StarVR: Starbreeze Get Into Cybergoggles

Folks have been gushing and gasping (and grumbling, in my case) for years about the coming virtual reality revolution, but it’s all about to kick off. Valve’s Vive is due later this year, Oculus have revealed the Rift consumer model that’ll launch in early 2016, and Microsoft’s augmented reality HoloLens will follow Windows 10. Starbreeze Studios want in.

The company behind Brothers, Syndicate, and (through their subsidiary Overkill) the Payday games have snapped up cybergoggle makers InfinitEye. Along with releasing hardware under the name StarVR, they plan to make VR-friendly games – starting with Overkill’s The Walking Dead.

The Infiniteye lot in France have been working on VR hardware for years, and finished the first InfinitEye model in 2013. The current headset boasts two 5.5″ screens, making for a combined resolution of 5120×1440 with a 210° horizontal field of view. The Rift offers 2160 x 1200 across its two screens, while Vive is 2400×1080. Resolution is not the only important metric when it comes to VR, mind. StarVR’s field of view is far wider than the Rift, mind, and that is important for immersion – Rift can feel a bit blinkered.

Check the specs yourself for more info.

Starbreeze intend to support Valve’s Steam OpenVR framework within Starbreeze games as well as in Valhalla, a new engine they’re buying.

As for Overkill’s Walking Dead game, that co-op FPS is due to be revealed during E3.

“The landscape of entertainment is transforming and we strongly believe VR will be a big part of the story of our industry going forward. Our StarVR aims at bringing the next generation entertainment experiences to reality,” Starbreeze CEO Bo Andersson Klint said in the announcement. “By immersing ourselves into the VR field, we aim to learn fast, position Starbreeze for the future and allow people to enter into new worlds.” Look, they have a video too:

37 Comments

  1. Eight Rooks says:

    This is the big surprise for me so far, and not really in a good way. I applaud their ambition, but… 1) what sort of a monstrous kit will be required to push visually intensive software at that resolution? and 2) nothing nu-Starbreeze have done really interests me since the old guard left to form Machine Games. (I liked Brothers, but not that much, and it was a bit of a one-trick pony IMO; I’ve never felt the urge to play it again.) I doubt I’d be buying any of the VR headsets day one even if I could comfortably afford to do so, but Vive or the Rift look like a far better bet than this at first glance.

    • Xerophyte says:

      Re: 1), I have my laptop hooked into my 3840×2160 TV and it does a fine job driving most things I play at that resolution. Sure, it’s a pretty new high-end laptop and I don’t really shove anything more demanding at it than Dark Souls 2, but it’s still a million pixels more than this headset* on something the size of a shoebox. It’s probably a fair guess that the sort of enthusiast who would buy a high end VR headset a year from now would do fine.

      I’m more skeptical when it comes to the software front, since good VR is finicky as hell and Starbreeze have no track record there. Also, the odds of them beating out Oculus or Valve on the ecosystem front are minute at best.

      * Caveat: you often have to render at a higher resolution than the display with VR, to compensate for the lens distortion, which would be hard in this case. On the other hand, maybe they have less lens distortion thanks to the higher resolution. Maybe this’ll finally be the hardware where raytracing wins!**

      ** Spoiler: nah, it won’t.

      • pack.wolf says:

        I really doubt your laptop actually sends a 2160p60 signal to your TV because that amount of data cannot even be transmitted over a single HDMI 1.4 cable. If you are connected via HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer – forget what I said.
        I think bandwidth will be a real problem for good VR headsets, especially since I consider 60Hz the bare minimum for latency- and hence nausea-free VR. At that data rate current wireless technology is not an option and I don’t want bulky cables attached to my head. Then there’s the whole simulation sickness thing although that might just be a small subset of the target audience – I’m very prone to this, can’t ride in the back of a car or bus if I don’t see out the window because when my inner ear and my eyes don’t agree, so do me and my stomach.

        • cafeoh says:

          Technically HDMI isn’t different from any other medium, the standard forces you to make your cable support a minimum bandwidth, but you could go much higher, the only thing stopping you is cable quality. And cables don’t need to be bulkier to allow higher bandwidth, without even talking about optic fibers, 10GBASE copper looks just like your regular Fast-Ethernet cable. My own screen resolution and framerate is technically outside of HDMI 1.4 norms, but it works just fine.

