今日推薦英文原文：《Is Half-Life: Alyx the VR Game We』ve Been Waiting For?》
推薦理由：Flutter 是 Google 免費、開源的 UI 工具包，幫助開發者通過一套代碼庫高效構建多平台精美應用，支持移動、Web、桌面和嵌入式平台。部分實例的 github 鏈接：Flutter-samples***
今日推薦英文原文：《Is Half-Life: Alyx the VR Game We』ve Been Waiting For?》作者：Joshua Gad
推薦理由：1998年，《半條命 (Half-life)》 問世，開創了 FPS 的新規範，堪稱遊戲史上一座里程碑；而2020年，Value出版的VR遊戲 《Half-life:Alyx》 再度掀起熱潮，或許又預示著另一個開端，VR 遊戲的開端。
Is Half-Life: Alyx the VR Game We』ve Been Waiting For?
Valve』s ambitious new game could be VR』s first killer appFor years gamers have awaited the return of the Half-Life series. It is no secret that Valve takes its time in order to develop, perfect, and deliver some of the best games ever made. Many gamers who were disappointed by early VR games were equally as disapproving of Valve for making the next game in the Half-Life series a 『VR gimmick,』 but the developers at Valve knew it was something else.
A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in the way we think about something. It has been a well-kept secret that Valve has been working on a VR game since before the technology was available to the public. Before Oculus Rift was even on the market, Valve had offered to share their VR research with them. Half-Life: Alyx is the culmination of all those years of research and development into the first fully realized feature length game made for specifically for VR.
Valve』s view when creating games in the Half-Life series is that they have to solve a problem in game design. I haven』t played every VR game on the market, but the many I tried don』t exactly have hours of quality gameplay and depth. Valve has managed to achieve both with Half-Life: Alyx.
The game takes place following the events of the original Half-Life. The alien Combine have decimated human civilization. You play as Alyx Vance, a member of the human resistance, who is on a mission to rescue its leader — and her father — Dr. Eli Vance. With Dr. Vance captured, you become humanity』s last chance of survival. You must venture toward the heart of the alien threat, codebreaking, shooting, and looking for anything that will help rescue your father and get the Combine off earth.
There is a reason VR has had an unhealthy stigmatization as a 『gimmick』. VR in its early years wasn』t ready for anything other than indie developments or AAA side projects. The technology was new and in development — it wouldn』t make sense to attempt a complex narrative game unless the system and audience could support it. So VR games started off relatively simply, such as with Eve: Valkyrie』s stationary shooting mechanics, SUPERHOT』s legendarily satisfying gameplay, or Moss』s mouse-to-scale adventure. These VR products that usually retail for $30 or less, provide players with an arcade-like experience. Even with adventure games, the space is more often than not constrained and packaged to be a neat little VR experience, but perhaps not one with the depth and scope to which more die hard gamers are accustomed. This is not to say there aren』t great VR games, but few have come close to the level of detail and variety seen in this VR installation of the Half-Life series.
Half-Life: Alyx was released for $60, the price of a regular AAA video game, and it delivers everything you would expect from a video game and more in VR. For those who have played it, everyone』s first thought when looking off the balcony at City 17 is how detailed and amazing the graphics are. The physics of the world does not fail expectations. You can shatter a bottle, a box, a vase — and then pick up the pieces; you can throw a book or a piece of wood at a pigeon or enemy and they will react accordingly.
We』ll get to gameplay in a bit, but the most impressive part of the game is no doubt the environment. Even though it seems that City 17 is just another apocalyptic game world, only a few hours in and you realize how different the atmosphere can be in different areas. It can invoke the wasteland, curiosity, caution, warmth, and power, and that in and of itself is an achievement for VR games.
Other VR games do have these beautiful environments, but what they lack is the gameplay variety and narrative pacing of Half-Life: Alyx. Like all good games, early on levels and environments are about teaching you the game mechanics in a safe space. Most VR titles rely on a simulated test, but for Half-Life the main character, Alyx, is gearing up for her journey into the quarantine zone to rescue her father. Teaching the player to shoot and reload isn』t just a simple prompt with some target practice, it is very purposeful, and articulates a balance of design, attention, and threatening suspense.
The gun mechanics are satisfying, but what impressed me most was the pacing and sparseness of the intense encounters with other characters. Early in the game there are few heated firefights, and more puzzles and room for world exploration, but towards the end of the game with the narrative tension turning up, the gunplay and intensity really shine through. Valve utilizes textbook video game pacing in all their games, and it is no different here. It works well and should inspire any developer to spend the time learning the basics of narrative structure utilized across all art forms, the basics of which include rising action, climax, denouement, and resolution. Even the ending gives way to a low intensity but ultimately satisfying conclusion, and that is no easy task.
Aside from guns, most of the time throughout City 17 is occupied by puzzles, hazards, exploration, and general character and world interaction. Puzzles can take the form of a hazard, or a piece of machinery you haven』t quite seen before but need to mess around with to understand for a task. These tasks can take the form of a multi-tool minigame, for instance: interacting with a tool that allows you to reconnect circuits or solve various holographic light puzzles. The circuit breaking puzzles are by far my favorite and the most straightforward. They often force the player to explore their surroundings to uncover a hidden branch of the circuit. Other puzzles could have you connect the dots or neutralize lasers by finding the correct placement in 3D space. They are a welcome addition that, although some players might find them frustrating, provides spectacle and a break from intense firefight gameplay.
Aside from all of this, what carries Alyx — and what has been the bane of most VR games — is the clunky movement and grabbing mechanism which the game rightfully does away with. The developers give you a plethora of options to change how you move. From angle snapping, smooth locomotion settings, to teleport dashing through the game, the player can choose how they want to move around the world. While movement options are great, the gravity gloves are even better. The simple act of aiming, flicking your wrist, and catching an object feels good and solves so many problems about awkwardly reaching for an item out of bounds or on the floor in VR. That box you see 10 feet in front of you, one flick of the wrist and it』s yours.
All in all, Half-Life: Alyx is the VR game the industry has been waiting for. It offers a full-length story complete with gameplay beats in an immersive and carefully thought out world. It』s what VR was dreamed up to be, and it』s a promising look for the future of the platform. As VR tech gets better, the bar for Valve』s games and the industry will have to as well, such feat is demonstrated in Half-Life: Alyx.