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Machinima / Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware

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You should have brought your passport, Gordon.
"This isn't a video game anymore. This is an absurdist improv comedy about the last sane man trying to keep three lemmings and a god alive in a world gone mad."
Top comment on Act 1: Part 1

Hello, Gordon!

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Gordon Freeman weren't alone during the events of Half-Life? What if, instead, he were accompanied by a small band of AI-controlled survivors of the Resonance Cascade, and had to shepherd them through the dangers infesting Black Mesa? Now what if those survivors suddenly developed ecclectic, frantic, and downright moronic personalities? It turns out, the end of the world becomes a lot sillier.

Half-Life VR but the AI is Self-Aware is a roleplay Machinima series by wayneradiotv. All episodes are almost pure improv, performed live through the medium of Garry's Mod with minimal scripting and preparation. Wayne takes the role of Gordon Freeman, with his friends playing the roles of his NPC compatriots. The core cast is comprised of Benrey, a standoffish security guard obsessed with passports; Tommy, a childlike scientist with a surprising acumen for nuclear engineering; Bubby, a long-suffering particle physicist who brings his problems on himself; and the ever-babbling Dr. Coomer, whose AI appears to be just a bit broken. Only through teamwork will they be able to survive alien invaders and government assassins, if they can go five minutes without killing each other or themselves first!


The first Act was streamed onto Wayne's Twitch channel on March 5th, 2020 with the fourth and final Act being streamed on April 9th. More VR but the AI is Self-Aware series have been confirmed to be on the way, although if any of them will be a continuation of the Half-Life story is yet to be known.

Wayne and the crew would return to play their characters for their "AI-Crushes-All-Banks" Justice Drive charity stream on May 31st that year, where the Science Team makes good on their promise to rob a bank in PAYDAY 2 VR.


Look Gordon! Tropes!

