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Valve hopes to provide 'seamless VR experience' in Steam

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With the Oculus Rift, Valve aims to "provide a seamless VR experience while running in Steam," according to presentation slides from programmer Joe Ludwig during Steam Dev Days.

Valve's partnership with Oculus was revealed earlier this month. At the time, a Valve designer told BBC News that Steam was "in a unique position to be this intermediary between hardware and software users." According to Ludwig, once a user logs into Steam with the headset, they can "do anything that you can do in Steam," including browse games and launch titles.

"Now, many games that support VR don't necessarily support it for every part of the experience," the slides read. "It turns out that Half-Life 2 is one of those games. The bits of code that understand VR don't run until after the splash screen goes away. So for those games, Steam will show whatever the game is drawing on the same virtual screen. We are calling this ‘Legacy Mode,' and in theory you could play an entire game in this mode using Steam's upcoming streaming feature."

The company has no current plans to create its own VR hardware, but will instead use the Oculus Rift; a beta version of SteamVR opened on Jan. 14. In a second series of slides from Steam Dev Days, Valve R&D's Michael Abrash called Oculus the "obvious candidate" for releasing VR tech to consumers "within two years."

"Valve's goal is to enable great VR for the PC, so we've shared what we've learned through our R&D with Oculus," Abrash's slides read. "We've showed them our prototypes and demos, we've explained how our hardware works, and we've provided them with feedback on their hardware designs. By showing them a prototype with low persistence, we convinced Oculus of its importance, and the lack of blur in Crystal Cove is a direct result of that.

"We collaborated with Oculus on tracking as well. We're continuing to work with them to improve tracking, displays, lenses, and calibration, and we're excited about where they're headed. If Oculus executes well, and so far they seem to be, I think they could well deliver strong presence on the PC within the next two years; we hope that happens, because it would be a huge boost for PC VR."

Steam Dev Days took place in Seattle from Jan. 15-16.