SteamVR Streaming Works on Vision Pro, But Adding Controllers Will Be Difficult

Vision Pro isn’t supposed to be able to play SteamVR games, although an independent software developer has been able to modify a popular Wi-Fi streaming app that could open the door to PC VR games like Half-Life: Alyx (2020) on Vision Pro—if it weren’t for the Apple’s strategic omission of tracked motion controllers.

Vision Pro can do an impressive number of things, including running over a million iOS apps along with a growing number of native visionOS apps. For all its uses as a general computing device, it’s not designed to hook to your computer to play SteamVR games, which is pretty unsurprising considering… it’s Apple.

Zhuowei Zhang, a developer who works on Android, iOS, and Web-based software, however has reportedly been able to install ALVR on Vision Pro, a third-party app for standalone VR headsets which lets you stream VR games from your PC via Wi-Fi—not unlike Steam Link or Meta’s Air Link for Quest.

Zhang didn’t have a Vision Pro headset to test it out, so the programmer enlisted others to try out what was originally only tested in the visionOS simulator provided by Apple to developers. We get a quick glimpse of it in action in SteamVR Home, courtesy programmer ‘shadowfacts‘ via James Abev:

Shadowfacts, who also goes by the handle ‘J. Walter Weatherman’ (a reference to TV show Arrested Development), calls the implementation “very rough right now, but it does function.”

That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to jump into any of the room-scale games you’d come to expect, like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners or Half-Life: Alyx, because those require motion controllers. Apple is supposedly not planning on shipping VR controllers either, so it may be up to more clever hackery to solve that problem, something we really can’t wait to see.

Update (9:45 AM ET): Here’s an additional look at X/Twitter user ‘ShinyQuagsire’ who shows the ALVR hack working to use Vision Pro’s hand-tracking in VRChat. We’ve removed the ‘report’ from the headline to reflect our general confidence level that it’s indeed possible.

 

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If you want to try installing ALVR on Vision Pro, follow Zhang’s microblog for detailed instructions and links to download all of the software needed. Installing third-party stuff is risky, so do so at your own discretion.

The post SteamVR Streaming Works on Vision Pro, But Adding Controllers Will Be Difficult appeared first on Road to VR.

Anticipated VR Adventure ‘Behemoth’ Delayed Until Late 2024

Skydance Interactive, the studio behind The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, revealed their next VR game Behemoth is being delayed by a year, now slated to arrive on all major headsets in late 2024.

The studio confirmed the delay with UploadVR, also noting that the game now has a new name: Skydance’s Behemoth.

First revealed at Meta Connect 2022 this time last year, the upcoming VR adventure puts you in what the studio calls a “plague-ravished wasteland of a once glorious empire, where its inhabitants are driven mad and cities have fallen to ruin.” In the story-driven campaign, you combat towering giants called Behemoths.

Image courtesy Skydance Interactive

The studio also released a single work-in-progress image of the game (above), which more clearly shows one of the titular behemoths.

Behemoth is coming to Quest (presumably 2/3/Pro), PSVR 2, and PC VR sometime in late 2024. Meanwhile, we’re curious to see just how gameplay stacks up to the studio’s other skull-splitting adventure, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners.

Check out the cinematic trailer below, released in late 2022.

Valve Launches SteamVR 2.0 Beta, Bringing Long-awaited Platform Features into VR

After a period of significant silence about VR from the company, Valve today surprise-released a beta for SteamVR 2.0, a major upgrade to the platform’s VR interface which finally brings more of the platform’s core capabilities into VR.

Valve originally said it planned to release “SteamVR 2.0” in 2020. But it would be Valve without the infamous Valve Time. So here we are three years later and SteamVR 2.0 has been released in beta.

This is a major upgrade to the SteamVR interface which better aligns SteamVR with the modern Steam and Steam Deck experiences.

Image courtesy Valve

Valve says that with the update “most of the current features of Steam and Steam Deck are now part of SteamVR.” That appears to include things that have been long-missing a native implementation into SteamVR, like chats, voice chats, and the modern Steam Store and Library. The update also adds an updated keyboard with the addition of emojis, themes, and more languages.

Valve says the beta update is “just the beginning of SteamVR 2.0’s journey, and we’ll have more to share in the coming weeks and months as we collect feedback and work on the features mentioned above. This beta will give us a chance to work out the kinks as more and more people try it out. As with all betas, this means SteamVR 2.0 will get better and better as we prepare it for its eventual full public launch.”

