Today marks the release of Half-Life: Alyx, a virtual reality-exclusive title and the series' first installment in over 12 years. This being Valve's first full-length single-player game in close to a decade, on top of being a Half-Life title, means this is the first time that some relatively recent hires have had a chance to make their mark. It's also the chance for some longtime Valve employees to take on a more significant role in Half-Life.
Half-Life: Alyx was in development at Valve for about four years, during which Erik Wolpaw and Chris Remo were only around for about half of the time. Wolpaw, who joined Valve as a writer in the mid-2000s, left the company shortly after the earliest VR experiments that led to Half-Life's return got under way. Remo and his comrades from Campo Santo—the developers of Firewatch—all joined Valve in 2018, when Alyx was well into production. Wolpaw then came back to Valve as a contractor later that year.
Remo, a designer and programmer on Alyx, remembers playing the original Half-Life games as a fan; Wolpaw helped out on the Half-Life 2 Episodes, but those were still mainly the domain of original series writer Marc Laidlaw (Wolpaw also, of course, wrote for Portal and Left 4 Dead). Half-Life: Alyx is Remo's first Half-Life game as a developer, and it's the first time a team has taken over from Laidlaw, who announced his retirement from Valve in 2016. Wolpaw, Jay Pinkerton, and Campo Santo's Sean Vanaman worked out Alyx's story together.
In the past year, Remo says Half-Life: Alyx has become "almost a whole new game." USgamer had the opportunity to chat with Remo and Wolpaw ahead of Alyx's release. In this installment, we talk broadly about coming back to Half-Life, designing for VR, and the fate of other projects like Double Fine's Psychonauts 2 (which Wolpaw wrote for) and Campo Santo's on-hiatus In the Valley of Gods.
Writer Erik Wolpaw and designer Chris Remo on casting characters old and new, Campo Santo's influence, and more.