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Here's one for serious Valve enthusiasts and people wanting to get juice details on their cancelled projects, and everything that led up to Half-Life: Alyx.

Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours is an interactive storybook, written by Geoff Keighley, that takes fans inside Valve Software to chronicle the company’s past decade of game development, including the return of Half-Life. There's so much detail in there it's crazy, it's also pretty amazing to learn it all with this new Valve Software that doesn't seem to mind talking a bit more. If you're curious, that does include a cancelled Half-Life 3. Yes, it really actually was a thing (as if there was any doubt) but it along with a lot more didn't make the cut.

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As for all the projects mentioned that got canned, I won't go over them all in-depth because that spoils a lot of the fun but there's a few big obvious ones like Half-Life 3, that no doubt fans will be sad to learn of its fate. Unlike previous games, it sounded quite different with plans to be more replayable with some random generation, taking some inspiration from Left 4 Dead. Left 4 Dead 3 was also going to be a thing, in a more open world setting. Both games didn't get too far, sounds like Source 2 wasn't in a good state. Other Half-Life themed games and Left 4 Dead attempts were also mentioned, like one involving a time-travelling ship. There was even going to be an RPG, a voxel-based destruction game and a VR game made with original Kerbal Space Program developers.

Hilariously, Vader was the name of their first attempt at a VR headset with an estimated eye-watering $5K price tag that was clearly far too ambitious.

The good news is, Valve don't sound done with Half-Life and that they're "not afraid of Half-Life no more" and future projects might even be outside of VR for the rest of us. Nothing confirmed there though. Other better news perhaps, is that another major "top secret" project is under way and has been since 2018 but no idea what it is.

You can find Half-Life: Alyx - Final Hours on Steam for £7.19 / $9.99 / €8.19. It doesn't officially support Linux but it's possible to run it with the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer. You may need the community made Proton GE though.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Steam, Valve
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33 comments
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In the abstract, I generally think VR is a good thing. But I can't see it improving the strategy games I mostly play very much. Like, how much would Stellaris or Civilization or whatnot get from going VR? I guess I actually like my games fairly abstract.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 12 July 2020 at 4:49 am UTC
Patola 12 Jul
Quoting: Purple Library GuyIn the abstract, I generally think VR is a good thing. But I can't see it improving the strategy games I mostly play very much. Like, how much would Stellaris or Civilization or whatnot get from going VR? I guess I actually like my games fairly abstract.

So, your argument is: "I can't see (imagine) it improving the strategy games...". And as you can't imagine, you seem to assume a way to do it doesn't exist, it is not possible to happen.

Look at this game. If possible, try to watch gameplays of it, specially the ones showing how the controls are done. Try a little thought experiment, imagine how the same actions could be done with non-VR controls -- spoiler: they would be cumbersome, difficult and unnatural. You'll then realize that there is indeed a lot of ways to improve the gameplay of strategy games through VR, specially RTS because people can become trained quite quickly on their body expression, making the gameplay very fun and instigating a deep sense of progression. Imagine a Total War game in VR the way Final Assault is done, it would be glorious.

If you were convinced by this example, I would say that: never use the limits of your own imagination as an argument or a point. The internet is vast and there are smart and creative people who can get deeply in a framework of thinking and get birth to powerful ideas and new ways of doing things. In other words, they outsmart everything you (and me) can personally imagine. This happened to Linux with dxvk, this happened with Half-Life: Alyx, this is happening with VR with lots of interesting titles that explore the limits of deep immersion and body controls.

And By The Way, I bought Final Assault. It works perfectly on Linux with very high performance and it is insanely fun, requiring action and reasoning in equal amounts.

Note:
Civilization and Stellaris are turn-based games, so reaction time is not as important, but positional awareness is important so VR could be useful here, notwithstanding stuff like playing with both hands -- but I don't want to use my own imagination as an argument here, I am sure there are people who can understand and explore this issue much, much better than I can.


Last edited by Patola on 12 July 2020 at 3:32 pm UTC
Eike 12 Jul
Quoting: Patola[If you were convinced by this example, I would say that: never use the limits of your own imagination as an argument or a point.

