Cloudhead Games CEO Denny Unger recently tweeted what appears to be an unreleased VR headset and motion controllers using SteamVR 2.0 tracking basestations.
Cloudhead Games have been at the forefront of VR development ever since the studio brought a 2013-era prototype of The Gallery: Call of the Starseed (2016) to the Oculus Rift DK1 and Razer Hydra motion controllers. About two years later the studio announced they were working closely with Valve and HTC to bring The Gallery as a Vive launch title, which makes heavy use of object interaction thanks to the Vive’s motion controllers.
With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Cloudhead has become a trusted name in VR, giving them a unique opportunity to get their hands on unreleased VR hardware from the biggest players in virtual reality.
Many key parts of the image have been blurred out, including most of the headset and all of the motion controllers. Unger deleted the tweet shortly after posting it on Friday, although it can still be found in Google’s webcache.
Despite the blur, the controllers really aren’t such a big mystery at this point, as they’re very likely some iteration of Valve’s Knuckles controllers, which feature an unmistakable hand strap and ‘open palm’ design.
An active SteamVR 2.0 basestation can also be seen in the full image above, lending credence to the fact that both the controllers and headset are tracked by Valve’s recently updated positional tracking standard.
The blurred-out VR headset is a much larger mystery at this point however. While it’s impossible to say exactly what it is, we can tell you what it isn’t. The profile, which has been retained partially despite the laughing-crying emoji and blur, isn’t consistent with HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, Windows VR headsets, Pimax VR headsets, or any other headset we know of. We can also see that the headset is indeed a tethered PC VR unit.
Here’s a closeup of the headset’s partial profile:
Unger tweeted further to clarify his reasons for posting and subsequently deleting the image, saying that he deleted the tweet because “[i]t was honestly just a tweet about being in stealth mode for so long.”
Why being in stealth mode is important for the studio, we just can’t tell; it’s clear Cloudhead is working on a third episode of The Gallery, as the second episode is set up to continue in a sequel.
Furthermore, Unger said that plenty of the VR hardware in the studio “is not fit for public consumption. From all major players. Small mods to existing hardware and previously publicly visible hardware that is just not primetime ready. Bla, bla, bla.”
So while Unger can’t confirm or deny whatever nascent headset is in the image, that won’t stop us from blowing past the “bla, bla, bla” boilerplate for some healthy speculation.
The most tantalizing hypothesis: Cloudhead may have their hands on some version of the Valve headset recently seen in a series of leaked images.
While there are some similarities between the leaked image and Cloudhead’s mystery headset—namely the small lip that could be one of the Valve headset’s protruding camera sensors—it’s simply too blurred to tell for now, keeping this squarely in the realm of speculation.
Valve hasn’t publicly commented on the leaked headset, which appears to be either a late-stage prototype or developer kit. We do know however Valve has been extremely interested in pushing both new VR software as well as new hardware. Last summer they affirmed VR’s role in the company’s future in redesign of the company website, showing an evolution of their headset designs including a bare-wire unit in its early phases of development.
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear Cloudhead Games is continuing in its tradition as an early VR pioneer. The studio is touted as one of the first to develop and utilize teleportation in a VR game. Although teleportation is somewhat of a given now (love it or hate it), at the time it was a breakthrough in VR-native locomotion that focused gameplay on object interaction as opposed to more of the high-speed, nausea-inducing early stabs at VR locomotion.