tools used to make maps and mods. Giving the tools away for such a powerful base game is what gave HL1 and HL2 it's incredible staying power.

Agreed. That helped also to make gems such as Black Mesa, a 100% fan made recreation of the first HL using HL2 engine and graphics. I wonder what would become of this game if they added a proper story, characters interactions, NPCs, subplots etc. (think Mass Effect style).

Here's a full walkthrough for those living under a rock when it came out:*)


Thanks for posting! Impressive.

By the way, back then I really liked the first stages of HL2 -- the dystopian intro absolutely rocks -- but eventually had to stop playing, partly because it was getting too long, and partly because of motion sickness. This really took me by suprise because I was a gamer, had enjoyed the original HL without problems... and suddenly there was a new breed of 3D games where I got motion sickness and had to quit.

I distinctly remember two games that made me almost throw up when playing: HL2 and Jedi Outcast.

I was wondering if it was simply a stage of my life, so I decided to watch your video and... instant motion sickness. I think it has something to do with the jerky point of view and the rapid motion, but also something about how the "lens" of the viewport deforms the image near the borders.

Does it happen to anyone else? :(

I had much the same experience, and it bummed me out, because I really enjoyed the series.

Two things basically eliminated the problem for me- first, like the other commenter said, increasing the FOV. The default is way too narrow, especially on modern widescreen displays. Adding another 10 or 20 degrees makes a noticeable improvement.

The other change was to eliminate the head-bob while running. There's a console command that takes care of that. Between the two, I went from nausea within a couple of minutes to being able to play for half an hour+ with no issues.

Hopefully this helps you, too!

Wow. Thanks. I'll definitely try this when I (inevitably) decide to revisit HL2 :)

I remember specifically where I was in the game when I got motion sick. I guess the brain is good at remembering things like that for survival reasons. What I've learned as a strategy:

Stop playing as soon as you start feeling ill. Just save and come back to it tomorrow.

Do not try to get back into it (or anything similar, like watching videos of FPS games) after a short break. Wait until the next day or later.

You should be able to get through games like that piece by piece. At least for me, I don't usually get sick from it. Maybe you get used to it as long as you stop once you start getting a little nauseous.

As for FOV, which seems to be the cause, I found a reference[1] that says the fov is 75 until you meet Alyx. (Wait, what?) Not sure what it is after that. There is an option in the settings to increase it between 75 and 90 (higher is better).

[1] https://steamcommunity.com/app/290930/discussions/2/61170199...

> As for FOV, which seems to be the cause, I found a reference that says the fov is 75 until you meet Alyx. (Wait, what?)

Agreed: What?

Can someone please shed some light on whether this is true and why that would be?

I don't know if it's true, but maybe they want you to look around City 17 and admire the scenery in the earlier part of the game (larger FoV) and later want you to focus on action once you meet Alyx (smaller FoV)?


75 is a rather low FoV, so that seems unlikely.

I used to love playing 3D games, too. Then I got older and my eyes stopped playing along with the fallacy of 3D/VR.

This is normal, and imho is one of the biggest challenges facing the VR industry: as people age, they are less and less able to do VR.

Its because you're getting older and your eyes are not as level as they used to be. Our brains are wired to correct the differences in horizon that each eye sees, and applies a filter to the 3D inputs so that we don't get motion sick. As we age, our eyes physically change position, and the brain has to do more work to make this horizon correction - with 3D games, it no longer has all the inputs it needs to do the correction (because 3D games aren't really 3D but rather an imitation of it on a flat plane), and thus you start to feel motion sickness more and more.


It happened to me too and a lot of other players. [0]

[0] https://ca.ign.com/articles/2004/11/24/half-life-2-motion-si...

Changing the fov helps.

It happens to a lot of people. Try adjusting the FOV.

A game that gave me motion sickness but only when I watched someone else play was Turok on the Nintendo 64. Watching someone else play was sickening.

Oh man! Even the newer Turoks gave me wicked motion sickness. I think I have motion sickness just thinking about it.

"so I decided to watch your video and... instant motion sickness."

That was the effect it gave to me too. I believe it's due to the the player moving the field of view rapidly: I played this game less than a year ago and experienced none of this. Being in control helps a lot as the brain knows we're moving and expects the view to change.

Could be just age related, as well. I didn't used to get motion sickness on swings as a kid, either. Now suddenly when I take my daughter to the park I can't stand 'em.

Overlooked? I'm confused...

> "A set of Source 2 tools for building new environments will ship with the game, enabling any player to build and contribute new environments for the community to enjoy. Hammer, Valve’s level authoring tool, has been updated with all of the game’s virtual reality gameplay tools and components." [0]

They do have that feature coming with it? Or am I confused on what you are referring to?

[0] https://store.steampowered.com/app/546560/HalfLife_Alyx/ (appears in the description under the "Community-built environments" header)

EDIT: I misread what you meant. Haha I thought you meant overlooked by their team, as if they didn't include it.

I remember everyone saying Blizzard would release map making tools for Overwatch like they did for Starcraft and Valve did for TF2/CSGO. Seems like a great way to add longevity to the game and the community content can even help fund the game.

The StarCraft map making tools were probably my first experience using triggers and and events to make things happen. It was such a cool feeling to be able to make things happen and just mess around with everything. It helped get me into stuff like rpgmaker and flash and learning how to program in general. I miss the days of modding tools. The neverwinter nights one was also pretty amazing. I spent a lot of time playing around with that one too.

Workshop was huge, albeit late, addition for the community, even without a map editor.

But even Blizz couldn't reliably make maps using their internal tools that kept Reaper where he was supposed to be.

Was definitely a step in the right direction, they like to say their map making tools are too complex to release which is almost offensive. If employees can learn them then surely dedicated community members can figure out enough to get by. Community maps are never expected to be perfect and if one was ever picked up for the official rotation they could clean it up as needed.

I only do hobby gamedev, so I don't know what I'm talking about, but when I think of a tool that's "too complex" to release, I imagine not just a conceptually difficult thing, but a dangerous thing. For example, the editor lets you shoot yourself in the foot with a bunch of a esoteric considerations that don't really make sense, but the internal people know how to work around them more or less, like making sure that there's a dummy Bar for every Foo on the map, and that they are named in some crazy way, and that the name doesn't contain the "%" symbol, and you have to do that all manually and if you don't the host computer hard locks. Internally they solve this by hard-won intution about how to use the tool, plus a huge and thorough testing scheme.

I think that's the key -- if the tool allows you to harm the user's computer in some way, then it's not a tool you can really release without polishing a lot more, to prevent the failure modes. And it's particularly bad if it's hard not to mess up.

I would be very surprised to hear Blizzard has an internal tool with issues of that magnitude.

Then you would be very suprised at a lot of what happens in game dev. Many in-house tools are mere skeletons, fleshed out just enough to get the job done. The bug squashing is focused on the primary product. Developing end-user ready tools is basically a paralell dev process. Difficult, rare, expensive but often immensely valuable and rewarding.

