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Valve Reveals Gaming Headset, Teases Big Picture 151

Posted by timothy
from the this-one-goes-on-your-head dept.
dotarray writes with a bit from Player Attack: "Gaming is big business, says Valve, as the developer takes the time to show off its brand new gaming headset and TV-based Big Picture. Rather than inviting the games media masses who have been clamouring for any details on the Seattle company's 'wearable computing' initiative, Gabe Newell and his team instead went right to the top, with an in-depth interview published in The New York Times." The New York Times article on which this report is based is worth reading, too: Valve's corporate non-structure sounds hard to believe. It seems Valve is also looking for hardware designers.
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Valve Reveals Gaming Headset, Teases Big Picture

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  • I find it quite amusing that after nearly 3 decades of seeing VR headsets, they still manage to look retarded to this day.

    "all you have to do is wear this 30 pound chunk of shit on your face, and you too can look like a moron ... least for the 20 seconds your eyes can actually stand it before your brain tears from the strain"

    • Proof of concepts always focus on capability, not aesthetics.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        thanks, so how many decades does it take to prove that face mounted helmets are stupid?

        • Re:ya know (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 09, 2012 @08:52PM (#41284355)

          thanks, so how many decades does it take to prove that face mounted helmets are stupid?

          I'm certain the world will be lining up to try your arm-mounted helmets any day now.

        • thanks, so how many decades does it take to prove that face mounted helmets are genius

          Apparently, approximately 3 decades. But time will tell. It ain't over yet.

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            apparently you have never worn one of these things, they are heavy, and hurt your eyes, face, nose, and the back of your head, genius? if they are so grand why have they never become popular?

            • by iinlane (948356)

              Google for oculus rift.

            • by kramulous (977841)

              Because we've had to wait for miniaturisation to catch up to the idea. Just cause something fails once does not mean it will fail always.

              • by Osgeld (1900440)

                ok, they havent gotten any smaller in the last 15 years, someone linked me to the "state of the art" while using newer technology is basicly the same size as what I owned in the 90's

                LCD's didnt just pop out of nowhere in the year 2000 ya know

              • by IrquiM (471313)
                Yeah, iPad and iPhone is a good proof of that!
            • Re:ya know (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Ash Vince (602485) * on Monday September 10, 2012 @07:10AM (#41286429) Journal

              apparently you have never worn one of these things, they are heavy, and hurt your eyes, face, nose, and the back of your head, genius? if they are so grand why have they never become popular?

              The reason they never became popular the first time around was that the Virtuality sets were so expensive. They cost tens of thousands of dollars each and were only good if you had a few so several of you could play together as they had no single player games available.

              If you happened to get access to an arcade where you could play for free though (Like I did) you could still get seriously addicted to playing them. Whenever someone came in to the arcade and wanted to play but they were the only person I would have to don the other headset. I never remember the helmet being that uncomfortable to wear but I probably would not have cared if it was to be honest. The only thing that pissed me off was how expensive it was to play, I thought we should drop the price but when I found out how much it cost to rent it I understood.

              Ultimately we gave it back as to just didn't generate the revenue for the floor space it took up. If you could have got the price down to a level where it could cost more like 50 cents or a dollar I think it might have been more profitable. As it was I think the minimum you could charge to cover the rent of one was about $5 per go and that barely covered the rental even if it was busy every night and all weekend (It wasn't at that price).

              The problem with anything like this though is that once one company tries it and fails it poisons the idea and prevents anyone else from trying it for a while afterwards. The other problem is that most arcades started closing during this period as the consoles you could buy at home caught up in terms of technology.

              The killer product that has made the idea of these things popular again though is the Microsoft Kinect. Once you take 2 or 3 Kinect style gizmos and throw them around you in a living room it will make it possible to track something like a brightly coloured gun to figure out where you are aiming it. Then a headset to control the visual movement and a simple joystick on the side of the gun to make you walk (so you can stay still in the middle of the room). Nobody previously would have predicted that microsoft could have produced the Kinect and released it for the price they did, that changed a whole lot of things.

              Another amazing use for one of these devices now is in racing games. Currently even playing with a nice steering wheel setup the way you look at cars around you (such as when they are overtaking and in your mirror blindspot) is quirky or non existent. A device like this could make driving games seem far more natural.

