Background artist Damien Labonte is excited about Valve’s forthcoming SteamVR reveal. So excited, in fact, that he spent his evenings over the last week creating five very impressive themed mockups of the unit. We have the entire series to share, and also heard from Labonte about his inspiration and thoughts on what the company will show next week.
Labonte, a Vancouver based background artist and VR enthusiast working in the animation industry, told me that the VR headset silhouette uncovered on Valve’s website earlier in the week fired up his imagination.
“I saw the ‘speculation silhouette’ on [Reddit’s Oculus page] and the Portal theme just came to my head. I was just inspired at the moment and it was fun to make, but once I started, I just couldn’t stop myself!”
From the original Portal-inspired mockup, he went on to create a series of five imaginative designs, each with a unique theme based on Valve’s games.
When I asked Labonte which he liked the most, he said it was a tough choice.
“I love all my children the same, but if I had to choose, I’d probably say the RVLH-030315 because it reminds me of the awesome Test Chamber sequence in Half-Life.”
His passion for Half-Life (1998), the opening chapter in Valve’s acclaimed franchise, didn’t stop him from making a Half-Life 2 (2004) themed design (the ‘Overwatcher’ headset) and even a Half-Life 3 model, which is silly, because everyone knows Half-Life 3 will never be released.
I asked Labonte what he hoped Valve would show this coming week at GDC 2015.
“Three things (see what I did there?) 1) An awesome SteamVR headset that trumps all others in specs. 2) Half-Life 3 VR, obviously, and 3) an included VR motion controller shaped like a crowbar,” he said. “In all seriousness though, something that will be available to consumers soon, because all this waiting is becoming unbearable. I’m sure whatever it is, it will blow minds. A teaser for Half-Life 3 would be nice too, but it could cause the internet to melt.”
“If Valve announced Half-Life 3 for SteamVR next week, to what extent would your mind and body be damaged from the resulting shock?” I asked Labonte.
“Basically it would take the G-Man to bring me out of my sheer joy induced coma,” he said.
Yes, people are excited about Half-Life 3.
Labonte told me that he’s been waiting for VR to take off, with an interest that started long before Oculus came onto the scene.
“I started off with an strong interest in 3D gaming using eDimensional 3D glasses, and then I was hooked,” he told me. “I’ve been dreaming of this time for a long time. I remember being fascinated by early CGI stuff (The Minds Eye captivated me) and it’s been a long techno-gadget filled road since. I frequented the MTBS3D forums a lot, long before the birth of the Rift. I currently have an Oculus Rift DK1 (since GearVR isn’t available in Canada yet…). Really looking forward to seeing what comes out of GDC.”
Labonte also did an awesome series of Oculus Rift concepts that won him his DK1 as part of a competition (you can find them here, though you’ll have to scroll quite a way down!).
He told me that he’d like to get into concept artistry for videogames. After seeing his VR headset concepts and some impressive work on his website, I think there’s a very real chance of that happening. Valve, are you listening?