News Half-Life: Alyx - Releasing March 2020 on SteamVR

Alextended

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Again, not really proof, someone saying something legit once doesn't make everything else that comes out of his mouth such. Given you agree about behavior and clickbait if anything it's likely he'd use his repuation over one or two legit pieces of information to bring him attention when he lacks such information as well. Personally I've seen nothing that says Boneworks has any influence on Alyx, if anything they're kinda taking the opposite core approach (ie, floating hands, not IK bodies, though Boneworks isn't the first prominent project to have these either) and once again, there are tons upon tons of other games that have done the things it's claimed Boneworks influenced. I have no reason to bring up Valve's perceived myopia (if anything it's the Boneworks developers that appear to be so given many mishaps in their own implementations of things that came before) or any other opinion I may have of them just to reinforce that indeed if there was no Boneworks Half-Life: Alyx would have been a total amateur hour project resembling 2016 VR experiments nobody wants. It's frankly, simply, absurd.
 
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Aelphaeis Mangarae

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Again, not really proof, and someone saying something legit once doesn't make everything else that comes out of his mouth legit.
The only case of VNN having a problem was when they were covering user-submitted emails/responses from Gabe Newell (Gabe does respond to emails) and someone submitted a fake email along the lines of "Don't die within the next 5 years."

I have never seen any evidence to discredit VNN's anonymous sources within Valve. All claims attributed to these anonymous sources have proven correct AFAIK. Being an old school fan of Half-Life, I've followed VNN on and off over the years, and I've never seen a "My sources tell me X" claim that turned out to be bullshit. Being right about things year after year without fail is proof. It's the only kind of proof that really matters.

When VNN says that their sources have told them that Valve are making Left 4 Dead VR, I believe them. Because they were right about everything else. When they say that non-teleportation movement isn't working in HL Alyx at the time of writing, I believe them. This is how verified anonymous leaking works.

Regardless, HL Alyx failed to appear at the TGAs, disrupting the show. It is unfortunate. Reliable sources indicate it is because Valve didn't want to demo the game running in teleportation mode because everyone will compare it to Boneworks, and because none of the other locomotion methods are working currently. That's the current status of the game. It missed its 2019 release date, and I wouldn't be surprised if it misses its March release date, too, to ensure that the game consistently rivals its competitors in terms of functionality.
 

Alextended

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I guess you can add these claims as more of those that weren't proven to be bullshit (never mind they can't be proven true either, that's a minor detail, who cares about that, right?) so that the next time something else is said it'll also be just as true, since by saying things that can't be proven one or the other way, one can claim they have an ever expanding perfect track record. Great methodology, lol. Gabe could bother commenting on rumours and speculation like that for once and it still wouldn't matter because hey, someone got a thing right, so every thing they say is right, Gabe is a lying jerk would be the conclusion (I mean, you're a jerk to begin with if the one time you comment on rumours it's just to shoot down a poor indie project like that after all), just as Valve being a myopic developer who hadn't seen a gazillion other notable VR projects before Boneworks (and essentially missed the whole direction VR gaming has been going the last several years) is apparently the logical conclusion I should arrive at here. I guess the next thing to claim is that Boneworks is the reason the knuckles (Index) controllers even became a thing because clearly if you don't care or have any concept of such physical interactions why would you care for controllers that enable those interactions to be more realistic and involving? Ah well, why be so modest, let's just say Boneworks is the founder of modern VR gaming, period.
 
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Swenhir

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I think the idea that Valve reacted to Boneworks only makes sense and the general argument for keeping your eyes open to what is going on during development is far from extraordinary. Where I think the phrasing - or the leak - is pushing it is when they say that Alyx's entire physics-driven gameplay exists solely as a reaction to Boneworks. I don't buy that for a second, not from the people who created Source and made that demo.

To be honest the whole leak revolving around Boneworks sounds really fishy to me.
 
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Aelphaeis Mangarae

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I think the idea that Valve reacted to Boneworks only makes sense and the general argument for keeping your eyes open to what is going on during development is far from extraordinary. Where I think the phrasing - or the leak - is pushing it is when they say that Alyx's entire physics-driven gameplay exists solely as a reaction to Boneworks. I don't buy that for a second, not from the people who created Source and made that demo.