He didn't though, he actually literally asked: "how much would Stellaris or Civilization or whatnot get from going VR?"
sub 12 Jul
I'm still struggling with VR. :/
Alyx as a game and the immersion IS AMAZING.
Yet, even with getting somehow used to the Index and not facing
heavy motion sickness anymore, I can only use it for about 30 mins at max.
This is always so exhausting (for me) ending in headaches and at least slight sickness. :/
Quoting: Patola
Quoting: Purple Library GuyIn the abstract, I generally think VR is a good thing. But I can't see it improving the strategy games I mostly play very much. Like, how much would Stellaris or Civilization or whatnot get from going VR? I guess I actually like my games fairly abstract.

So, your argument is: "I can't see (imagine) it improving the strategy games...". And as you can't imagine, you seem to assume a way to do it doesn't exist, it is not possible to happen.

Look at this game.
Let me just stop you right there. I like some RTS. I spent a good deal of time back in the day playing original Starcraft; it's fun. But, despite the word being in there, they are not strategy games, they are tactical action games. My claim does not apply to them. I am perfectly capable of imagining ways in which VR could be applied entertainingly to RTS games.

QuoteIf you were convinced by this example, I would say that: never use the limits of your own imagination as an argument or a point.
You think you're being deep, but you are not. Nobody ever does anything else but use the limits of their own imagination as an argument. There is no choice, that's what you have to work with.
Luckily, imagination is extensible--as soon as you get an example of something you hadn't imagined, you can imagine it. That's how you learn. But, sometimes, one's imagination about a topic is accurate.

QuoteThe internet is vast and there are smart and creative people who can get deeply in a framework of thinking and get birth to powerful ideas and new ways of doing things. In other words, they outsmart everything you (and me) can personally imagine.
That's all very fine, but not every tool is suited to every job. Just by the by, I also can't imagine how someone could use Microsoft Bob to improve strategy games, nor do I think a really good IDE for the computer language R would improve strategy games much. There may be smart and creative people out there who could show me for the foolish philistine I am on these topics; I am satisfied to remain deluded until they actually make a great strategy game incorporating an IDE for R.

I remember once I got a brand new 4X space game, and it looked very very pretty. And instead of a flat technology tree, it was like this three dimensional thing, which looked really really cool and you could navigate around kinda. It took me a while to realize that actually, it wasn't conceptually any different--they'd just taken a flat tech tree and curved it so it looked more like a tube shape, the net effect being that it was a bit harder to see all the tech at once and more cumbersome to select one. And actually, the technologies weren't very interesting, and actually, the game kinda sucked.

So for instance, with VR it would be easier to do a 4X space game with a genuine three dimensional galaxy, where you'd walk around the stars and stuff. But what I'm not at all sure of is whether that would actually make it a better game or if it would just be a distraction from the decisions that make strategy games interesting.
Patola 13 Jul
Quoting: Purple Library GuyLet me just stop you right there. I like some RTS. I spent a good deal of time back in the day playing original Starcraft; it's fun. But, despite the word being in there, they are not strategy games, they are tactical action games. My claim does not apply to them. I am perfectly capable of imagining ways in which VR could be applied entertainingly to RTS games.
So, Real-Time Strategy is not Strategy? Yeah, I understand your differentiation, I've seen lots of discussions between "tactics" vs "strategy", but for the intended example, it is close enough. It shows some elements of visual feedback and control that could be used in a hypothetical innovative strategy game in VR. There are sufficient elements in my example for you to infer there's lots of elbow room. And to be frank, even this game is not only tactics: its overworld view, freedom and mechanics allow for a wide assortment of carefully planned strategies to complement the tactics, more so than a game like Starcraft.

Quoting: Purple Library GuyYou think you're being deep, but you are not. Nobody ever does anything else but use the limits of their own imagination as an argument. There is no choice, that's what you have to work with.
No, not at all. First, let's look at this statement: "nobody ever does anything else but use the limits of their own imagination" does not inform anything about something being true or false -- it's a fallacy (Argumentum ad Populum). Bad habits used by the majority of people do not justify their use by you in a debate. And that is the same thing with using the lack of imagination as an argument -- it's another registered fallacy, with latin name, wikipedia page and all: Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. What that means is that you can't use it to logically advance a point, because there is no relation of implication.

I don't think that in a post in a Linux gaming blog you will be able to retort to a thousands-years-old philosophic matter, the study of rhetoric and syllogisms.

Quoting: Purple Library GuyThat's all very fine, but not every tool is suited to every job. Just by the by, I also can't imagine how someone could use Microsoft Bob to improve strategy games, nor do I think a really good IDE for the computer language R would improve strategy games much. There may be smart and creative people out there who could show me for the foolish philistine I am on these topics; I am satisfied to remain deluded until they actually make a great strategy game incorporating an IDE for R.
Creativity/innovation does not mean randomly making very unrelated things work together -- although some times it does just that, and these examples outshine others because of their excentricity. Your example just show some directions which have very low likelihood of working, and I could similarly cite a few directions which have some high likelihood of working, but in the end, you can't forecast the innovation.