How to Install SteamVR 2.0 Beta

If you want to try the SteamVR 2.0 beta today, before it’s pushed out to all users, you need to opt into both the Steam beta branch, and the SteamVR beta branch. Here’s how:

Steam beta:
  1. Open Steam > Click ‘Steam’ in menu bar > Settings > Interface > Client Beta Participation.
  2. Set Client Beta Participation to ‘Steam Beta Update’
  3. Steam will restart
SteamVR beta:
  1. Open Steam library > right-click SteamVR > Properties > Betas > Beta Participation.
  2. Set Beta Participation to ‘beta – SteamVR Beta Update’
  3. Once you close the window, SteamVR will begin updating to the beta branch.

A Taste of Things to Come?

SteamVR 2.0 might be about more than just improving the platform’s VR interface. Recent work by the company that’s been happening right alongside these interface improvements also suggests Valve is still working on a standalone VR headset. Whether we’ll see that any time soon is unclear… Valve Time never ceases to surprise.

SteamVR Now Supports Automatic Controller Binding, Making Weird VR Controllers a Little Less Weird

Valve released its 1.26 update to SteamVR, which ought to make it easier to play any VR game using any type of motion controller thanks to automatic controller binding.

The company initially released a Compatibility Mode in its 1.24 update back in August 2022 which let games initially targeted towards specific controller types essentially be accessible to all controllers.

In the new SteamVR 1.26 update, Valve is going one step further with the new automatic binding feature, which automatically generates a new button binding profile, configures it based on a more common controller (like Index or Touch), and sets it to simulate that controller type. The idea is you won’t need to faff about in menus if something like your Windows Mixed Reality controller isn’t officially supported.

That’s the immediate stopgap for players at least, although if a developer decides to create a native binding for any specific controller down the road, SteamVR will automatically switch to that as soon as its available. Notably, this puts the onus on Valve to continuously update its compatibility layer to include new controller types down the road.

“While native support and explicit bindings will always give the greatest control, having this compatibility layer will smooth releases and lighten the load on game developers and controller manufacturers alike,” the company says in the update log. “Controller driver developers can get more information on creating a rebinding file at this documentation page.”

You can see the full update notes on Steam.

Former Oculus CTO Reviews Bigscreen Beyond: “like a prop for a futuristic movie”

John Carmack, legendary programmer and former CTO of Oculus, is known for giving his unfiltered thoughts on almost every aspect of the XR industry. While he departed Meta in December, concluding his “decade in VR,” Carmack is still very interested in the medium, as he recently went hands-on with one of the latest PC VR headsets to hit the scene, the slim and light Bigscreen Beyond.

Bigscreen Beyond is a tethered PC VR headset that uses Valve’s SteamVR tracking standard, which starting at $1,000 for just the headset makes it an interesting value proposition for users already hooked into the SteamVR hardware ecosystem. It’s largely praised for its slim and light profile, which is thanks to the inclusion of pancake lenses and micro-OLEDs, serving up 2,560 × 2,560 pixels per eye at 70 to 90 Hz refresh.

You’ve probably already heard what we think of it though. Now for the master:

“Bigscreen Beyond feels like a prop for a futuristic movie, but it works!” Carmack said in a Twitter thread on Monday. “Far and away the smallest and lightest PC VR headset.”

That’s high praise coming from a key figure in the Oculus genesis story, not to mention co-founder and lead programmer of id Software, the studio behind pioneering ’90s 3D games Wolfenstein 3DDoom, and Quake.

Image courtesy John Carmack

To hear all of Carmack’s thoughts on Bigscreen Beyond, we’ve formatted his tweets below for easier reading:

Bigscreen Beyond feels like a prop for a futuristic movie, but it works! Far and away the smallest and lightest PC VR headset.

As a result of the iPhone based face scanning before ordering, the fit is perfect, with zero light leaks. The custom printed facial interface is comfortable, but not breathable, so it isn’t great for fitness activities.

The prescription lens inserts snap in with magnets and work well. The visuals are a trade off vs Quest Pro. The resolution is clearly higher, but there are more internal reflections in the pancake optics, and the quality falls off more toward the edges. There are parts of the view where screens look fantastic, good enough for actual productivity work, but not across the entire view.

I sorely miss integrated audio. Having to mess with headphones severely impacts the minimalist feel of the headset. I know some people have strong opinions, but I still feel Quest made the right decisions around audio.

The cable to the PC and the tracking base stations are the biggest downside. The magic of stand-alone VR is real, and while some people happily trade it away for the raw power and flexibility of a PC, I wouldn’t recommend any PC VR setup as an entry point to VR.