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      I don't even see how that (wired) monster is even relevant after Google Glasses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by collet (2632725)

        There's a significant difference between augmented reality (Project Glass) and virtual reality. Augmented reality has a lot more practical uses - You know, in the REAL world - while virtual reality seeks to create an entirely new world from scratch. Sure, some things are relevant to both kinds of headset, but ultimately, augmented reality is to help you with your shopping - while virtual reality will let you slaughter you friends.

        There was an hour long video at QuakeCon which is very interesting to listen t

    • And why do you care what you look like at that particular time? Same complaints about wearing 3D glasses at a 3D movie are just as senseless. Who cares what you look like? People are watching the movie, not you, weirdo.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re stand it before your brain tears from the strain
      "with the puking and the stomach acid and the chunks and
      the 'hey hey hey it stings me".
      Recall the early efforts in the mid 1990's with the 2 video camera eye pieces? Wonder why they never got more traction ..... ?
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      The state of the art at the moment seems to be this device [oculusvr.com] if you're interested on the subject.

      • The state of the art at the moment seems to be this device [oculusvr.com] if you're interested on the subject.

        Yes, but there are other models that don't make you look like a retard. [vuzix.com] They even work with your smart phone. I use the 920AR [vuzix.com] (Altered Reality) version, it has two dorky looking cameras on the front and the screens aren't as large, but it's lightweight and looks nicer than huge honking device.

        Considering that I've been using something like "Google Glasses" for years, I figured they'd have their crap together and on the market by now...

        • by olau (314197)

          You should watch John Carmack's QuakeCon 2012 keynote. He talks about this at some length (especially the they're all crap perspective). Part of the problem seems to be that the main needed components haven't really been available from a mass market before now. That's changed with smart phones.

          • by jimshatt (1002452)
            John Carmack should totally team up with Valve on this one. I mean, Carmack and Abrash on one team again would be legendary!
  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @08:49PM (#41284341) Homepage

    While it seems tempting to saying "Just work on what you think you should work on", it also seems risky.

    The What Ifs. What if you hire somebody and tell him to work on whatever, and he just posts stuff like this to /. all day. Who would he be accountable to?

    Or would the management structure suddenly come into being at that time?

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Well, if all they do is fuck around all day then it would probably be discovered fairly quickly in a company as small as 300 people.

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Lots of new start ups are doing this type of management scheme. Github is another company [zachholman.com] that just lets people work on whatever, however they want.

    • Re:No managers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday September 10, 2012 @02:39AM (#41285583) Journal
      The trick is probably to hire people who have proven that they do more interesting things than that during their free time.
    • Re:No managers (Score:5, Informative)

      by trout007 (975317) on Monday September 10, 2012 @05:07AM (#41286023)

      I've worked at companies that were structures this way by accident. It was a government contract design and machine shop. The manager was just a laid back guy that got an order and let us figure it out.. The engineers liked designing and the machinists liked building things. We were very successful because we did what we liked.

      The best part is that if you have an experienced group you can easily tell which projects are a waste of time and nobody worked on those. This allocated resources very efficiently.

      Then one day the contract was up and new management came in and tried to actually manage the place. Everyone with a brain left after 6 months.

    • What if you hire somebody and tell him to work on whatever, and he just posts stuff like this to /. all day. Who would he be accountable to?

      That thought also crossed my mind while reading the valve employee manual [flamehaus.com]. The reason it wouldn't be a problem is that if you're good enough to get hired by Valve, the chances are quite high you'd also be responsible enough not to do that.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      Their solution to that?

      1) Hire the best people. The best people are always self-motivating: I know if *I* worked at Valve, I wouldn't have time to waste on /., I'd be too busy doing awesome things. And play-testing the new (Half-Life|Portal|Left 4 Dead|Team Fortress|Counter-Strike|Day of Defeat|Ricochet).

      2) Salaries are employee-decided. They periodically get a bunch of people together to review your salary. So that means if you waste the company's time, you don't get paid as much as the guy who won the com

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Given how much you look around in first person games having to move your head would end up very strenuous and would likely result in some sort of RSI. I'd much rather look at a monitor in front of me and move the mouse a few centimetres when I want to look around.

