PC developer and digital distributor Valve seems to be steadily pushing its way into the realm of virtual reality by accommodating the use of the Oculus Rift with a few supportive efforts. A couple of days ago, the company released the experimental Beta of its SteamVR software, an addition that is a part of Steam’s Big Picture feature, which allowed owners of an Oculus Rift dev kit to play around with and see how the Rift would work with the Steam client. The end-goal of the experimental Beta is a part of the company’s extending support for the Rift device.
Highlighted during the second day of the company’s Steam Dev Days event by SteamDB, further plans for supporting VR were outlined and detailed during a presentation showcasing what Valve is wanting to do with it and how it wants to help the Oculus Rift, thanks to several tweeted images from those who were attending the presentation.
According to the highlights, VR is anticipated to become consumer-friendly probably within the next two years or so, and “will have a big impact sooner than you think.” As part of the company’s support for the device, Valve is working and collaborating with the Rift’s creators Oculus to drive virtual reality onto the PC. What’s more, Valve has outlined optimum requirements for a good user experience with VR, which includes a wide field of view, low pixel persistence, a high refresh rate and low latency, and has also come up with what it thinks is feasible for a consumer model by 2015.
Later on during the presentation, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey took to the stage to discuss porting existing videogames to VR and the player’s gaming experience with using VR in general. When porting games to VR, developers should reuse what they have to build something that’s compatible with how VR works.“Stop thinking about porting existing games. Maybe we can reuse assets + core engine tech,” he said during the presentation. He then went on to talk about how gamers should use the Rift, and that games for the Rift should be designed with the concept of a “seated experience” in mind, using CCP Games’ EVE Valkyrie as an example. What’s more, he discussed that games developed for VR should require head-tracking for things like HUDs, menus and cutscenes (so that things aren’t “stuck to your face”as it were), and that players should get a full avatar for themselves in-game, meaning that players should get full in-game bodies instead of just arms and hands, which is the typical norm for first-person perspective games--outside of mods of course.
For all the highlights on the second day of the Steam Dev Days event, you can head on over to SteamDB for more information here. I would very much like to experience VR with the Oculus Rift. I’ve experienced something similar at a local gaming event with a device similar to the Oculus Rift in principle, with a horror game. Needless to say that didn’t go down well, but I would certainly jump at the opportunity to try it out with games like Hawken or EVE Valkyrie.
A dev-kit of the Oculus Rift is currently available, but a full consumer release of the device hasn’t been announced yet.