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Steam Half Life: Alyx

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by RedFlames, 18 Nov 2019.

  1. Blogins

    Blogins Panda have Guns

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    Valve have placed a large bet on VR having a place in the future of gaming. It would probably be odd if they didn't release a few AAA titles for VR. I believe Gabe did promise at least 3 full VR games... fingers crossed on that one! The prospect of meeting G-Man eye to eye in Half-Life Alyx is a spooky one though! :grin:
     
  2. The_Crapman

    The_Crapman Don't phone it's just for fun.

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    I think £400 for the rift s isn't too bad really. It's definitely in the realm of an amount I would consider spending on a single peice of hardware. When we get the spare room back I'd have the space, but that's probably a bigger premium for most people. That would probably require a new house, touch more expensive than the headset :worried:

    What's allegedly so special about the index's controllers?
     
  3. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    The Samsung Odyssey+ is ±$250 and definitely worth that price. My VR rig has always been my HTPC since it's in the living room. At one point I was running VR off an i7 2600 and a 1050Ti. It wasn't the best experience and there were certainly dropped frames in certain games, but that is certainly in the realm of affordable. If anyone has a decently modern PC, you can upgrade to a used GTX 1060 and the experience will be good enough.

    Not directed at you Crapman, but I'm sick of "cost" being an excuse. We all drool over monitors with high refresh rates and talk about how worth the extra cost it is for features like g-sync. VR HMDs are not that expensive when compared to high-end monitors, which is what they are plus a lot more.

    To your question regarding the Index controllers, they're special for several reasons. They track fingers individually. They strap onto your hand in a secure way that lets you wear them when you're not holding them. You can relax your hands. They have an analog grip sensor, meaning you can grab something and then squeeze it, and then squeeze a little harder and it's all registered by the controller. The haptic feedback is very nice as well. Overall, they bring the best VR hand presence of anything I've tried. Oculus does a nice job as well, but you'll always default the that grip you have on the controller itself. Everything else does the same, assuming a certain grip on the controller, but without finger tracking.

    If I were on a budget and getting into VR today for the purpose of playing Half-life Alyx, I'd get a used Vive kit, then buy the Index controllers from Valve. The controllers are $280, but you'll get HL:A for free, and the Index controllers are compatible with the Vive 1.0 base stations. I'd try to sell the Vive controllers, but even if I couldn't, my total would be ~$600, which is a good price for a great experience.
     
  4. Blogins

    Blogins Panda have Guns

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    It's an amazing controller. However I was surprised it's not as intuitive as some videos suggest. I was expecting 100% natural motion of my fingers. Unfortunately you do have to train yourself to use the Index controllers and it's not 100% natural. Very close though and very much worth putting in the effort to get the best out of them.

    This is the route I initially took before going full Index! Getting the Index controllers to pair with the Vive was a real pain following a firmware update. Must have taken 20 plus attempts to get it all going. Not unusual for the Vive in my experience. Pleasantly surprised by the Index setup on the flip side. It was dead easy in comparison to the Vive, just one firmware update and it worked flawlessly!

    Also discovered yesterday that the Valve Index Headset power button doubles as a confirmation button in VR which makes things so much easier. Just point your head to the menu you want to click and press the button!
     
  5. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    It's in the 'uncanny valley' for haptics. Your fingers have a LOT of degrees of freedom, while the Index controller only measures linear distance from a single surface. It can produce a rough estimate of hand post, but it takes relatively little deviation your your brain to quickly tell "my hands don't appear to be behaving as I expect, something is wrong". It's the same problem as IK arms fed only be tracked hands: there is an enormous range of possible arm poses for the same hand pose, so by estimating arm pose with an IK model you are extremely likely to estimate a dissonant post rather than a suitable accurate pose. Coupled with this is the temptation of "we have al these new inputs, we need to show them off!" which serves to highlight the limitations of that method of finger pose tracking by encouraging users to push well beyond the limits of capability in exploring that capability. On top of that, the 'force sensitive' grip is also only sensitive to grip in a single axis, whereas your fingers can impose really significant lateral forces as well as radial forces on wildly varying axes (not even necessarily coincident to a theoretical 'centre of grip' of any given object).
    Or to put it another way: "full finger tracking and grip force sensing" sets up expectations of interactions the controllers cannot fulfil, whereas "squeeze the grip trigger to grip something" sets up expectations that are fulfilled.
    The human hand is an absurdly flexible manipulator, just measuring its capabilities at the same time is beyond the state of the art (even with extreme setups like the Cybergrasp series) let along combining that with the required haptic feedback.
     