    I also wonder how these headsets will work with movement/aim. With standard first person control where you're looking, the direction you're facing and the point you're aiming at are all the same. With a headset it would be ridiculous to set your

  • perhaps this will lead to some decent pc platformers that aren't just shitty ports.
  • for real? Could work. Intel's integrated graphics are pushing out something on the order of a Nvidia GT240 if you get the 4000, which is more than acceptable. They've pretty much got to do something, since if Microsoft goes all walled garden on them and it sticks then they're basically done. I wish them luck. I like my Steam games.
  • In my opinion, this is the way businesses should be run. Gabe is looking at the 5 to 10 year goal of wearable computing will be powerful enough for virtual reality. I don't know if he is right, virtual reality has been virtually around the corner for nearly decades now. I hope it will be. It pretty much depends on if the processing power of the computer chip continues to follow Moore's Law. And even then, I don't know. Maybe not total virtual reality - more like augmented reality. In any case, we e

    • by pellik (193063)
      I remember early VR systems. One big problem they had was that virtual worlds were of such poor quality that having it all around your head really didn't provide any benefit. With this problem unsolved it never surprised me that VR technology hadn't progressed much in the last two decades.

      Now we are starting to see virtual worlds reaching levels of detail that are almost passable as real. It makes a lot of sense to start looking at VR now, if you believe that real level of detail is achievable in 5-10 ye
      • Re:5-10 year plan (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday September 10, 2012 @04:43AM (#41285957)

        I'm really impressed with Valve right now.

        While the Valve model is a part of it, you should be directing your praises specifically at Michael Abrash.

        Abrash is a long-time graphics and optimization guru (author of Zen of Assembly Language, Zen of Graphics Programming, and two legendary Dr Dobbs series of articles, one titled Ramblings In Realtime and the other Graphics Programming Black Book) that Valve has been trying to hire for a very long time.

        This is the guy who single-handedly made the Quake rendering engine, with its software-based perspective-correct texture mapping and lighting, a possibility at the time that it was released. Valve finally succeeded in landing him about a year ago, and he has been investigating the practicality of Virtual and Augmented Reality ever since.

        He even writes about some of his findings in his blog, Ramblings in Valve Time [valvesoftware.com]

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @10:25PM (#41284813)

    The headmounted display (HMD) the NYT article leads off with wasn't created by Valve though. It was created by Palmer Luckey [mtbs3d.com]. Gabe helped him assemble a tiny little 8 person corporation to commercialize the design (and probably offered private financing to help make sure it gets off the ground in style, though that has never been publically reported). He may not need the financing though. The Oculus Rift Kickstarter [kickstarter.com] ended a little over a week ago and was phenomenally successful. They're calling it one of the top 10 Kickstarters so far. That same HMD has been credited to John Carmack too, so it's not too surprising the NYT got it wrong.

    As for the people complaining about how clunky the pictures look, ever heard of prototyping? That's what that was. Check the Kickstarter page for what the Rift 1.0 kits will look like when they ship this December. You can bet the Rift 2.0, likely to be available commercially next year, will look even slicker.

    As for the people complaining about getting sick or eyestrain from it, it may come as a shock, but the past 20 years haven't been completely useless in determining what was wrong with '80s VR. Human vision is now so well understood that a layman can explain the basic issues with VR. It doesn't take an optometrist anymore. More to the point, Carmack has done some real science using the Rift prototype he has and determined that the biggest driver for making VR work (or not) is latency, in both headtracking and the display. Get that roundtrip loop down to less than 20 milliseconds, and human vision (and brain) buys it. It looks like looking at a world, after that, and no longer induces vertigo. The hardware is finally at a point where getting under that limit is feasible.

    The biggest reason VR can succeed this time is display technology. Smart phones have driven the costs of conveniently small conveniently high resolution LCD panels into the ground. What was once a ridiculously custom built $50,000 piece of gear is now a $300 piece of gear made of off the shelf parts originally intended for phones. Right down to the sensors. Trackers on a chip have also gotten both very sophisticated and astonishingly cheap. It ain't the '80s anymore, kids.