          Anyway, I would be very interested to see what kind of laptop can run DS2 at this resolution, at 60 fps.

          • Xerophyte says:

            It’s one of ASUS ridiculous looking gaming laptops. i7@2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM and a GTX 980M card. I work in computer graphics (mostly CPU-oriented) and I bought it partly to have something I can work on while traveling, which it does a pretty good job at. That it can also play games on the telly is a nice bonus.

            I’m reasonably sure I drop well below 60 FPS at times, not that I’ve really bothered to check. Both my laptop and TV have DisplayPorts, which I’d likewise guess is what someone making a high-end VR headset for next year would go for. I’d say performance is mainly bounded by the game and video card at those resolutions. G-buffers and post process passes are disproportionately punished but pure forward renderers will scale well enough. I imagine DaS2 falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

            Anyhow, the response lag nausea is a good point and will be harder to deal with if your hardware requires more rendering power. I’m apparently tolerant to that particular sort of lag, but I’ve got strabismus so my brain is presumably better than most people’s at dealing with the sensation of seeing something I’m not actually looking at. YMMV.

          • cafeoh says:

            Oh, yeah, quite interesting. My computer graphics knowledge is pretty much revolving around ray-marching/tracing and all the stuff you can basically hack in a single fragment shader, so I’m not really familiar with deferred versus forward rendering, but I think I can see your point.

            For the nausea thing I was speaking hypothetically (never tried any kind of HMD thingy myself), input lag bothers me immensely on regular screens (and to be completely honest, it’s one of those “learned” bothers, like using rubberdome keyboards or mouse acceleration), but doesn’t make my sick. As for your strabismus, I’m not sure this really holds, I suppose your off-centered eye is offset to what you’re looking at, but doesn’t really lag behind your master eye, does it?

            Anyway, have you actually tried VR yet? I’d be interested to have the learned and sensible opinion of a fellow computer graphics enthusiast if you did.

      • manny says:

        Actually Starbreeze have the advantage here, they have experience and skill making multiple great game enginese for Syndicate and Payday 2, they are now in the process of purchasing a game engine which should push VR on the software side to the highest level.

        Valve in contrast continues to push its Source 2 game engine, which they developed from the Quake engine, and which still has Quake code in it. So although the game engine is respectable and capable, it will not be custom made for the VR experience, instead just hacked on.

        Occulus rift are the most disadvantaged having to start from scratch in building a game engine for VR while having no experience in it, since their focus has been almost entirely on the hardware.

      • PseudoKnight says:

        Playing a game at 4K on a flat panel means 45FPS is a “fine job”, but you have to get at least 90FPS for a good VR experience. That’s tough. Even on a 980Ti you have to drop a lot of settings on conventional games. Fortunately most VR games will be tweaked for performance and this is actually a little less resolution than 4K.

        There are questions whether it actually has a refresh rate higher than 75hz and a pixel response to match. If not, that’s a problem. In the end, this HMD lives and dies by hands-on reviews (which so far haven’t compared too favorably to the Vive and Rift).

    • cpy says:

      You forget one VERY important thing! DX12! With VR SLI + DX12 you can split rendering job as if you played only on 2560×1440 and that is very well handled by current graphic cards. So yeah i bet they are trying to push it in that direction since you can split memory/gpu resources and everything for each card so you will not render huge resolution but 2 pretty low ones.

  2. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    I too am starting my own VR firm.

    I’ve taken some top of the range (in the mid 90’s) swimming goggles and Blu-Tack®’d 2 mini polaroids from the new Fallout 4 trailer on.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tweet Mr Zuckerberg and invite him around for Tea and caramel chocolate digestives. *Nobody* can resist caramel chocolate digestives.

    I promise to invest part of my imminent wealth in better quality ponds.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I find caramel chocolate digestives to be altogether for too sickly sweet. I’m a dark chocolate digestive man and proud

  3. bovine3dom says:

    The panel resolution is a big number, but stretched across that wide a field of view, presumably it’s going to have a similar angular resolution (i.e. how blurry the image is) to Rift & friends – not accounting for clever lenses, of course, but they can only do so much.

