Discover this Lost Maxis Game, Horrifying VR Nightmares

TODAY: EA has started launching games on Steam, celebrates with sale — Silent Hills P.T. demo recreated as VR experience using Half-Life: Alyx — HP is getting ready to release a VR headset in collaboration with Valve

Top Story

Maxis made a training simulation for an oil refinery in California in the early 90s

A long-lost Maxis gem has been uncovered and made playable. Sim Refinery was developed for Chevron, and the goal was to teach employees how a refinery fits together.

The prototype was created by Maxis Business Solutions, a subsidiary of the Sim City, Spore The Sims developer. It was never intended as a ‘full game’ but as way to quickly get a feel for how refineries work and how to deal with the kinds of problems they have.

Fire and forget: “Nobody held onto SimRefinery because it didn’t seem important,” wrote Phil Salvador in The Obscurity. “It was a one-off, somewhat unsuccessful training program for an oil refinery in California. In the grand scheme of Maxis, it was one of their least important titles, which has only now become an object of interest in the video game community because of its unavailability.”

History unearthed: An Ars Technica reader got a working copy of the simulator from a “retired chemical engineering friend” who worked at the refinery in the early 90s. SimRefinery is now available online at archive.org for everyone to play.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which studio worked on the cancelled Half Life 2 episode Ravenholm?

  • Ion Storm
  • Ubisoft Montreal
  • Irrational Games
  • Arkane Studios

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

Daily Fact

Releasing a JRPG worldwide is hard

Namco Tales Studio’s 2008 JRPG Tales of Vesperia was meant to release simultaneously on Xbox 360 worldwide, but the decision ended up causing lots of headaches for Bandai Namco. They ended up releasing it gradually in different territories after all; first in Japan August 2008 and then eventually the US, Europe etc. spread across the following months.

It was clearly a terrible experience for the team, since the PlayStation 3 version was never released internationally. The PlayStation 3 version featured unique costumes inspired by other Namco games. They finally made it to the west in January 2019 when Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition was released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

EA Access On Steam

First wave of EA games out on Steam

EA has launched a big Steam sale to mark the release of the first wave of EA games on Valve’s digital distribution platform.

The Command & Conquer Remastered Collection launches today, and has pride of place on the sale section of the storefront. The rest are older games, each discounted between 50% and 70%, including:

  • Crysis 3
  • Dragon Age 2
  • Dragon Age Inquisition
  • Fe
  • Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
  • Need for Speed Heat
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville
  • Sea of Solitude
  • Unravel
  • Unravel 2

Summer subscription: “We want to make it easy to play the games you love, wherever you want to play. Delivering games to the Steam community is an important step in achieving this goal,” said EA’s Mike Blank. The EA Access subscription service will also launch on Steam this summer.

Horrifying VR

Silent Hill P.T. recreated as Alyx mod

Hideo Kojima’s now-legendary P. T. demo just got a new lease on life: A particularly dedicated fan has recreated the whole experience in VR using the Half-Life: Alyx mod tools.

P.T. was a teaser for Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro’s cancelled Silent Hill collaboration, but the game didn’t survive Kojima’s turbulent relationship with Konami, and so the demo became a monument to a game that never was and garnered a cult following.

First-person to VR: The mod was created by AmbientDruth and is available via Steam Workshop. Like the original, the game takes place in a looping corridor where new objects and invents are introduced as you explore.

More on the way: They use Half-Life: Alyx’s teleport function to loop the corridor and the loop point is apparently noticeable, but the mod is still a work in progress and will probably improve over time. You can watch a playthrough on YouTube if you enjoy hearing other people shriek in terror.

VR Bits

HP Reverb G2 preorders live in the U.S

HP has revealed their new Windows Mixed Reality headset HP Reverb G2. The new headset was developed in collaboration with Microsoft and Valve. The resolution remains 2160×2160 per eye, but Valve has helped develop new lenses and lent HP their off-ear headphones design.

The controller design matches the Oculus Touch, and will be compatible with other Windows Mixed Reality headsets as well. Launching at $600, the HP Reverb G2 might introduce some much-needed competition to a market dominated by Oculus, HTC and Valve. US pre-orders just opened on Steam.

New Star Wars VR game from Oculus

ILMxLAB and Oculus Studios has announced Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. Set between the events in The Last Jedi and Rise of the Skywalker on the planet Batuu, the game will feature a range of gameplay styles and difficulty settings to make it as accessible as possible.

Mike Verdu, Facebook’s VP of content, said: “We’re very happy to collaborate with ILMxLAB again on Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. VR is an incredibly powerful storytelling medium; this experience will immerse fans in a deep and thrilling adventure within the Star Wars galaxy, as they are transported to impossible places through the power of virtual reality.” Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge is scheduled for launch later this year.

What Else Happened Today?

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Modern city life got you down? Well, you’ve just inherited your late uncle’s farm. Time to pack your bags and start fresh in the peaceful countryside. What could possibly go wrong? A nuclear apocalypse, that’s what. Now you’re in a hellscape wasteland defending the last surviving source of sustenance – your crops. And every mutant wants a piece. Do as any self-respecting farmer would: Farm. Marry. Kill.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which studio worked on the cancelled Half Life 2 episode Ravenholm?

Answer: Arkane Studios!

The episode was set in Ravenholm and brought back Adrian Shepard from Opposing Force as well as Father Grigori from Half-Life 2.

The two of them were supposed to start in an asylum, and discover experiments being performed there. The project didn’t make it far into development, but it would have been fun to see what kind of Half-Life 2 experience Arkane had in mind.

Some of the mechanics prototyped for the game included a magnet gun that could magnetize objects and manipulate electric currents. If you want to know more about the cancelled episode and other projects that never got off the ground, noclip just released a documentary about Arkane Studios.

Today’s issue of DailyBits was written by Simon Priest, Gavin Herman, Erlend Grefsrud, and Jamie Davey.