The SteamVR beta which arrived on Tuesday was a pretty good indication that rumours of VR talk at this weeks Steam Dev Days developer conference were on the money. Today, Valve has given select developers a preview of what they’re working on, although it would appear that unlike the Steam Controller, this isn’t something they’re looking to bring to the market directly.
While the Crystal Cove prototype which Oculus demonstrated during CES featured a tracking camera and markings on the headset, Valve has opted to fit the motion tracking cameras to the exterior of their device, and special patters to the walls of the room where it was being used. Each eye sees a discrete display, which Valve repurposed from high-end smartphones. Developers experienced a series of demonstrations which lasted half an hour in total, with no reports of motion sickness or disorientation.
David Hensley tried to describe the experience:
— David Hensley (@TheDavidHensley) January 15, 2014
While Dave Oshry reiterated comments from Palmer Lucky that the company is using the prototype to help accelerate and enhance VR, rather than enter the market themselves:
Valve has no current plans to ship VR tech, but says that could change. You never know. Right now they're having fun with it. #SteamDevDays
— El Oshcuro (@DaveOshry) January 16, 2014
To hear comments from developers who’ve already used the first Rift (DK1), suggesting that Valve’s tech is yet another significant leap forwards is very encouraging, particularly with the news that Valve and OculusVR are collaborating on the technology, confirmed in a snap taken during the briefing:
Although as we can see from another slide, it’s clear that Valve believe there’s a long way to go before truly immersive VR can be achieved:
Crystal Cove and the Valve prototype headset are clearly huge improvements on the tech we saw twelve months ago. When consumer VR headsets do arrive on the market it’s likely that not all of the above can be addressed, particularly the 100x resolution increase of the display. Driving two 1080P panels is quite realistic, even with todays GPUs, 100K less so.
Obviously the purpose of the demo is to get developers prepared for VR, with experiences which are going to engage and excite gamers. If the account from another developer on Reddit is anything to go by, Valve has achieved exactly that:
Gives me ideas for great boss fights. I was able to completely lose myself in the demos and felt as if I was in a much larger space.
What do you think? Are you excited by the prospects of VR? Let us know in the comments below!