    • Cinek says:

      That’s only an advantage in that case. You get rid of that illusion of looking through the window. Bigger question is how does it handle image quality – wider field of view means that you’ll either need more sophisticated optics (which tend to take more space) or you’ll have distortions and aberrations. Both of which are rather large trade-offs.

  4. Ethaor says:

    Not going to buy any kit day 1 either. I’ll wait for the thorough reviews. especially StarVR as they didn’t mention anything related to latency, refresh rates or prices.

    But assuming it’s about the same as the competition then it’s a real kick in the nuts to soon-to-be VR market. The hardware specs needed to make it run is imho irrelevent.

    1. We can always just turn the resolution down to the OR/Vive level, then use it to its full potential once we can handle it
    2. VR is an enthusiast market, I hardly see a gamer buying a VR game without first possessing a high end GPU
    3. There’s tech in the work to improve hardware efficiency for VR such as VR direct etc.

  5. Not_Id says:

    Will I have to buy three headsets for all the exclusive games or wot?

    Something I’ve been wondering about for a while is vr movies. It’s going to happen right? But here’s the thing, which also affects co-op gaming: How can we share those experiences with our partners/friends when we’re watching a film or playing co-op games on the sofa? Do any of these headsets have cameras and mics so we can share the experiences with people in the same room?

    • Ethaor says:

      Well, I don’t think that’s the targeted audience. The point of VR is to immerse ourselve in a virtual world and be transported in it, not immerse ourselves and transported in our living room.

      Microsoft Hololense might be more suited for that.

    • Cinek says:

      I really want VR, but about things like these – honestly: I don’t give a shit. If I’d like to share my experiences with other – I would buy Nintendo Wii. And as for the mic – there’s no reason to have it integrated with headset – just get a free-standing one. Alternatively one of these pinned to the shirt. As for camera – no idea why would you need one, but any webcam will do to share how silly you look with a brick strapped to your face. ;)

      VR should be about personal experience and immersion. There’s plenty of other toys if you’d like to share your experience with someone.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    That’s certainly the most aggressively ugly offering from the current crop of VR headsets – and that’s saying something.

    • Chaz says:

      But since you won’t be able to look at yourself in the mirror when wearing it……

  7. dorobo says:

    This is great for the consumer Think I will wait for all these things to come out to get reviews and so on. Maybe even wait for the next gen to work out all the shorcomings wait for them to steal tech from one another. Wait for the evolution to happen you know.

  8. waltC says:

    More like a virtual reality revolution fad, and a short-lived one at that. This frenzy to get out “VR goggles” of some kind reminds me of how movie makers copy each other because they’re scared to take chances with original material–“Jaws” comes out, followed by a dozen “Sharknado”-type movies, etc…;) I suspect that when the smoke & haze clear that what’s left will amount to about the same audience that stereoscopic games attract today.

    • Ethaor says:

      Did you experience VR?

    • grimdanfango says:

      Yeah, seriously, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

      I’m stereoblind (can’t merge left-and-right into 3D) and thus hate having to pay more to sit in cinemas with a pair of crappy sunglasses making everything too dark, watching faddy “3D!” movies.

      …and yet I have the Rift DK2, and it’s been an absolute revelation. I actually find I cannot play Project Cars on a monitor anymore, as even with it’s thoroughly half-baked, shonky Rift support, it still give you a sense of awareness in VR that you just can’t get on a monitor. I find I can drive considerably better with the Rift, simply because I get a true sense of where the car/road/curbs are, and a true sense of the speed I’m travelling.

      Anyone who thinks VR is just another fad on the level of “3D!” just hasn’t experienced it yet. (Or experienced it properly… not all VR demos are going to sell you on the possibilities. If you get a chance, try out Vox Machinae :))

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Higher FOV will be brilliant for VR, especially in sims. A lack of peripheral vision really takes away from a sense of speed and that sense of “oh holy crap I could lose this at any moment”. I once tried an experiment with my rift and turned my head towards the plane cockpit window, but turned my eyes towards the front of the plane. That was enough to set off the peripheral vision and the sensation actually made my belly do a little flip as my brain decided it was actually 2000 feet up over the Cairngorms.

