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Valve: "Back in 2016, when we started this, Half-Life 3 was a terrifyingly daunting prospect"

Earlier this week, a rumour hit the internet – as it has many times before – that a new Half-Life game was going to be announced at The Game Awards next month. That turned out not to be true, and Half-Life: Alyx was revealed today instead.

Although the initial reveal didn’t end up belonging to The Game Awards and Geoff Keighley, he is involved. He’s producing another ‘The Final Hours Of’ story on the game, as he did on Half-Life 1 and 2, to be released next year. Right now however you can watch a 22-minute conversation about the game between Keighley and Valve developers Robin Walker, Dario Casali and David Speyrer. They discuss the origins of the project, why it’s VR only, their excitement about doors and – most candidly – Half-Life 3.

They’re all very well groomed. This – and only this – is why I’ll never work at Valve.

Most of the chat is delivers similar answers to what was said when we spoke to Valve just before the Half-Life: Alyx announcement. Robin Walker was surprisingly candid when asked about Half-Life 3, however.

“Back in 2016, when we started this, Half-Life 3 was a terrifyingly daunting prospect,” says Walker. “I think to some extent, VR was a way we could fool ourselves into believing we had a way to do this. By starting with VR and then trying to think about Half-Life and how that worked with it, and playtesting those, you’re immediately in a space where you have something we understand well: Half-Life-style gameplay. [Add] a new platform with new prospects, and we can do that translation, and we can watch people play it. So within a week or two, we’re starting to learn.

“So it was really easy to not think about the big picture of like, ‘are we making Half-Life 3?’, and just focus on, let’s figure out what people enjoy in this and let’s make forward progress. In some ways VR was a little bit [similar to] the way the gravity gun helped in Half-Life 2 where it just became the tentpole where you could wrap so much around, VR became this thing we could wrap everything around. Whereas Half-Life 3, if tomorrow they’re like, hey you’re working on Half-Life 3, it’s like, ‘Ohhh god.’ Terrifying!”

Keighley hints throughout about more details to come in next year’s The Final Hours Of on the game, which will recount now just HL: Alyx’s development, but “everything that’s happened in the last ten years at Valve,” including details of previous development experiments. That sounds legitimately fascinating, at least to me.

Other details mentioned in the video include news that Campo Santo developers (who joined Valve last year to continue work on In The Valley Of Gods) are involved in Half-Life: Alyx, and that “Jay and Erik” from Portal 2 are involved in writing the game. That’ll presumably be Jay Pinkerton and Erik Wolpaw, who both left Valve over the past few years, though Jay returned last year.

My hope levels, they are rising. Go watch the Half-Life: Alyx trailer and first round of screenshots.

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Graham Smith

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