Multiple members of the Half-Life: Alyx development team participated in a Reddit “ask me anything” (AMA) thread today. They answered many questions from fans and revealed some exciting new details about the virtual reality game.
One of the most exciting details given during the Q&A was that Half-Life: Alyx development is largely done and the game can be completed. “With the exception of some tweaks to the absolute final scene, the game is done,” confirmed the developer. “Lots of us at Valve, as well as playtesters, have played through the entire game multiple times. Right now we’re primarily polishing and fixing bugs, which is where we’d hope to be at this point in the development cycle.” So, players don’t have to worry about any delays as it is set to release in March 2020.
The developers were also asked about the recasting of Alyx as Half-Life 2 voice actress Merle Dandridge was replaced by Ozioma Akagha in Half-Life: Alyx. Valve explained that they worked with Dandridge early on in development, but the team “wanted to go in a different direction.” There’s no hard feelings, though, as they commended her talent and said that they hope to work with her once again.
The only disappointing news was that the full Source 2 software development kit (SDK) won’t be releasing alongside the title. “We’re not currently planning on shipping a full SDK,” revealed a member of the Half-Life: Alyx team. “We’d really like to release one at some point, but it’s a ton of work because Source 2 is a new toolset, much of which hasn’t been previously released. Any time we spend on it now is also time we could be spending on polishing the game itself, which we think is more important. As a result, we thought it wasn’t appropriate to promise anything before release.”
Writer Erik Wolpaw also weighed in on the tone of Half-Life: Alyx and how it reflects the original series. “I don’t think it’s changed dramatically,” said Wolpaw. “Honestly, though, I think the Half-Life games are closer in tone to the Portal games than they are to, say, The Last of Us. I spent a part of every day for 13 years talking to Laidlaw about writing. And the authors that inspired him like Frederic Brown and Robert Sheckley and crime writer Charles Willeford are all known for darkly comedic takes on genre fiction. Hell, he even named a character in [Episode 2] after Sheckley.”
Wolpaw continued by saying that having a speaking protagonist in Half-Life: Alyx is liberating for him as a writer. “It certainly makes writing scenes easier when you don’t have to write around the fact that the main character is mute,” he said. “It’s also easier to have the player feel they’re actually an active participant in the scene. In Portal we got around it a little by actually acknowledging the main character is mute. I think it’s a lot more tricky when you have to maintain a fragile fiction that the player character can talk but simply isn’t for some reason. Anyway, I was and still am happy that the main character speaks.”