    Whether they can get all the other stuff right remains to be seen – next step for VR is the hands of some sober, experienced reviewers and the vicious, unflinching claws of the community.

  10. Stevostin says:

    The thing is if they’re going this way against the big gun they really must have a strong offering. On the paper they’re beating everyone so it tends to confirm. Color me interested.

    PS : I love how random internet people obviously think of issues the team working on it for numerous years has obviously forgot. Cause they’re morons, you know.

    • Save Me Grilled Cheesus says:

      I am of similar feelings as you on both points… and yet things like SimCity (2013) happen.

      This one has my interest too, especially since it should be able to play all the Vive games. But I am certainly waiting for prices, reviews, and initial sales before I commit to any particular VR system.

  11. vorador says:

    Well, good luck, but they’re diving into a shark filled ocean. While the idea of a really big FOV is something basic for inmersion, moving that much pixels at 60 fps and low latency would require a hell of a machine.

  12. El_MUERkO says:

    If they’re 90hz or better OLED panels then I’m very… Very… Very Interested

  13. cafeoh says:

    I don’t know, sure, greater FOV, I suppose this could be awesome with a non-uniform resolution rendering.

    But the “specs” literally just show you how big the resolution and how wide the FOV is in all possible representation, but what about the screen and tracking latency? No information on that, and no god damn John Carmack on their team as far as I know.

    There are many technical challenges with VR, like precision, latency of I/O, calibration (John Carmack have some great talk where he breezes through all those problems and how he casually fixed them because he’s just a superior human-being for real). Resolution and FOV are not one of them, that’s just a matter of manufacturing and supply, nothing you couldn’t reproduce in a lab. A thousand times more pixels are not gonna suppress my nausea.

    • cpy says:

      Yeah, i was afraid it might come down to this. I’m not sure what to get now OR with lower resolution but really fined tuned position tracking and very low latency or this new questionable StarVR. I guess people start with OR and then go to StarVR if it’s as good as OR. Also don’t forget about weight balancing, if that thing will feel uncomfortable while wearing it you’ll still put it down after a while.

      • cafeoh says:

        I don’t believe StarVR is gonna be the “upgraded” high-quality version of the Oculus. You’ll need a very powerful machine to run most games from this decade at that resolution smoothly (and by smoothly I mean perfect 60 fps with not a hint of jitter). I believe that either the Oculus will be the technologically superior version, or the ValveVR will, since Valve worked with Oculus before the big Facebook Buyout Drama™, and therefore you might hope just enough Carmackium (the actual god particle) was infused into the company.

  14. theleif says:

    As more players emerge on the VR scene, I really hope they settle on some open standard libraries, otherwise the VR “revolution” will be dead in the water. There’s no way in hell game devs will optimise their games for PC, two consoles and (as it now stands) three different VR sets.

    • P.Funk says:

      Well we’re in the early days where everyone is keen to create a monopoly and own an entire proporietary format to themselves. If you look at the appalling business practices of the makers of TrackIR and how they’ve treated the free alternative market place (calling a piggy back off of the compatibility in games theft) you can see how niche enthusiast markets often conform to dickhead bareknuckle capitalist bullshit tendencies.

      I am very wary of the VR market specifically for this reason. In my view gaming in general is one of the most anti-consumer markets out there so the evolution of this new market will define my willingness to invest my monies into it.

      Facebook didn’t drop a billion dollars on some start up to not be the next Apple of a burgeoning market so I am wondering how they’ll view sharing data will competitors. I somehow doubt they’ll be amiable about it.

      • cpy says:

        We need some serious anti monopoly laws. We don’t want overpriced games because they need to code 100s of different APIs for VR, controllers, tracking and other BS.

      • cpy says:

        Yeah i also forgot, none of those companies are that much innovative, remember that new things that come to existence are usually being researched in secrecy by few already so like VR OR might been the public one but there were many more companies that were doing that (maybe still are) that are making their own VR maybe even longer, but they didn’t want publicity so their ideas won’t get stolen before they get chance to finish it. Every discovery we made in any field was always going to happen even if you got yourself a time machine and kill the guy, because there always are few more that were months short.

  15. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    All VR-enabled games better support all of these VR platforms, or else. At least, the majority of them should; otherwise, what hope is there for the whole trend?