  • Adaptational Name Change: Without outside knowledge of the game's lore, the party ends up giving different names to a few Xen monsters.
    • Houndeyes are called "peeper puppies".
    • Barnacles are called "ropes" by Dr. Coomer, though when he is not compelled by his Artificial Stupidity, he actually does call them "barnacles".
    • Bullsquids are simply called "creatures" or "beasts", and are claimed to be not aliens but genetically-engineered waste disposal beasts of burden. Bubby chides Gordon for calling them "bullsquids" as nomenclature is nothing to play with.
    • The party doesn't know what to call vortigaunts, though Dr. Coomer suggests they remind him of his ex-wife. Gordon declares they are not calling them "ex-wives". Later on, they occasionally call them "Vonneguts."
    • The Gargantua is dubbed the Black Mesa Golem Ape by Tommy, who wrote a Wikipedia article for it.
    • Tommy also calls the manta ray-like alien aircrafts "Dactars".
  • Adaptational Villainy: Black Mesa is actually responsible for some of the monsters in the game among other horrors, though this is assuming that the other cast members are telling the truth.
  • Alternate History: This adaptation of Half-Life seems to take place in the late-00s, with Gordon wanting to be a streamer for at-the-time relevant and Benrey rambling about Heavenly Sword on the PlayStation 3. Gabe Newell is also referenced to just be a famous knife collector, though Dr. Coomer seems to know him for different reasons.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Gordon gets his right arm chopped off in the middle of Benrey and Bubby's coup.
  • Arm Cannon: Some time after losing his right hand, when the group arrives at Darnold's lab they're able to give him a replacement: the minigun from Unreal Tournament, which apparently shoots fingernails.
  • Armies Are Evil: The HECU, who are both just as evil as they were in the original source material, and much dumber. Dr. Coomer claims that they get their funding and equipment through Black Mesa, which makes it seem like a suicidal move to attack Black Mesa.
  • Back to the Early Installment: Gordon has to travel back in time, thanks to a portal gun Bubby found, to before the experiment that caused the Resonance Cascade to find his passport in his locker so he can destroy it in order to defeat Benrey.
  • Badass Boast: "Don't fuck with the Science Team!" is a favorite of Doctor Coomer's.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • Black Mesa runs Wikipedia, and uses the donations for Wikipedia to provide the budget for the experiments they run. Later, Dr. Coomer claims that Black Mesa also uses Wikipedia to fund the U.S. Military, who they provide with weapons in exchange for being allowed to conduct their deranged experiments.
    • Discussed by Dr. Coomer and Gordon when he asks if Black Mesa invented the nuclear bomb after coming across a missile silo that Coomer claims contains "ᴛʜᴇ ʙɪɢ ᴏɴᴇ".
      Gordon: Hey, Dr. Coomer, did Black Mesa invent the nuclear bomb?
      Dr. Coomer: That's classified. But we did totally do that.
  • Broken Record: Benry's passport lists his name multiple times, to the point where the text cannot be contained by the paper itself and just hangs it off the side.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Parodied; Dr. Coomer repeatedly offers PlayCoin transactions in order to grant Gordon enhanced abilities or vital services.
  • Canis Major: Sunkist is as tall as an adult man while seated. He's also a two-dimensional image, but Tommy loves him all the same.
  • Catchphrase: "Another day, another dollar" is Black Mesa's, according to Doctor Coomer.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: After Gordon’s arm is cut off at the beginning of Act 3, the series takes on a far darker tone. While there is still a lot of jokes, some things, like Gordon’s declining mental state and Dr. Coomer’s realization that the world is fake, are played entirely seriously.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The passports. The science team needs to destroy their passports in order to defeat Benrey.
  • Classified Information: The purpose behind the Frozen Goods Department as well as the existence of headcrab zombies were kept from most Black Mesa employees prior to the Resonance Cascade, though Dr. Coomer appears to have been briefed on them.
  • Corpsing: While the players remain mostly in-character throughout the playthrough, they will sometimes drop character to chuckle at a joke, Gordon especially.
  • Dance Party Ending: The ending of Half-Life 1 has all the characters dancing and celebrating at Tommy's birthday party in Chuck E Cheese's.
  • Darkest Hour: The party is trapped in a hopeless fight with Benrey on Xen, though they destroyed their own passports. Bubby uses a gun he found in Darnold's lab that sends Gordon back in time to before the Resonance Cascade test, where the giant Benrey still chases him down. He goes and destroys his passport, but needs to go back to Xen. So he begs a pre-sentience Dr. Coomer to let him give him his Playcoins to him, begs him to remember anything, as Benrey slowly closes in.
