Valve's next big title Half-Life: Alyx could have been a third Portal, according to Valve devs. The official announcement of Half-Life: Alyx left the internet in a state of frenzy, with fans just itching to know all there is to know about the new project that has been in development for nearly three years.
In a short YouTube video hosted by game journalist Geoff Keighley, some of these burning questions were answered. Amongst said questions was, of course, why Alyx isn't Half-Life 3 (the pain evident in the eyes of the interviewees at the mere mention of the latter), as well as how and why Valve decided to turn this particular concept into a game.
Half-Life: Alyx was actually not the original idea. Rather, the game's development process was set in motion by the concept of VR more than anything else. According to Valve programmer and designer David Speyrer, the project started off as "let's do a big VR game," and not "let's do another Half-Life game." After some consideration, Valve then dwindled the options down to Portal and Half-Life, thinking that these two would lend themselves best to the VR platform. So, we could very well have ended up with a third Portal game, which would've let you launch yourself through portals but in virtual reality.
Feeling nauseous yet? Well, that's what the folks at Valve realized would most likely happen to a lot of players: "Portal is so much about flinging yourself through space and through portals that we thought: 'Well, we're gonna make a bunch of people sick with this game.'"
Motion sickness is already a pretty serious problem with VR. It represents a pesky obstacle to VR game developers in any standard game setting, let alone one in which the player is "thinking with portals."
The team decided that the Half-Life world and its "DNA" would be far better suited to the VR platform and would be enhanced by it in a way that Portal couldn't be.
Here, the gameplay would emphasize exploration, interaction, combat, and complete immersion in a massive alien (yet somewhat familiar) world.
Although Portal won't be making a VR comeback, some of its writers are reportedly involved in the development process of Half-Life: Alyx. Considering the success of both Half-Life and Portal, the stage is set for Alyx to be another groundbreaking addition to Valve's repertoire.