Exclusive: Inside HTC’s Beautiful New SteamVR Home Environment, ‘Driftwood’

Created by the HTC Creative Labs team

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Today HTC Creative Labs is debuting a beautiful new SteamVR Home environment—the hub space for when players aren’t inside any VR apps—called Driftwood. The environment takes players virtually outside on a beachfront wilderness inspired by the United State’s Pacific Northwest.

Not long ago Valve introduced SteamVR Home, a platform for offering VR users a customizable home base from which they can link up with friends and launch VR games and apps. Part of that platform allows for anyone to create new ‘environments’ which players can choose to be their SteamVR Home.

As far as SteamVR Home environments go, Driftwood is an ambitious and beautiful space build by the HTC Creative Labs team (which is also responsible for projects like the Viveport experience and the Vive Video player). The environment, which will be free to download starting today, features tons of original assets created with photogrammetry, including a sunny-side up egg which was at one point the breakfast of one of the environment’s authors, Vic DeLeon, who gave me a tour of the space ahead of its launch.

Players start in a floating pod with a curious shape that DeLeon says was derived from the negative space of the Vive logo. Inside is a cozy camper-like space with shelves dotted with books, and toys. Since this is all within SteamVR Home, players can customize this space to their liking by putting things like props and Steam trophies where they wish. There’s also a little computer kiosk which the team plans to populate with pertinent Vive news and information.

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Rather than being a simple static model, Driftwood is actually quite alive and interactive. The first hint of that comes upon hitting a green button on the wall next to the pod’s door, which flips down to reveal a wooded environment that’s bigger than you might expect. Stepping outside and looking back upon the pod, you find that it’s got a neat retro-futuristic look, first, because it’s floating on a hover-pad of sorts, and second, because its exterior consists of bolted chrome panels like an Airstream trailer.

Image courtesy HTC

The pod is housed in a small clearing surrounded by trees, while just a little ways off you can find a large beachfront with rippling waves and lots of objects to find and explore, like shells, starfish, and plenty of driftwood. This isn’t your sunny socal beach though, from the conifer trees to the cool grey tones of the environment around you, this world was inspired by the Pacific Northwest, a region from which a number of the HTC Creative Labs team call home.

DeLeon toured me through the space and pointed out an area where the team gathered a pile of wooden columns and boards which, thanks to one of the SteamVR Home ‘tools’ make great parts for building forts with friends (and then graffiting the walls with the airbrush, we found).

Near the fort building camp I peered into an ominous cave which seemed rather alluring for exploration. DeLeon told me that, while I couldn’t go in for now, the cave was one avenue of possible future expansion for Driftwood, and that there’s much the team still hopes to add to the space, depending upon community feedback.

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There’s more to explore in Driftwood than I’ve explained here—including one semi-secret vantage point where you might spot some aquatic life if you look carefully—but I don’t want to spoil the fun of exploring the little secrets and pop-culture references that you’ll find scattered throughout.

If you want to get virtually outside in this beautiful new SteamVR Home environment, you can download Driftwood for free starting today. To install Driftwoodvisit the project’s page in the Steam Workshop and hit the ‘Subscribe’ button. After downloading, you’ll be able to access Driftwood through the Environments panel in SteamVR Home, and you can optionally set it as your default Home environment. And of course, though this was made by HTC, SteamVR Home works equally well with the Rift.

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  • James Hall

    Now would be a good time to relaunch Myst as a VR title with a home component. Some sort of Elder Scrolls title would be a neat alternative.

    • Wednaud Ronelus

      Great idea!!!@

    • oompah

      A great idea would be to create elder scrolls like world
      where u can put ur own dear ones 3d models
      whom u can interact with even after they r gone

    • Zerofool

      I’ve been craving for Myst/URU SteamVR environments since 5 minutes after I first ran my Vive :). One can hope…

      As for Myst VR relaunch, Cyan teased us with an image of (supposedly) yet another iteration of realMyst, which should be VR-ready considering Cyan’s (or more precisely, Rand Miller’s) love for the tech.

      http://i.imgur.com/IRvJ6dF.png

      • CMcD

        That and also I still want a rainy neon drenched bladerunner environment

  • silvaring

    Hmm looks interesting, can it run Crysis?

  • Xron

    Looks nice, ofc I guess it needs more content for now.

  • Miganarchine Migandi

    It’s one of the best Eviro’s, I like it though the sound of the waves seems to be in only one spot, and even on max the ambient sound is very low, I hope they add to it, I wanna go in the cave!

  • Seems cool!

  • gothicvillas

    I like drawing animals on the beach :)