Valve 'days away' from releasing virtual reality software development kits

During a recent interview with the BBC at CES 2014, Valve designer Brian Coomer revealed that Valve plans to release a “VR software development kit” during its upcoming Steam Dev Days conference.

The development kit will provide game makers with a standardized user interface for virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and the, as of yet, unannounced virtual reality hardware currently being developed by Valve. Although there are still significant hurdles to overcome, such as the motion sickness that often results from a world that is constantly being redrawn, Valve appears to be embracing Virtual Reality gaming as the next big thing.

Valve's developer conference, which takes place Jan. 15-16, will include a number of virtual reality-focused sessions such as “Wild West of VR – Discovering the Rules of Oculus Rift Development” and “Virtual Reality and Steam.” In the description for “What VR Could, Should, and Almost Certainly Will Be Two Years,” Valve programmer Michael Abrash strikes a confident note in his predictions for the future of virtual reality and gaming.

Abrash writes in the description that Valve already has a prototype, and it may have an affordable, mass-market product within two years.

"That hardware is almost certainly going to appear in that timeframe," he states, "and it will be worth starting to develop for it now.”

Source: BBC | Image via Oculus VR

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Geez Microsoft, wonder if they will come up with their own SDK and pop it into Windows... DirectX doesn't have too much on the know (public) Roadmap... Wonder if Valve is seen as a threat. I would be threatened ... MS... ball in your court.

Also, If I were Sony or MS... I would team up with Oculus Rift to make a Xbox/PS4 edition of the headset. Could be a great team up. They both have camera's that can be used for the head tracking aspect.

I can dream... (I want a new laptop too)

Until it's a pair of microscreens worn just like a pair of glasses and no more bulky than that, VR will not catch on, period. Even then it's a push.. I've used things like this in the previous generation; VR sickness is a real issue and damned disorienting!

They're aiming for zero VR sickness in the consumer release of the Rift. Crystal Cove is most of the way there from what reports at CES are saying. As for the market, who knows? I definitely wouldn't call it dead before it comes out!

VR sickness is caused by the disparity between what your eyes tell your brain, and what your inner ear (where your balance mechanisms are) tell's it. The brain needs both to spatially orient properly and when they differ, you get VR sickness.

It's not that noticeable whilst using the VR gear, but when you take it off... You notice (and usually fall over too)! I did some dev work with the equipment back in the 90's... No one ever managed to get over it completely. If these guys manage it, then my hat's off to them.

Ok zero motion sickness, for everyone is probably impossible alright, I apologize, I took you for one of the guys writing off VR completely without trying it! I get the worst VR sickness in Half Life 2 just from the speed you move at in that game, sheer disorientation from running around at ridiculous speeds. I think someone at Oculus mentioned it was really bad with Unreal Tournament because you run around at 30KM/h or something crazy like that! In those cases the sickness is mostly from game design.
However in games where you move around at more reasonable speeds, or just sitting in a cockpit in a racing/flying simulator, I find the motion blur and latency to be the absolute killers, causing dizzyness and headaches after a couple of hours.
They're aiming to at least get rid of 99% of motion blur with their ~1ms switching time and low persistence OLED screen, so if they do get rid of motion blur and lower the latency there'll no VR sickness for me in the games I want to play most with it!

FloatingFatMan said,
Until it's a pair of microscreens worn just like a pair of glasses and no more bulky than that, VR will not catch on, period. Even then it's a push.. I've used things like this in the previous generation; VR sickness is a real issue and damned disorienting!

The reason the VR push exists today is because they've identified the cause of VR sickness, if you look at any of the talks/blogs from either Abrash or Carmack you'll see they talk at length about just how poorly optimised (In terms of latency) our current displays and graphics stacks are.

(The excessive latency is the leading cause of VR sickness, alongside things such as persistance)

Question: How bad will VR sickness be for people who get motion sickness even from other stuff like a plan ride or something?

Will I have to take Dramamine every time I play the Rift?

When oh when will they get this right... -_- I mean, yes, the picture produced by the unit is INCREDIBLE!!! They got that part right finally, but the actual physical unit NEEDS to look something like Georgi La Forge's visor.. THAT compact.

Izlude said,
When oh when will they get this right... -_- I mean, yes, the picture produced by the unit is INCREDIBLE!!! They got that part right finally, but the actual physical unit NEEDS to look something like Georgi La Forge's visor.. THAT compact.

Although it's not that small, it works. That's all I need for then to have my money.

It's obviously not finished and the latest Oculous version is already smaller than the one pictured here. The consumer version could be even smaller. You wont get something like La Forge's visor for a long time though, but something that small isn't needed for it to be good.

tytytucke said,

That's a glove controller not a virtual reality system

It all seems rather "Lawnmower Man" to me. If people find active shutter 3D glasses uncomfortable, what are the odds they'll want to wear that for any amount of time.