  • Death from Above: Gordon's Finishing Move on Benrey is to bring a hammer-fist down on him from high up.
  • Deconstruction: In a roundabout way, the series serves as one for Gameplay and Story Segregation in a coop multiplayer game. The four companions, with their goofy antics, itchy-trigger fingers, and general trolling, wouldn't seem out of place as a random group of friends going for a romp through the game with a handful of cheat codes turned on (which of course is not so far from the truth). Poor Gordon meanwhile, as the Only Sane Man, is stuck inside the fourth wall and treats life-and-death dangers and the loss of human life as Serious Business, and quickly becomes unhinged when he's the only one doing so.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Happens when the party come across a Dr. Coomer clone.
    Benrey: Hey man, I saw you at lunch earlier. You owe me... three dollars.
    Gordon: You have the three dollars? (Benrey aims his revolver at the clone) You're really gonna kill him over- you've killed for less, haven't you?
    Benrey: Never mind, we're friends.
    (Bubby shoots him)
    Bubby: He owed me five!
  • Dream Apocalypse: Dr. Coomer asks Gordon to transfer his and the other AI's code to another game in hopes of averting this.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: A lot of these were pointed out by the crew in the Act 1 commentary stream.
    • The stream notifications and mediashares were left in the Act 1 highlight videos, since no one was expecting the series to blow up as hard as it did. This leads to a lot of immersion-breaking moments such as Morshu suddenly popping up in the middle of the screen, or a Russian cooking video playing over an otherwise tense scene. Starting with Act 2, Wayne made the notifications smaller and less obtrusive, put strict rules in place as to what could be requested through mediashare, and recorded the audio seperately for the highlight videos.
    • During Tommy's first appearence, Gordon is noticably disturbed by him and calls him a freak. Compare this to the later parts, where Tommy is the only Science Team member he's completely comfortable around and doesn't get exasperated with.
    • In Act 1, Gordon claims the baby photo in his locker is of his son, Joshua. This receives a Call-Back near the end of the act, but after that there are no other mentions of Gordon being a father. Gir theorises that the photo just came with the picture frame and Gordon was too embarrassed to admit he never removed it.
    • During Act 1, Coomer would get Benry's name wrong every time he mentioned him (his actor, Holly, assumed they were doing a Running Gag about nobody remembering his name). From Act 2 onwards, this is no longer an issue.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all the hell Gordon and the scientists go through to navigate Black Mesa and kill Benrey, the G-Man rewards them by taking them all to Chuck E Cheese's for Tommy's birthday.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Some of the lines from the scientists aren't very clear. Usually, even the actors don't know what they were saying.
    Tommy: It's a DACTAR!! (???)
  • Evil, Inc.: Between the human experimentation, the mutant animals running loose, and the company concealing a potential Zombie Apocalypse from its own staff, this version of Black Mesa is far more obviously sinister than its canon counterpart.
  • Exposition Fairy: Dr. Coomer acts like one of these with a heaping helping of Artificial Stupidity.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At the end of ACT 3, Benrey is suddenly able to see the skeleton and asks for it's passport. It shows it to him, and he accepts it. If you examine the passport closely, you can see that the name on it is "YOU". In the finale, the skeleton is revealed to be either Benrey's true form or some kind of extension of him.
    • When Gordon first meets Benrey, he innocuously crouches down in front of him. This was actually Benrey's player, scorpy, planting the seeds for Gordon's supposed dick slip.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In Act 1: Part 1, as Gordon is sprinting towards the door at around 4:50, you can see a scientist dancing on a ledge on the other side of it.
    • At 5:49 in Act 1: Part 2, while Benry is shooting the pidgeons, you can see Father Grigori standing in the corridor for a split second.
    • At the end of Act 1: Part 2, after the Science Team gun down the skeleton, you can see a Pikachu holding a crowbar appear behind Dr. Coomer.
      • In the commentary for Act 1 it was revealed that these appearances were the G-Man's voice actor photobombing them.
  • Freudian Slip: Gordon delivers one of these seconds before the HECU starts shooting at the party.
    Gordon: We are... scientists. We cum in pies... we come in peace... WHOA SH-!
