The keys to making Half-Life: Alyx work in non-VR were seemingly left to us by Valve.
Half-Life: Alyx developer Valve fully anticipated that community modders would poke at the game enough to try and make it playable outside of VR, despite the developer repeatedly saying the experience would only work in VR.
Valve News Network’s Tyler McVicker is among the first to actually try and see if any aspect of Half-Life: Alyx can be explored without a VR headset. It turns out, Valve accidentally shipped a debug mode with Alyx that enables a wealth of options intended for testing. The debug mode has since been taken out, but not before McVicker knew of its existence.
In a datamining livestream on Twitch, the Valve News Network founder spend a couple of hours exploring the functions of different developer commands. He managed to move around the game’s world and freely look around without a VR headset. More interestingly, he found that the console command “vr_enable_fake_vr_test” actually makes Alyx’s hands visibile on screen, which can be used to interact with objects in the game’s world.
They’re not animated in the same way they would be using a headset and motion-tracked controllers, of course, but a crude implementation of them exists outside of VR. Though you’re able to shoot, Gravity Gloves don’t appear to be working at this stage.
The debug mode allows for a wealth of other options that skip the required VR motions, turning them into button presses instead. Doors, for instance, can be opened by hitting E on the keyboard, where you’d need to physically grab the door knob and twist it in VR. In his datamining session, McVicker also managed to find commands to display classic Half-Life UI and HUD on screen.
We’ve embedded the full stream below. It’s worth watching, even if only to see how Valve went about testing various aspects of the game without a VR headset.
This obviously shouldn’t take away from the studio’s accomplishments with VR tech, nor is this an optimal way to play. In our review, Kirk called Alyx VR’s killer app, so you’ll need a VR headset to get that experience.
Thanks, PC Gamer.