Have You Found These 9 Secrets in Valve’s ‘The Lab’?

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Valve’s collection of VR-minigames, The Lab, is one of the highest rated SteamVR titles and it’s free. With support for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, there’s no reason not to try it if you own a PC VR headset. Beyond some very polished mini-games, Valve has included quite a few easter eggs to uncover.

Released all the way back in April 2016, the company has proven their game development talent once again with The Lab, a free collection of Valve-developed VR mini games set in Portal’s ‘Aperture’ universe. Inside the lab you can stick your head into a wide range of short VR experiences from photogrammetry to archery. But once you’re done inside the ‘Pocket Universes’, there’s lots of fun still left to be found in Pocket Universe Lab 08. Here’s a list of our favorite secrets in The Lab (see the video heading this article):

Mini-mini Game

Inside The Lab is a very fun game called Xortex, which tasks you with using your VR controller to fly a little ship around in a 3D ‘Bullet Hell’ game. Before you step into the game however, you’ll notice a pink Xortex 28XX arcade machine. Step up close, press the credit button, and grab the joystick to play a mini-mini-game, which also serves as a list of Valve credits. If you’re patient, you’ll get a mini-mini-boss fight at the end who you’ll recognize from elsewhere in The Lab.

Sacrifice Your Humanity for Convenient Carrying

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pack up that adorable robo-puppy for easy transportation? Well, if you can bear to shoot your lovable robo-pup with an arrow, you’ll find that it occasionally turtles into a portable little pill shape. Now you can pick it up and take it with you, but you sadly can’t put it in the slingshot (you monster).

Little Bendy

‘Bendy’, the stick figure you’re undoubtedly familiar with by now (who could forget how they stormed your keep in Longbow?) apparently comes in all shapes and sizes. Hidden behind Longbow is a little Bendy in a jar. If you bring the Rhythm Core over from the table in the middle of the lab, you can get him to bust a move.

Bendy Behind the Locked Door

Head near the ‘Postcards’ experience and you’ll find a door with a window. The door is locked, but attempting to open it will trigger a series of different Bendy vignettes, including a headless Bendy zombie.

Valve Demo Room 1

Head back to the ‘Postcards’ experience and unplug the cable running into the jacks under the photos. Normally you can move this plug from one postcard to another to load a different photogrammetry experience. If you plug it into the valve on the left, however, you’ll get treated to a visit inside Valve’s headquarters and a little VR history.

Ping Pong with Turrets

Inside the Valve Demo Room 1 experience, you can break the glass and activate the fire alarm which will enable little turrets the spring forth from the markers on the walls. They’ll lazily fire little balls at you which you can bat back with the ping pong paddle sitting on the desk. On the floor you’ll see the balls satisfyingly roll down a little drain back to their home.

Valve Demo Room 2

There’s another hidden VR demo room that you can visit inside of Valve’s headquarters, but you’ll need to go another layer deeper. Inside the Valve Demo Room 1, pick up the headset from the floor and put it on. Inside you’ll see the second Valve VR demo room with a model of Atlas, the robot from Portal 2. Look up high and you’ll see the prototype Lighthouse base stations employed during the time the scene was captured. Peek off to the right of the computer for a further glimpse into Valve’s offices.

Pop Balloons with Pins and Lasers

Inside the Valve Demo Room 2 experience, you’ll find yet another fire alarm. Smash the glass and activate it to have balloons begin cascading down from the ceiling. Use the triggers on your controllers to activate pins and pop the balloons, or use the highly effective lasers which you can activate with your grip buttons.

More Pocket Universes?

Signage inside Pocket Universe Lab 08 urges players to keep their cores powered or risk the consequences. If you keep your eye on the Bendy workers along the conveyor belt, you may spot one who trips while moving a box, spilling what appear to be unpowered Pocket Universe cores. If you use the bow to kill the worker before he can clear up his mess, three cores remain on the ground. If only we could reach them….

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  • Get Schwifty!

    What’s odd is how The Lab does show a very VR experience that keeps people interested, and yet so many games or other demos just don’t capture the feel. Both Nvidia’s Funhouse which attempts to convince you your GPU is crap if it isn’t a 1080 (or pair), gets dull almost immediately, and ToyBox is marginally better than Funhouse, and is mainly about showing off the controllers, but after you have already experienced them in that 80’s retro scene it feels a bit light. At least for me. There’s something compelling about it that keeps people loading it even after all this time, and that is looks good, feels cohesive, and has a variety of things in VR to do. A shame so many games are unwilling or unable to generate a similar draw.

    • ummm…

      hey have you tried mod box or bullets and more?

      • Get Schwifty!

        Not yet – but I’ll definitely look into them.

        • ummm…

          try mod box.