  • Funny Background Event: At 19:02 in Final Act: Part 1, Benrey can be seen dancing in the background while Gordon is trying to talk to Tommy.
  • Fun with Subtitles: All over the place, from Coomer's dialogue swapping from complete sentences to being cut off at the last second, to "*hog noise*" and a picture of a Smoker zombie being used to subtitle the slurping noises the scientists make when drinking soda.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Happens to a Red Shirt security guard that briefly accompanies the Science Team.
  • Harmless Villain: Forzen fails at pretty much everything he does, and when he winds up in a position of authority, he starts making nonsensical and petty demands to the Science Team even after it becomes clear he has no leverage over them since Sunkist is Immune to Bullets.
  • Hulking Out: Coomer when Gordon spends a Play Coin to activate Super Player Mode, complete with deepened voice.
  • Human Resources: Black Mesa's Frozen Goods Department deals with the flash-freezing of human meat for unspecified reasons. The process gives the meat dangerous properties.
    Gordon: What the hell are we doing to meat?!
  • Immortality: Tommy claims his dog Sunkist is immortal. It turns out he was telling the truth.
  • Implied Death Threat: Dr. Coomer has a way of making NPC-like chatter into a charged threat, mostly owing to pointing his revolver at Gordon when he does it.
  • Injured Player Character Stage: At the end of Act 3 Part 1, Gordon has his right hand cut off, leaving him defenseless and forcing him to rely on the rest of the party to protect him.
  • Insistent Terminology: Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Never just Wikipedia.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: In Act 3 it is revealed that Tommy gave himself the last name "Coolatta" in this manner while at a Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In the finale, Gordon learns that the G-Man is Tommy's father.
  • MacGuffin: Passports, which apparently hold some sort of great power. Benry's Pulse Rifle is a passport (until the point where actual passports are obtained by the cast), and the final battle is focused around Gordon and the science team seeking out everyone's passports to destroy them and deprive Benry of his powers.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Black Mesa's projects are all either insanely dangerous, like the Peeper Puppies and the Pita Cutter, or completely nonsensical, like replacing the water with Poweraid.
    • Darnold, in spite of being the most stable member of the cast, is definitely one of these, since he makes regenerative potions that cause Gordon to grow a Hand Cannon that shoots fingernails where his hand used to be.
  • Magic Music: The Black Mesa Sweet Voice is something along these lines, allowing the user to write on thin air and even control minds. Tommy is fluent in the meanings of the various colors and often translates them in rhyming phrases. Benrey's skeletal minions use the Sweet Voice to hinder the science team during the final battle.
  • Manchild: Despite being in his late 30s, the rest of the team believe Tommy is 5.
  • Mechanical Abomination: The "regenerating helicopter"/Helicopter Heap. It's this out-of-universe too, due to it being a fuckup with the map that infinitely spawned helicopters rather than an intentional creation.
    Bubby: If there is a god, I'm pretty sure that wasn’t in His plan.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: One of the biggest perks of the series being in VR is allowing Gordon to punctuate his dialogue with wild hand gestures.
  • Motive Rant: Parodied. In the final confrontation, Benrey rants about why he's fighting the group, and everything that isn't flat-out untrue is just complete nonsense.
  • Mythology Gag: Gordon and the G-Man's debate over whether or not Chuck E. Cheese's is a restaurant is directly based off of a similar debate that Wayne and his friends had during a stream of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
  • Negative Continuity: Due to the series running on the law of "whatever's funniest at the moment," plot details are continuously forgotten or contradicted (Early Installment Weirdness lists a few). Just roll with it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Benrey claims that all of this happened because of a rude conversation Gordon had with him ages before the cascade. Gordon doesn't remember the exchange at all.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Gordon is trapped in a dark room and has the shit beaten out of him when Benrey and Bubby turn against him. He loses his right hand in the process.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Averted. The entire facility is built to-code. It is all OSHA-approved. The US lets them do this.
