Half-Life Alyx's 'No VR' mod continues to make progress, now features functional pens

Polycount

Posts: 2,932   +588
Staff member
In context: Valve's Half-Life: Alyx took the gaming world by storm when it launched in early 2020. Not only did it resurrect a franchise many thought dead, but it also acted as one of the first true "killer apps" for VR platforms. Unfortunately, it's precisely that latter effect that upset many -- VR headsets, at the time, were still rather expensive if you wanted a half-decent experience.

For a decent refresh rate, resolution, and array of customization options (a must-have for glasses-wearers like myself), you could be paying upwards of $800 for something like the Valve Index.

That left many long-time Half-Life fans in the dust. Unable or unwilling to purchase a VR rig, they were forced to sit back and watch their friends experience the wonders of Half-Life in VR.

However, one small team of modders, led by one SoMNst, has been working to change that. The modders are doing their absolute best to adapt the game for non-VR gameplay on PC -- a very, very difficult task.

Many features, UI elements, and puzzles in the game were designed from the ground up for VR, so even if you were technically able to run the game and perhaps even move around a bit without a compatible rig, you wouldn't expect to get very far.

Fortunately, SoMNst's friends have developed workarounds for many of these issues. Optimus97 created a full suite of working first-person weapon animations, while Nicklaus worked on new viewmodels and UI icons that make sense for a standard PC FPS. The progress so far has been astounding: you can watch the first 37 minutes of Half-Life: Alyx play out with the latest version of SoMNst's "No VR Mod" above.

The latest version of the mod adds functional pens and markers, so you can draw on windows, TV screens, and other surfaces, as well as a functional in-game menu (a "very important feature," according to SoMNst) and improvements to make the main story "more playable," whatever that means.

The mod is still not ready for release, and seemingly cannot be downloaded anywhere yet. However, SoMNst continues to make progress at regular intervals, so perhaps we'll all be able to experience the fruit of their labor sooner rather than later -- maybe early to mid 2021? Only time will tell.

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Puiu

Posts: 5,058   +3,920
TechSpot Elite
VR is good, but no game should be built in First Person Perspective without both a VR mode and a non VR mode.
I disagree. When you build a game for VR from the ground up you can't really expect the game to be viable for regular PC use too. What works in VR could just be considered bad game design for non-vr use (slow, clunky, etc). You would essentially have to build 2 entirely different games.
 

Kotters

Posts: 355   +255
Personally, I can't wait for people who only play this mod to think they've played Alyx and that their opinion on the game is valid. Alyx without VR is mediocre at best, and not entirely unlike playing a modern FPS on a SNES gamepad.

By the time you've changed the game and controls to be playable, you're not really playing the same game.
 

Porkous

Posts: 148   +47
If anything, this alternative would attract players more toward VR, but for now everyone is holding back until VR becomes a bit more mainstream and with more titles; some sort of conversion or choosing between normal title and vr, not just exclusive one or another...
Now players don't feel so constrained toward one option, and with this, any trace of denying that this title is not immersive enough and right on point, gonna melt and just won't resist.
Just look at how many elements are in each scene, the tiny details and story within levels. One word: depth.
 
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Lounds

Posts: 962   +861
I disagree. When you build a game for VR from the ground up you can't really expect the game to be viable for regular PC use too. What works in VR could just be considered bad game design for non-vr use (slow, clunky, etc). You would essentially have to build 2 entirely different games.
Phasmaphobia says hello.
 

Puiu

Posts: 5,058   +3,920
TechSpot Elite
Phasmaphobia says hello.
"no game should be built in First Person Perspective without both a VR mode and a non VR mode" - I disagree with all games part in the comment I replied to, not with games that can more easily translate to traditional gameplay.

Let me see you play Beat Saber with a mouse and keyboard without destroying the game.