Games (inc Online)Half Life: Alyx

 

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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  ALL
42587.1 
I've just emerged from 2 1/2 hours in Half Life: Alyx on the Vive. It's everything it had to be to justify the hype and more. A beautifully flowing succession of jaw-dropping moments and heart-stopping action.

As intuitive an interface as has yet been designed for VR, with effects like the Gravity Gloves that make picking up supplies not just easy, but cool.

It also has the HL feel, with the same technology, friends and foes, but all modelled and animated in exquisite detail. I'm only resting because the bridge of my nose is sore...

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  Manthorp     
42587.2 In reply to 42587.1 
Those head crabs though... shit scary in VR. Especially when the lights go out and you've only got the torch to light them up.

I was expecting good things from Valve, but this really is something special.

Me
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 From:  milko  
 To:  Manthorp     
42587.3 In reply to 42587.1 
I'm so torn on this one. Choice paralysis with headsets (I own none at the moment), quite a small computer room so can't really take advantage of roomscale moving about stuff beyond about a step in each direction, plus investing that sort of money feels a little risky given that the virus has more or less chopped out 90% of my company's income indefinitely so I might find myself with cut hours and pay one of these days.

But I wants it!
milko
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 From:  graphitone  
 To:  Manthorp     
42587.4 In reply to 42587.1 
Is this Half-Life 3 in all but name? 

Is it a continuation of the story from where Episode 2 left off?
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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  milko     
42587.5 In reply to 42587.3 
Oh man, that sucks :'(

Most games have options for room scale or a standing position, but the more room you've got the less likely you are to hit things (and physically moving around is definitely more immersive). My room is just big enough for room scale and I've punched the wall and hit the telly once.

Me
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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  graphitone     
42587.6 In reply to 42587.4 
Alyx is in the time between Half Life and Half Life 2.

Me
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 From:  william (WILLIAMA)  
 To:  Manthorp     
42587.7 In reply to 42587.1 
So, a question to you and Chris. If I was more of a gamer than I am, which kit would you recommend?
never trust a man in a blue trench coat, never drive a car when you're dead
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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  Chris (CHRISSS)     
42587.8 In reply to 42587.2 
And the head crab zombies. That bit in the pit when you're learning how to use the shotgun *as* they're breaking down the walls...

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  milko     
42587.9 In reply to 42587.3 
Although the room scale works well, the turny-clicky teleporting is well implemented too, so an Oculus would be fine.

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  Manthorp     
42587.10 In reply to 42587.8 
Clever little puzzle to get the shotgun too. It took me a while to work it out though. I was standing in just the wrong place as one of the zombies popped up behind me
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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  william (WILLIAMA)     
42587.11 In reply to 42587.7 
Depends what you're after. The Oculus Rift S is a decent headset. Built in cameras so no faffing with external cameras or laser emitters.

The Valve Index is considered one of the top ones, and the controllers are awesome with finger tracking, force sensors, and they strap to your hands so you can let to of them without dropping them.

There are also plenty of cheaper Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Possibly not the best tracking, built in cameras and varying quality.

Me
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 From:  graphitone  
 To:  Chris (CHRISSS)     
42587.12 In reply to 42587.11 
Quote: 
Possibly not the best tracking, built in cameras and varying quality.

How does that effect the gameplay?

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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  graphitone     
42587.13 In reply to 42587.12 
Generally I think they work pretty well. They may not have the best resolution and FOV though, and camera based trackers can get a bit janky when reaching behind your back and the controllers go out of view of the cameras. But as something to get into VR they can be pretty decent.

One thing I also love about the Index is the headphones/speakers. They don't touch your ears so they never get uncomfortable and the sound from them is amazing (maybe lacking a tiny bit of bass though).

Me
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 From:  william (WILLIAMA)  
 To:  Chris (CHRISSS)     
42587.14 In reply to 42587.13 
I've done a bit of searching and reading since my dumb question. I suppose the thing is I was bitten by the VR bug years ago when I tried a headset (no idea what it was) in our local indy game store, now defunct. And it was resurrected, don't laugh, when I mucked about with the stocking-filler Cardboard VR things I got my kids for Christmas, a couple of years back.

My issue is that my head says I'd probably be fine with something cheap for the occasional taste of VR for fun, whereas another part of my head says I shouldn't be daft, I should get something that actually works properly with real VR games. That's all very well, but the latter category can get eye-wateringly expensive very fast, particularly if I need a major upgrade on my PC.

I shall just have to ponder a bit, I think.
never trust a man in a blue trench coat, never drive a car when you're dead
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 From:  CHYRON (DSMITHHFX)  
 To:  william (WILLIAMA)     
42587.15 In reply to 42587.14 
It'll be interesting to see if prices fall back down to earth anytime soon.
“It takes a lot of tap-dancing to get from ‘hoax’ to ‘I am hoarding ammunition’”
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 From:  william (WILLIAMA)  
 To:  CHYRON (DSMITHHFX)     
42587.16 In reply to 42587.15 
Some prices aren't too bad as these things go. In particular some of the Windows Mixed Reality kit is relatively cheap and there's a fair bit of it around on the used market for even less. On the other hand, if you've got the cash you could easily spend £2-3,000 for a high end setup including a new graphics card. 
 
never trust a man in a blue trench coat, never drive a car when you're dead
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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  william (WILLIAMA)     
42587.17 In reply to 42587.7 
I'd go entry level, either a new Rift or a second-hand Vive. I went for the latter, on the assumption that room-scale just wouldn't suit some buyers' lifestyles, and so it proved. I picked up a complete, virtually new Vive rig for £450, and I suspect you could get one for less now. But I live alone and if I want to push all the furniture to the wall, I can.

I've supplemented it since with a new audiostrap (a worthwhile investment) and two additional second-hand controllers for days I'm really bingeing - or for workshops. That's another thing - I've recouped the cost by running a few workshops (as easy as instructing people how to do some basic 3d drawing in Tiltbrush) and a brief residency with Opera North, supporting a performer who wanted live improvised drawing in the background as he sang.

Rifts are neater but with lower resolution, and can be operated sitting down for many games.

For anyone who's a big fan of Half life, Alyx alone is worth the cost of a VR rig.

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  graphitone     
42587.18 In reply to 42587.4 
As Chrisss says, it's chronologically HL 1.5. I'm guessing now they've built the engine and all the assets for VR, HL3 could be implemented as another VR game, or even a DLC, with comparative ease. I think they'll want to do it too, for the sake of completion of the series. There's also talk that HL2 Chapters is going to be re-released for VR.

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Manthorp  
 To:  Chris (CHRISSS)     
42587.19 In reply to 42587.10 
I'm going back in at that level to see if I can kill all the headcrab zombies by luring them into the room with the barnacles, one by one.

"We all have flaws, and mine is being wicked."
James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks 1951
 
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 From:  Chris (CHRISSS)  
 To:  Manthorp     
42587.20 In reply to 42587.19 
I'm now 9 hours into Alyx, by far my longest play sessions. I haven't used my headset a great deal recently and I have been experiencing the real life vs VR strangeness again. I was going to bed the other night and I could see the blue grid from the play space boundaries when I shut my eyes. And last night I got into bed and thought I was wearing the gravity gloves and went to take them off.

The game is stunning. The sound and visuals of the environments are amazing, and there are some proper scary moments.

Me
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