This is the rule in game development rather than the exception. It's why polished commercial engines like UE4 and Unity have been so successful. In house tools even at some of the biggest most successful game developers are rough and undocumented. They are also generally made by engineering teams an order of magnitude smaller than Unity or Epic.

A tool that works perfectly fine internally but is risky to release publicly doesn't make it a bad tool...

they never said they were too complex (for people to understand) to release

they said the tools are too tightly integrated into their authoring and content delivery systems

if you watch a couple of videos where they reveal how it all works: this excuse seems plausible

They're getting back into map making tools with the warcraft 3 remake.

More ambitiously, I think the results would be amazing if Blizz made a public version of WoWEdit available and added an “arcade mode” to WoW to showcase said maps. People did downright incredible things with just a lowly 2001 RTS engine (WCIII) — what could they do with the most polished MMORPG engine on the market?

I think a server browser and the ability to run community servers would be essential alongside that. Back when I was big into multiplayer PC games that whole scene was amazing fun, and is the reason even games like WolfET still survive in some form today.

Valve have also more recently done it in Dota 2, which itself like tf and cs was a mod, though in warcraft 3 instead of half-life/quake

Dota 2 is its own engine, and has nothing to do with dota 1 which was a warcraft 3 map. How they even got the IP in the first place is... a pretty bad look for Valve.

What are you talking about? Firstly Dota 2 started in source 1 and was the first game ported to source 2. It has nothing to do with dota 1? It is made by multiple of the original developers of the warcraft 3 mod, your whole comment does not make a whole lot of sense.

It was made by the third (3rd) maintainer of Dota Allstars, the warcraft 3 mod. Eul was first, Guinsoo was #2. It had quite a large community attached. Valve hired Icefrog. Icefrog did not invent MOST of the characters, IP, nor mechanics, nor design the map. He DID balance a lot of the characters and interactions. I was an admin for Team Dota Allstars at the time and helped run the semiprivate leagues on battlenet and the dota-allstars forums.

So Valve hires Icefrog, makes an IP claim for the dota name, all the characters, and starts creating dota 2. It felt like a "oh, I'll have this". It didn't feel right at all at the time. Still doesn't. Nothing was ever said for the community that formed around creating and enjoying the game in the first place.


Both Eul and Icefrog assigned their copyright of to valve while getting employed at them, Guinsoo assinged them to Riot who then transferred the rights to Blizzard. And as far as I know Valve have only only done any kind of claim jointly with Blizzard as they are not the sole owners of the copyright. They are though owner of the Dota 2 trademark.

Also a nitpick there have been more maintainers than those three they were the major ones for example the original developers of Dota Allstars Meian and Madcow. Guinsoo worked on the game for around 2 years until early 2005 and then Neichus took over and worked jointly with Icefrog who became the lead after Neichus left.

Main source: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3726401/Blizzardv...

I didn't know Eul was involved with Valve, interesting.

I completely agree. This site is the first I've read of the new dev tools, and I'm excited to see what the community builds on Source 2.

That is exactly what turns me from a maybe to absolutely buying this. Even if the base game is disappointing, the mods to come will be excellent.

Absolutely - the engine is the real product here.

It's not overlooked, it's mentioned in every related forum of discussion I have seen today.

does this mean the potential for a "Garry's Mod VR?"

This has got to be the most narrowly targeted game ever.

I played through all of HL/HL2/Ep1/Ep2 IIRC, but I can barely even remember the story clearly it was so long ago. And it's such a blur maybe I never finished Ep2.

I was 21 when HL1 came out but I didn't get to play it till I was like 24 maybe when I had gotten out of school and got a nice computer & some money. HL2 came out when I was 27.. still playing games but I don't remember beating it till much later. Probably 2010, by which point I was married and had bought a house.

Now I'm 42 and I have a 7 year old.. so I'm old enough to actually remember this, don't really have the time to play anymore.. and I'd be looking at buying a new PC & VR equipment to play it.. yah no thanks.

That and I remember HL2 and Ep1/Ep2 taking forever. The whole thing was good, unlike time sinks like Oblivion and Skyrim that were full of filler, but it still took forever to play through.

Just seems like a small target of players who are old enough to fondly remember the original + still have time to play long form games + still have gaming equipment + have VR/are willing to buy VR.

Even as an engineer who knows more than a usual amount of gamers including younger players I'm not sure I know anyone who has VR equipment. If you're 15-20 do you care about this or do you just think it's your Dad's stuff?

I think you underestimate how popular Half-Life was. The #1 game played on steam right now is a former HL mod, Counter Strike. I don't think the market for HL is small at all.

VR, though, is a different story. That absolutely limits the market. That being said, I'd wager that a majority of people who play VR games on PC will likely buy this game, as it's probably the first true AAA title developed specifically for VR.

I think we're all waiting with bated breath to see if Valve can push VR into the mainstream with this or anything else they do. I'm not going to buy a kit just to play glorified mobile games, but if this is really the future of entertainment then I can see myself buying a headset.

> I'm not going to buy a kit just to play glorified mobile games

I assume you're referring to the Quest? Is that a statement based on your experience playing games on it, or what you assume they'll be like?

I view it less like mobile games, and more like games put our for the Gameboy. Specifically tailored to achieve good and consistent gameplay based on the target platform. This is partially because Oculus is being very demanding in what they'll accept for their store, to the point that there's actually not a huge catalog, but each item seems to work very well.

Along the lines of the Gameboy comparison, there's been a few stories now of developers taking a game people thought couldn't make it to the Quest and optimizing enough for the platform that it performs well. There's something to be said for consistent hardware.

Valve is clearly pushing their own Index hardware with this game

Oculus Quest now supports PCVR as well since the November update. Just plug it using a compatible USB-C cable to your desktop, and it will act just like Oculus Rift.

I get motion sickness easily. So that counts me out of the VR experience. And I reckon that's going to be true for a lot of other people as well.

The price and inherent limitations (such as motion sickness) of VR are going to ensure that it doesn't hit mainstream, at least for the time being

Have you tried one of the newest generation headsets? Supposedly the higher frame rates counter motion sickness quite well. I haven't had anyone mention motion sickness when playing on my Valve Index (only when looking on a monitor how someone else plays, because the screen shakes so much then).

(The price of the Index definitely doesn't make it mainstream though. Just trying to get a sense of this issue)

Most people, even those prone to motion sickness, don't get sick in VR in current-gen hardware as long as it's a game where your view in the in-game world matches the view in the real world. This applies to many games. Beat Saber, PokerStars VR, and Zombie Training Simulator are examples of this.

On the other hand, any game where your movement in the game world doesn't match the real world is a quick path to sickness. Any racing or flying game makes me ill, and I've been playing VR for over 2 years.

The website says there are options for teleport locomotion, so you'd probably be fine: https://half-life.com/en/alyx/vr#setup

On modern hardware, motion sickness is only really an issue in VR games which move your head around in-game in ways which don't match how you're moving in real life. Teleport and physical movement don't cause issues for most people.

