Last time we checked in on Nathan Andrews, he was working on a Half Life 2 VR mod to support independent head and gun tracking. Andrews has continued his work on the mod which now supports the Oculus Rift and brings the Razer Hydra controller into the mix. The early results look positively enjoyable and you can download alpha version of the Half Life 2 virtual reality mod today!
Half Life 2 is one of the games that I’ve been dying to play in virtual reality and it looks like I’ll finally have the chance to do so thanks to the work of Andrews.
The mod, which is an early alpha release, adds the independent head and gun tracking, as well as Razer Hydra support, to Half Life 2. The mod is used in conjunction with the Vireio Perception drivers which add Oculus Rift support. Andrews has a guide which lists all of the files and procedures necessary to get the mod working:
Andrews also offers some pointers for first-timers:
Don’t expect to be amazing right of the bat (and play on easy). It’s easy to forget how much time we’ve spent perfecting our ability to aim with a mouse, aiming with an actual physical object in 3D space is challenging at first. It’s also really rewarding as you realize how much better you are after a few hours.
Try not to run and gun too much, take your time, use walk whenever you don’t need to explicitly run, take in the atmosphere, use cover and pick off the enemies, etc. Sprinting around firing wildly and spinning around are all pretty disorienting with the rift, even though I don’t ever get motion sick it’s still just not an enjoyable experience.
This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone following along with the VR scene. Virtual reality is going to massively impact game design, and users are going to want to play differently than they would with a mouse and keyboard.
Take the Virtuix Omni VR treadmill for instance. In any one of the Halo games, the player’s character might traverse several miles on foot over the course of the game — sprinting the whole way. While there is a huge opportunity to naturally introduce exercise into the realm of videogames, players probably aren’t going to take well to games where they are expected to sprint constantly around a massive world. An example I’ve used before: a GTA style VR game might do better with a single detailed city block in which an intricate narrative plays out, rather than the city-roaming gameplay of current GTA games.
Seeing the reload animations up close in Half Life 2 is really cool and I’m looking forward to a game where someone introduces realistic gun mechanics (ie: clip loading, bolt pulling, shotgun cocking, etc.) which you’ll be able to actually do thanks to two virtual Hydra hands.
Below you can see some gameplay teasers of Half Life 2 with the Oculus Rift and Razer Hydra: