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Reports: Valve making their own VR HMD and apparently a new VR Half-Life

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It appears Valve are truly getting more serious about Virtual Reality as they appear to be making their own headset. On top of that, apparently a new Half-Life VR game is coming.

Leaked to an imgur album, which contains multiple shots of the new hardware. These includes shots clearly showing a Valve logo:

The uploadvr website has claimed they have had it confirmed by various sources that it is in fact real. As someone who really wants to try VR, I am hopeful Valve will be able to give it a decent price. The current price for most VR hardware is simply out of reach for a lot of people, myself included.

Even more interesting, is that Valve are apparently working on a new Half-Life which will be a VR title. That certainly could be one way to push adoption, I imagine that would turn a few heads that otherwise wouldn't have been interested. Could backfire too of course, if it's VR-only. To keep expectations in check though, reportedly it's a Half-Life 2 prequel and not Half-Life 3.

Valve News Network also have this video up about the Half-Life game which is interesting:

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Considering Microsoft is making moves buying up more studios and making another attempt to fix up the Windows Store, along with some bigger players leaving Steam like Activision, EA, Bethesda with the new Fallout and all this together should make Valve at least a bit worried. Their current growth will only last so long, if others continue to leave and become exclusive to other stores.

Valve obviously need to make moves of their own and it looks like doubling down on VR is what they had in mind. The amount of people that currently own a VR headset as reported on the Steam Hardware Survey is still extremely low (lower than the Linux share) so Valve really will need a decent price on it.

It does make you think about Valve's future plans. They're doing this new VR hardware, some new games and pushing Steam Play to get more games on Linux. Would it be too far-fetched to consider a new Steam Machine? One continued to be powered by their SteamOS Linux distribution that allows VR support out of the box along with a huge back catalogue of previously Windows-only games.

That's a pipe dream of mine though really and I'm basically thinking out loud at this point, as I'm sure it's just different teams working on their own thing. However, if it did all come together, that could be amazing.

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slaapliedje 12 November 2018 at 6:24 pm UTC
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Nezchan
MayeulC
NezchanIn fact, I'm one of those people whose brains "never got used to it". Back in the CRT days, I used to love the Half-Life games. Played them a lot, especially 2. But when flatscreen monitors came out, I found myself getting tremendously queasy after about a half-hour of play and that feeling would hang on for a couple of hours.

Mmm, if that's just CRT vs Flat screen, maybe you should try investing in a low persistence display? It's usually branded as "lightboost" or something alike ("motion blur reduction", and maybe those branded with a 1ms response time), and is basically a strobing backlight. Throw in some adaptative sync support for good measure, and higher framerates.

I'm myself pondering about whether to change my aging (10 years) display, as it starts to "display" signs of failure (flashing backlight when at 40%+).

Incidentally, most of those VR headsets have low persistence, high framerate displays. I would like to experiment with fully immersive 3D "desktop environments" when/if I get one.

In the case of monitors, it's a widescreen issue. On old CRT monitors which weren't as wide typically, FoV wasn't a big issue. But on widescreen monitors it is, as the video below illustrates.

https://youtu.be/blZUao2jTGA

Now I haven't researched nausea on VR so I don't know the causes involved (presumably not quite the same as FoV), but I do know there have been a significant number of reports and it's something that VR makers have to overcome if it's going to become ubiquitous like some folks here think it will. Plus you have to overcome the hesitation on the part of people who are nausea-prone who don't want to spend all that money to take their chances and maybe end up sick anyway.
The nausea issue is different per person for sure. Like I can handle some of the worse offenders (like Windlands where you can shoot out claws like in Bionic Commando and swing from tree to tree) Mostly it's the motion of going forward when your body physically is not that makes people want to spew. But there are mods out there (like one that lets you move around by swinging your arms, so your body feels it is more natural).

I've had a Vive since the original pre-orders were shipped, and now have a Vive Pro. Wondering what this new Valve one will have that makes it awesome.

Also, I'm pretty sure I saw Fallout 76 on Steam? So is Bethesda dropping off of Steam?
Seegras 12 November 2018 at 6:54 pm UTC
kuhpunktIt seems like you've never experienced VR. Correct me if I'm wrong... but playing VR games with keyboard and mouse aren't really good. Just explain to me how you're supposed to aim, view and turn around with a VR headset and keyboard mouse.

I correct you ;). I had a Vive (until I broke the base stations and didn't bother to replace it). The headset you use for head movement exclusively, movement with keys, and aiming with the mouse. And the only thing that's really troublesome is the keyboard.

Maybe something like a strap-on version of this would work: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/T9-One-Hand-Hand-Keyboard-One-Hand-Gaming-Keyboard-Single-Hand-Gaming-Keyboard-LED-Backlight-Professional/32705825192.html Probably with less keys, and with the keys braill'ed so you can find them by touch alone.
slaapliedje 12 November 2018 at 6:55 pm UTC
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poisond
TheSHEEEP
Cestarian
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CestarianVR was basically DOA, and until we get proper peripherals for it instead of roomscale and motion controller trash, it will remain DOA.
Absolutely.
A tech gadget for those with enough money. And space, maybe space is even more important for those games with actual motion controls.
Every time a new VR gadget comes out, the "big future" of VR is announced, and yet, it just doesn't spread. I don't know how many more attempts it will take until even the most diehard fans realize VR is not "the future".
There are just too many games that would never work with VR (or gain absolutely no benefit from it), so that there's just no good reason to reach that deep into one's pockets. Not even beginning to talk about all the other downsides (discomfort, clunkiness, etc.).
It will have its niche, and that niche might even grow a bit (certainly enough to house a few VR-exclusive devs), but that's about it.

Personally I think VR can work out, for most games even, we need a middle step, where both keyboard and mouse are fully replaced by some superior peripheral (maybe something like EEG+speech recognition) and then that needs to be further improved to also be the replacement and successor of the (currently shoddy) motion control gimmick.
Yeah, maybe, some day, but I honestly doubt it will happen within the foreseeable future.

Even eye tracking doesn't really do it, because with kb&m I can do multiple things quickly without even looking.
Speech wouldn't help, either, as speaking a command would take longer than doing a few clicks.

I really couldn't think of anything that would be able to reach or improve on the precision offered by mouse & keyboard - short of "reading" one's mind and translating that into input commands.
And that just sounds like extreme scifi to me. Though if that ever happens, count me in ;)

Did you ever try the Vive controllers?
They're pretty precise and you do have two of them so you can even dual-wield(pretty fun in Serious Sam and Skyrim VR). You can aim much faster than with a mouse - just point your controller at the target.
There's touch pads you can use for movement and turning.
And I don't even know what you'd want a keyboard for in a VR game.
Ha, so in Elite: Dangerous I use the keyboard only when needing to search in the Galaxy Map and I usually whip out my phone to look up where I can buy/sell certain things. But otherwise that is one of the most crazy immersive experience (I also have a Saitek x52 Pro that I fly around with).
slaapliedje 12 November 2018 at 6:57 pm UTC
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Seegras
kuhpunktIt seems like you've never experienced VR. Correct me if I'm wrong... but playing VR games with keyboard and mouse aren't really good. Just explain to me how you're supposed to aim, view and turn around with a VR headset and keyboard mouse.

I correct you ;). I had a Vive (until I broke the base stations and didn't bother to replace it). The headset you use for head movement exclusively, movement with keys, and aiming with the mouse. And the only thing that's really troublesome is the keyboard.

Maybe something like a strap-on version of this would work: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/T9-One-Hand-Hand-Keyboard-One-Hand-Gaming-Keyboard-Single-Hand-Gaming-Keyboard-LED-Backlight-Professional/32705825192.html Probably with less keys, and with the keys braill'ed so you can find them by touch alone.
Most non-crappy/non-laptop keyboards have the little bump on the F and J key, that's how I type when in VR. Granted the only game I've played in VR where it needed some keyboard input is the aforementioned Elite: Dangerous when needing to search the Galaxy Map.
Seegras 12 November 2018 at 7:05 pm UTC
slaapliedjeThe nausea issue is different per person for sure. Like I can handle some of the worse offenders (like Windlands where you can shoot out claws like in Bionic Commando and swing from tree to tree) Mostly it's the motion of going forward when your body physically is not that makes people want to spew.

