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January 17, 2014

This is what game devs are saying about Valve’s prototype VR hardware

by John_A

We’ve seen quite a bit the Oculus Rift, but another major player in the coming virtual reality revolution has eluded us: Valve. Save for adding an experimental VR mode to the Steam Client Beta, the company’s experiments in the space have been kept largely under wraps. That changed this week during Steam Dev Days, however, when select developers were given a peek at the company’s R&D efforts. Some of those developers are even talking about their experiences, though their descriptions are still pretty vague. Tripwire interactive’s David Hensley, for instance, tweeted this week that wearing the company’s VR hardware prototype was like being in a “lucid dream state.” In fact, Hensley compares it to the holodeck featured on Star Trek, thanks largely to the advanced physical tracking Valve employed in its demo. Users could reportedly walk around a confined space and have their movements (including simple actions like crouching) mirrored in the virtual world. “It’s hard to explain just how immersive it felt,” Garry Newman (creator of Garry’s Mod) wrote on his blog. “Imagine being in a room and looking around seeing and hearing things in that room. That’s what it was like.”

As impressive as the full-room tracking experience sounds, the prototype’s other improvement are just as notable. According to Newman, Valve’s headset offers a less nauseating experience compared to his time with Oculus’ Rift, though he doesn’t seem completely sure why. Hensley credits it to a higher resolution image and lower latency than Oculus dev kits available today, noting that he’s heard it’s comparable to the Crystal Cove prototype shown at CES (though he admits he hasn’t used both units). Unfortunately, we’re not likely to see these improvements in the public anytime soon — Valve’s efforts seem to be largely experimental, as the firm has already stated that it doesn’t plan to release hardware of its own. Still, it sounds like an great example of where the technology could be headed in the future, even if that future is rather far flung.

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Source: Twitter, Garry.tv

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