HTC Will Bundle Vive With VR Optimized PCs

Last month, Valve released their SteamVR performance test to check if systems were ready for SteamVR and the HTC Vive. Needless to say, many potential VR users probably found that their systems wouldn’t be able to run VR games that well. Fortunately for those folks, HTC is stepping with Vive optimized gaming PCs that will be bundled with the Vive on their online storefront.

“We’ll have PC bundles with Vive-optimized PCs on our website soon and we’ll tell people they’ll have a great experience,” O’Brien promises. “But I don’t think PC bundles will be a major driver of sales.”

There is no word yet on what kind of PCs and what brands will be sold from the store or what the cost will look like. Given the requirements for VR, these PCs will probably cost more than the Vive headset itself. Nevertheless, some of the less tech-savvy customers may welcome the option to choose PCs they know will work for sure. Given HTC’s cooperation with Valve with the HTC Vive, we may see Steam Machines being a prominent feature.

For most of the top end PC gamers, though, their systems are probably already good enough. If there is any performance lacking, a simple GPU upgrade would probably suffice and with Polaris and Pascal coming, there will be many options.

Half Life 3 File Names Found in SteamVR Performance Tool

Yesterday, Valve released a performance utility which measures your system’s readiness for SteamVR. This tool scans your PC’s hardware configuration and provides a simple grading to inform the user about VR requirements in an easy to understand manner. The application contains various strings referring to Half Life 3 and could suggest the fabled game is actually in development:

“c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\shared\hl3\hl3_vscriptgamesystem.cpp…….VScr iptServerHL3
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\npc_quest_citizen.cpp…CNPC_QuestCi tizen::DisplayDialogString..m_DialogStringDisplayD ropShadow
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\partial_entity_manager.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procedural_spawn_constraint.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\utllogicconstraintsolver.h
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procedural_spawn_manager.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\entity_persist.h
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procedural_spawn_target.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procedural_spawn_template.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procedural_spawn_volume.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procspawn_bias_line.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procspawn_modifier.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\procspawn_variable.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\shared\hl3\imposter_manager.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\npc_turret_ceiling_pulse.cpp
particles/vortigaunt_fx/vortigaunt_charge_token.vpcf
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\point_quest_goal.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\prop_fixed.cpp
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\server\hl3\gravity_vortex_controller.h
#HL3_SpyGrenadeHint1
#HL3_SpyGrenadeHint2
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\ga me\shared\hl3\hl3_vscriptgamesystem.cpp”

Reddit member ‘DuckyDays‘ also discovered multiple mentions of Half Life 3:

“There is 1671 matches of hl, 14 of hl3, 97 of hl2, 11 of HalfLife2, 0 of HalfLife3
c:\buildslave\vrgdc2015_staging_win64\build\src\game\client\hl3\c_point_quest_goal
BaseHLBludgeonWeapon
HLSelectFireMachineGun
C_BaseHLPlayer::Schema_VerifyBindingIsRegistered
client\hl2\c_strider.cpp
\client\hl2\c_npc_manhack.cpp
And this is just a few, I found alot of weopons and npcs mostly HL2 what I could find. Now I am not a programer or anything, so I dont know what any of this means. I just found it in the code
EDIT Under the server.dll I found some more text
GameSystemReallocatingFactory@VCHL3VScriptGameSystem
HL3_SpyGrenadeHint¨
game\server\hl3\gravity_vortex_controller
\game\server\hl3\info_quest_dialog
game\server\hl3\procedural_spawn_target
game\server\hl3\npc_turret_ceiling_pulse
CLASS_PLAYER CLASS_ANTLION CLASS_APCDRIVER CLASS_BARNACLE CLASS_BLOB CLASS_BULLSEYE CLASS_CITIZEN_PASSIVE CLASS_CITIZEN_REBEL CLASS_COMBINE CLASS_COMBINE_GUNSHIP CLASS_COMBINE_HUNTER CLASS_CONSCRIPT CLASS_HEADCRAB CLASS_MANHACK
But more then anything I found HL2 refrences all over the code.
EDIT2:
In the file “readyonly_tools_asset_info.bin” under /steamVRPerformanceTest/vr.
core vr portal2_imported left4dead3 hl3
Al in one string.”

