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So Valve's Virtual Reality Thinger Got Announced...

…Please don’t do these sorts of things on a weekend, big companies. My heart can’t take it.

So: the ‘Vive!’ The first time Steam VR has broken cover! A hardware partnership between Valve and HTC! Dual 1200 x 1080 displays with a 90 frames per second refresh rate! All kinds of apparently super-precise head-tracking with no jitter! But that’s not the half of it. Add in a couple of ‘Steam VR Base Stations’ and you get to walk around, with the setup tracking your location. I.e. in theory you get to actually walk around a pretend world.

And out by this Christmas. Good lord. Trailer thingy below.

Well, that was mostly unhelpful bombast, but let’s look at the underlying claim. So… basically living inside videogames, then? I mean, they don’t mention a toilet attachment, but I’m sure someone will mod one in before long.

Hopefully we’ll have first-hand reports of whether Valve’s massively ambitious foray into full-body virtual reality has paid off, as John and Graham are currently out at GDC in San Francisco, where this thing’s getting shown off. Or maybe they’ve put it on and disappeared into another reality forever already.

In the meantime, there’s assorted further detail, including more specs, over on the Vive’s official website.

Again, a consumer version is planned by Christmas – which may mean things get ugly between Valve/HTC and Oculus – while a developer kit should be available sometime in the Spring. It’s for ‘select developers’ rather than the open-to-all method Oculus went for, though.

All this revealing comes via HTC rather than Valve, by the way, so there might be much yet to come. Perhaps other hardware firms will have their own takes on SteamVR. Perhaps existent headsets can be retroactively adapted for it. And, of course, there’s finding out about game support yet to come: what, exactly, are we going to be doing with this thing?

God. Exciting. Though hard to get my head around what it actually means in practice. Also I’m worried that I don’t have a room big enough for it – it talks of tracking movement across spaces of up to 15 feet x 15 feet. Don’t you dare do a Kinect on me, Vive.

‘Vive’ though? Really? It sounds a bit dildo-y, let’s be honest.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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