    What does all this have to do with Valve? Valve in general and Gabe Newell in particular believes that this time, VR WILL work, and that the platform of choice to get it off the ground is the PC. PCs tolerate new peripherals better than any other platform, especially since many platforms don't tolerate 3rd party peripherals in any form at all. Good luck creating a 3rd party peripheral for the PS3, for instance. Of course, if Microsoft succeeds in killing the PC as we know it with their own app store, then Valve needs their own platform. Hence, the hardware design interest. If their platform includes ready-to-run Virtual Reality that actually lives up to sci fi dreams, so much the better. The results may ultimately become Yet Another Walled Garden (YAWG. Catchy, eh?), but so it goes.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      yea, I had a 300$ one in the 90's and another 300$ one with high resolution TFT's in the early 2000's, delay was well below 20ms and it still boils down that a flickering screen less than an inch from your eye, in stereo will make most peoples heads split in a matter of moments. not to mention even the lightest one I had at only a handful of ounces was still flat out uncomfortable.

      your right its not the 80's anymore, but just cause they reduced the issues, doesnt mean the issues are gone.

      • by strack (1051390)
        apparently the lenses in the oculus rift collimate the light, so its like focusing on a screen at a infinite distance.
      • You whine too much. A handful of ounces is not uncomfortable. I've worn prescription glasses since I was a child, and before high refraction index plastics were available, my glasses weighed a handful of ounces. It's trivial to become accustomed to that weight, to the point it's unnoticeable. Nor is the design of prescription glasses so marvelous that the weight is especially well distributed. Eyeglasses are fashion items, so comfort is very much a secondary consideration. The designers of the Rift wo

        • by Osgeld (1900440)

          hang a few ounces inches from your face and feel the leverage

          "Nor does a TFT flicker"

          now I know your full of shit, LCD's do in fact refresh, often at 60Hz, which flickers

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            The refreshing of LCDs does not impact the back light (the screen does not dim between frames.)

            I thought this was a tech site?
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        a flickering screen less than an inch from your eye

        I give to you OLED

        If it flickers it's at such a rate you don't care.

        not to mention even the lightest one I had at only a handful of ounces was still flat out uncomfortable.

        An OLED set could literally be no heavier than a normal pair of glasses today, but admittedly it would be outrageously expensive if so.

    • by jeti (105266)

      The Rift has three advantages over existing affordable headsets:
      1. Large field of view
      2. Low lag when rotating the head
      3. Optics that concentrate the pixel density in the center, where vision is best

      However, if you move your viewpoint without moving yourself, there still is a disconnect between what you see and what your inner ear reports. This can cause nausea. Palmer has done some experiments with galvanic stimulation of the inner ear. But this is still far awa

    • ... where he goes into more detail of what Areyoukiddingme said.

      It's 3.5 hours, but it's really fascinating. Here's a link [youtube.com].

    • by f3rret (1776822)

      Just get the brain interface developed already! Plug me into the Matrix, I wanna know kung-fu baby.

  • Quaintly Ignorant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paleo2002 (1079697) on Sunday September 09, 2012 @10:38PM (#41284875)
    Interesting article, cool that Valve went right to the mainstream traditional media with their announcement. But, it was kinda cute reading the author's descriptions of Portal and TF2. I guess the Times simply doesn't have anyone under 40 working for them. Apparently Team Fortress is a game about an evil company that sells its customers faulty products.

    Imagine an article covering a sporting event written by someone similarly oblivious to what's going on:
    "Members of the Yankees team run to and capture 'bases' as part of an elaborate reenactment focused on battlefield strategies deployed during the Civil War . . ."
    • by game kid (805301)

      Yup, I read it whenever the mood strikes but the NYT and its obliviousness is...legendary [youtube.com].

