Virtual reality is a hotbed of development in the tech world at the moment, with hardware and software hackers at Oculus VR, Sony and a bunch of other organisations and companies beavering away to create the first and the best VR solutions for the consumer. However one company that’s been working on it very much behind closed doors is Valve. It’s had a prototype in the works for some time, but has only been sharing its progress with Oculus VR. Now though some developers had had a chance to play with it and there’s even some pictures to whet our appetite for future virtual gaming.
Valve showed off its latest VR prototype at a Jam in Boston recently where these photos and experiences were recorded. As it stands, the headset looks quite like Oculus’ Crystal Cove prototype, covered in dots and with a camera not far away so as to track the user’s real world positioning.
According to Redit user jonomf, who had some first hand experience with the hardware and said that him and other developers tried a bunch of demos featuring Valve characters of varying sizes. “All were very impressive; everyone I talked to agreed that the office full of Portal people was the most interesting: you really felt like a giant, and being able to bend down and hang out among them was very cool,” he said.
Perhaps most exciting for gamers though, is using the VR as a new way to watch eSports. Valve developed a new spectator mode for DotA 2, where gamers can stand in lane and watch the action play out in first person on a level with characters. Another method was watching a match play out on a virtual table top, where spectators can lean down to zoom in on the action.
He also had a lot of praise for the hardware overall, even if there are still some hiccups to sort out: “The experience in the HMD is amazing: low persistence, perfect tracking (within the camera of course), very high frame rate. I don’t get sim sickness with the DK1 as it is, but nonetheless felt much more comfortable in the Valve units. However, I did consistently have major disorientation after leaving the HMD: I felt a little fuzzy and distant, and once felt like I was going to fall over. I felt something similar the very first time I came out of the DK1, never since, but every time after leaving the Valve units (4 or 5 times).”
Something that is really impressive though is the resolution this thing runs at. Instead of using a single screen, Valve has adopted twin vertical displays form Samsung Galaxy S4s, giving it a total resolution of 2160×1280. That’s a lot more than anyone else’s VR displays at the moment, easily beating out the Oculus Rift devkit 2.