  6. Blogins

    Blogins Panda have Guns

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    If nothing Valve are very pragmatic when it comes to game design. Initially I thought it was odd that Half-Life Alyx has floating hands minus the arms. Once in the game though I could well imagine arms becoming a distraction. So it makes sense!

    Still eager to witness how well this is tackled in Boneworks! Not long to wait now! Come to think of it part of the charm of Raw Data is the mental flapping about of the arms pre-match! :grin:
     
  7. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    I mean... I don't. I'm still making use of an eight-year-old 1920x1200 VA-panel 60Hz display 'ere.
     
  8. Blogins

    Blogins Panda have Guns

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    There's much more to VR than just games. It is the tent-pole for VR but I also find value in my Index for watching 3D Movies in VR. Special shout out to Simple VR Video Player, watching Rogue One using this program is amazing. It's like sitting in front of a cinema screen about the size of 2 Double Decker buses side by side with another couple of buses stacked on top! The battle scene at Scarif is enough to drive any Star Wars fan to tears of joy over the level of immersion!
     
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  9. Otis1337

    Otis1337 aka - Ripp3r

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    Valve pioneered using physics in game (properly) and digital download stores, and it paid off.
    Now they are taking the same risk again, looking to the future of gaming. They haven't made this decision lightly, they have scrapped and started projects so meany times now over the past 15 years, and for them to double down and put there chips all in on VR gives me faith in it.
    But VR needs more than 1 big AAA game. Especially to shift index's.

    I plan on getting an index for my 30th with the announcement of Alyx.
    I think of the cost like this. What do you pay for a high end monitor? £500-1000? mine was £700, and VR headsets offers so much more than just been a screen.
     
  10. yuusou

    yuusou Well-Known Member

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    They've already shifted enough indexes in the UK and US that they sold out, though that doesn't say much about how many they have produced except they didn't expect this demand from the announcement.
     
  11. RedFlames

    RedFlames ...is not a Belgian football team

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  12. Wakka

    Wakka Yo, eat this, ya?

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    Valve aren't a game developer anymore, so I don't expect this to be much more than what Lost Coast was for HDR.

    Unless they also announce L4D 3 and actually give us some answers on HL3, Gabe can go sit on a pineapple.
     
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  13. Journeyer

    Journeyer Well-Known Member

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    Well...it's not that long since I played through HL2 and the following episodes, and they're still great.
    HL: Alyx is what might finally make me splurge on a VR-kit (reluctantly, and I might grumble a bit about it), but I'm quite sure it will be a blast. The trailer certainly looks promising. Honestly, just a chance of more content from the HL universe is awesome. Guess it's time to start putting aside some cash and start preparing my defence to the missus (Skyrim: VR is a thing, is it not? Was it any good? Because if it is then she might be on board :) )
     
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  14. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    My wife has been so gracious with my VR and Half-life spending. I pre-ordered the original Vive when it was announced and then did the same for the Valve Index, all in the hope/desire/expectation that some big VR title (probably half-life) would be right around the corner.

    It's been 10+ years since the last Half-life episode, so my wife has just been on board every time. I sold the Vive when I got the index, but my wife knows that I'll probably get something between a 2070 Super and a 2080 Ti between now and when the game actually launches since my 980 Ti struggles in some VR games at 90hz on the Index.