I'm sure Valve is thinking of this as a killer app to drive VR adoption. All it takes is one amazing game, but it's been a chicken and egg problem for buying VR hardware before sufficiently compelling games are available.

Yes this game is literally a system seller, it comes free with Index. Even if it doesn't make VR mainstream by tech benchmarks it will significantly grow the PC VR market and might make it a more attractive development target.

counter strike is a completely different game than half life. it's been sold as a separate game for decades. just because they share a former history doesnt mean anyone who is interested in counter strike is interested in this new half life game. i'd say its almost completely opposite userbases. one more hard core competitive multiplayer fps, the other casual single player VR. VR is an incredibly small market and i totally agree this is a game targeted at a tiny audience

Counterstrike and TF both started as half life mods.

This is going to expand the market vastly because it will make it much cheaper to develop quality VR games. In a couple of years, I predict the average purchase of this game will be to play the mods rather than the core game.

Team Fortress started as a Quake mod.

Valve bought the developers and got them to create Team Fortress Classic the goldsrc engine (which started out as the Quake engine).

Besides sharing an engine, Counter Strike and Half-Life have little to do with each other. One is a ruthless and plotless multiplayer game with a military theme, the other is a scifi plot-heavy single player experience (yes, HL also has multiplayer, but that's not the point of the game).

In the same way that Half-Life gave us Counter Strike and Team Fortress, imagine what the editing tools for Half-Life: Alyx could do for VR content development.

And let's not forget Garry's Mod either. VR physics sandbox in the HL:Alyx engine? That's going places.

Yes, I agree about the engine and mod tools being a huge thing. I'm just saying Counter Strike's popularity was not directly tied to Half-Life's, only indirectly through its engine :)

Also it will push people, like me, who have had no real incentive to go to VR games other than the novelty, to do so with my upcoming home PC upgrade in the next month or two.

There seem to be a couple of AAA titles developed specifically for VR. 'Westworld Awakening' and 'Terminator: Resistance' are big franchise names that probably count (AAA is a bit of a vague category).

Personally, being the frugal sort, I'll wait until it is on special. By which time I'll have upgraded my headset to one I can wear for more than 30 mins without it becoming an irritation.

I do wonder if the demographic is bang on the money, with a large number of headsets in the hands of people in their late 30s and 40s who remember the original Half-Life. I had originally thought Valve would first reissue the Half-Life and Portal games for VR, or even reboot Half-Life.

(Whoops... not Terminator)

24 year old here.

I played video games in my teens, including the HL series. I stopped playing video games roughly five years ago. I will be building a computer to play this game.

Peers my age are also very excited for this. Not just because it's a new Half Life game, but because it's the VR game we have been waiting for since the VR craze started.

But how many people are going to spend $2000+ to play this? You're building a new gaming PC and possibly buying a new VR headset just for this game?

Yep. I'm planning on spending around $2500 just to play this game. I don't even care if it's the only game I play on it.

With the VR tools they're releasing, I (and everyone I've talked to about this) expect Garry's Mod 2: VR to come out of this.

Actually the "Garry's Mod 2: VR" will be that game-changing VR game.

Nearly every "gamer" I know is planning on getting VR just for this. Purely anecdotal but actually a lot.

I'm also 24, and I can tell you I will absolutely be spending $1000 for the Valve VR headset (I've not previously owned VR) and any other PC upgrades to be able to play this game.

huh, are all 24 year olds buying into this?

Also 24 years old, also planning to build a PC that's VR ready. I probably won't splurge $1000 for the Valve index, but I might buy their controllers + Oculus (which by the way also gets you Half-Life: Alyx for free).

I feel like this game is the biggest thing to happen in video games since we became adults.

Heads up, the Index controllers can't be easily made to work with Oculus headsets. They can easily be added to Vive or Pimax headsets though.

Absolutely. I don't think you understand how important this game is.

I don't either.

There are games that I also really like, so I think I understand the drive, but I won't put myself into debt for entertainment. I'd rather wait a year or two for prices to fall.

I have not played an FPS for over a decade, and am considering buying a PC for this.

Anecdotal, but I'm in my thirties and the first thing I did after watching the trailer was pre-ordering the Valve Index at where I live (Japan).


you can easily get under $1000 if you stick to base specs and get a Rift S.

I understand what you're saying and I can see why you'd think that, but it's helpful for me to think of Half Life like the videogame equivalent of Star Wars. Not being alive during the release of the first films doesn't preclude one from entering at any point and enjoying the continuation of the story. Even if they haven't played it, kids today know of Half Life as a first person shooter that changed how we play first person shooters, so they're a warm lead for the sequel/prequel.

Star Wars was never a thing outside of America. Even today, fans in China, who otherwise love their CGI heavy sci-fi, don't care much for Star Wars.

You really have to have been either a firsthand or secondhand part of that culture to appreciate Star Wars and similar IPs. Even if you didn't watch it when it was released, you probably heard everyone from your dad to SNL discuss it.

If that wasn't your experience growing up, I doubt you'll care much for it as an adult now

lol what? Never a thing outside America? What an absurd thing to say

It was never a thing in India or China. That's about 40% of the world's population. Fair to say that it wasn't a massive thing outside America.

Compare the overseas gross of the recent Star Wars releases against a globally popular franchise like the MCU or Fast and the Furious. Despite the massive press and marketing push, Episode VIII was outgrossed by Fate of the Furious internationally by nearly $300M. Endgame outgrossed Episode VIII internationally by $1.2B.

If a crappy Vin Diesel starring franchise that's barely two decades old can outsell a cultural touchstone like Star Wars, it's not wrong to say that Star Wars isn't a big thing outside America

Star Wars is definitely a thing outside of America (at least in Hungary)

Half Life is still absolutely legendary for Gen Z, mostly because of the meme status. Also the fact that it's so inexpensive to pick up on Steam Sales means most Steam users I know have given it a shot or know the gist of the game.

> Just seems like a small target of players who are old enough to fondly remember the original

Why oh why would you need to play prequels to enjoy a game?

Half-Life is a series where you have guns and you kill shit in an inherently interesting setting: earth invasion. Getting dropped in medias res without knowing 100% of what is going on is just an ancient trope of story-telling.

Look how much people enjoy the latest Doom game. You don't need to have played the original to grasp the idea of demons pouring into earth through some sort of interdimensional gate. You aim and you shoot them.

I agree that its probably not going to impact the experience much if you haven't played the previous games, but your comparison to Doom makes no sense.

The original Doom games intentionally had almost no story. The new Doom was a complete reboot so even if the old ones had a story it wouldn't matter at all. HL:Alyx is a continuation of the story that falls between 1 and 2.

Agreed. These games are designed so you can start with any of them and still have a good time and be able to follow the story, just like any major movie action movie series. Sure, you might not follow quite everything if you haven't played/seen what came before, but you'll follow enough so it really won't be a problem.

Getting dropped in medias res without knowing 100% of what is going on is just an ancient trope of story-telling.

It's certainly a trope. But is it ancient? I'm trying to think of ancient examples of this but I can't. Are you sure it's not a modern trope?