To be honest the whole leak revolving around Boneworks sounds really fishy to me.
It's worth noting that The Lab didn't have proper physics until August 2019.
Prior to this update, your hands simply phased through everything unless you were specifically grabbing.
 

Alextended

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The Lab came out in 2016 as stated on that page, it's not necessarily gonna be constantly & timely upgraded to the level of all future Valve tech forever more. Alyx is obviously a 2020+ game so obviously there are a ton of VR games that came out before it, that's not proof any one of them is the cause of any feature.
 
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Durante

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I think the idea that Valve reacted to Boneworks only makes sense and the general argument for keeping your eyes open to what is going on during development is far from extraordinary. Where I think the phrasing - or the leak - is pushing it is when they say that Alyx's entire physics-driven gameplay exists solely as a reaction to Boneworks. I don't buy that for a second, not from the people who created Source and made that demo.

To be honest the whole leak revolving around Boneworks sounds really fishy to me.
Honestly, that idea just sounds like bullshit to anyone with an iota of industry experience. That's not how any of this works.
 

Aelphaeis Mangarae

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Honestly, that idea just sounds like bullshit to anyone with an iota of industry experience. That's not how any of this works.
There are reliable anonymous Valve insiders claiming that for most of its development, HL Alyx didn't have physical presence for the player. It had the exact same kind of "hands phase through the environment" gameplay seen in every single Valve VR demo prior to mid-2019. That it didn't have any locomotion methods besides teleportation. That the team behind the game thought it didn't need any kind of trailer. It paints a picture of a team misunderstanding its audience and drifting away from the IP where IP expectations didn't align with what they were making.

Now they are scrambling to retool HL Alyx into something closer to what the audience expects. Think Thief 4 and its development issues. What the audience expects is the level of interactivity seen in Boneworks. Much of the hype behind Boneworks was driven by the perception that was a sort of Half-Life spiritual successor, headcrabs and all Also a "next gen" VR game.. It would be a very bad look to have Crowbcat videos and the like mocking Alyx as outdated. Just imagine:
  • Boneworks Clip: Sweep condiments off table.
  • HL Alyx Clip: Try to sweet condiments off table, hand simply phases through them like all of Valve's VR demos prior to mid-2019.
  • Sad clown noises.
That's physics driven gameplay in a VR context. Just in case you were confused by the semantics. Nothing Valve have done prior to mid-2019 demonstrated any interest in physical presence in the world to my knowledge. If anything, they were opposed to it. Valve felt that in order to prevent disconnects between player movement and ingame movement, you should simply phase through objects. Valve sidestepped certain problems for years by treating the player character as a disembodied ghost that only interacts with things by specifically grabbing them.

Insiders claimed that HL Alyx didn't have non-teleportation movement for most of development. This aligns with Valve's somewhat dogmatic devotion to teleportation exclusively. Weeks ago, insiders claimed that non-teleportation movement wasn't working yet. Then the TGAs roll around and HL Alyx gets pulled hours before the show. Insiders claim it's because the non-teleportation methods aren't ready and Valve got scared about what would happen if people saw nothing but teleportation. (The HL VR trailer didn't have Alyx teleporting around the room for very good reason.)

I think more than anything else, the "valve bubble" was initially burst by Artifact. Valve failed to notice the myriad glaring problems with Artifact as a concept, as a game. In the wake of its catastrophic reception, they humbly declared, "Artifact represents the largest discrepancy between our expectations for how one of our games would be received and the actual outcome." Valve's handling of Artifact is comparable to Ubisoft entering panic mode after GR: Breakpoint catastrophically missed the mark with their audience. Valve has pivoted from ivory tower "everyone is going to love this" to watching their peers/competitors carefully and listening to community. We saw this shift pretty strongly with DOTA Underlords.
 

Durante

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To me, all of this sounds like so much made-up drama. Trying to build a compelling story rather than reality. At the very best, hugely embellishing and misunderstanding a few core nuggets of facts.

Much of it isn't falsifiable without direct information (always a good thing if you want to tell a compelling story without too much fact checking). Still, given that I've just rewatched some Valve VR-related talks from 2015 and 16 yesterday that are still, in many ways, ahead of the pack compared to the state of the art right now, almost in 2020, I just don't feel inclined to buy into those stories. At all.
 