    I'm thinking maybe the 2080 Super. It's not a great value for the money (2070 Super is the sweet spot), but the 2080 Ti feels like way too much. My only other hope would be for a new GPU drop to come between now and HL:A release, but that seems unlikely.
     
  15. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    Just to weigh in...I have a Vive. Have had it for almost a year. I've used it for maybe 30 hours in all that time. The missus uses it occasionally.

    There are fundamental differences between VR and every other expensive piece of tech. An expensive mouse/monitor/VGA/cooler is just an augmentation to an existing hobby platform which you are fully invested in and use all the time. You know you can and will use it. Buying those is like painting a decal on your car; arguably pointless, but you'll definitely use it, and if it improves your experience, good for you.

    Buying VR is more like buying a car without having ever been inside one. What if it makes you sick? What if it scares you? What if you find it boring? What if it's painfully uncomfortable?

    This is why there are so many VR sets on eBay.

    VR is not simply a costly proposition - it's an entirely new experience with many barriers to entry. Cost is one of them, and it's significant: you need a powerful PC already, which for many people will have consumed all their meagre savings.

    Even if you can afford VR, the value of it is a valid concern. If you spend £600 total on a VGA upgrade and a headset, and use it for 30 hours in a year, is it money well spent? People bemoan £60 games only having 20-hour campaigns. If VR is going to be that poor value for money, people are right to hesitate.

    I actually love my VR. That probably sounds surprising after all of the above. But I got on easily with the hardware, and happened to find a couple of games I just adore - Arizona Sunshine and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. They're the only games I've played for any significant time. But the VR community has got a serious attitude problem when speaking to non-VR-users, and we need to get off our high horse. Vr is not a slam-dunk. It's bad value at the current prices and is potentially a total waste of time; my positive experiences in a couple of titles don't change those facts.

    If you're thinking of buying VR, you have to overcome the following valid concerns: It's very expensive. It might induce nausea. It might not work right with your eyes/head/nose shape/brain. You might not like any of the games. You might enjoy it but get bored quickly. Your floorplan/furniture might make it impractical. Your PC may need upgrading.

    Every one of those roadblocks is another percentage of players who simply won't get VR - definitely not now, maybe never. Putting a game on VR is not like putting HL2 on Steam, or putting Diablo on mobile. It's more like putting a game on Barbados. Can you afford to travel to Barbados and not get flight sickness? Great. But millions of gamers can't, and never will.

    It's a hugely excluding decision. I am lucky: I have VR, I get on well with VR, and I'll be playing Half Life: Alyx. But this is still a hugely excluding decision. Millions of people will never be able to play this game, not even when the entry costs come down. And that's never been true of a beloved household video game title.

    So I don't think Half Life: Alyx can ever become one.
     
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  16. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    I'd amend that to 'PC' VR specifically. Console VR (PSVR) is going gangbusters, and standalone VR (Quest) is rapidly catching up to that success.
     
  17. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    To some extent, yes. PSVR is doing well financially, but this is not the same as it doing well in terms of adoption and long-term appeal. Most people I know with PSVR have gone through the same usage pattern I did - use it for a few months on and off, then gradually stop bothering.

    The important thing to note is that PSVR only mitigates the problems of cost of entry and games library. There are more titles and it's cheaper. All the other barriers to entry mentioned - nausea, physical problems, environmental problems - still exist. Many people simply don't get on with VR, don't have room for VR, or physically can't use it. If PC VR is Barbados, PSVR is Costa del Sol. More popular, but most people still can't afford it or just can't get on with it.
     
  18. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    I'd recommend that anyone looking into getting VR try it first. Do you like it? Does it work for you? But I'd say the same thing to anyone buying a new car. Did you test drive it? Do you fit in the seat? Did you have decent visibility?