For people considering an upgrade to a PC VR system, Bigscreen Beyond should be in the mix. I am very happy to see this extreme focus on light weight, and I hope it impacts Meta’s future designs.

In a follow-up tweet, Carmack points to a review from Adam Savage’s Tested, which he says “hits most of my points in more depth.”

In it, Tested’s Norman Chan reports back after having lived with the headset for a month, using a development unit as the office’s primary PC VR headset. Chan shows through-the-lens images, and discusses “the good, the bad, and the weird with this unique approach to high-end bespoke VR,” the video’s description reads.

Check out Tested’s review below:

Valve Index is Currently Selling for $600 Refurbished from GameStop

Looking to get your hands on arguably the best PC VR headsets out there? Well, you might consider GameStop’s refurbished units for $600.

Used, refurbished units typically sell through GameStop for $700, which includes the full kit and kaboodle: SteamVR tracking base stations, Index motion controllers, cables, and of course the Index headset itself.

Now that package is on sale for $100 off, bringing it way below its $1,000 all-in price when new. All you’ll need left to play a host of SteamVR content, such as the award-winning Half-Life: Alyx, is a VR-ready PC.

Before plonking down those six crisp Benjamins though, you might want to try out Steam’s VR Performance Test first to see if your system has what it takes.

Photo by Road to VR

But the last hurdle to overcome is invariably deciding whether it’s worth that price in 2023, as Index is now nearly four years old. For the long of it, check out our 2023 VR headset buyer’s guide. Here’s the short of it:

If you’re looking for a good all-in alterative to the Index deal, Meta’s Quest 2 is cheap and cheerful at $300. In addition to offering its own native library of standalone content, it also works as a PC VR headset thanks to both a wired and wireless PC connection.

You can also pick up a refurbished HP Reverb G2 from NewEgg for $390—another headset that made our list. It’s a good all-around PC VR headset, although controller latency is markedly worse than either Quest 2 or SteamVR-tracked headsets like Index or anything HTC offers.

Wherever you look though, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything new for $600 that matches Index’s still excellent displays, off-ear audio, ergonomic headstrap, and Index controllers.

Here’s a full list of what’s included:

What’s in the Box

  • Headset
  • Integrated Headphones
  • Headset Cable
  • Headset Connection Cable with DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.0 Connections
  • Headset Power Supply
  • Regionalized Headset Power Adapter(s)
  • Headset Cradle Adapter (for smaller heads)
  • Headset Face Gasket
  • 2 Controllers, Left and Right
  • 2 Controller Lanyards
  • 2 USB Controller Charging Cables
  • 2 SteamVR 2.0 Base Stations
  • 2 15 ft (4.5 m) Base Station Power Cables
  • 2 Base Station Stands with Mounting Hardware
  • Regionalized Base Station Power Adapter Plug(s)

Steam Spring Sale 2023 Discounts Half-Life, Star Wars & More

The Steam Spring Sale 2023 is now live, offering big discounts on PC VR games.

Following last month’s Steam Next Fest, the Steam Spring Sale 2023 has begun and there’s over 1,500 PC VR games on offer. With VR discounts as high as 90%, unsurprisingly, the most notable sales are mostly for older PC VR games. Half-Life Alyx matches its previous lowest price at $23.99 (60% off), Star Wars: Squadrons is going cheap at $5.99 (85% off), F1 22 comes in at $9.59 (84% off), while big names like No Man’s Sky ($29.99 – 50% off) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR ($19.79 – 67% off) also have substantial discounts.

Several newer PC VR games are also discounted but don’t expect anything particularly big. Red Matter 2, Moss: Book II and Hubris are all 25% off; Bonelab, Kayak VR: Mirage and Lonn have 20% discounts, but others like Gorilla Tag and Among Us VR remain at full price. You can find the full discounted games list here, but these are some of the biggest Spring Sale VR highlights:

The Steam Spring Sale 2023 remains live until March 23, ending at 10am PT. This includes a heavy discount for the Valve Complete Pack for $6.54 (96% off), which times up well with the recent release of the Half-Life 2: Episode One VR Mod.

Platform Puzzler ‘HUMANITY’ Launches Today on PSVR 2 & PC VR, Trailer Here

HUMANITY, the crowd simulation puzzler from Enhance and THA, is here, bringing all of its Lemmings-inspired glory to PSVR 2 and PC VR headsets today.

HUMANITY is available on PSVR, PSVR 2 and PC VR headsets starting today. As a PlayStation Plus title for May, it will also be free to PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium members during the month of May. You can find it here on the PlayStation Store and on Steam, priced at $30.