Alextended

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To me, all of this sounds like so much made-up drama. Trying to build a compelling story rather than reality. At the very best, hugely embellishing and misunderstanding a few core nuggets of facts.

Much of it isn't falsifiable without direct information (always a good thing if you want to tell a compelling story without too much fact checking). Still, given that I've just rewatched some Valve VR-related talks from 2015 and 16 yesterday that are still, in many ways, ahead of the pack compared to the state of the art right now, almost in 2020, I just don't feel inclined to buy into those stories. At all.
Feels like alongside the general anti-Steam sentiment people are eager to put down everything Valve does. From how the store/library updates were "too long overdue" (never mind it still was better than all others and became more so) to how they have no passion for game making and Alyx is just a product to push VR (by negatively misinterpreting their own statements). Now they've also talked about all the prototypes and experiments, somehow that's considered "a strange development cycle" showing some indie game is the sole reason Alyx has any qualities to show at all, when it's pretty damn normal (at least when you don't just set out to create another clone of that existing popular thing with your own twist and start with a default FPS SDK found in your engine of choice or something, never mind when you're developing for a brand new medium you were pivotal in shaping the capabilities and hardware of). Hell, Nintendo has talked about all the quirky prototypes they had going before arriving to BOTW's, Splatoon's even Mistwalker's The Last Story's final form. It's normal if not desirable, it's just not often shared with the public and when it is most people don't even care to take notice except when someone uses it to make up some drama like this.
 
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Aelphaeis Mangarae

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I think it comes down to choosing not to believe things because you don't want them to be true for whatever reason.

A month before HL Alyx was announced, this video released. People who disputed it ended up with massive amounts of egg on their faces. He was even correct about the game not having a "pancake" version. (Mouse and keyboard, non-VR.) The reason people were in denial about Half-Life VR being a prequel starring Alyx was that they didn't want the next Half-Life to be a VR-only game. There's still a lot of anti-VR stigma, and Valve going all-in on VR was viewed with disdain. You've still got people arguing that this game is just a stepping stone for Valve to make a "real" -- read: non-VR -- Half-Life game.

It's one thing to dispute the veracity of claims because they come from unreliable sources or they contract known facts. The claims made by VNN about HL Alyx are backed up by Valve's own internal development pipeline leaking through engine updates. They are backed up by the Half-Life Alyx trailer.

Over the years, strings were added indicating aspects of gameplay. We can spot that the game originally used teleportation exclusively. The engine wasn't set up for anything else. We knew about the Gravity Gloves. (Originally called Grabbity Gloves). We can spot that the game originally used classic non-physical hands. We can see that fairly recently, the game's interaction systems were redone. There were no updates to The Lab between 2017 and 2019. And then out of the blue, Valve adds a completely new style of interaction to the game.
The interaction system originally created for The Lab has been completely overhauled. Nearly all interactable objects can be freely poked, thrown, bashed against each other, stacked, toppled, and smashed. You are no longer a ghostly visitor to VR, your hands are physical like everything else, grounding you in the universe and raising your immersion to new heights. The Lab is a playground, and one that you can now enjoy like never before.
The two key gameplay claims are thus:
  • HL Alyx used teleportation exclusively for most of development.
  • HL Alyx didn't have physical hands until fairly recently, and the game is currently being retooled to add more physics.
There is little to no evidence disproving this.. On the other hand these is plenty of evidence in Valve's own engine updates pointing towards it, in addition to claims made by reliable insiders.

I especially don't understand why it's suddenly a disputed point that Valve would use teleportation as a primary locomotion method in HL Alyx. They've always used teleportation. Yet suddenly it is disputed that non-teleportation movement systems are a recent addition when this is clearly verified by Source 2 engine updates.

There's a distinct feeling that some people won't believe anything unless Valve tells it to them directly. Half-Life 2 is most definitely hitting that 2003 release date. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. What's that? Someone stole the game and it is incredibly unfinished? Nonsense. Reliable insider says the VGA demo for Alyx was cancelled because smooth locomotion wasn't working? Let's just dispute this despite nobody having a better explanation.
 