    Barring that, I do think that the Samsung Odyssey+ is a no-brainer for anyone wanting to get in for relatively cheap who can't test before buying. They regularly go on sale for ~$2-250. Many of us have accessories we've purchased on a whim and only use a few times a year (casual racing game players often purchase a wheel and pedals, for instance).

    This is another place where I think the perceived roadblock is overblown. I was playing VR games on my i7 2600 and 1050 ti. There are so many games being developed for standalone HMDs like the Quest that get ported to PC and work phenomenally on low end hardware, but most PC VR games will have automatic settings selected based on your hardware.

    And like settings on any other game, you can tweak them. The big difference here is that tweaking your settings could result in nausea if your framerate dips too far below 90fps. That point is beyond valid. But this is just something people need to know as they adopt VR, not something that should stop people.

    So, for many, it would just be a matter of delaying a PC upgrade a year and getting an HMD instead. Then, when upgrading later, they can factor in how much they like/use VR in deciding how much they want to cater their next build to improving that performance or not.

    I agree with this. I'm not in the camp of "VR is the best. Flat games are dead. It's just a matter of time." But I do think the opposition is also overstated. The cost of entry isn't as high as many make it seem. PC specs don't need to be as high as many state. Nausea is a real thing, but tends to affect a relatively small portion of players and is generally limited to frame rate issues and types of locomotion. Space factors are often addressed in game design (few games actually require you to have a large area to move around. Many allow standing-only or seated experiences).

    Idk. At some point someone said, "This game is really amazing, but it requires that people buy a 3D accelerator card," and some people, to this day, use integrated graphics and still don't play 3D games. I know VR is different because it's an external piece of hardware, but I think that those who never play HL:A are no different than those who waited too long to adopt 3D accelerator cards. They either care enough about that last-gen game to go back and see what the fuss was about or they don't. Oh well.
     
    Last edited: 19 Jan 2020
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  19. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Whitelist Bit-Tech in your adblock!

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    It latterly occurred to me in a moment of fridge logic that, actually, VR is not really analogous to the 3D graphics card transition. Because VR isn't an augmentation to an existing platform; it's a new, separate gaming platform. VGAs improved the gaming performance of existing PCs, but they kept running games in the same visual-mechanical format and layout.

    I guess the important thing to keep in mind here, when dealing with VR naysayers, is that VR is not analogous to any previous technological shift. Maybe it's vaguely like the move away from controllers to motion sensors with the Wii, or the shift from KB+M to controllers for first-person shooters. In both cases, functionality and human interfaces were fundamentally changed, and that meant there were fundamentally different limitations and options with each. You can't port Elite Dangerous to the WiiMote, and you struggle to port it to a controller. You can't play Wii Tennis with a controller (unless you really hate yourself).

    VR is not an upgrade to an existing gaming platform: it is a completely different platform. Many existing gamers cannot, will never, get on with it, for any number of reasons.

    My lasting thought is, if people have a strong negative reaction to VR, we shouldn't treat them like luddites. Some people can't be passengers in cars because they get travel-sick. That doesn't make them luddites; they don't want to stick with horses and carts. They just get travel sick.

    Many people won't "get used to it", either. For many, the motion sickness, the discomfort and/or the motion controllers will always be a thing they just can't do.

    Valve are correct in thinking that VR is in its infancy and has much more growing to do, and it's good of them to try and help that growth. They are permanently leaving many players behind if they don't make a non-VR version of Alyx at some point further down the road, though.

    And I think they will do that, once the VR uptake has run its course as much as it can. It'd be silly not to. VR might be big bucks, but traditional PC gaming is bigger bucks - I don't think they'll leave that money sat on the table, once the VR part of the agenda is satisfied.
     
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  20. GeorgeStorm

    GeorgeStorm Aggressive PC Builder

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    Also of course, at least in the gaming 'sphere', it's an entirely optional thing anyway, so whilst not being able to drive can cause issues in life, not wanting vr has no negatives like that, so if people actually treat others like that then they're the idiot for not being able to comprehend not everyone likes or wants the same thing they do.
     

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