It’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean Half Life 3 is confirmed, and it might simply be trolling on Valve’s part. Perhaps, it’s a coincidence or to do with another Valve title like Dota 2. Clearly, this doesn’t prove anything but I’d like to think positively and hope Half Life 3 is going to eventually come out. Although, I do think it’s impossible to meet everyone’s expectations due to the lengthy development period and uncertainty if Valve has any interest in releasing a sequel.

Valve Releases SteamVR Performance Test Utility

SteamVR is a virtual reality platform developed by Valve which offers an immersive 360 degrees full room experience and designed with the HTC Vive in mind. This incredible feat of technology uses laser-bases positional tracking and a detection system to prevents users from walking into physical objects in their environment. Virtual reality is often praised for its potential to revolutionize entertainment in a way never thought possible. Even though 2016 is the year when VR begins to really take off, it’s still a very expensive proposition which makes the HTC Vive a niche device. Recently, HTC announced the Vive would cost $799 which almost defies belief. Despite this, there is a great deal of potential and the prices will come down eventually.

As you might expect, VR devices require a fairly high specification PC, which alienates the potential user base. Both HTC and Oculus have released the minimum system requirements to achieve an optimal VR experience and inform users in the best possible way. However, to simplify the process even further, Valve has released a tool which scans your PC and provides a rating based on its suitability for SteamVR. The tool isn’t officially available on the Steam store right now because it keeps refreshing back to the main page. However, you can install it via steam://install/323910.

Reddit users have already been sharing the results and comparing various scores. Here we can see a really good configuration with a Fury X, and Intel Core i5-6600K. This showcases that the i5 variant without Hyperthreading isn’t a major issue when it comes to VR.

Here’s a slightly lower-end specification featuring an 8 core AMD FX 8320 processor and R9 380 graphics card. The wording of capable is interesting because this system’s GPU is technically below the HTC Vive’s requirements. It’s unclear what the difference will be between a capable and ready system. Perhaps, it’s to do with a smoother frame-rate, but surely Valve wants the VR experience to be consistent.

Is your system ready for VR?

Minecraft May Be the ‘Killer App’ for Microsoft’s HoloLens

While the hype is still going into virtual reality, we shift focus for a bit and try to look at what augmented reality has to bring too. Microsoft just demoed how its HoloLens gear deals with augmented reality and used Minecraft as a game example on stage at E3.

Though Minecraft first appeared in a HoloLens press release earlier this year, it did not look so appealing at first. However, Microsoft really outdid themselves when they did the E3 demo. It began on a virtual TV screen, which seemed pretty normal for a presentation. But it was not until someone dragged it onto the table that got everyone so excited.

If you know Minecraft, you sort of get the 3D Lego feeling when you work around its vast world. Now picture it on a table and interacting with it from above. Pretty amazing, huh? You may not have any idea how amazing it is until you watch the video below.

Though augmented reality may seem a bit locked into certain types of games, such as crafting, building and RTS in general, Microsoft did announce it already has a partnership with Oculus for future development. Also, Microsoft is working on bringing compatibility with the SteamVR as well, so we are bound to see a lot of potential in future games.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Starbreeze Studios’ Upcoming VR Headset Could Prove to Be the Next Big Thing

We are hyped about what VR headsets are available to developers and what they can do with them. From Oculus to Razer, manufacturers are looking into the new tech and attempting to bring their own personal touch to it.

This is the case of Starbreeze Studios too, the developer of Payday and The Chronicles of Riddick, who just announced that they are working on a VR headset at an event in Los Angeles. Named StarVR, the company demoed the gear on their upcoming The Walking Dead title.

But what makes this headset stand out is its specs. I mean Starbreeze went crazy on this one. StarVR is said to boast a 5120 x 1440 resolution and 210 degree FOV angle. Should it be true, then StarVR is the next big thing in the VR market. However, let’s think about it. 2160 x 1200 is the standard resolution in Oculus an SteamVR!

Secondly, the massive resolution running at 90Hz is not going to run on your average rig. We are talking about the state of the art gaming machine here if you want to even make the headgear work and not stand next to it with a fire extinguisher.

