Hey, did you hear? Valve's throwing a giant party and YOU AREN'T INVITED. Neither am I, for that matter. Steam Dev Days is a set of developer-only sessions at Valve HQ in Seattle, and I'd love to be a fly on the wall for it except that flies have meaningless, grubby little lives that are typically snuffed out hours after they begin. Also, they're unable to use virtual reality hardware, which would kind of defeat the purpose of wriggling my putrid little fly body through an open window to begin with. But anyway, Valve plans to show off its own VR hardware prototype during the gathering - an interesting decision given its decision to cast off CastAR and the reality-blurring reign of VR neo-cyber godking 20XX Oculus Rift.
Here's a description of the session in question, courtesy of Steam Dev Days' event schedule:
"We’ve figured out what affordable Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will be capable of within a couple of years, and assembled a prototype which demonstrates that such VR hardware is capable of stunning experiences. This type of hardware is almost certainly going to appear in short order, and the time to starting developing for it is now. This talk will discuss what the hardware is like, and the kinds of experiences it makes possible. A few attendees will be randomly selected to try out the prototype following the talk."
It will, of course, be led by Valve tech guru Michael Abrash. Meanwhile, programmer and self-professed "augmented and virtual reality enthusiast" Joe Ludwig will follow with a session about Valve's plans to integrate Steam with virtual reality setups. Everything from overlays to store changes to Steamworks will be discussed.
So Valve's still definitely paving its own way toward the inevitable VR future, despite competition from both Oculus and, er, former employees that it kicked to the curb. It'll be interesting to see what the Steam-powered empire does differently, especially given that its flotilla of living-room-conquering Steam Machines sure could use a secret weapon right about now.
Steam Dev Days will run from January 15-16, so expect to hear more around then. For now, though, who's ready to strap unwieldy block masks to their faces for the rest of their gaming lives? Or at least for a couple years? Don't get me wrong: I love VR, but I'm deathly afraid that a) it makes me look like a rhinoceros who charged face-first into a brick wall and b) people will slowly, methodically bury me in household objects while I'm playing and, therefore, blind. The future is bright, but do not presume it to be kind.