Valve Talk Plans for Virtual Reality

Valve has provided more detail about its interest in gaming headsets, plus plans for a public test of Big Picture. In an interview with The New York Times, employees from Valve say they believe gaming headsets could “let players lose themselves inside a virtual reality and, eventually, blend games with their views of the physical world.”
Valve has announced two talks focusing on the challenge of developing for head-mounted displays at this years GDC conference. The first, programmer Joe Ludwig's 'What We Learned Porting Team Fortress 2 to Virtual Reality' will explore some of the efforts of several employees over the last year to get the game to run in virtual reality goggles. These efforts have included "what stereo support entails, rendering 2D user interface in a 90 degree field of view display, dealing with view models and other rendering shortcuts, and how mouselook can interact with head tracking in a first person shooter." Ludwig will also share ideas on how a game specifically designed for virtual reality could avoid many of the issues that Valve faced when porting Team Fortress 2.

In addition, Valve's Michael Abrash will discuss the hardware challenges that lie ahead and possible solutions for virtual and augmented reality in 'Why Virtual Reality is Hard (And Where it Might be Going).'

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the Valve developing a new console, which were recently confirmed by Valve as the "Steam Box". A recent job posting on Valve's site for an industrial designer, which stated, "We’re frustrated by the lack of innovation in the computer hardware space though, so we’re jumping in. Even basic input, the keyboard and mouse, haven’t really changed in any meaningful way over the years. There’s a real void in the marketplace, and opportunities to create compelling user experiences are being overlooked,". However, it appears that Valve's interest in an industrial designer may not be for the "Steam box", but instead, a VR headset.

Valve hasn't yet decided whether to manufacture the devices themselves, Michael Abrash revealed. "We don't particularly want to be a company that makes hardware in large quantities," Abrash said, but he also noted "Gabe has a saying, which is, 'We will do what we need to do'".

The GDC main conference will take place March 27-29 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.