More goodies have leaked out of Valve's Steam Dev Days event in Seattle. The latest batch of developer tweets collected by Steam Database includes information on virtual reality, which Valve expects to be a big deal for the gaming industry—and soon. The firm thinks VR gear that delivers a good experience will be available within two years "at a consumer price."
Valve didn't mention what that price might be, but it did lay out some specifications for what should be feasible by 2015. We can look forward to a display system with "1K x 1K resolution per eye" and a 95Hz refresh rate. The end-to-end latency is expected to drop to just 20 milliseconds, and Valve expects position tracking to be accurate down to one millimeter and one quarter degree of rotation. It looks like the tracking system should work within a 6.5' cube.
It's no secret that Valve has been working with Oculus. More specifically, the two firms are collaborating on tracking technology. Valve doesn't have any plans to release VR hardware of its own, but it's not ruling out the possibility. The company also has a list of issues that still need to be addressed, such as 3D audio, haptics, input schemes, and eye tracking, just to name a few.
Developers keen on getting started with VR should be pleased to learn that Valve has released its SteamVR API. The Oculus folks have also posted a best practices guide that's loaded with interesting information. The 39-page document covers everything from rendering techniques to interface design.
Valve expects the PC to be "the hotbed" for virtual reality in part because developers and hardware vendors have "complete freedom to innovate." The platform also has enough power to render games at high resolutions and refresh rates. I have to admit that I was hoping for a higher resolution than the presumably 1024x1024-per-eye configuration mentioned during Valve's presentation, though.
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