Alextended

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And Boneworks only added smooth turning at the tail end of its development, that doesn't mean I can point out of the blue to a specific game that was the reason for it because you can't think of a better explanation. Again, bits and pieces of correct information here and there don't have to arrive to VNN's clearly biased conclusions and you taking them as gospel and expecting everyone to do the same. You've not added anything new to the discussion with the above post, just chose to circle jerk around its course and claim people who don't believe it are Valve fanboys, further showing the flawed logic in your conclusions.

Yes, circa 2016, the dawn of modern VR with Vive having just been launched, it was a common theory smooth locomotion was too much. Nobody disputed this. But no, Boneworks hasn't in any way been a pioneer in changing that mindset, they have only been following developments and progress as others did before them. As for the physics, again, Valve has been doing them long before VR, there's no evidence or logic in suggesting they'd ditch it for their VR games and a 2016 mini game collection released for free to VR's first adopters isn't evidence towards reinforcing that Boneworks fan fiction. What you show is confirmation bias, having a nugget of "truth" that you then bend all circumstantial at best and unrelated at worst evidence to fit inside it because some guy rambling on YouTube for 10 minutes at a time after information you can sum up in 3 words says so. Sorry if I don't think any of that is proof Valve's developers are essentially incompetent and out of touch with the VR medium they're directly responsible for creating in its modern iteration and working with a ton of devs to further, as if the analog sticks on the Index controllers could be for anything other than allowing for free locomotion as sticks do in non VR games at their most basic.
 
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Aelphaeis Mangarae

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And Boneworks only added smooth turning at the tail end of its development, that doesn't mean I can point out of the blue to a specific game that was the reason for it because you can't think of a better explanation (like standard game development progression isn't one).
Your attitude towards Boneworks is very strange. You seem to view HL Alyx taking influence from the only third party game to ever appear on Valve's Steam Master List (albeit temporarily) as some kind of insult. Imagine someone saying, "Oh, the reason Duke 3D has mouse look is because someone played Terminator: Future Shock and sent an email to the developers asking them to implement it." And then you say, "that doesn't mean I can point out of the blue to a specific game that was the reason for it because you can't think of a better explanation (like standard game development progression isn't one)." It's like those people who disputed that Thief was influenced by GoldenEye up until the point Looking Glass released an interview talking about how their favorite game during Thief's development was GoldenEye. Or those people who disputed that Half-Life 1 was influenced by GoldenEye even though HL1 was rebooted a month after GE released and David Doak met Valve at a trade show and they told him his game had forced them to redo stuff.

Why on earth is Valve taking influence from popular games and listening to the desires of the community a bad thing? Why do you view claims that Valve is now conscious of how their games will be perceived as a bad thing? You seem upset about the allegation from a reliable source that HL Alyx's VGA demo was cancelled because smooth locomotion wasn't ready. Why? Would you rather Valve had demoed the game to negative reactions? Cancelling was rude and clearly derailed the timing of the VGAs.

I find it very strange that you and some other people are upset to learn that Valve initially built HL Alyx with The Lab-style interactivity, and after Boneworks (and other games -- this doesn't have to be said, BTW) they decided to pivot to physicalized hands which they made an effort to show off in Alyx's trailer.
 

Alextended

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It's not an insult because it's Boneworks or any game but it does point to Valve being quite incompetent and out of touch with the medium they (co)created if they needed Boneworks of all things to show them things like physics and free locomotion are viable in VR. And I don't care if Valve is or isn't incompetent, I'm just pointing out there's little evidence to suggest they are this bad. It's just absurd and I have no reason to lap it up and put Boneworks on a pedestal and further VNN's so called reputation just because it's not something to get worked up over. That's how bullshit spreads, by people with the logic to question them not saying anything at all because hey, it's no big deal one way or the other, let those guys have their fanfic. Feel free to believe this, I'm not trying to change your mind, clearly you're quite adamant you know the truth and anyone disputing it has some kind of fanboyish motive behind it, just don't expect everyone to believe it when you clearly lack proof, when you admit you lack proof, when you admit all you have as evidence is some guy saying so, yet then still try to twist and bend pretty much everything surrounding this topic as evidence supporting your belief with nothing but confirmation bias. Feel free to continue saying you think such and such is plausible because such and such said so, I'll continue saying it's not proof when you present it as an argument or a fact in a discussion.
 