  • Non Sequitur: The final battle is over, Earth is saved, Gordon is presented with his final choice... and he immediately gets into an argument with G-Man about whether Chuck E Cheese's is a restaurant or a family entertainment center.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: The party can sometimes see the skeleton, and sometimes cannot. And then sometimes only certain party members can see it. Gordon wastes no time shooting it in any event.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: While Gordon is running away from some orbital strikes, Coomer manages to punch off the top of a tank.
  • Oh, Crap!: After facing the terror of the Helicopter Heap, Gordon attempts to climb a ladder. However, thanks to the poorly-interacting combo of GoldSource era ladder physics or lack thereof, the VR game's methods of climbing ladders, and the fact that the ladder has about six inches of foot space at the bottom before the cliff edge, Gordon falls off the cliff and is left clinging on for dear life.
  • Only Sane Man: Gordon.
  • Painting the Medium: The subtitles for each member of the Science Team come in different fonts, reflecting their different personalities:
    • Dr. Coomer speaks in a typeface that wouldn't look out of place on a computer from the 80s, indicative of how his A.I. Is a Crapshoot even compared to the other scientists.
    • Tommy's subtitles are written in a font reminiscent of crude handwriting, which is fitting for the Manchild of the group.
    • Discussed in the commentary for Act 3, G-Man and Benrey have a white outline around their text to symbolize their status as Reality Warpers.
  • Present-Day Past: The series is seemingly set in the late 2000s, with topical mentions of Heavenly Sword, The Irate Gamer, and This adheres to the original lore of Half-Life, being set in 200X. However, there are a few anachronistic mentions from the year 2010, including Kane And Lynch 2: Dog Days, Despicable Me, and Playstation Plus subscriptions.
  • Punched Across the Room: Gordon's Arm Cannon also doubles as a very effective bludgeon, allowing him to smash things even harder and - more crucially for him - finally attack Benrey with some sort of tactile feedback.
  • Rainbow Speak: In the Youtube highlights. Benrey is blue with a white outline, Tommy is yellow, Dr. Coomer is green and darker green when he gets serious, Bubby is cyan, HECU soldiers are grey and glowing green, and starting in Act 3, Half-Life characters with important speaking roles are white. The G-Man speaks in black text with a white outline.
    • Benrey lapses into a red outline once during a puzzle in the Lambda Labs when he lets his more menacing nature shine through and again during the final boss battle. Dr. Coomer also slips into this mixed with his "serious" dark green during his bout of madness in Act 3, but replaces it with his default color and a blue outline when Gordon uses all his playcoins to activate the Super Player feature.
  • Red Herring: In one of the G-Man's first appearances, he requests that Gordon take care of his "progeny". Initially, one might assume the G-Man is referring to Benrey from his similarly supernatural powers, but he's actually talking about Tommy.
  • Running Gag:
  • Reality Ensues: The HECU using all of their resources to focus solely on attacking the Science Team, a team composed of several un-killable One-Man Armies and Eldritch Abominations of varying flavors rather than the aliens, and attacking Black Mesa, which gives them all of their funding and equipment, results in the organization collapsing and Forzen being the sole remaining member.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: A security guard who briefly accompanies the Science Team dies when he holds up a closing door, when everyone could easily have run through, and said guard refuses to move out of the way of the door.
  • Sensory Abuse: The sound made by the Helicopter Heap, to the point that the Youtube highlight includes an onscreen warning right before its appearance.
  • Sequel Hook: The Stinger for Act 4 has Dr. Coomer ask Gordon/Wayne to save the scientists' data somewhere else before closing the game for good, possibly hinting at future adventures.
  • Shout-Out: Super Player Mode Coomer bellows out "TRAIN AND FIGHT, GORDON!" before charging into battle in reference to the popular tumblr inspirational blog warriormale.
  • Spiritual Successor: Can be seen as one to Freeman's Mind, as both are absurdist playthroughs of the original Half-Life campaign, with the previously un-voiced characters taking on a mind of their own, albeit with the treatment given to multiple characters rather than just Gordon this time.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Sometimes the chat chooses what background music plays, which means this chaos can be accompanied by such songs as 'La Marseillaise', 'Soul Bossa Nova', or 'A Cruel Angel's Thesis'
  • Super Mode:
    • After gaining a minigun hand, Gordon is told that he can "PRESS ALL BUTTONS TO ACTIVATE DEVIL GUN MODE!" Not knowing what that means, he attempts to clench all of his muscles at once, accomplishing nothing, and is later informed that "IF YOUR BODY IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ACTIVATE DEVIL GUN MODE!" He finally manages it upon reaching Xen; the mode temporarily gives his arm a significantly higher rate of fire but requires a cooldown afterwards.