I think Homer's Odyssey is ancient enough.

Doesn't really count when it's a sequel.

This is actually a prequel to those.

> This has got to be the most narrowly targeted game ever.

I'll have you know that this honor goes to the point-and-click adventure game / noir detective story that licensed the "Fables" comic book series, "The Wolf Among Us." It was great, and I may be the only point and click adventure game enthusiast who was also a fan of "Fables."

But seriously, I think that the low spread of VR is the whole point. Valve wants people to buy VR headsets. How do you convince them to do that? Create content that people want that needs a VR headset.

The Orange Box came out and was a big hit when I was still a kid, now in my 20s I certainly remember the series fondly. Not that I have a lot of spare time either.

> Just seems like a small target of players who are old enough to fondly remember the original + still have time to play long form games + still have gaming equipment + have VR/are willing to buy VR.

Are they making playing the previous games a requirement? Games can stand on their own, even if they are best enjoyed when you already have some emotional investment.

No idea, but my guess would be the previous games are a requirement, or at least HL2. The Half-Life series is "story heavy" single player. These are characters we know.

Story heavy?

You need about one sentence to set up the world. Here, the website even does it for us: „Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli mount an early resistance to the Combine’s brutal occupation of Earth.“

I would tack on “aliens” to describe the Combine and then I’m done. Half Life is not exactly complex or subtle in its storytelling. Heck, the main character in the other games never says a word …

Sure, people won’t get all references, but since this is a HL2 prequel (so between 1 and 2) and happens in a completely different part of the world HL1 happens in there isn’t much you have to know.

If this were HL3 proper then you would have more of an argument, but this seems to just play in that alien-oppressed world and that’s just very simple.

I don’t think you have to know anything at all about the Half Life story to understand this game and I think that’s on purpose.

> Half Life is not exactly complex or subtle in its storytelling

Agreed, but I wasn't arguing it was. It's neither complex nor subtle. It is "story heavy" or rather story-driven, or rather "cinematic". This is a game where the story propels the gameplay. Not saying it's particularly good fiction, just that the fiction matters in the game. Notice how much of what I'm saying applies to Star Wars too, where -- also -- skipping a movie can be done but is not recommended ;)

I think you are massively overestimating the importance of the story of Half Life.

World building (to create tension and a creepy atmosphere) are much more important and also compact things, much more easily transportable and play a much larger role.

Since there will be hardly any plot-connections you are just not missing much …

As was, for example, Baldur's Gate II. And yet you could enjoy it without playing the first. You'd miss all the references though.

They could just as easily take a similar route. And they should, because it's on a different medium.

I suppose, and you may be right. But I meant that the Half-Life series is a very cinematic (among the first games to embrace this, if I recall correctly), right from the intro. Playing just HL: Alyx would be like watching Return of the Jedi while skipping A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back -- I mean, you definitely can and still enjoy the movie, but you're missing something important.

This is a prequel so it should stand on its own just as well.

Isn't the original required when watching/reading/playing prequels?

I mean, I know people who watched the Phantom Menace without having watched the Original Trilogy, but they lost the significance of who was that little boy or why he mattered...

The Oculus Quest I bought a few months ago is amazing. It's definitely not going to play this, even if it could support it (it can't on the hardware it comes with), but that's not to say in a year or two maybe there will be a relatively cheap system that can. At $400-$500 the Quest is more along the lines of a new high-end dedicated console, but it also offers an experience at that price point which I don't think can be matched. If Valve can make a Steambox that's a VR headset like the Oculus, that would be huge.

All I can say is that if you haven't tried some of the more unique VR games like Superhot, it's hard to express how amazing this game has the potential to be.

Facebook is going to release Oculus link soon so that you can connect your Oculus Quest to a PC like a normal rift. I think that might be able to play this.

edit: it looks like it's actually already out

You can connect your Quest to a compatible PC and play this.

You can play it using Virtual Desktop's Steam VR mode (sideloaded) or running it on your computer and streaming to the Quest using the new Link mode, running on your desktop PC, or suitably equipped laptop.

Yeah, but one of the reasons I was excited about the Quest is because my PC isn't going to support any VR game well. It may become very useful if I eventually upgrade in the future though (but my home workstation is a docked laptop, so that's a large investment to replace since I can't selectively replace just some components).

The Quest can play this - Oculus Link, ALVR, Virtual Desktop, etc.

No, the Quest plus a PC capable of playing the game can play this. Given that regular Quest use requires no external computer, that's an entirely different proposition.

What I meant is that I doubt the game will ever make it to the Quest store, and even if it did the current quest hardware has no chance of performing adequately.

But a couple years from now? An all-in-one headset might be able to. It still probably wouldn't be an Oculus one though, as I doubt Valve will put it on a competing store.

I'm also a Gen X and would buy a VR set just to play this game.

Same. I'm 40 and if the reviews are good I will get a VR headset just to play this.

I don't think the demographic is that narrow, there are plenty of people who have only been into gaming for a few years or just started that have played through Half Life. I remember when the orange box came out in middle/high school and every one was talking about it, those same people are just a few years out of university with the money and interest to try a VR release.

Hey old man (I'm 40 so for those 2 extra years I can call you that ;)).

I have a very similar situation, with a 10, 8, 5 and 0 year old (yeah I'm a bit more crazy than you). Difference is that I actually do have a bit of spare time.

I also fondly remember all the half-life games, as memory permits of course.

For me this is a different story: The whole VR experience passed me by a bit, until now. By seeing this, my hands are itching to pull out my wallet and pay a crazy amount of money for this toy. The benefit of 40 year olds is that they probably can cough up the money for all this VR stuff.

I'm not sure yet, but there is definitely a strong itch now that I see this.

A new HL game probably also means some cool multiplayer games are coming up. I'm not only thinking about Counter Strike, but also Team Fortress.

You think a new Half-Life game, something which has been demanding for years by hoards of people on the internet, is narrowly targeted?

I agree with the parent. The VR aspect really narrows the market to someone who has a powerful PC and wants to spend at least another $400 for a VR headset. As far as I can tell, all the VR headsets are proprietary, and games must be written to support them... for some reason. Which is a huge turn off. I don't want to buy a VR headset, then find out the next badass VR game only works with some other headset...

Steam supports all major PC VR HMDs, including Oculus Quest shortly with a remote link cable. There are some games that are only available on the Oculus store (mostly those funded or developed by Oculus) but the majority of PC VR content is on Steam.

And many of the Oculus Store exclusives will run in SteamVR via Revive: https://github.com/LibreVR/Revive

What if the game could be played by two people together in co-op mode? If so, we could play with our kids, and it becomes more than just a way to have fun ourselves, but an avenue for family bonding (at least that's how I'd sell it to my wife).

That's a really clever idea, and fits the setting perfectly. You can be Eli, your kid(s) can be Alyx :)

You should play Portal 2 co-op, if you have not. It has split-screen so you can play on one PC.

I completely agree with all your points. Plus, the voice actors are different and I think the HL2 writer has moved on to other projects.

