Truth be told, we may never get Half-Life 3. So let's all console ourselves with a Half-Life 2: VR mod that has just entered Steam Greenlight.
The mod, which has been in development since 2013, has redone all the maps with HDR lighting and hi-res shadows, while remodeling all the weapons to be VR compatible, including the trademark Crowbar. It is expected to be compatible with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and should be released "soon." You'll need Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 and 2 to play it, but only Half-Life 2 will be playable initially. Episodes 1 and 2 will come later.
The mod has sat dormant for a few years because, even though the Source engine had been modified to support Oculus Rift dev kits, Valve never modified the Source code as the VR tech continued to get better. The project sat idle because few people had Oculus Rift dev kits to play.
“The Source engine is DirectX 9 only which does not allow texture sharing and is not supported by any of the new VR APIs [which the modern VR headsets rely on],” Marulu, one of the key members of the dev team, told Road to VR. “Oculus and SteamVR both need DirectX 10+. Valve thus abandoned [VR support in Source] and left it in the [Rift] DK2 ‘extended’ state based on a old SteamVR version.”
However, through its own efforts, the dev team has found a way to make it work with current Vive and Rift headsets. “We hacked that support to gain control over it and using my special rendering code I send the DirectX frames in low latency directly to the VR SDKs," Marulu said. "It should be as low latency as native DirectX 11 rendering. This code was developed by me for my secret project, which will launch soon, and was reused for the Half-Life 2: VR mod.”
As for the game assets, team member Wormslayer had his own set of tasks, many of which were done before the current project was revived. “After Half-Life 2 was released [in 2004], [Valve] added a bunch of new features to the engine, like HDR lighting, which were used in the Episodes,” he said. “So I updated all of the levels to use that, and some other features like accurate shadows from static meshes, and also went through and hand-optimized the resolution of the shadow maps everywhere. I fixed countless misaligned textures, little gaps in the level geometry, etc.”
While the game is expected to be true to the original, the team plans to allow for ambidextrous or dual wielding of weapons, which should make for an interesting adjustment. There will also be support for a standing a sitting experience, with the thumbstick for snap turns. The game will also have an "arcade" reload setting.
Check out the trailer below, then head over to Half-Life 2: VR's Steam Greenlight page to click your support.
John Keefer posted a new article, Half-Life-2: VR Mod Re-emerges on Steam Greenlight
Modders release more games than valve these days. Crazy.