Quoting: Purple Library GuyI remember once I got a brand new 4X space game, and it looked very very pretty. And instead of a flat technology tree, it was like this three dimensional thing, which looked really really cool and you could navigate around kinda. It took me a while to realize that actually, it wasn't conceptually any different--they'd just taken a flat tech tree and curved it so it looked more like a tube shape, the net effect being that it was a bit harder to see all the tech at once and more cumbersome to select one. And actually, the technologies weren't very interesting, and actually, the game kinda sucked.
With that I agree, the path to success is very hard and there have been already lots of utter failures, much more than any small success -- almost all fields of endeavor show this characteristic, not only VR gaming.

Quoting: Purple Library GuySo for instance, with VR it would be easier to do a 4X space game with a genuine three dimensional galaxy, where you'd walk around the stars and stuff. But what I'm not at all sure of is whether that would actually make it a better game or if it would just be a distraction from the decisions that make strategy games interesting.
Yeah, you're not sure, and this is formally a pseudo-argument.


Last edited by Patola on 13 July 2020 at 7:22 am UTC
Patola 13 Jul
Quoting: subI'm still struggling with VR. :/
Alyx as a game and the immersion IS AMAZING.
Yet, even with getting somehow used to the Index and not facing
heavy motion sickness anymore, I can only use it for about 30 mins at max.
This is always so exhausting (for me) ending in headaches and at least slight sickness. :/
Do you play standing or seated? I've found that a great part of the reason of my VR fatigue comes from prolonged standing, even though in the end it feels like headaches and sickness just like you. Take caution that this is very bad for your health. I've partially solved the problem by buying and using a saddle stool, which allows you to use a somewhat standing position, still be mobile and not get easily tired. It has a few immersion-breaking moments like when you want to duck (you have to briefly leave the stool) but it's tolerable. That is the best affordable solution I've found until VR harnesses and treadmills are mass-produced.

If you found my tips useful, please use them with Linux, not Windows.


Last edited by Patola on 13 July 2020 at 10:54 am UTC
Hori 13 Jul
Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: EhvisWhile that might be true, VR is not a replacement for games. It is a separate thing with separate games. One thing is very clear to me is that there is no way to have both a normal and VR version. One will suffer because of the other.

I would say though, that Alyx is a remarkably powerful demonstration that VR games doesn't have to be that different from other games. Yes the "interface" towards the game is different but in regards to content itself, I would say it is a demonstration that VR can be a "replacement" for other games (if I understand you correctly). VR gaming is not restricted to just simple arcade action and concepts revolving around basic physics.

So yes - the games needs to be tailored for the VR experience. Absolutely. But I dare say that any genre game can work in VR. So in that respect one could replace the other.

Between being able to work in VR and being enjoyable in VR is a long way.
Don't get me wrong, I love VR, and I love the Index, but there are some games, and more importantly, some genres, that can't really work in VR. The first that comes to my mind is the RTS genre. Sure there will exist sub-genres that will work well in VR, but I am refering here to the real deal. Those games don't even work well on consoles, let alone VR.

I too believe that flatscreen games and VR games need to coexist, and I'm sure without a doubt that this will be the case.
But on the other hand, I kinda disagree with the OP and I hope that more games will feature both a traditional and a VR version. It won't always be possible, you simply can't do anything you can do in VR with a mouse and keyboard, or with a controller. But in a wide range of cases I don't see why this couldn't be done without impacting the quality too much.

Heck, I even hope that in a few years we're going to see VR remasters of old games.
Beamboom 13 Jul
Quoting: HoriI too believe that flatscreen games and VR games need to coexist, and I'm sure without a doubt that this will be the case.

Oh yeah so do I. absolutely. It almost goes without saying. But I firmly believe they can also make RTS fully work - did you check the VR RTS game Patola mentioned earlier?