"Play on any SteamVR system. If you have VR hardware that works with a computer, then it works with SteamVR."

Bravo Valve. This is why anyone interested in this should get a Vive and stay well clear of Oculus/Facebook's headsets. They are busy trying to capture the VR market by setting up exclusivity arrangements with studios to lock games to their platform to cut others out which just divides up the already small market.

Value have built a cross platform framework and SDK and are releasing their games for all headsets.

Or get an Oculus made device and play all Their content in addition of all SteamVR content. Valves platform is Steam (a monopoly game marketplace where they get 30% of every sale.) Oculus exclusives are financed by Oculus. Without it those games would not exist.

Although I suspect they have carefully made it so that the game has quite a few mechanics that would benefit greatly from the finger-tracking mechanics available only on the.... Valve Index. To be clear, your point is absolutely correct, but I'd be shellshocked if the experience isn't geared heavily to take the most advantage out of their own headset.

Yeah, sure. But I'm all in favour of that. I want to see systems compete on their comparative merits. That hopefully drives innovation. I just dislike the way Oculus are preferring to compete by locking up the market with exclusives. It only hurts gamers by reducing choice.

I thought Oculus touch did support finger tracking. Wikipedia describes it as a "system for detecting finger gestures which perhaps is different. I've only ever used a Vive, so I'm not sure.

Sure, but if Oculus came out with a finger-tracking controller, there's no doubt it would be supported given SteamVR's track record.

Valve has picked a market to focus on (PC VR) at the cost of foregoing the much larger audience of standalone VR customers. You can’t blame these customers for not buying the Index since it doesn’t meet their needs. If Valve made their own standalone headset at a similar price point, I think people would be all over it.

Vive is 2015 :). Buy an Index and get the game for free.

Yes. Sorry. Absolutely correct :-) For some reason I had in my head the new one was called a Vive Index, but it's not, it's a Valve Index.

You're off by a year. Vive was released in 2016.

I see that Windows MR is supported, but I wonder how well my Dell Visor (which is awesome btw) is going to work with this game -- it doesn't support individual finger tracking, just general hand-location. Will that ruin a lot of the immersiveness?

One of the links off the page talks about how it adapts based on your systems capabilities. It supports both the finger tracking controllers as well as the older trigger controllers.

To be clear I don't think finger tracking is supported on anything but the "knuckles" controller.

I think a fascinating part of Alyx is Valve choosing a female protagonist.

85%+ of VR users are male, compared to say 70/30 male/female balance of say Fornite. (1/2)

Any way you carve it the audience for Alyx is going to weight heavily male.

And research suggests that gender-swapping in VR is a profound psychological experience:


(1) https://www.rakutenintelligence.com/blog/2016/virtual-realit...

(2) https://www.statista.com/statistics/865625/fortnite-players-...

(3) https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8260949

Eh, I don't think it's as big of a deal as you're suggesting. Alyx is pretty much the only choice if they wanted to use a pre-existing character as an action protagonist set between HL1 & 2. And from the trailer, it looks like the only "gendered" thing about the player's avatar is the voiceover. That's not a "body swap illusion" like the paper is talking about. In principal, I don't see it having any more deep psychological effect than, say, Perfect Dark.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_Dark

> Alyx is pretty much the only choice if they wanted to use a pre-existing character as an action protagonist set between HL1 & 2.

Before I say this, note I'm looking forward to playing as Alyx, and don't expect gender to make much of a difference in a game/story like this.

But as far as not having options, I disagree. Barney was already a playable character in Blue Shift, he's shown to be relevant to the plot in HL2. Not only that but he's undercover at least some of the time, opening up gameplay avenues that Alyx wouldn't have available. Not that I'm suggesting that HL in VR needs a Papers Please style minigame or anything...

Adrian Shephard's still lying around tho :^)

I guess gearbox owns the character??

> I think a fascinating part of Alyx is Valve choosing a female protagonist.

There has been other games with a female protagonist, but the backlash was so bad against them that they were completely forgotten. I know it's obscure, but you can look it up, there's those two games called "Portal" and "Portal 2", and the two main characters are female. You've probably never heard of them because of all the misogyny.

... or something.

To be honest I'm surprised that there wasn't any backlash. I find the weight and attractiveness jokes that GLaDOS throws at the player absolutely hilarious. But that can be a touchy subject, especially with Chell as the protagonist instead of, say, Gordon Freeman.

There was no backlash because nobody whatsoever has a problem with a female protagonist.

What some people have a problem is recasting an iconic character as a woman for the sake of "diversity," or any form of forced diversity for that matter.

I ask this earnestly: Did you read past the first sentence in my previous post?

I wasn't suggesting that there would be backlash with a female protagonist. I was suggesting there could have been backlash to the way that protagonist was treated, due to her gender.

Sorry, I didn't understand because what you meant seems so strange. I can't believe anyone without a major psychotic breakdown would take personally what an obvious recording says about a virtual character you're just happening to be controlling.

It's a pattern with Valve. Remember Chell?


True, but Chell had no speaking lines (not hating on Valve, Gordon Freeman/basically all their 1st person protagonists are mute). We've seen Alyx as a developed character who's gone through some trauma (not spoiling here) so I'd argue this is a bit more exciting.

It’s not new tho, Chelle in portal was a female protagonist, and that game has been VR’d to hell and back.

I think Alyx makes sense as a protagonist given how prominent of a character she was in HL2, regardless of gender.

> that game has been VR’d to hell and back.

What do you mean by this? As far as I can see there is no actual VR port of Portal. You can play it through something like VorpX, which gets you 3D display through a headset, but that can hardly be called "VR'd to hell and back".

Yeah, maybe “to hell and back” was strong, but it was used as the setting for “The Lab”, one of Valve’s first VR demos, and there’s a mod called “Portal Stories VR” which is one of the most developed and popular VR mods currently.

From a business perspective it makes total sense. I saw a GDC talk where they laid out the statistics:

- Most men don't mind playing a female character (think Lara Croft).

- Most women prefer to play a female character.

So the real question is why there aren't more game studios using female protagonists.

There are plenty of games with female protagonists though, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Mirror's Edge, Portal, Last of Us 2 (just to name a few).

> I think a fascinating part of Alyx is Valve choosing a female protagonist.

It's in a lot of good company in that respect:


I doubt that VR is more than incremental in terms of creating an illusion of gender.

Another interesting thing is that this is going to be the first valve game where the protagonist actually talks.

It's an interesting choice by Valve. They're basically making a bunch of white men play as a black woman. In practice I agree with the other response that it's not a big deal. Most VR experiences either race or gender swap me (I'm a black male) or turn me into an abstract form or a robot. It can be disorienting at first but you get used to it.

Gordon was famously mute and his hands and forearms were hidden. This allowed anyone to easily immerse themselves. (Same for Portal.)

Unlike a third person game where you're controlling a character, I could see how having a different voice and hands in VR would be odd. I bet Valve realized that a mute protagonist no longer works in a story-driven environment.