At the time of this writing, HUMANITY is already available in Europe on the PS Store and is soon to unlock on the platform in North America in the coming hours. We’ve included the new launch trailer ahead of the original article below:

Japan-based studio Enhance and developers THA LTD announced HUMANITY is coming to PSVR, PSVR 2 and PC VR headsets on May 16th, which also includes flatscreen support.

The game is set to launch on PS5/PS4 as a PlayStation Plus title for May, which means it will be free to PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium members throughout the month.

The studio also released a new trailer showing off some of the infectiously weird (and patently Japanese) marketing spliced in with gameplay which may pique your interest, embedded below the update.

Note: The previously mentioned demo is no longer available.

Original Article (February 28th, 2023): It was pretty vague what the hell HUMANITY was all about when it was first announced in 2019, however now the studio reveals its upcoming game is a “unique blend of puzzle-solving and action-platforming,” giving you control over an ethereal Shiba Inu dog who commands a massive crowd.

Like Lemmings, you control the crowd as they jump, turn, push, float, shoot, and climb their way to the end goal. Move past obstacles, enemies, puzzles, and gain unlockable skills in the main game, and upload and try out user-built levels with the in-game Stage Creator.

Image courtesy Tha LTD, Enhance

To create its stark and unique environments, developer Tha LTD is working with creative studio Enhance—founded by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, known as the mind behind Rez and Tetris Effect: Connected—and director and visual designer Yugo Nakamura.

Tha game is considered a VR-optional experience, offering up a fairly straightforward implementation that lets you turn the game’s puzzle-filled levels around and control your Shiba Inu buddy and direct the human horde. While nothing ground-breaking, it’s nice to see VR support from the get-go.

The game is slated to release on PSVR, PSVR 2, and SteamVR headsets sometime in May (see update). What’s more, you can now play a free demo on those platforms from now until March 6th. The demo contains 10 levels, while the full game has “90 plus”, the studio says.

In the meantime, check out the demo gameplay video overview below to learn more:

Vermillion Overlay Mode Lets You Paint Directly In Half-Life: Alyx

VR painting app Vermillion launched a beta for a new overlay mode this week, allowing you to paint with Vermillion’s easel in other SteamVR apps like Half-Life: Alyx or Skyrim VR.

Although it’s still in beta, opting into the overlay mode lets you bring Vermillion’s core tools into another app, which you can use for inspiration or reference when painting. The video embedded above, from Elizabeth Edwards, is a fantastic example of how the feature works – you can watch Edwards paint a portrait of Russell from Half-Life: Alyx in situ, just like you would in real life.

While Vermillion is available on multiple VR platforms, this beta overlay feature is only available on SteamVR for the moment and, as you can imagine, requires a fairly beefy PC setup. The feature isn’t limited to Half-Life: Alyx either; you should be able to use it with any VR-supported title on Steam.

Thomas van den Berge, Vermillion’s sole developer, noted that the overlay feature wouldn’t currently work natively on Quest, as the system can’t handle two games running simultaneously. That being said, Quest users with a PC VR setup will of course be able to try it out over Link.

You can opt into the overlay beta by right clicking on Vermillion in your Steam library and selecting Betas, then ‘overlay’. You’ll have to opt out of the beta to go back to the standard Vermillion studio.

Vermillion launched in 2021 for PC VR and early 2022 for Quest. Last December, it also added support for multiplayer, which allows multiple users to gather in a room and paint together in VR. You can read our interview with van den Berge from 2021 here, where he talks about how Vermillion brings accessible and realistic oil painting into VR.

VR Veteran Studio Behind ‘Bigscreen’ Unveils Thin & Light PC VR Headset ‘Beyond’

The team behind social VR viewing app Bigscreen today unveiled a thin and light PC VR headset that not only promises a few intriguing enthusiast-grade specs, but also a custom-made fit based on a 3D scan of your face. In short, it’s a big first for the VR veterans, who are responsible for one of the most beloved VR content viewing platforms.

Called Bigscreen Beyond, the $999 headset presents an interesting set of features which are squarely aimed at PC VR enthusiasts: dual OLED microdisplays offering 2,560 × 2,560 per-eye resolution, pancake optics, and 6DOF SteamVR tracking support.

The company is billing the tethered PC VR headset as the smallest and lightest of its kind, weighing in at just 127 grams and measuring less than 1-inch at its thinnest point.