But look at us now! This is fantastic. I am thrilled about our current status quo! Think about it: Now we talk about if flat-screen games will still exist. It was NOT long ago (a few months!) we rather discussed if VR were here to stay or not!
Quoting: Patola
Quoting: Purple Library GuyLet me just stop you right there. I like some RTS. I spent a good deal of time back in the day playing original Starcraft; it's fun. But, despite the word being in there, they are not strategy games, they are tactical action games. My claim does not apply to them. I am perfectly capable of imagining ways in which VR could be applied entertainingly to RTS games.
So, Real-Time Strategy is not Strategy?
No, it's not. Just like "strategic voting" is actually, and very specifically, tactical voting--when you vote "strategically" you are actually making the decision that in the particular case, the strategy of gradually building the electoral movement you prefer is outweighed by the tactical issue of the outcome of the current election. Mistaken terminology is common. And doubly common in game genre naming.

The point is, strategic games are in the end largely about abstraction and ratiocination. If you need reflexes to win, it's not a strategy game. (That is of course not a sufficient condition--there are lots of kinds of games that don't need reflexes to win)
At a basic level, it's unlikely that VR will do much for them in the same sense that it's unlikely VR will do much for crossword puzzles. VR is useful for immersion in a reality. Strategy games are not about immersion in a reality. Strategy games fundamentally need to present interesting mental challenges. At the UI level, what they need to do is arrange things so you can easily see the nature of those challenges and spend not too much of your time doing things unrelated to them, like moving between different UI bits or repetitive micro-managing, while still preserving the mental challenge itself rather than glossing over it too much. The main goal is not for the UI to be immersive, but to be clean.
Sure, a bit of glitter doesn't hurt, some feedback when you accomplish something and so on. And yes, VR can provide glitter. But basically, virtual reality is not fundamentally oriented towards doing things that strategy games need--contrast, say, first person combat where VR is thoroughly and obviously oriented towards doing exactly what it needs. There's a continuum; some genres are clearly drastically improved by VR, some can be improved by VR a fair amount, and some can be improved by VR very little.

Quoting: PatolaNo, not at all. First, let's look at this statement: "nobody ever does anything else but use the limits of their own imagination" does not inform anything about something being true or false -- it's a fallacy (Argumentum ad Populum). Bad habits used by the majority of people do not justify their use by you in a debate. And that is the same thing with using the lack of imagination as an argument -- it's another registered fallacy, with latin name, wikipedia page and all: Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. What that means is that you can't use it to logically advance a point, because there is no relation of implication.
I suppose I was using the term "imagination" rather broadly, since after all you were projecting it onto me when I hadn't actually used the word. But you're missing the point. It doesn't matter how nice it would be to base arguments on things we can't even imagine, that's impossible to do. People are limited by the limits of their imagination. That certainly includes you--no matter how much you complain about the notion of only describing, arguing about, or otherwise discussing what one can imagine, that is all you are, or ever can be, doing. If you can't conceptualize it in some way, you can't talk about it. It's useless to complain that my partaking in the human condition is poor argumentative form; when you yourself become God you can put me down for it.
Granted, you can talk about things you can't imagine very well--but even deliberate contradictions can be imagined, you imagine this sort of fugue state, some kind of weird rapid unstable alternation between is and is-not.

Quoting: Patola
Quoting: Purple Library GuyThat's all very fine, but not every tool is suited to every job. Just by the by, I also can't imagine how someone could use Microsoft Bob to improve strategy games, nor do I think a really good IDE for the computer language R would improve strategy games much. There may be smart and creative people out there who could show me for the foolish philistine I am on these topics; I am satisfied to remain deluded until they actually make a great strategy game incorporating an IDE for R.
Creativity/innovation does not mean randomly making very unrelated things work together -- although some times it does just that, and these examples outshine others because of their excentricity. Your example just show some directions which have very low likelihood of working, and I could similarly cite a few directions which have some high likelihood of working, but in the end, you can't forecast the innovation.
So you're saying you're arguing with me even though you have no idea whether I'm right. But the thing is I'm precisely saying strategy is a genre which is basically unrelated to VR-ness--thus VR really enhancing a strategy game would be "randomly making very unrelated things work together".
Quoting: Patola
Quoting: Purple Library GuySo for instance, with VR it would be easier to do a 4X space game with a genuine three dimensional galaxy, where you'd walk around the stars and stuff. But what I'm not at all sure of is whether that would actually make it a better game or if it would just be a distraction from the decisions that make strategy games interesting.
Yeah, you're not sure, and this is formally a pseudo-argument.
Half of what you've been saying is claims about stuff being fundamentally unknowable, and then you turn around and complain when I fail to evince perfect certainty. Fine, let me rephrase: I strongly suspect that such things would just be distractions. Happier?
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