In addition to the above, the company is said to have presented a new gadget for the VR headset too. It is said to have been a shotgun, which not only tracks where you aim, but where you place your hands on it too. We are probably going to get more details about the headset at E3, but until then, how excited are you about the StarVR? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of AllGamesBeta

Unreal Engine 4.8 Released for VR Support

In a press release earlier today, it was announced that Epic Games will be releasing a preview build of the new Unreal Engine 4.8 which offers support for Valve’s highly anticipated SteamVR/ HTC Vive headset. This has been done so developers without the headset can start building VR supporting experiences with Unreal Engine 4.8.

There are two major VR game engines, Unreal and Unity; Unreal Engine will be the first to support SteamVR, along with the other major VR headsets. due to SteamVR supporting the Oculus Rift DK2, developers can use that headset in preparation for the SteamVR kit.

““We work closely with Valve to ensure Unreal Engine 4 is highly optimized for the latest SteamVR features, with particular focus on minimized latency,” said Nick Whiting, lead engineer at Epic Games….Valve, who are still working on the second version of their popular ‘Source’ game engine, is in full support of Epic’s integration of SteamVR. Whiting told me that the company sent engineers to assist Epic with the process.”

Whiting also said that the Unreal team have already ported some previous games over to VR demos; such as Showdown and Lord of the Rings ready to work with SteamVR and the HTC Vive. Of which, Showdown is ready for public release, assuming you can run at the ideal 90FPS.

“If you want to run something like Showdown, the baseline GPU is an Nvidia GTX 980. If you’re going to run something more simple like Couch Knights, you could get away with a GTX 780….Most modern CPUs are pretty good, but usually around 3.3GHz to 3.6GHz minimum is best,” he said. “We tried it on some workstations (which have lots of cores at lower speed), which was a little slow to keep up at 90 FPS but as soon as you put it on a Core-i5 or Core-i7 it works pretty well.”

Whiting was then asked why VR developers should opt for Unreal Engine over Unity, the engine’s “awesome, physical based renderer” and ‘Blueprint’ system were highlights. These allow game designers to build experiences with only intermediate programming knowledge.

This is very interesting, I was recently contemplating an Oculus Rift headset for myself, but seeing this now make me want to hold out for the SteamVR kit. Will you be jumping on the VR train when SteamVR is released? Let us know in the comments

Thank you to Road To VR for providing us with this information

Valve Announced That Its SteamVR Headset Will Be Free for Developers

Since Valve and HTC teamed up to make their VR headset, nobody but them could toy around with it. Now it seems that Valve and HTC are planning to offer the development kit for the HTC Vive for free to developers.

Valve’s Dough Lombardi has stated that the dev kits will be free in the early stages of the hardware’s life cycle and that developers of every size will be able to sign up for the kits very soon. The dev kits are said to start shipping this spring, having a retail release expected at the end of the year.

The move seems a bit awkward, but it does make sense from two perspectives. One is that it will prevent curious consumers from purchasing the dev kit for recreational purposes and the other could indicate that Valve and HTC will not hint at a retail price for the VR headset based on its development kit price. However, it remains to be seen how many dev kits will actually ship and how many developers will receive the VR headset.

In the end, this is great news for existing virtual reality developers since they could get their hands on the HTC Vive without any additional cost. This might also mean that a lot of games or demos might be popping up by the end of the year that have support for the VR headset.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

Valve Shows Its SteamVR Development Timeline at GDC

GDC had its fair share of announcements in the virtual reality sphere, having Oculus talking more about its focus on mobile VR. However, while they were keen on talking about that, Valve was keen on showing people its development stages of the SteamVR through a prototype timeline.

Some of Valve’s SteamVR prototype really do seem a bit ‘over the edge’, however they all tell the story of SteamVR and how it was shaped into what it is today.

Thank you PCGamesN for providing us with this information

Steam Will Present Final Steam Controller and VR Hardware at GDC

It’s been a long time since Valve first showed us their idea for the steam box and controller as pictured above. The final stage of this project is almost upon us as Valve is gearing up for the Game Developers Conference 2015 in San Francisco.

Valve will show a family of new Steam devices and among the products being demonstrated at GDC include Steam Machines with the final Steam Controller, new living room devices, and also a previously unannounced SteamVR hardware system.

GDC 2015 also marks the 13th anniversary of Valve’s first public announcement of Steam that now hosts over 4500 games and has 125 million active accounts worldwide.

Thanks to Valve for providing us with this information