Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/22/surprise-trailer-for-half-life.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/22/surprise-trailer-for-half-life.html
Well, as I understand it, it’s a prequel set between Half Life 1 and Half Life 2, so it definitely won’t conclude the story or the cliffhanger from the last game.
That said, if anyone can make a game that sells VR as more than just a gimmick, it’s a Gabe Newell Half Life game.
Holy. Mother. Forking. Shirtballs.
That looked amazing. And I loved the Half Life games. I’m not sure I want to invest in a VR rig, but if game play holds up to what we’re seeing here and it’s relatively problem free at launch, I can totally see this moving a ton of VR units.
I had an idea for an Alyx game a couple years back.
I wanted to see a version of HL2 where Alyx was the one left behind in the city after Gordon was sent through the transporter. She’d have to geek her way out of the city using her unique set of tools, but without an Encounter suit or all the guns.
I played Fallout 4 only in VR and it was a very immersive experience. In fact, it was downright creepy and I loved it. When I recently played Outer Worlds, it was good, but I really wanted to “be” in that world in the same way as I had been with Fallout 4. So, the idea that the new Half-Life is in VR sounds great to me.
But according to Penny Arcade it will wither your genitals
This game looks awesome, but I am concerned about how well a VR rig would work for someone with some disabilities. I don’t know how they work: do you really have to take steps and wave your arms around? How much does finger dexterity matter? What about seizures and migraines? Stuff like that. I’m thinking some people around here might know.
How much arm use you require will depend on the game. I expect a Half-Life game to be mostly shooting, so it wouldn’t be too vigorous *unlike one where you’re swordfighting) I’d be surprised if they implemented climbing by hauling yourself about, but we don’t know either way yet. By default, there’s no tracking of your feet, but some games do have you moving around in real-space (rather than standing or sitting).
Finger dexterity depends on the kind of controller you use - in general, it’ll be on the order of you’ll need to use a traditional game controller. That said I’m not sure what the state of the art with finger tracking in games is like as I don’t have that kind of controller, but I don’t expect that you’ll be tying knots.
Couldn’t speak to seizures/migraines. There’s always that risk just in flat-screen games, so it’s going to still be present in VR, but I don’t know if it’s more pronounced. The main neurological effect you can get from VR is motion sickness, and that’s something you get used to after a bit of exposure.
I do remember someone who only had the use of one hand asking about VR accessibility in that circumstance, and I don’t think he got any encouraging answers.
Honestly, I don’t think any future game will do that. There’s this crushing weight of expectation that’s been built up around “Half-Life 3” that gets worse with each passing year, making it even less likely over time it’ll get made. Unlike most studios, Valve don’t have to make games at all (they have Steam for revenue), so the financial pressure to follow up a successful game just isn’t there. Coupled with an internal structure that allows developers to work on whatever game interests them most, and that project is dead in the water.
Sure, the occasional developer might have an idea or burst of inspiration related to the game, but that weight of expectation keeps it from being seen through to completion. So I suspect we’ll see Half-Life ideas getting implemented in non-sequel games. (Though that could potentially provide an opportunity to conclude the story, in some future explicitly not-a-sequel game that’s actually is a stealth sequel hoping to sneak past expectations.)
I see you sneaking in there, upside-down lambda in Alyx’s name…
I mist confess I was deeply cynical when this got teased earlier this week. But after getting all of the “Valve still makes games?” and “So they really can’t count to 3” jokes out of my system, this game actually looks pretty sweet. I’m having flashbacks to the halcyon pre-Half-Life-2 Source Engine tech demo days when Valve was showing off all of their cool physics integration and facial rigging stuff. It’ll be really cool to go back and revisit City 17 in HD.
To expound on @Entity447B’s response, unfortunately, VR has a lot of the same accessibility problems as Kinect-only games, and for a lot of the same reasons: trying to build physical experiences that you can’t re-create in a traditional controller+display format. Exactly how physically demanding a game is will depend on the game itself, but if a game is aiming to be a physical challenge of some kind, odds are that it’s not going to make any nods to accessibility.