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Aelphaeis Mangarae

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as if the analog sticks on the Index controllers could be for anything other than allowing for free locomotion as sticks do in non VR games at their most basic.
My understanding is that Valve never wanted to include the analogue sticks. They were added because developers kept asking for them. Also, the initial batch of Index controllers had defective analogue sticks.

Don't underestimate design being shaped by the tastes of higher ups. Do you know why EA games in the early 2000s didn't have conventional dual analogue controls? Because an unnamed EA executive didn't like them. This factoid comes from a former Eurocom dev. This exec preferred the GoldenEye 1.1 Honey-style controls where you moved and turned with the left stick. Chet Faliszek, who was lead VR evangelist, didn't think that smooth locomotion was the way to go.

Now here is the thing. I am not saying that people like Chet Faliszek are WRONG. Merely that his views pushed Valve away from smooth locomotion for a long time, even after he departed. Sometimes the public rejects good ideas because they want devs to chase fads. Ignoring unwise customer requests wisdom. (A good example of this is how both Crytek and Valve refused to implement arms in VR. People kept mocking Crytek over it, and Crytek stuck to their guns because floating hands flat-out work better. Time has vindicated them.)

Multiple things are being conflated here:
  1. Valve being myopic/overly optimistic. Thinking HL Alyx didn't need a trailer, for example. Very bad idea. Good thing they changed their mind. Reflects saner heads prevailing.
  2. Valve being paranoid about public perception. They've become way more self-conscious after Artifact. This is the exact opposite of the previous point. Valve didn't want their game misunderstood by people who don't understand the purpose of teleportation movement. Let's be clear. There's nothing wrong with teleportation movement as an option, or in some cases as the only movement system. Let's not forget how much hot water poor Crytek ended up in when they decided to only support smooth locomotion in games like Robinson: The Journey. But smooth locomotion, particularly with some tricks to reduce head movement, looks way better for demos. Unfortunately, smooth locomotion wasn't ready for the VGAs. You can choose not to believe this if you want, but I see no reason to.
  3. Valve making fairly drastic overhauls way too close to the release date. For example, deciding that HL Alyx needs to be far more physics-driven to utilize player physical presence in the world, which is a recent addition. This is a good change, but it's very late to be making it. They are cutting things very close with this game. I think it will be delayed again. (Remember that the original release date was 2019.)
when you clearly lack proof, when you admit you lack proof, when you admit all you have as evidence is some guy saying so
I'm sorry, but that's literally how anonymous sources work. See this article? It's an in-depth exploration of Mafia 3's design, and the game turned out the way it did. It is based on 100% anonymous interviews.
There is zero reason to doubt the contents of this article because Jason Schreier is a consistently reliable source. Do we trust his speculation on series like Splinter Cell? Not necessarily. But when you are consistently right about things, this gives your word weight. VNN has been releasing videos for 8 years. A lotta clickbait. A lot of speculation based on engine strings. A number of pure speculation videos. But among it all is a consistent thread. Whenever a claim is backed by "My source tells me", it is correct as far back as I can remember.

There is a difference between casual unverified rumours that are fun to talk about, but everyone takes them with a grain of salt vs claims made by a consistently correct source. You can fault his speculation. You can't fault his sourced claims, IMHO. If he were guilty of spouting bullshit as fact, you'd easily find examples of it. The guy has made a career out of being right about stuff in bite sized chunks stuffed inside 10 minute long videos. You haven't given any reason to disbelieve these claims beyond not wanting to believe them because you don't like the source and/or the implications of the claims.

