Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware
|Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware|
Thumbnail for Act 1 of Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware, featuring the main cast. From left to right: Gordon Freeman, Dr. Coomer, Bubby, Tommy, and Benrey (holding a passport).
|Genre||Improv, role-playing, let's play|
|Composed by||Aquacycle |
|No. of episodes||9|
|Original release||March 5, 2020 (Twitch) |
March 9, 2020 (YouTube) – April 19, 2020
Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware (often abbreviated as HLVR:AI) is a role-playing themed livestream and an improv Machinima series staged within a virtual reality Garry's Mod recreation of the video game Half-Life. The series was live streamed to Twitch, with highlights uploaded to YouTube, and follows Gordon Freeman, accompanied by additional characters controlled by other improv actors, going through the events of the original video game.
The series was met with positive reception by critics. On May 12, 2020, a cast commentary series began being uploaded to the WayneRadioTV YouTube channel. On May 31st, 2020, a sequel, AI Crushes All Banks (often abbreviated as ACAB) was streamed as part of a charity drive, set in Payday 2, in which the main cast begins a bank robbing spree across the city of Washington DC.
Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware loosely follows the events of the original Half-Life, albeit with a much more humorous tone, with main character Gordon Freeman (played by series host WayneRadioTV) accidentally causing a Resonance Cascade and exploring Black Mesa to try to undo his actions. The series' main divergence from that of the original is the introduction of original "self-aware AI" characters, who despite the name of the series, are performed by other improv actors.
Similarly, the series is actually played within the game Garry's Mod, as Half-Life lacks support for virtual reality and additional features necessary for the staging of the series (such as limitations with object spawning and map sizes). The most notable actor-controlled characters are the series' supporting cast: three scientists named Bubby, Dr. Coomer, and Tommy, as well as an antagonistic security guard named Benrey (alternatively spelled "Benry"), all four of whom follow Gordon in his journey through Black Mesa, generally to Gordon's detriment.
- Gordon Freeman (played by WayneRadioTV): The primary protagonist of the series. A scientist at Black Mesa, Gordon is the straight man of the series, reacting with confusion and horror to the rest of the cast’s actions. Supposedly died in All Dogs Go To Heaven 2, according to Benrey.
- Dr. Harold Pontiff Coomer (played by hollow_tones): An existentialist, babbling scientist, who appears to be a severely glitched tutorial NPC. Has an affinity for Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- Dr. Tommy Coolatta (played by Baaulp): A friendly scientist. 36 years old, turns 37 at the end of the series. He and Gordon form a close bond over the course of the series.
- Dr. Bubby (played by MasterGir): A pyromantic scientist. He was created in a test tube in the depths of Black Mesa, and has lived in the facility for his whole life.
- Benrey, sometimes spelled Benry (played by socpens): An antagonistic security guard with a perpetually calm demeanor who continuously harasses Gordon over not having his passport. Claims that Gordon died in All Dogs Go To Heaven 2.
- G-Man (played by spaghoner): A seemingly omnipotent and enigmatic alien being that frequently attempts to give Gordon cryptic advice. He is later revealed to be Tommy’s father, having aided Gordon so Benrey would be defeated and Tommy and his friends could have a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.
- Forzen (played by socpens): An HECU Marine who frequently encounters the main cast. Forzen claims to have formerly been Benrey’s best friend, and the two have similar personalities and mannerisms. The only member of Teams Nice.
- Skeleton (played by socpens, spaghoner, Lauren, and Logmore): A mysterious skeleton Gordon frequently sees, and it is initially left ambiguous as to whether the Skeleton is a hallucination or not. Supposedly the skeleton of Benrey.
- Darnold (played by Logmore): The intelligent head of the Black Mesa Mixology Department. Has a potion that can regrow body parts. Is working on evil flavored Powerade.
- Sunkist Coolatta (played by Lauren): The perfect dog. He was made by Tommy, possibly with some help from G-Man. Sunkist is a very large Golden Retriever, almost the same height as Gordon.
- Joshua/Josh Freeman: Referred to on multiple occasions, Joshua is Gordon's son.
Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware was received well by reviewers. Emily Rose of Ars Technica drew comparisons to the works of Shakespeare and improvisational theater in general, saying "...the convergence of performer and digital performance has come full circle. Perhaps the culmination of the trend is [Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware]." Kotaku's Zack Zwiezen stated it was "as good as [Freeman's Mind and G-Man Squad]", two other well-known Half-Life series, calling it "a funny and oddly compelling show." Quint Iverson of The Pacific Index stated that "the frequency at which Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware turns me into a laughing mess is unparalleled." In Act 2, Part 2 of the series, the character Benrey mentions that he edited the character Gordon Freeman’s death into the Wikipedia article of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. Following the release of Act 2, Part 2 of the series, fans of the series went to the real life Wikipedia article and edited in Gordon Freeman’s death as a joke. This eventually resulted in the article being locked by moderators to prevent further abuse.
- WayneRadioTV (May 12, 2020). Half-Life VR:AI But The Cast is Commentating (ACT 1).
- Rose, Emily (April 16, 2020). "In Half-Life's improv scene, anyone can speak for Gordon Freeman". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on April 19, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
- Zwiezen, Zack (April 19, 2020). "How's It Going?: HL:VR But The AI Is Self-Aware Edition". Kotaku. Archived from the original on April 27, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
- James, Lucy (April 10, 2020). "Playing Dark Souls Using Ring Fit, and Games Contributing To Science | Good News Gaming Ep 2". GameSpot. Archived from the original on April 13, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
- Bazile, Dari (April 8, 2020). "Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware: A Fanmade Fever Dream". Phenixx Gaming.
- Iverson, Quint (April 24, 2020). "Index Staff's Quarantine Media Guide for April 24th – The Pacific Index". The Pacific Index. Archived from the original on May 18, 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
- "All Dogs Go to Heaven 2", Wikipedia, November 10, 2020, retrieved November 23, 2020