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Bigscreen Beyond starts pre-orders today, priced at $999. Ostensibly, Beyond is targeting PC VR users who likely already in the SteamVR ecosystem but want something thinner and lighter than the last generation of headsets, such as Valve Index. Notably, the headset doesn’t include the requiste SteamVR tracking base stations or SteamVR-compatible controllers like the Valve Index controller or HTC Vive wand—you’ll have to purchase those separately.

The reasoning: Bigscreen founder and CEO Darshan Shankar says the VR software studio wanted to build “the VR headset we wanted for ourselves.”

“Today’s leading VR headsets have doubled in weight compared to headsets from 2016. We built Beyond because we felt VR was too heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable,” Shankar says. “We invented new technologies to increase comfort, and developed ultra-high-end components like OLED microdisplays and pancake optics to increase immersion. To deliver the best software experience for watching movies in Bigscreen, we also had to build the best hardware with Bigscreen Beyond.”

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Like many forthcoming VR headsets, Beyond is able to slim down thanks to the inclusion of pancake lenses, which Bigscreen says are a three-element optical design composed of glass, plastic polymers, films, and coatings.

Paired with two OLED microdisplays, each with a resolution of 2,560 × 2,560 pixels, Beyond boasts a high fill-factor with its 7.2-μm wide pixels and RGB stripe subpixels, resulting in what the company says eliminates the screen door effect—when the non-illuminated spaces between pixels make it seem like you’re viewing VR content through a screen door.

Resolution alone doesn’t tell the whole story, although for reference Valve Index is 1,440 × 1,600 per-eye, Meta Quest Pro is 1,920 × 1,800 pixels per-eye, and Pico 4 is 2,160 × 2,160 pixels per-eye.

Another one of Beyond’s big enthusiast-grade features is owed to Bigscreen’s ability to customize the fit of the headset to each user, which will be done by doing a one-time scan of the user’s face using an iPhone XR or more recent Apple mobile device. The dedicated Bigscreen scanning app is said to measure the shape of the user’s face and the position of their eyes, which allows the company to form a facial interface a unique to the individual and determine interpupillar distance.

The hand-washable facial interface is said to provide “even weight distribution, zero light leakage, and aligns the eyes and optics correctly.” Additionally, glasses wearers will have to spring for custom prescription lenses that magnetically fit into Beyond, as glasses do not fit inside the small form factor.

Although it ships with a soft strap, users can also spring for the optional audiostrap. We haven’t confirmed pricing for that yet, however we’ll update once we do.

Image courtesy Bigscreen

Granted, some things we’d consider ‘nex-gen’ are notably missing from Beyond, such as eye-tracking, face-tracking, optical 6DOF tracking, and the ability to use it wirelessly. As the first VR headset from a long-time VR veteran though, Beyond does check a lot of boxes for users such as simulator fans, and anyone looking for a better long-term VR media viewer.

Bigscreen Beyond is slate to ship in waves based on region. Preorders, which are fully cancellable and refundable up until shipping, are set to ship in the United States sometime in Q3 2023.

Second wave shipments will begin in Q4 2023 in Canada and Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, and Belgium. A third wave of will come sometime in late 2023, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand. The company says Beyond will be available in more countries and regions in 2024.

Check out the spec sheet below:

Bigscreen Beyond Specs

Display Resolution 5120 x 2560 pixels (2560 x 2560 per eye) cloed at max 90Hz
Field Of View (FOV) 93° HFOV x 90° VFOV
Pixels Per Degree (PPD) 28°
Interpupillary Distance (IPD)
56mm-74mm accommodated (fixed IPD per device, 58mm-72mm)
Optics Type Custom Pancake Optics
6DOF Tracking SteamVR Tracking (aka Lighthouse)
Version V1.0 or V2.0 Base Stations. Not included.
Controllers SteamVR controllers (ex. Valve Index, HTC Vive). Not included.
Full-Body Tracking
SteamVR trackers (ex. HTC Vive Tracker, Tundra Tracker). Not included.
Audio Not built-in (USB C port for Audio), or optional Audio Strap
Ports USB-C accessory port (USB 2.0)
Microphone Input Stereo microphones
PC Connection DisplayPort 1.4 (video) and dual USB 3.0 ports (power, data)
Accessory ports USB-C (USB 2.0 speed)
Cable 5-meter custom fiber optic cable and Link Box
PC Requirements
CPU Quad Core Intel or AMD
GPU
Nvidia RTX 2070 or AMD RX 5700 XT or newer (DisplayPort 1.4 and DSC required)
Ports 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 2 x USB 3.0 ports