I remember reading various making of stories regarding the half-life world back when it was still relatively new, and even then the designers spent a lot of time talking about how difficult it was having a mute, non-interactive protagonist. What they pulled off is excellent considering the state of gaming at the time, but I think you're right in that it just wouldn't fly today.

South Park did a really good job with a mute character in both of their recent games. It became almost a running joke in how the conversations would flow and the silence was taken as support for whatever the speaking person wanted it to mean, highlighting narcissism or teasing societal expectations.

From what I've seen in VR platforms that support custom avatars (even in modded Beat Saber), the userbase may be male but most of them want to be in female bodies...

How is this different than a gender swap in a non-vr game?

I'll have to join vr chat as a girl tonight and see how things go.

That said I normally play star citizen w/ a female avatar, and other than thinking "the person I'm talking to might think I'm a girl" my mindset doesn't change much...

I think the disappointing part is there is so little choice in the avatar you can play in these games. I would like something with how bioware approached SWTOR, the dialog changes, voice actor swap included, to match the gender of the character and from there it is just as easy to adapt skin colors and features. Even better, her name is about as neutral as you can ask for!

Maybe looking down and seeing big breasts (assuming that's the case with Alyx) triggers something uncomfortable in a male's brain. Maybe we can feel like what it is to be trans and feel that your body "isn't right" for you.

> (assuming that's the case with Alyx)

Uhh. Nope:



The character isn't 90s Lara Croft.

Thanks. The art looks awesome, btw

They're from Half-Life 2 btw.

I've sort of experienced that in star citizen... sort of.

You can look down and see them, but they're not egregiously large.

Though one of the funniest bugs (feature?) will only happen if you play with a female avatar: if you lay down in a bed, and then open up your mobiglass (in-game arm-tablet-thing) the UI lands about halfway through your breasts. It's like your character places their arm on their stomach, and the UI is projected forwards towards their face.

If I remember to I can take a screen cap of when it happened to me the other day on stream.

Female protagonists in game is the new fad. It has nothing to do with the gender ratio of the players playing the game.

I doubt Valve decided on the protagonist recently. This has to have been years in the making

I can see that happening but consider this; the closest "character" they have to "player character" with a voice is Alyx.

As sibling posts are pointing out, that's not new for Valve at all. They have been doing this for decades at this point.

Lara Croft would like a word.

Or Samus, if you want to go back even further.

Not sure i understand the TLDR of the IEE study.. what does stereotype lift and induced stereotype threat even mean?

>stereotype threatening situations have been linked to the inability to recruit and retain women into these fields

Come on, we know the inability to recruit and retain women in these fields is down to a culture that simply does not value the contributions of women in STEM as highly as their contributions in other 'industries'.

Looks like this game's focus is going to be on the player, rather than the game world itself.

Where HL1/2 were focused on making the objects, enemies, and places you interacted with feel like real life. HL:A will be focused on the character you control, giving you complete autonomy with finger capture and motion control.

Valve is pushing forward gaming with Half Life once again

Given the accuracy (or lack of it) of individual finger movements on the Valve Index controller, it's not going to be anything more than a gimmick. The tech looks impressive in a demo, but our hands are used to manipulating things with a much finer touch than the Index controller allows so it doesn't translate very well to games.

it's not going to be anything more than a gimmick.

Not sure if I share this sentiment, I read elsewhere Valve is treating this as their next "flagship" release, a true first class VR game (hopefully not just some 30 minute "experience" that ends right as it's getting good). It this were literally any other game studio I'd have an eyebrow raised right now, but when Valve puts their full muscle and creative energy behind something as a flagship, lead-off hitter, they've yet to disappoint.

> When Valve puts their full muscle and creative energy behind something as a flagship, lead-off hitter, they've yet to disappoint.

Genuine question: when would you say is the last time they did that? I don't really think of Dota 2 or CS:GO or whatever to be "flagships." I'd have to go back to, Portal 2, I guess, but I'm not sure even that I would call a "flagship," just a really good game. Certainly the Orange Box as a whole... but that was 12 years ago. Even Portal 2 is 8 years ago.

Seriously curious, how is CS:GO not a flagship? It’s core to the esports scene, and is always one of the most played games on steam.

A great deal of CS:GO (minus the Source engine) was developed by another studio with, admittedly, a lot of collaboration and investment from Valve, so in this case when I think "flagship" for a game studio it's referring to a game built by employees and developers of the studio as a first-party.

At least, in my initial comment, that's the intention I had in mind.

Yeah..My submission to that inquiry would be Portal 2 as well frankly

They described Artifact as "the Half-Life 2 of card games", and it was supposed to set the standard for digital card games, but it ended up being an embarrasing disaster of a game.

Have you used the Valve Index controllers? Because I own a full Valve Index kit, and while the headset is great the controllers do not remotely live up to the hype. The entire finger tracking technology is not accurate enough to give the kind of control people expect with their fingers. They would literally have been better off with an analog button for each finger.

I can't help but disagree here. Hand movements and interactions with the world of VR today are like having cinderblocks for hands. The nuanced control that this is going give will be huge IMO

I agree that fine motor control would be awesome, but the Valve Index controllers do not measure finger movement with the degree of control that would keep it from frustrating the hell out of people.

The tracking is basically "finger open or closed" and even then it's not terribly accurate. It frequently won't pick up fingers next to each other correctly -- if I point at something with my index finger, it picks out the middle finger as extending as well (even if it didn't). The way they track the thumb movement in particular does not feel remotely natural; it feels like you have to press an awkwardly-placed "close thumb" button rather than just making a fist.

The Valve Index's finger tracking is a gimmick in its current implementation. I really don't think we'll be able to get accurate motor control without a glove.

A cool idea that I'd never ever ever try. Half Life 1 on low res was scary enough.

In all seriousness though – is there any studies done on potential PTSD-like effects that arise from this sort of VR game?

This is the kind of the inverse, but apparently they are treating Veterans with PTSD with VR: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/innovation/how-virtual-reality-...

BraveMind is a heck of a system for sure. The 'guided' part of it really is a step forward.

Over at Children's Colorado and they are also trying out VR for pediatric pain management. It seems to be effective thus far.

VR's killer app may well be Alyx, but there are a lot of potential uses that are out there that can really help out.

At first I got really excited, but the thought of walking through Ravenholm in VR made me uncomfortable and increased my heart rate. I'm a big wuss, so I don't think I'd handle scary games in VR. The headcrab jumping towards the camera in the trailer was bad enough.

I'm also not a fan of things jumping out at you but I think it's going to be like food that's too spicy but you keep eating anyway. The adrenaline of the time critical puzzles and gunfights should make up for the scary bits.

I play mostly FPS games in VR. To be honest stabbing a dude was a pretty jarring experience the first time I did it in VR. I also remember hitting the ground pretty hard the first time I heard rounds whizzing over my head. But that kind of adreneline pumping experience goes away really quickly. Once it's normalized your body stops having a reaction to it.

As a counter anecdote, I had no such reaction. It felt no more "real" than a game played with my mouse and keyboard.