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Tech "journalism" is crap and easily swayed by terrible companies to get good reviews. Remember when Rock Star was flying tech journalists to a resort from LAX via helicopter to ensure good reviews for one of their GTA games? Big newspapers like the NYT....and any major regional newspaper, really, don't get much advertising money from companies like EA and Activision, so they have much less incentive to write an article biased towards the company. When you want good reviews you send press releases to tech

  • "What happened to 3D Virtual Reality? Do you remember in the mid-90s when virtual reality headsets were going to be the next big thing? Do you wonder why the whole technology just sort of went away? VR pioneer Mark Pesce has spilled the goods. Audioholics was able to contact Mr. Pesce via Twitter where he answered a few questions for us regarding his work with Sega and the mysterious disappearance of its VR project. Over 15 years ago, Mark Pesce worked with Sega on its VR Headset, which was intended to pl
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      they weren't a bad idea. they were expensive. that '90s vr helmet company turned to vuzix.

      oculus rift & etc are proving it's not so expensive anymore.

  • by bjorniac (836863) on Monday September 10, 2012 @04:26AM (#41285917)

    Well played, Gaben, well played.

  • Unveiled Too Soon (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RazorSharp (1418697)

    They're still hiring designers and engineers to get this thing off the ground and it's already revealed? Newell criticized MS for copying Apple ("[T]rying to copy Apple will accelerate, not slow, Microsoft's decline.") yet he really should have copied Apple in this instance rather than go the old MS route. The MS route is to show off a product in the early prototype stages. The Apple method is to show off a functional product. Maybe Newell is trying to attract the attention of potential investors. If not, h

    • by vigour (846429)

      ... then he would have ported Half-Life to something other than PS2 (and only after the Dreamcast - Microsoft's console - became an apparent failure...

      Irrelevant, the Dreamcast was Sega's console not MS, and they stopped making it two years before HL2 was released. What were the other console options at the time? An under-powered Gamecube or Wii? Remember, HL2 struggled on the original Xbox, porting it to the Wii would have been silly, and now you can get HL2 on the Xbox360 and PS3.

      ... Newell's last minute support of OS X and Linux reeks of desperation....

      You need to decrease the hyperbole, they had a Mac OS 9 port of HL1 that was never released. Obviously they realised that there was no profit to be made in it. Likewise it's on

      • Irrelevant, the Dreamcast was Sega's console not MS,

        Better check the software that thing ran. . . it was XBox 0.5

        Regarding Mac OS X . . . Valve started supporting it long after it was obviously profitable. Mid-tier games sold poorly on Mac OS X (until the app store) but top-tier games, as Blizzard demonstrated, raked in a nice profit. I understand this situation with HL 1, but with HL 2 he took preference to MS's platforms and neglected all others (he publicly trashed the PS3 port, blaming dev woes on the system).

        Linux geeks are the ideal market for Valve. I

    • by ZosX (517789)

      OS X? Huge growth? Last I looked at the numbers it was still in the single digit range where it has firmly been for years. Wake me up when over 10% of PCs are Macs. Sure there's a market, but its not very big. Linux is 1% fwiw. But you know, Microsoft's stranglehold according to you has kept games from other platforms. Nevermind that they were just tiny, insignificant markets. Also honda never quit making 2 door civics and aftermarket parts makers never went out of business. Do you always write about things

      • Take out the corporate environment and I'd be willing to be that over 10% of PCs are Macs. Percentages don't really matter in this case, anyway. A very tiny, insignificant amount of homes had Macs in 2000. Today, it's a common for a home to have a Mac. That's what I consider huge growth, and Apple's sales data will back that up. Marketshare is a non-factor.

        It appears I was wrong about the Civics (I think - I'm pretty sure they halted either the 2-door or hatchback model for a year or two in the Sta

        • by ZosX (517789)

          Fair enough. You do realize that anything you post here tends to get picked to pieces right?

          Didn't mean any harm there really. Its just sport after a certain point. :)

        • by ZosX (517789)

          Also...you may be correct about macs. Clearly there is a large enough market now for valve to develop steam for it. I think windows is now clearly in the decline. It will persist for a long time, but I think people want something more like android or ios to be their computing experience. I use my tablet and phone far more than my laptop. But my laptop runs lightroom and plays games that my tablet can't. Windows 8 is a desperate move if you want to point out desperation. If they can succeed at moving their

  • Maybe that headset looks tiny on Gabe, but for a normal sized human that is a monstrosity.

    Big Picture looks cool, but the future of gaming is not just a fancy HD interface to an app store.

    So far Valve is getting a failing grade on efforts to create a "new" gaming platform.

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