If VNN claims that HL Alyx was rebooted in early 2019 with veteran HL Episode writers returning, I believe them unless someone comes along with evidence that contradicts it. I for one do prefer hard evidence to anonymous sources. However, their sources are consistently correct, and massive story revamps a year before release are not new for Valve. I have absolutely no doubt that when Raising the Bar for HL Alyx is released details will match. (Whether Valve are open about certain details such as why Laidlaw left the company is another matter, though.)
some indie game is the sole reason Alyx has any qualities to show at all,
At the end of the day, reliable sources claim that prior to Boneworks, HL Alyx did not feature the physics-driven gameplay seen in this clip. Previously, the player's hands were not physicalized. You could not brush objects aside to reach the shotgun shells since hands would phase through geometry. You would have to pick them up manually. This functionality, which is a huge paradigm shift for VR design, was not added to The Lab until mid-2019, and sources we have no reason to doubt claim it was a recent addition to HL Alyx.

Imagine if The Lab had featured physicalized hands prior to Boneworks. That would settle it, wouldn't it? But unfortunately, The Lab didn't implement this stuff until several months after Valve got their hands on Boneworks. It doesn't matter that Boneworks is one of several games Valve took influence from. Reliable sources say it was a key source of influence on HL Alyx's recent design pivots. This isn't saying that HL Alyx was a bad game at any point during its development. Merely that the very immersive environmental physics seen in the trailer were not in the old versions of the game.

Whether anyone likes it or not, Boneworks is the game HL Alyx is being measured against. It is the new benchmark for VR FPS design. The bar that HL VR is striving to surpass. I think there's a decent chance HL Alyx will surpass it and become the killer app for VR, in part because the devs give a shit about player comfort, unlike Stress Level Zero, who take a somewhat condescending "git gud & git not motion sick" approach. But I take the good with the bad. This would not be the first time a Valve project has run into problems. nor the first time there has been a disconnect between what Valve wanted to make, and what people expected them to make. Valve have started paying attention to community feedback precisely because they want to avoid a repeat of Artifact.
 
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Alextended

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Lots of talk with no proof, again. I already said I'm not trying to change your mind so idk what you're trying to do when you can't provide proof to back up your claim yet continue to circle jerk the same things people have already responded to. Refer to previous posts for still valid responses to all the above, 0 new stuff.

Yes, Valve was fond of touchpads in place of sticks as on the Steam controller, doesn't mean those also don't have locomotion at their core, plus versatility.

If ignorant people that don't have that much experience with many other VR games and fell for the successful marketing hype that got Boneworks as well known as it is (and I fell for it myself, I had high hopes) want to measure Alyx against Boneworks it will only seem that much more impressive, polished and fun. But all this has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, joe gamer thinking Boneworks is the first/best in anything doesn't mean Valve thought so too.

That bar will be surpasssed easily, handily as there already are better games than Boneworks, whether joe gamer knows of them or not, whether they try to do the same things Boneworks fails at or try different approaches and actually do them successfully instead. Unless Valve is as incompetent as you think, we'll see.

I never said Valve doesn't care for community feedback either. That doesn't make all your other claims true. And they don't only do it after artifact, that's silly to claim. Steam itself is built upon taking feedback from both users and developers/publishers to heart. Taking in feedback doesn't mean they're immune to making games that fail to catch on like artifact for you to think they only started looking at feedback after that game. Anyway, you're doing nothing but circle jerk the same proof-less talking points and confound discussion by adding all kinds of random unrelated points such as this. Again, if any of this appears to be evidence that backs up your primary points, it's only your adamant confirmation bias that leads you to think so. Because it's not and does not.

I'm done with the topic until something worth discussing comes up, otherwise it became poinltess several circle jerk posts ago.
To me, all of this sounds like so much made-up drama. Trying to build a compelling story rather than reality. At the very best, hugely embellishing and misunderstanding a few core nuggets of facts.

Much of it isn't falsifiable without direct information (always a good thing if you want to tell a compelling story without too much fact checking). Still, given that I've just rewatched some Valve VR-related talks from 2015 and 16 yesterday that are still, in many ways, ahead of the pack compared to the state of the art right now, almost in 2020, I just don't feel inclined to buy into those stories. At all.
Honestly, that idea just sounds like bullshit to anyone with an iota of industry experience. That's not how any of this works.
 
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Durante

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Hey look, fully implemented joystick locomotion (that was additionally confirmed to work really well by the Tested guys on reddit).

But obviously VNN has "reliable sources" since the guy makes up a sufficient number of (often unfalsifiable) bullshit to be right once in a blue moon.