Here's a full walkthrough for those living under a rock when it came out:*)
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? :(
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!
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 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).
Can someone please shed some light on whether this is true and why that would be?
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.
Changing the fov helps.
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.
> "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." 
They do have that feature coming with it? Or am I confused on what you are referring to?
 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.
But even Blizz couldn't reliably make maps using their internal tools that kept Reaper where he was supposed to be.
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.
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
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.
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 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?
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 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.
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
(The price of the Index definitely doesn't make it mainstream though. Just trying to get a sense of this issue)
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.
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.
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.
Valve bought the developers and got them to create Team Fortress Classic the goldsrc engine (which started out as the Quake engine).
And let's not forget Garry's Mod either. VR physics sandbox in the HL:Alyx engine? That's going places.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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 ;)
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 …
They could just as easily take a similar route. And they should, because it's on a different medium.
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...
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.
edit: it looks like it's actually already out
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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...
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.
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 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.
I think Alyx makes sense as a protagonist given how prominent of a character she was in HL2, regardless of gender.
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".
- 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.
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.
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'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...
The character isn't 90s Lara Croft.
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.
Or Samus, if you want to go back even further.
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'.
On a side note, I always thought VR could be a great way to test drive a new gender/body. The surgery is serious business especially if you are young. It would be cool if there a walking simulator type thing that let you customize your gender and looks and walk around. Might help some people decide if it’s for them without having to do something that’s expensive and irreversible.
Honestly, I never thought about using VR for this purpose before. I'm slightly excited to give it a try and see how my brain enjoys/dislikes the effect.
I think trans people are overgeneralizing from their own psyches. They feel like they are in the wrong body, and they assume that everyone else would feel the same if they were body-swapped into the opposite sex. But as far as I can tell, only a tiny fraction of people experience this. Gender dysphoria seems to be about as common as aphantasia or synesthesia.
Personally, I don't think of my body as part of my identity. It's a machine that I ride around in. If I woke up in the body of a woman, I'd be really annoyed but I doubt I'd go through years of hormones and surgery to be perceived as a man again. It would be easier to learn how to use the new body than to try to make it closer to what I'm used to.
Another piece of the puzzle: Pretty much every trans person I've talked to who has used VR has enjoyed choosing an avatar of the opposite sex. Afterwards when they're back in the real world, they tend to miss it.
This maps to my model of reality that says that the vast majority of people cannot experience gender dysphoria. They prefer their current sex mostly out of habit. Other people such as Scott Alexander and Ozy have said the same thing, though they arrived at that conclusion by posing thought experiments to their friends, not using VR.
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
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.
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.
At least, in my initial comment, that's the intention I had in mind.
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.
In all seriousness though – is there any studies done on potential PTSD-like effects that arise from this sort of VR game?
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.
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.
Kidding aside, it does seem like VR probably has value as a kind of exposure therapy..
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.
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.
A multi-player spider game sounds potentially terrifying.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
Comical and also accurate.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
I think people tend to overlook how valuable Steam has been as a clearinghouse to aggregate that last piece of data.
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.
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).
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 :/
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.
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 ?
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)
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.