Somebody thought implementing "Segway-Style" controls in CaveQuake (Roomsize) was a good idea. Which actually makes me nauseous. No problem with Vivecraft (keyboard-style motion control) however.
Eike 12 November 2018 at 7:30 pm UTC
ScrollingSquirrelThere are zero issues that can't be solved aside from wearing something on your head

As far as I know, there is: The 3D focal point and the 2D focal point fall apart. (I can look up the optical terms and explanation if needed.)
ScrollingSquirrel 12 November 2018 at 7:39 pm UTC
Eike
ScrollingSquirrelThere are zero issues that can't be solved aside from wearing something on your head

As far as I know, there is: The 3D focal point and the 2D focal point fall apart. (I can look up the optical terms and explanation if needed.)
What you're talking about is the focal plane disconnect. Our eyes in real life naturally focus based on what we're looking at. In VR it's fixed at 2 meters always. But this is actually close to being fixed, and there are many solutions proven to work through publically revealed prototypes like the Oculus Half Dome prototype. That headset shifts the focal plane by moving the display back and forth depending on what your eye is looking at using eye tracking.

In a few short years, this will be the norm and the vergence accommodation problem will be solved.
PublicNuisance 12 November 2018 at 11:12 pm UTC
I worry about whether this will work outside of Steam but any Linux VR progress is better than none.
Nezchan 12 November 2018 at 11:46 pm UTC
I wonder, on the other side of things, how much of a barrier there is to developing for VR from the indie/solo developer side of things?

As a side note, despite being The Future Of Gaming, I can't really see how a lot of game genres would see much benefit by going VR. Certainly first-person games, and the sort of physical stuff that the Wii used to do (and to some degree the Switch does now) translate well. But RTS games? TCGs? Story-based RPGs with a lot of text, like Pillars of Eternity? Roguelikes? Seems to me that you'd have go to a lot of trouble just to tease out some way to present those on a VR platform that's just not worth the effort. And I'd personally rather not leave stuff like that in the past to pursue that golden future of gaming.


Last edited by Nezchan at 12 November 2018 at 11:47 pm UTC
ScrollingSquirrel 13 November 2018 at 12:14 am UTC
NezchanI wonder, on the other side of things, how much of a barrier there is to developing for VR from the indie/solo developer side of things?

As a side note, despite being The Future Of Gaming, I can't really see how a lot of game genres would see much benefit by going VR. Certainly first-person games, and the sort of physical stuff that the Wii used to do (and to some degree the Switch does now) translate well. But RTS games? TCGs? Story-based RPGs with a lot of text, like Pillars of Eternity? Roguelikes? Seems to me that you'd have go to a lot of trouble just to tease out some way to present those on a VR platform that's just not worth the effort. And I'd personally rather not leave stuff like that in the past to pursue that golden future of gaming.
For a solo dev, VR might be one of the best areas right now because you can get a lot of visibility compared to anywhere else in gaming.

There are RTS games in VR. They are quite fun, and in fact would be very suitable for single player RTS games because we don't need insanely fast mouse / keyboard controls for that. For multiplayer RTS, mouse / keyboard will probably remain the norm.

TCGs can actually be amazing in VR. First, you get to turn cards on a screen to physical cards in your hand, which is a plus, but then you can animate everything like a Yugioh duel with life sized monsters. It's also much much much more social, because now you can physically feel someone's presence. AR/VR will probably be the medium for TCGs to really thrive in.

Story based RPGs with a lot of text just need to skip the text and go to audio, or otherwise we wait until resolution increases and it won't be that different.

Pillars of Eternity would just be a case where the added scale and immersion of VR would be an improvement for those who want it. It would be really cool. I can tell you that playing Hellblade in top-down VR at mini scale was seriously stunning.

Roguelikes in what sense? Turn-based / text adventures? Obviously text is off the map, but turn-based could work, but would likely be preferred without. Any other form of roguelike can be adapted to VR well and these days the "other" kind is the more popular kind.

So yes, it's not going to fit some things. But it does in fact fit most genres. You also need to consider that VR is a simulation medium as well, which means with increased resolution you can replace any screen setup no matter how good or expensive it is, with an identical or even better version. Then you can play all these games like Shovel Knight inside of VR, maybe even make the room all retro and play on a NES or something. You can of course do this with friends in a way that won't be any different from sitting on a couch with your friends playing games.
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