    • Brandon Smith

      I think VR requires an entire reboot to the way game development has worked for the past 15+ years, so people are having a hard time adapting. For the longest time, movie-games were the the THING. You just had to watch a lot of movies and then try to make your games look as much like that as possible and people would give you applause. VR requires you to actually rethink what makes a compelling experience from the bottom up, not just “how much of a movie does this look like?”.

    • RFC_VR

      the Lab is easily the best VR software I have for my Vive. Its incredibly well designed, polished, demonstrates a real understanding of VR game design, its a real joy to experience.

      It’s also a great space to start my VR sessions in, to get settled in VR.

      The Test Lab is very atmospheric and full of interesting details. Going “off grid” (out of bounds) with suitable expanded room scale and walk/teleport spacing reveals some interesting stuff out there. I’m going to move my Vive to my office where I have a 1800 square foot empty room plenty of space to setup the 25m tracking cable and really experiment!

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BPP_POCjOuZ/?taken-by=thewhitebeyond

      the pocket universe experiences are brilliant. I’ve really gotten back into playing long sessions in Xortex, which surprised me with its excellent gameplay, immersion and prescence, I had written it off initially after not getting hooked.

      Really enjoy Longbow, Slingshot, Postcards (the 2 valve demo rooms mentioned in this article), drone flights in the lab, messing around with bow/arrow, exploring the bounds, messing with the robo-pooch.

      There have been some recent tech updates to Steam VR? The Lab has new loading screens, its taking longer to load and unless I’m mistaken, some work has been down upgrading the rendering engine as I have never seen such good graphics in VR (GTX1070), its does start to make other titles primitive in comparison. the floor tiles, ceiling and characters in The Secret Shop are simply WOW

      Cannot wait for their full game for VR, could not care less if HL EP3 or not, more quality along the lines of “The Lab” would have me reaching for my wallet.

    • Adrian Meredith

      Not odd at all, valve are one of the best game developers in the world. If only they’d still make games…

    • Gus Bisbal

      I completely agree and let me add. There are some switched on people that comment and some that are D@#$heads (*cough* Lucidfeuer). Your comments always are insightful and worth reading. This is just an example. Keep gettin Schwifty ;-) (just don’t Sh#t on the floor… thats just wrong )

  • Sam Illingworth

    In the solar system one, is there an end-game/purpose?

    • Get Schwifty!

      Not sure it’s really a mini-game is it? The solar system mod is as far as I can tell is like the one for the human body, it’s just sort of a VR sandbox to fool around in to show off the product, but not much else. If you like the solar system stuff at all there is a pretty good one (not sure if its available for Vive though) called Titans of Space…. no real game but it blows the solar system demo in The Lab out of the water.

      • DougP

        Re: VR sandbox – “Titans of Space”

        Way better than Titans is Universe Sandbox (steam score-100% very positive, 3400 reviews).

        That’s one you can lie down on the floor & control/watch for hours.

        Link: http://store.steampowered.com/app/230290/

        • Raphael

          Nop. Two different things. Titans of space is educational and you sit back and enjoy the ride. Universe is playing with balls. I like the visuals in both but I don’t know if universe has anything other than just throwing planets at other planets and watching them go bang? Does it have an educational part with narration?

          I want to like universe sandbox but I couldn’t see anything other than throwing space balls around.

          • DougP

            I was replying specifically to the description – ” VR sandbox”.
            For this I consider USandbox very much that, a *sandbox* to play in….as well, highly education in a different way, taking more advantage of VR w/the interaction – the physics that are modelled, seeing how more objects in orbit/collisions/energy affects things.
            Titans, which I also have, I consider more like reading a book & not an “interactive (learning) experience”.

            Realize subjective preferences for type of experience will vary between people. I found Universe much more interesting/engaging for longer period of time.

          • tobycwood

            Unfortunately we are in limbo on Univ SB while the dev team is integrating the VR and desktop verisions. The VR version does not have a VR UI to the stuff that makes terraforming possible. However, you can still make a nova and lots of other very interesting things. Tried H3VR yet? now THERE’S a sandbox!

          • tobycwood

            Unfortunately we are in limbo on Univ SB while the dev team is integrating the VR and desktop verisions. The VR version does not have a VR UI to the stuff that makes terraforming possible. However, you can still make a nova and lots of other very interesting things. Tried H3VR yet? now THERE’S a sandbox!

  • OgreTactics

    Hum…I have to test it again. Given all the hidden demos there were in the original Vive demo, I’m sure there are many more in VR Lab

  • Raphael

    It was a neat tech demo but I have zero interest in finding eggs. I need more depth in my VR games.

  • Sebastien Mathieu

    shame on you:-) you used the touch controller for the lab.. you’re cursed…just joking :-)

  • DougP

    Great article & read about The Lab. Think I’ve found/seen all of those Easter Eggs except shooting & carrying robo-doggy – I’m not a monster! ;)

    Thank you Valve, for all that you’ve done – leading the way to modern VR!

  • NeoTechni

    No, because it crashes every 4 minutes