Valve Prepping Source 2 Game Engine for Virtual Reality Support

virtual reality source 2 engine oculus rift

Valve has recently confirmed that the company is getting their highly anticipated Source 2 game engine “working well with VR.”

Oculus subreddit moderator, Dudelsac, compiled a list of questions from the community to ask Valve during a recent Q&A session on Reddit. Among those questions was one from users Pingly and Druidsbane who asked, “The vast majority of demos for the Oculus Rift are done with Unity. Does Valve have any plans to turn Source or Source 2 into a more user-friendly development system with a C++ API as well as easy tools and release it early to give VR developers a headstart?” Valve, represented in this Q&A session by founder Gabe Newell, among others, responded saying that Alex Vlachos, Senior Graphics Programmer at Valve, is “working on this now (getting Source 2 working well with VR).”

This is exciting news for a game engine with development so shrouded in mystery that being any more so would relegate it to the dark world of Half-Life 3 rumors.

The rest of the questions provided by the Oculus Subreddit resulted in other interesting responses regarding VR and are reproduced in full here for your perusal:

Q: Recently, the experimental Valve VR headset has stunned developers and has shown what’s possible in the years to come. When did Valve originally start to research VR technology and why?

A: Abrash was thinking about it for a while, and started to get serious around 2 years ago. He thought that we’d reached the point where VR problems were getting tractable.

Q: Gl0we asks: SteamOS could potentially be the first commercial Virtual Reality OS – what plans do you have for the future of the platform? How do you want to tackle the harder problems like user input for example?

A: User input is hard. We haven’t seen a solution yet to the problem. It’s in the next round of problems to tackle. We need to start doing experience fragments to help drive this.

Q: Pingly and Druidsbane ask: The vast majority of demos for the Oculus Rift are done with Unity. Does Valve have any plans to turn Source or Source 2 into a more user-friendly development system with a C++ API as well as easy tools and release it early to give VR developers a headstart?

A: Alex Vlachos is working on this now (getting Source 2 working well with VR). Unity is pretty useful for lots of things as well.

Q: Remosito asks: What VR experiences are you personally looking forward to the most for Year 1 and 5?

A: Having a product ship that is worth customers money and time.

Q: Have you personally played the HLVR mod that expands Valve’s current VR implementation for Half-Life 2 into a full-fledged experience with body tracking? See this article for a short example of the great work that Wormslayer and Adoral84 are putting together with the community’s help.

A: No.

Q: Finally – and I guess you get that question a lot – I wanted to ask about the title that everyone is waiting for and that lends itself perfectly for a VR adaption, due to its way of storytelling, the open world as well as the puzzle elements: Ricochet 2. Did the long development time have anything to do with evolving technologies such as Virtual Reality? Are you planning to bring full VR support to future titles, such as Ricochet 2?

A: We aren’t holding any game until VR is shipping. You don’t want to create that kind of dependency. [Editor’s note: my dreams of a glorious Half-Life 3 with full virtual reality support are officially crushed. Wait… did he just confirm that Half-Life 3 is shipping before VR?!]

Valve has been open about their collaboration with Oculus even while demonstrating their own VR headset prototype at Steam Dev Days in January. One of the company’s most popular titles, Team Fortress 2, was one of the earliest games to get support for the Oculus Rift dev kit (DK1). Valve has also launched a beta version of SteamVR which utilizes the Oculus Rift VR to present a virtual version of the software’s Big Picture mode.

The Oculus Rift is the only game in town right now as far as well supported consumer-affordable VR headsets are concerned, but I’m particularly interested to see if and how support for other head mounted displays is handled.

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