Valve Is Excited About What They're Going To Demo At CES

HTC announced late last month that its take on virtual reality, the collaboration with Valve called the HTC Vive, would be delayed until April and that they'd be showing off the tech's second generation dev kit at CES. CES is kicking off in a couple of days, and Valve's pretty excited about what they've got in store.

Chet Faliszek is a writer and developer at Valve who, if you're a follower of his Twitter feed, is a pretty big fan of virtual reality. He's also in Las Vegas right now as part of the grand circus that is the Consumer Electronics Show.

Valve were at CES last year, but as Falisek said, the company was "just quietly meeting with people and checking things out while we kept our secret". "This one will be a bit different," he added, which required the following clarification:

He added that part of the reasoning behind Valve's secrecy for so long was that they understood the frustration consumers had with the ongoing chatter over the years about technology that was in development, but never available for purchase.

A HTC blog post shortly after Christmas Day announced that the HTC Vive would be used at CES to show off the Virtuix Omni VR motion platform, a bike VR experience, content from various manufacturers including AMD and NVIDIA, a virtual showroom experience from Audi, a VR tie-in experience for The Martian, and "The Lonely Whale" VR content from Alienware.


Comments

    Will they have a realistic pricing point and realistic specs? That was the downfall of the occulus at this point for me.

      All talk so far has had the Vive at a higher pricepoint than the Rift, so I wouldn't be holding my breath. Can't imagine the specs being too different either, since the screens are running at pretty much the same res and rate. Though who knows what this supposed delay-causing "breakthrough" entails exactly.

        "It works with Half Life 2!"

        *slow clap, grumbles*

        "AND HALF LIFE 3!!!"

        *crowd roars*

        "When we make it one day...."

        *crowd burns down building*

      I'm almost sure, HTC will set the upper price limit for VR gear.

      The minimum hardware requirements aren't going to change between vendors. It just takes a certain amount of horse power to render a stereoscopic image at a decent resolution with any amount of eye candy at 90 fps or above.

      The headset really doesn't factor in on that side of things unless one has a dramatically higher native resolution than the other.

        Hardware requirement can change if any vendor includes custom DSPs to offload the work from the main CPU. I suspect that Sony have gone down this route, as I can't see the PS4 having enough grunt to do the work by itself.

          I don't imagine this being a particularly good option in the case of the PC units simply because they'd be hooking in using a current display standard (HDMI or DP), offloading a post processing rendering task to an additional in chain processor can only serve to introduce latency (much like any DSP work on a TV) which is bad for VR over all. There could be room to do this if they were working over USB3.1/Thunderbolt 3 I guess as that provider a direct PCI-E interface. But at that point cost would probably go through the roof.

          In Sony's case you are probably right, they'll liekly plug the headset/expansion module into the AUX port on the back. Only the camera has plugged into that thing up until this point which seemed ridiculous considering they could have done the same thing with USB. I suspect that port does provide some kind of PCI-E interface.

            I think it's a combination of 2 separate USB3 interfaces (AUX port on the back).

            PS4 USB Controller:
            http://www.genesyslogic.com/en/product_view.php?show=26
            (It can handle 4 seperate USB3 ports)

            Stretching the rendering pipeline through an external BUS would be a bad idea, and I agree.

            But if you can bring Time-Warp, HRTF and Chromatic correction closer to the HMD and separated from rendering (GPU frame buffer, CPU calls), I think is an excellent idea.

            Firstly it reduces complexity of the problem. Secondly an embedded DSP isn't limited to CPU/GPU clock speeds. It can operate at higher sampling rates and be more reliable.

            For example, modern cameras use DSPs to quickly adjust HDR as you press the shutter button. Guess who the leading manufacturer of these DSPs is.

            The disadvantage is, with this approach, game developers will have no access to these algorithms and only Sony would be able to modify them through firmware updates.

            Last edited 05/01/16 5:55 pm

        True but the tracking system is more complex with VIVE than others.

    Half-Life 3?

      This is honestly the most likely year for hl3 to be announced (if it exists). If it was made specifically for VR, that certainly would increase the hype factor around what is already a very hyped product.

        Agreed. I always suspected Valve were waiting for the next great way to experience an atmospheric FPS and have been holding off for VR technology to advance enough for HL3 to be the flagship VR experience. I think we're close.

          HL2 / HL2 ep 1-2 by far are the most enjoyable VR experiences out there currently with the support available with the Rift DK2, even with the bugs. A full game experience like that would be astounding. Hell, even if they release HL2 and its eps cleaned up and bugfixed for VR it could be a fantastic thing to get people excited when the HTC comes out.

          Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWaT_eang2c (HL2 EP2 spoilers)

    I have no idea what Valve even do as a company anymore

      Steams gone to shit, barely has any good deals, you're better off getting deals elsewhere and using them on steam. So yeah, I don't either asides supplying the platform. But to that end there's got to be a bulk load of cash as well anyhow...

        Steam has been sh*t for over 6+ years now, just taken the community this long to see the flaws! Sadly there is no shift or alternate platform worth using in sight yet.

        Am i alone in thinking its too late for Halflife 3 as well? The FPS genre has evolved a lot since HL2 and it going to take a lot of drastic changes to make it stand out. But would it still be halflife?

        Valve as a gaming company in my eyes has long been dead. I really dont know what they do anymore other than offer "sales" these days.

          Name a platform better than steam...... thought so.

          Who cares what Valve do, they're trying to contribute to the gaming world. I personally think steam boxes are a waste of money and the controller they brought out looked rubbish. Steam link would have been a good solution in my old house/setup and their stab at VR is very very notable, good on em.

            They do introduce a few things, but they lack commitment and followup. They have VR hardware, Steam boxes made by third parties.

            They designed a Steam Controller without any first party games to take advantage of it's unique features.

            They have an acclaimed game franchise without an ending. They want to win having taken the littlest risk as possible.

            If this "school" of VR doesn't take off and doesn't sell well, they make sure it's HTC that takes the dive.

            Last edited 05/01/16 9:17 am

              Yeah from my point of view they used to make games, came out with steam as a platform for games which is a huge success (even if it is "dull" by modern standards). Now they're cruising along and taking potshots at hardware / innovation. Yeah it's a bit weird and most of it doesn't pan out... still kinda slack to be like "STEAM SUCKS, VALVE IS DEAD".

                I thought games like Portal were why Valve exists. Making a Point of Sales client and every aspect that goes with that is still a somewhat difficult process. Sooner or later it's going to get real easy for a developer to self publish (for realz).

                At the moment, Steam's competition tends to be very selective in their catalogs and also suffer from arduous curation. This won't always be the case.

                Technology companies are like sharks, if they stop moving forward they die.

                  That must explain why facebook is so good
                  (long pause)
                  :)

                  Last edited 05/01/16 10:14 am

                  On the other hand, Steams absolute reluctance to actually curate their store, despite claims to the contrary, has reduced it to a running joke among the users and fans. I love Steam but by god, it's got to be the most abused platform now.

              big picture mode and in-house streaming is a pretty big step forward.

    What I want to experience? no wireframe/screendoor/blackdots effect.

      Are those three different effects? What's wireframe effect? Blackdots makes me think of where you look at a grid of black squares, and see dark dots appear in the intersections of the white lines between them.

      I wonder what would happen if they drove a 4K screen at 2K or 1080p. You don't have to worry about the rendering latency, but it remains to be seen if that fixes the SDE (screen door effect).

      A higher resolution screen can still have a larger dark area percentage than a lower resolution screen. (imagine floor tiles vs dotted wallpaper)

      Normally I would think the only way to minimize SDE is to develop a custom OLED with that specific goal. I expect this sort of thing form either Samsung or Sony, less likely from HTC.

      I don't think there is a formula for this. So it'll have to be trial and error. I think we may me able to remove SDE, but not this year. I hope I'm wrong.

    Oh yeaaaaaah more VR bullshits...

    Screendoor effect is when you look through a VR headset and you see black lines between all of the pixels. Noone has resolved this in a commercial headset product to my knowledge. Samsung are the most serious about solving it. South Korea has granted Samsung $23 million to develop an 11K mobile phone screen. Only an idiot would think that the plan is to use such a screen on a phone. Korea is looking ahead while everyone else stumbles around blindly. The screen is due to be shown off in 2018, products should be available in 2019/2020.

    Last edited 05/01/16 10:12 am

    I get the feeling that Half-Life 3 is gonna be integral to Valve's big VR game plan. I dunno why, I guess Half Life 2 made a big deal with physics in games, maybe they feel HL3 will help make VR a success.

    Just figured I'd say something now so I can call it later.

    All these bloody VR headsets.

    I'm kind of hoping that someone will make PC drivers for the Sony headset so that it's compatible with whatever the Oculus or Valve headsets can do on PC. Then I only have to buy one headset but can also use it for whatever games use it on PS4.

    Looks like Oculus are a bit wary of the Vive's big anouncement. They have scheduled their pre-orders to begin just before the Vive press conference. But that could be because they have delayed their controllers until the second half of the year... Which for me is a deal breaker. Without controllers it is just a screen strapped to your face

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