The only time I hit the ground was when I tried to go into a crouch and had the floor height misconfigured. That left a mark.

Actually VR games and simulations reduce the likelihood of developing PTSD.

Specialized programs utilizing VR can reduce the severity of PTSD, that does not mean all VR games reduce the chance of developing.

Especially as compared to a non VR game, which would probably have far less chance of developing

Compared to what?

War obviously.

Kidding aside, it does seem like VR probably has value as a kind of exposure therapy..

Or to put it another way it desensitizes people to violence.

It can. And if you're the victim of violence, that may be desirable.

Likewise, if you have a fear of spiders bad enough that it interferes with your quality of life, you likely want to be desensitized to spiders.

VR therapy for fear of spiders made the news [1] a few years ago, so it's quite possible there's been more (professional?) progress in the field.

[1] https://money.cnn.com/2016/10/16/technology/fearless-vr-spid...

I wonder how far that could go. If you had people play as spiders could you get people to actually sympathize with spiders?

If it were part of a designed and controlled therapeutic program maybe.

But a regular and 'by design' aspect of a game, presumably online?

Dunno if I, as an arachnophobe who plays plenty of games online-trust griefers not to ....well grief with that kind of power, heh.

Well, I was thinking something like a single-player game where you are the spider and, through the course of whatever the gameplay entails, you struggle as a spider to stay alive. This could perhaps build empathy for spiders and cause people to think twice before casually killing one. So beyond conquering arachnophobia, what if we can give people a positive affinity towards spiders?

A multi-player spider game sounds potentially terrifying.

I read a while ago in an article from the APA that soldiers who completed VR simulations of trauma were better able to handle stressful situations.

Real headcrabs, probably


[The efficacy of virtual reality exposure therapy for PTSD symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S01650...)

I see no mention of VR Games. I am fairly certain the ` well-controlled sensory stimuli` does not cover the latest shooter from the video game industry.

I would agree that VR can help with PTSD, but only in the same way as drugs can help with disease. Doesn't mean to say that drugs don't also cause huge problems.

The devil, as always, is in the details and life is not simple.

You can't develop PTSD from VR because VR isn't real. Even if you get scared it's not the same kind of fear as being in a situation where you can actually get hurt, or die, or you actually kill another human being.

>You can't develop PTSD from VR because VR isn't real. Even if you get scared it's not the same kind of fear as being in a situation where you can actually get hurt, or die, or you actually kill another human being.

Weird, this study shows the exact opposite with regards to regular video games.


Conclusion from above study:

>Accumulating evidence led to a clear consensus that a high frequency of exposure to violent video games significantly alters important interpersonal behaviors in negative ways (Bender et al., 2018). Atypical disadvantageous defensive reactions and higher vulnerability to PTSD symptoms, revealed in the present study, add to other shortcomings for the heavy players themselves.

I would assume the same in VR, if not more significant as it is more immersive than regular video games.

I do not have a study for VR video games however as I do not know of any that have been done off the top of my head.

I would like to add, I by no means want to make light of the impact PTSD due to real life trauma. I personally know a few people who suffer from being in active combat and would never wish that upon anyone.

I personally feel that PTSD developed due to real life trauma will always be far more severe than any sort of PTSD developed through video games or other virtual means.

That's a very deceptive study. The actual results were: non-players froze when faced with a gun while players reacted more actively (increased body sway):

From the discussion:

> Non-players exhibited an immobility-like reaction.

> Heavy players behaved as if “jumping the gun”, increasing mobilization, instead of immobilizing and waiting for the best chance to get rid from danger.

> Indeed, “... the simple sight of a weapon increases the likelihood of aggression if the person has mentally paired a weapon such as a gun with killing or hurting people...” [Anderson and Warburton (2012), p. 72].

> This is the case for heavy players of violent video games who are frequently exposed to weapon use for the purpose of killing and hurting others.

The authors are trying to say video games provoked more violent reactions. Well, to me it sounds like video games have educational value: players immediately recognized the danger represented by the weapon and reacted more aggressively. Did the non-players freeze because they did not know how to react to the danger?

Their arguments don't seem to be specific to video games. It seems to be about exposure to weapons in general. It's not clear what this result means. Games trained players to respond differently but is that good or bad? Does this mean players are less likely to survive violent encounters? Does this mean players will defend themselves more effectively? How do people who went through real firearms training respond in the same conditions? I don't know.

The PTSD stuff is also deceptive:

> Scores on the PCL-C hyperarousal cluster were also significantly higher for heavy players (Z = -2.08, p = 0.04).

That's the only significant difference. Emotional numbing, avoidance and recollections were not present. Hyperarousal includes symptoms like imsomnia, irritability, anxiety... The potential for confusion here is significant.

There's no way this particular study establishes any causal relationships.

Unless you're a pilot, try using good a VR airplane simulator for a while (DCS World for example), getting a feel for the airplane and then push it until you crash into the ground. The moment you loose control and start falling towards the ground, you start panicking, even though you know it's a game.

While not PTSD, I can totally imagine you can find ways of using VR to cause PTSD or similar. Like forcing someone to have a VR headset on with disturbing experiences for a long time and the person would surely eventually go insane.

X-Plane also works with VR (and arguably better, as with VR enabled aircraft you can actually use the controllers to pilot).

VR definitely triggers more areas in the brain than just a monitor as I can empathize very well with the feeling you describe. Supposedly fans modified Alien: Isolation to work with VR. THERE'S NO WAY I'M TOUCHING THAT. Subnautica VR is "bad" enough :)

After trying both X-Plane and DCS: World (and a couple of others, waiting for to see if Microsoft's Flight Simulator manages to include VR or not as well), X-Plane's VR is definitely good but DCS: World is way better. It seems to operate way smoother. I'm more of a fan of using joysticks instead of the VR controllers as well.

Sure X-Plane "supports" VR but it's so badly implemented that you don't get any immersion at all. The brain is not tricked when it's running at 30 to 45 fps.

The controllers are pretty much useless. Your hand shakes a little and suddenly the yoke is at 90 degrees deflection because there is no resistance.

Don't even need VR to feel that. I distinctly remember playing Tribes or Tribes 2 and using the jetpack until the juice ran out; free falling from a large height gave me butterfies in my stomach, if that's the correct phrase for it.

But does your body and the non-rational parts of your brain know that it is not real?

The short answer is yes, I replied to the other comment with several citations.

> Of course, if virtual reality is real enough to treat the disorder, could it still cause it? Rizzo doesn't think so. "I think that somebody would have to be psychologically compromised to begin with to mistake the events that go on in the virtual world for real events," he explains.

Rizzo thinks you can't because it doesn't seem real, not because there's no actual danger. Make it seem real enough, and their point doesn't stand anymore.

[citation needed]

The Engadget article just says "probably not" and doesn't provide any sources.

The Popsci article says there are no studies pointing one way or the other.

The CNN article only talks about PTSD in a quote from Google's Daydream View saying it can cause it.

The Quora answers are interesting, but still hardly support that strong claim, they're at most an educated guess.

