In an video interview with Geoff Keighley, Valve’s David Speyrer, Robin Walker and Dario Casali shared some new interesting details about Half-Life: Alyx. The developers explained why Half-Life: Alyx is a prequel to Half-Life 2, and not the highly anticipated Half-Life 3. Moreover, they explained why there won’t be a non-VR version of the game.
As Dario claimed, Half-Life: Alyx started as a VR exploration game and turned into a Half-Life game. And even though the team would love to release a non-VR version, this isn’t currently possible.
“We would love to be delivering a version of this that you could play with a mouse and a keyboard. But like as we said, it began as an exploration of VR. The more we used the controllers and the headset, we realized the the amount of interactions this gives, the amount of possibilities these things give us. The more we explored this, the more we realized that there’s so much opportunity that we can’t really translate back to the keyboard.
When you can track your hands separately from your head. They are all 3D space, all simultaneously tracking and moving, you just can’t get that with a mouse and keyboard. And when you put that into game mechanics, the kinds of interactions that we can do now, we couldn’t possibly do with a mouse and keyboard.”
Dario mentioned opening doors as an example of these new VR mechanics. Players can now slightly open doors and start firing their guns, slowly open them or knock them. They can also open them, throw a grenade, and then close them.
Dario concluded that Valve would have to map an entire section of the keyboard, dedicated just to interacting with doors. Or that the team would have to water down the VR version in favour of the mouse and keyboard version.
But why Half-Life: Alyx is a prequel and not a sequel to Half-Life 3? Keighley asked this question to Robin Walker who said.
“I mean in all honesty, back in 2016 when we started this… I mean, Half-Life was just terrifying. Half-Life 3, terrifyingly daunting prospect, right? And I think to some extend, VR was a way we could fool ourselves into believing we had a way to do this.
Because, by starting with VR and then trying to think about Half-Life and how it worked with it and playtesting those, you’re immediately in a space where we have something we understand well, Half-Life’s core gameplay, and a new platform with new prospects and new possibilities and we can do that translation, and then we can watch people play, and so within a week or two we’re starting to learn. We are able to watch someone go through it. And so it was really easy to not try and think about the big picture of “Oh, we’re making Half-Life 3”. We could just focus and figure out what people enjoy in this and then make forward progress.
And in some ways, VR was a little bit, like the way the gravity gun helped us in Half-Life 2. It became the tent pole that you could wrap so much around. The innovation around it. And so VR became this thing that we could wrap everything around. Where as Half Life 3, if it’s like “Hey tomorrow you are working on Half-Life 3!” and you are like “Oh God!” Terrifying.”
Lastly, Walker and Speyrer stated that they want to work on more Half-Life projects. However, they’ll have to wait and see how the world will respond to this new Half-Life game first.