Most early VR games were designed around stationary placement, with motion tracking for your head to the extent that you could move it around while sitting or standing still, and additional tracking for the controllers which you hold in your hands. There are a handful of titles that implement “room-scale” VR, which most current-iteration headsets support, so that you can walk around inside the game to the extent that you can walk around in your physical gaming space, but most games that ask you to move around implement a “teleport” action (you can see an example here, along with some room-scale movement), or they just give you free-move control with one of the hand controllers’ thumb sticks so it plays more like a traditional first-person console game.
Some people do have motion sickness problems with thumb stick movement in VR, and from personal experience it takes some getting used to—especially when you’re standing up—to “see” and even “feel” yourself moving around without actually taking any physical steps. And some people just can’t get over the motion sickness of even looking around while stationary, no matter how long they try to tough it out.
As for arm movement, again it depends on the game. On one end of the spectrum you’ve got stuff like Beat Saber, which is essentially DDR played with off-brand virtual lightsabers, where you’re required to do a great deal of physical movement as part of the game’s design, and playing it with a physical disability that limits arm movement would be akin to trying to play an arcade-style DDR console from a wheelchair. On the other end of the spectrum are games like Obduction, which focus more on exploration and just the sense of “being there”. They require very little in the way of physical activity to play in VR, and only need the occasional hand/arm movement to throw switches, push buttons, and the like.
Based on the trailer, it looks like Alyx will lean more toward the Beat Saber end of the spectrum in terms of required physical activity, what with all the shooting and collecting and reloading.
As far as I know (and this may be outdated), VR controllers like Valve’s own Index handsets are basically still at mitten-level granularity in terms of hand tracking. You can “point” using a button on the controller, but that’s pretty much it.
I think you should treat VR as any other kind of real-world experience when it comes to seizures. If you’re photo-sensitive, any rapidly-flickering pattern that would set you off in a flatscreen game or a physical space (like a carnival or theme park ride) will almost certainly do the same in VR. That said, I don’t think the screens themselves will cause any more issues than regular displays would. They have a very high refresh rate to help mitigate motion sickness that might be induced by the game output lagging behind where you’re moving your head. Migraines might be more likely if you’re already prone to them while gaming just because you’ve got a pair of screens literally inches from your eyeballs, but I don’t have any data on the likelihood, and it will almost certainly vary from person to person. It also may depend on the headset, because some have higher resolution than others, and with the screen so close to your face, lower-resolution displays have a “screen door”-like effect where you can see the pixel grid.
The other big accessibility issue I see brought up a lot is “what if I wear glasses?”. For that, it depends on the shape of your headset and the size of your glasses. I was able to put on a Rift S headset while wearing my glasses, but I can’t say that it would be a universal experience.
Yes but no, its a prequel between HL2 Episode 1 and Episode 2 if i remember my timelines correctly, as Gordon Freeman is put into stasis for a number of years i think. So this prequel of sorts shows what Alyx had been up to in that in-between time.
First world problems but i’m pissed off that i probably won’t be playing this any time soon unless someone lets me play a 20 hour game on their system.
I had to quit playing the Half Life games. I realized they were stressing me out. Trying to fix the elevator, keeping the flares going in the unlit basement, and while being attacked by running crab-head zombies just got to be too much. I don’t think the old ticker can handle that anymore.
I think that’s largely unneeded, i would be happy to watch someone stream their play-through of the game as long as they did so without commentary (some people do these types of streams, which i like for certain games).
So… half life 1.5 confirmed?
Awww but i want to play it! I love he half-life universe so it pains me that i likely won’t get a chance to revisit it. I can understand why they are going for a prequel though because they well know there’d be uproar if this was a conclusion to half-life 2 or even a sequel and the majority of people were not able to play it.
Interview with the valve developers for anyone interested…
Ideally yeah i’d love to play it myself as well, but i really have no inclination to drop $600-$1000 on a nice VR setup.
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