A number of hardware and software giants have taken 2015’s Game Developer Conference by storm this year by showing off new toys and technology, and Valve certainly brought their A-game this time around.
They started by announcing Steam Link, which is a piece of hardware that allows you to stream games from your current PC to a different monitor or your TV. It looks to be about the size of smart phone and hooks up via HDMI and ethernet, both of which are on the back of the device, as are a few USB ports. Valve says the device is capable of streaming 1080p and 60Hz visuals, all with low latency. Steam Link is slated to launch this November for $49.99 as a stand-alone device, or with the new Steam controller for an additional $49.99. We only have US pricing right now but Valve stated that pricing for other regions will be revealed as launch draws closer.
Speaking of the Steam controller, remember those fancy Steam consoles that we thought might launch last year alongside the controller? Well they’re back and they’re currently being shown off at GDC. Although only Alienware and Falcon Northwest have hardware at the conference, over a dozen other manufacturers are supposedly working on their own version of a Steam Machine, and most if not all of which are expected to begin launching in November of this year.
These new gaming rigs are supposed to start at around the same prices we pay for consoles now – though we’re not sure if they’re talking about current or last-gen – and offer a bigger bang for your buck. As they did previously, Valve focused on customization during their talk about Steam Machines, noting that everyone can build something that will fit their needs.
Next, Valve touched on their VR solution that we heard about last week. As expected, HTC is making the actual headset and it should be available later this year, but there’s another piece of Valve’s VR puzzle called Lighthouse. Based solely on the press release, we’re not entirely certain what Lighthouse is but it seems to be some sort of movement tracking system that aids VR.
Two new technologies are part of the VR release – a room scale tracking system codenamed Lighthouse, and a VR input system. “In order to have a high quality VR experience, you need high resolution, high speed tracking,” said Valve’s Alan Yates. “Lighthouse gives us the ability to do this for an arbitrary number of targets at a low enough BOM cost that it can be incorporated into TVs, monitors, headsets, input devices, or mobile devices.” Valve intends to make Lighthouse freely available to any hardware manufacturers interested in the technology.
Finally, and this might be the biggest news of all, Valve announced the next version of their Source engine. They’ve been using variations of the same engine since the days of CounterStrike: Source and Half-Life 2, but that changes now with Source Engine 2. Although the technical details of the engine probably won’t make much sense to the layman, it’s meant to focus on both the professional developer and the gamer, with user-generated content at the forefront of Valve’s vision. The best part? It’s free to use for “content developers.” We’re not entirely certain if that just means established developers or if anyone can play around with it, but we’re sure to know more in the near future.
And no, they didn’t say anything about the possible existence Half-Life 3.