Yesterday Gabe Newell the head of Valve held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), where the public barraged him with questions ranging from Half-Life 3, Steam support issues and virtual reality (VR). In terms of VR it was confirmed that the company was still developing first-party immersive content as well as indicating third-party head-mounted displays (HMDs) that support the Lighthouse room scale system are in the works.
When asked about the company’s future and where he saw it heading Newell responded: “The big thing right now is broadening the range of options we have in creating experiences. We think investing in hardware will give us those options. The knuckles controller [the prototypes originally shown at Steam Dev Days] is being designed at the same time as we’re designing our own VR games.
“Much more narrowly, some of us are thinking about some of the AI work that is being hyped right now. Simplistically we have lots of data and compute capability that looks like the kinds of areas where machine learning should work well. Personally I’m looking at research in brain-computer interfaces.”
When quizzed later on about a fully fledged VR title (The Lab was the last to be released) he replied: “Yes. We think VR is pretty important as a tool for interesting games”
Newell wasn’t the only person from Valve taking part in the AMA , other contributors included programmer Joe Ludwig. When asked about hardware manufacturers interest in releasing their own SteamVR device he confirmed that some companies that have utilised the lighthouse tracking system for their own HMDs: “500 companies have signed up to use Lighthouse and some of them are making HMDs. A few of them have talked about that, but a bunch more will announce when they’re ready.”
Ludwig went on to say:”As far as we know, everything is in place for any store to support the Vive. As part of your initial setup you would still install Steam to get the drivers, but Steam doesn’t need to be running for the Vive to work. The controller production line is still going strong and churning out controllers. The next line we’re building is for the base stations we talked about at Dev Days. They’ll start showing up later this year. Using automation allows us to keep production local, which means our employees can be much more hands-on with the manufacturing process. That works a lot better with how Valve works, so we’ll probably keep doing that going forward.”
As Valve releases further details on its VR plans and development, VRFocus will report back.