Valve Software’s hugely popular, free-to-play online FPS, Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is to get Oculus Rift support! Oculus Rift users will also be gifted a unique in-game hat. A news release provided by an anonymous source details Valve’s first foray into the world of virtual reality. We take a look at the details and briefly recap the company’s journey to official Oculus Rift supporter.
Update 2: Oculus has made an official announcement now as well. They’ve confirmed who will be eligible for the Oculus Rift TF2 hat:
If you backed the Kickstarter campaign at any level, or if you pre-ordered a Rift development kit from our website before April 1, 2013, (and haven’t refunded/canceled your pledge/order) you’ll receive a code to redeem your very own TF2 Oculus dev kit hat.
Engadget brings us this video of virtual reality TF2:
Oculus Rift and TF2: What Can We Expect?
Rift support will be enabled as part of an online update scheduled to be released this week, according to a release provided by an anonymous source. This will unlock a new ‘experimental virtual reality mode’ which allow any Oculus Rift developer kit owner to use their device to play the game. It seems that all game modes are available to Rift owners as well as all character classes.
Joe Ludwig, a programmer at Valve on the TF2 team, was pretty impressed with the Oculus Rift:
“When we first played an early version of Virtual Reality mode in Team Fortress we were blown away by the immersion we experienced. VR is just getting started, but it is going to have a big impact on gaming. This update will let us share that experience with more of the Team Fortress community,” went the release received by Road to VR.
Not only that, but Valve have planned a little something special for those who are lucky enough to have received their Oculus Rift developer kit — owners of the Rift will receive Steam codes to redeem an Oculus Rift themed in-game hat, a popular item category among Team Fortress 2 players.
So, when can you expect to get your hands on all of this? Well, Steam codes for the item will be sent out by Oculus starting this week, although we don’t know precisely when. Oculus Rift develop kits are scheduled to begin shipping to early Kickstarter backers by the end of March.
It isn’t clear if this means that other Valve titles, like Half-Life 2 or Portal, will get Oculus Rift support as well.
Valve Software; Early Oculus Rift Supporter
Valve have been attached to the Oculus Rift project ever since Gabe Newell, Valve Software’s CEO, took part in the original Oculus Rift Kickstarter video proclaiming their support for the fledgling project stating [at 2m 21s]:
“…if anybody’s going to tackle this set of hard problems, we think that Palmer’s going to do it. So we’d strongly encourage you to support this Kickstarter,” said Newell in the video.
Also featured in the video is Michael Abrash, a developer at Valve with not only a considerable interest in augmented and virtual reality technologies but a minor legend in game coding circles from his work on both Doom (1993) and Quake (1996). Abrash has popped up at various points since the Oculus Rift’s successful Kickstarter campaign last September, including at a virtual reality panel at Quakecon 2012.
So, it seems fairly clear Valve had more than just a passing interest in the gaming potential of virtual reality and viewed the Oculus Rift as the industry’s first real chance of bringing VR to the masses. The firm was even said to be working on their own VR HMD when some internal research hardware was pictured in a New York Times article, a claim that was flatly denied by Valve.
The first hints that Team Fortress 2 could be lining up to be Valve’s first foray into virtual reality appeared in the schedule for this year’s Game Developer Conference. Valve and the Team Fortress 2 team are due to give 2 talks at GDC which takes place in San Francisco, California between 25th and 29th of March.
In particular, the talk entitled ‘What We Learned Porting Team Fortress 2 to Virtual Reality‘ looks to give other developers considering VR adaptations of their titles insight into the process and a fairly clear indication that this has been far more than just a minor distraction for the team:
Several people at Valve spent the past year exploring various forms of wearable computing. The wearable effort included porting Team Fortress 2 to run in virtual reality goggles. This session will describe lessons learned from Valve’s porting experience. Topics covered include an overview of what stereo support entails, rendering 2D user interface in a 90 degree field of view display, dealing with view models and other rendering shortcuts, and how mouselook can interact with head tracking in a first person shooter.