It looks interesting at least, It's hard to tell how gimmicky it will be though. I've felt like a lot of VR experiences I have had felt gimmicky. Some of my best VR experiences have been more in line with games like beat saber rather than story driven games. I'm also the type of person that pretty much exclusively plays story driven games so I want to like those experiences in VR but they just feel kind of off to me and not relaxing.

Have you tried elite:dangerous?

Reminded me of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa0b2Kd2xhU

Comical and also accurate.

Haha, yes, pretty much.

Although I found for trading/freight play (ie: not pvp combat) the dynamic hud (hud/menus light up based on where you look) worked very well with a gamepad.

Retracting gear becomes: look down to the right, select option from menu. Etc.

It's been a dream of mine to play Elite Dangerous with a VR head set, a HOTAS, and voice commands set up

HOTAS really adds to the immersion, as the game animates controller actions like throttle change - so even though you see your rendered avatar, the "hands" match your own.

Try Echo VR.

I'm not pleased that Valve has shifted its focus from developing great games to being a digital platform rent-extractor that tinkers with VR and disinterestedly ships occasional updates to Dota and CS:GO, but I'm optimistic this might be good, even if it's only out of motivated self-interest to drum up the VR hype again.

What I mean is, I get the sense Valve is unhappy that VR hasn't had its system-selling killer app yet, and I wonder if Alyx is trying to be that. If so, I'm reasonably hopeful they'll push hard to make this a genuinely good game that shows VR's full potential, rather than a disposable gimmick.

> I'm not pleased that Valve has shifted its focus from developing great games to being a digital platform rent-extractor

I actually kinda am. Because they created a really great platform that has helped the market thrive even for tiny nobody indie devs. They've set a seriously high bar for digital store fronts and distribution services. I think I've got a lot more enjoyment from the games Steam has enabled to exist and find an audience than I have from any game Valve itself produced.

Hell, they even made Linux gaming a significantly less laughable concept than it once was.

+1 to steam for how easy it is to enable mods via steam. modding can be a little daunting to your average user but steam enables communication about a mod (via the comment section which is really helpful for communicating with mod owner), quick and easy installation and uninstallation (underrated feature esp for non tech users), and discovery via the workshop

> They've set a seriously high bar for digital store fronts

I agree with your general point, but no. No they have not. The Steam client is terrible. Unresponsive, un-intuitive, and surprisingly bad for searching in as well.

> The Steam client is terrible. Unresponsive, un-intuitive, and surprisingly bad for searching in as well.

I can only agree with the last one. It works fine for, you know, downloading and playing games. It rarely ever has issues.

The store could use some work, but it does a better job than, say, Apple App Store – the discovery queue has shown me titles I would have never seen before, as did the curators.

Have you tried the competition?

Steam's only real purpose is as a store right? I can open an executable pretty well most of the time. And Steam makes enough money through said store that I think they need to be held to the standards of Amazon, rather than their contemporaries.

Store, purchase tracker, platform identification system, and analytics engine to push data on game performance and hardware configuration back to the Steam service itself as a mass aggregator so they can keep their finger on the "pulse" of real PC deployments and thereby come quite close to solving the problem that was once the bane of the entire industry ("Game doesn't work on my PC because drivers").

I think people tend to overlook how valuable Steam has been as a clearinghouse to aggregate that last piece of data.

Some of those things are true, but their competition isn't generally better and who else provides the same level of community features and discovery tooling? The new Steam Labs stuff is actually a pretty big improvement over traditional systems.

I agree. I have no idea why so many people praise steam endlessly. The last two games I tried to play through the app were unfixably buggy at times. These games were Portal and Doom2016. Boooooo.

Steam is a shop, it has little to do with the quality of the games sold there.

Yeah, I can't bring my self to spend the 400-1000 dollars required for adding vr to my already too expensive pc until something happens that convinces me it isn't a gimmick. We will see, but hopefully? this will be the first full, AAA vr game experience. The trailer sure as hell looks pretty good.

Call me salty but I am not sure I am super interested in half life 1.5 while half life 2 episode 2 has ended on a cliffhanger more than ten years ago.

I am still curious to see how they will handle the character of Alyx, she was little more than an admiration delivery device in half life 2. They will have to do a lot more now that she is the center of the game.

> little more than an admiration delivery device

Actually if anything she was the primary driver of the plot. Freeman, being a passive mute, follows what Alyx and co are doing for the majority of the plot(s).

What does she like ?

Why does she fall in love with the mute player character at first sight ? Don't she already have relationships ?

What exactly does she find attractive in that mute guy that appears and disappear ?

She is here to as a reward/carrot for teenage boys, not as a full fledged character with her own wants and needs :/

> Why does she fall in love with the mute player character at first sight ? Don't she already have relationships ?

To be fair, it's heavily implied that Gordon Freeman is literally legendary among the resistance by that point. It's not a stretch that she'd at least be a bit star-struck.

But yeah, I'm always disappointed when I see Alyx near the top of "strong female character" rankings. Sure, she clears the bar for "character", which is better than ~95% of portrayals of women in video games, but that's not saying much.

>I see Alyx near the top of "strong female character" rankings

That might be what makes me uncomfortable. badly written game characters are legion but this one that is often quoted as an example of great female character to replicate.

Sure she is dressed realistically and does not have enormous breasts, and that puts her apart most of her counterparts of the time but strong character ? really ?

to be fair, I haven't actually played the game in a while, but I think you are reading a lot into alyx that isn't really there. I don't remember having the impression that alyx was in love with Gordon or really picking up on any sexual tension at all.

It must have been a while :-) , because it was there.

one quote I do remember is her dad telling Gordon and Alyx to start working on giving him grandchildren now that the neuteuring field is off.

here are 2 articles with more details on Alyx in case you are curious.



(tbh I only skimmed them right now .. and I unhearthed them with the totally biased "alyx bad character" web search, although I remember reading the second link when it came out)

I read the first article you linked. I guess I was really oblivious as a teenager; I just thought of alyx as a more convincing friend than most video game sidekicks. as an aside, I don't think all the screenshots with 3rd party alyx models were necessary to make the point.

Some of this might depend on expectations. Perhaps she was a surprisingly well-drawn character by the standards of FPS NPCs, without breaking the mould completely -- like any comparable character, she was player-focused and very two-dimensional compared with any major character in a decent book.

We had dramatically different experiences with HL2 if that's your opinion of Alyx. That's even more true if you're including Episodes 1 & 2 into that.

She was smart, funny, capable and likeable. The first game I played with a companion AI that didn't suck.

The eps made me genuinely care about her, as much as one can for a fictional character.

The fucking ending of Ep 2 haunts me to this day.

"Close your eyes, honey"

I don't know why they didn't do this years ago after Half-Life 2 first came out. I remember thinking for sure that just like with Half-Life they released Opposing Force and Blue Shift (which were both, admittedly, not planned for when the original HL was released) they would be releasing expansions with Alyx and Barney.

I came to terms with the story a few years back via https://www.polygon.com/2017/8/25/16202006/half-life-2-episo...

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