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Didja miss me?

I hope you enjoyed our little Wordle interlude. I thought about extending it another week, but I was afraid it might be getting stale.

Yes. This is what I did in my time off: Half Life Alyx. It was the third major Half Life title and the first VR title for Valve.

It was spectacular.

I’m playing it through a second time beginning today, listening to the developer commentary. They spent two years play-testing the opening scene, which is walking from a balcony though an apartment. Nothing happens. But they knew it would be many people’s first experience of VR, so some would spend a lot of time picking stuff up and playing with it (yes I did).

And still they had to convey lots right away about the atmosphere, the city, the backstory, the mission, the scale of the world. Among other things, it was supposed to make me understand when the game takes place (between Half Life 1 and 2). I didn’t pick up on it until the commentary. A hard thing to do, teach things to a weasel.

They made some fantastic choices. Like, to reload your pistol, you have to thumb a button to eject the empty magazine, reach behind your head to grab a full one, jam it in the magazine well and rack the slide. While running away from headcrab zombies. At the beginning of the game, play-testers panic and fumble and die so much they wanted to simplify it, but people loved it. It you feel like you’re doing a real thing. And you get better.

It’s a shame there aren’t more fabulously wealthy AAA game companies that can afford to spend two years on a few minutes of exposition.

p.s. The weather in the real world was lovely. I sat in the sun a lot.

May 9, 2022 — 7:03 pm
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