The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx, also known as Half-Life: Alyx - The Final Hours, is a 2020 interactive storybook written by Geoff Keighley (author of The Final Hours of Portal 2 and previous Final Hours articles covering Half-Life and Half-Life 2), covering the development of the Half-Life series since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, including the development of Half-Life: Alyx. It was released on July 9, 2020 and is available on Steam.
The chapter starts with Jay Benson's life journey from his early days playing Half-Life with his father, to the day he promised himself he would get a job at Valve, from his first animation projects to his attempts at a job interview at Valve, from from the day his studio, Campo Santo, was aquired by Valve to the last days of development of Half-Life: Alyx.
Benson's father's Half-Life CD on his desk.
The developer team for Half-Life: Alyx.
The team's bug tracker board.
Polygons & presence
Starting with Robin Walker and John Cook's highschool days as precocious kids interested in computers, eventually going on to develop Team Fortress as a Quakemod, this chapter's first half deals with Valve's desire of developing Source 2's technology during Episode Three's early stages of production, this would allow them to find new ways to innovate with the gameplay but also triggered a dramatic slowdown in game production; while the second half of the chapter tackles the company's endeavors into the hardware industry, from their first Augmented Reality research and development team, trough the release of the Steam Machines and Steam Controller, to the reveal of their first prototypes of Virtual Reality headsets in 2014.
Robin Walker at his desk working on Half-Life: Alyx.
Source 2 demo using Left 4 Dead's Plantation.
Valve's first VR headset prototype.
This chapter recounts some of Valve's Source 2 projects born out of the company's flat structure, like a role-playing game simply dubbed RPG, starring Dota 2 characters; an open world Left 4 Dead game set in Morroco; another project, code-named Half-Life 3 but inspired by Left 4 Dead gameplay, was to procedurally generate environments and populate them with enemies that the player would need to defeat in order to rescue a prisoner. Ultimately, none of these projects came to fruition due to the Source 2 engine needing more development time.
A.R.T.I., another Valve project with its own, separate engine.
Valve's project timeline between 2013 and 2016.
The chapter starts with the release of Robot Repair, a demo developed by Valve to start exploring how to build a game in virtual reality, while also developing their controller's technology, set in the Portal universe; following with the release of The Lab, a collection of virtual reality minigames using mostly the Unity game engine due to state of Source 2 by that time. Shooter was one of these minigames cut before it released; this prototype was Valve's aborted attempt at creating a Half-Life-themed experience inside The Lab. Putting the player in the shoes of an unnamed member of the Resistance, Shooter was set in several City 17 environments filled with weapons and Combine enemies.
Valve's first attempts at creating a VR controller.