    • In the final battle against Benrey, Gordon gives Dr. Coomer all of his Playcoins to activate "Super Player Mode," which causes Coomer to Hulk Out.
  • Surreal Humor/Surreal Horror: Alternates between the two, and sometimes does both at the same time.
  • True Final Boss: Benrey.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Gordon quickly gets used to his companions dying and coming back, save for the occasional Plotline Death. And often even those don't stick.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In spite of Black Mesa providing the U.S. Military with the majority of its funding and equipment, the military still tries to murder everyone in Black Mesa for no reason.
  • Virtual Pet: Dr. Coomer occasionally speaks as though he is one of these, with hunger, thirst and bathroom needs.
  • Wacky Sound Effect: A cartoon cymbal crash plays whenever a party member takes fall damage or falls unconscious.
  • Wham Episode: Act Three winds up being a whole string of these.
    • Act Three: Part One: Benrey and Bubby, who've obviously been plotting behind Gordon's back during the entire episode, trap him in a pitch-black room and start beating the shit out of him, AND THEN THEY CHOP OFF HIS RIGHT ARM. Dr. Coomer does nothing because Gordon's out of Playcoins™, and Tommy is the only one genuinely concerned about Gordon. THEN, he's captured by the military...
    • Act Three: Part two is even crazier. Gordon wakes up missing his arm. Gordon is traumatized beyond belief, barely able to function... then he discovers an army of Dr. Coomer clones, revealing that Dr. Coomer is aware he is in a artificial world and there is a world inside Gordon's dreams.
    • Act Three: Part Three: The events of the last few episodes have clearly gotten to Gordon's head, putting his Only Sane Man status into serious question. G-Man at one point shows up (and he seems to be a self-aware NPC as well), and at the end of his usual schtick, he reveals that he has a child. And then at the very end of the episode, the skeleton shows up, and it's implied that he's been controlling Benrey all along. Oh, and Gordon drinks the soda.
    G-Man: Oh, and make sure no harm comes to my... progeny, will you?
    Benrey: Hey, where'd... why are we here? ...What happened to your arm?
    • "And we're BAAACK!" The "wham" here is that Benrey's Rainbow Speak suddenly goes from navy to navy with a red outline.
      Bubby: [To Gordon] RUN! Run, you're gonna get crushed [by the reactor portal puzzle]!
      Benrey: [in navy-outlined-with-red subtitles] Finally.
    • In the Payday 2 stream for charity:
  • Wham Shot: When the party arrives at the surface, they find the military is bombing the place. Then we see the skeleton running around, and so disappears the last vestiges of normalacy in Gordon's life.
    • In Act Three: Part Three, Benrey can see the skeleton, and it has a passport. If you look closely at it, its name is "You."
    • When the party gets to Xen, Benrey is suddenly floating in the air and WAY bigger than he used to be.
  • What the Hell, Player?: In the earlier stages, the scientists are quick to admonish Gordon whenever one of the regular scientist NPCs die. Regardless of whether Gordon was actually at fault, or if the NPC was in fact killed by a collapsing bridge, being executed by the AI themselves, or inexplicably swelling in size then igniting and burning to death.
    Dr. Coomer: You could've helped him, Gordon!
  • World Gone Mad: For Gordon, there is no Gameplay and Story Segregation; the various Good Bad Bugs invoked and Black Comedy jokes made by his comrades are taken totally at face value, and are terrifying to him.
  • World of Jerkass: Pretty much everyone is a murderous psycho, a stupid murderous psycho, or a murderous psycho even more dangerous, cruel, and violent than the rest. Even Gordon and Tommy, the nicest and most moral characters in the series, have their moments of cruelty, although it is usually unintentional.
  • World of Badass: Yes. Pretty much everyone who isn’t a Red Shirt is some sort of Eldritch Abomination or a Badass Normal, both of whom are able to fight their way through numerous highly dangerous threats, such as mutants, aliens, and the U.S. Military.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: One of Science Team's passports is being protected by Benrey in a Mokujin robot. However, its shoddy construction causes it to explode after a couple seconds of gunfire without attacking once.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Half Life VR But The AI Is Self Aware


Benrey's Mokujin Mech

Benrey, in his skeletal form, attempts to fight the Science Team in a robot replica of Mokujin from Tekken. Unfortunately for him, it gets destroyed quickly and effortlessly by the gang's gunfire.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ZeroEffortBoss

Media sources:

Main / ZeroEffortBoss