Introducing SteamVR Home Beta

May 18 - Lawrence

Today we are updating SteamVR with a new home experience that is richer, more interactive, and more social than the existing launch area. SteamVR Home is currently in beta and will appear for everyone who opts in to SteamVR Beta.

Ever since SteamVR was released last year, we've been steadily adding ways to customize the launch area (where players start when starting up SteamVR). It's been exciting to see the creativity of the community in the diverse environments and backgrounds submitted to the SteamVR Workshop so far. We've also heard loud and clear that creators want the ability to make more detailed home environments, with sound, animation, interaction, and social elements. All of these features and more are now available with the new SteamVR Home update.

Richer, customizable environments
Environments can now be higher resolution and support animation, sound, games, and interactivity. Players can teleport around and explore any of the hundreds of environments created by the community. In addition, players can customize and save their environment with props and drawings, then set it as their default home space.

Socialize with friends
SteamVR Home has social functions built in, making it easier than ever to connect to friends and other players. Invite friends to join you in your home space, or open any environment up to friends or the public. Voice chat with other players, interact with tools and props, and explore different SteamVR environments with others.

Customize your avatar
Choose your avatar's head and accessorize it with wearables and props. Additional avatars and wearables can be found by completing quests in other SteamVR environments.

Quick links
The default home space includes quick links to your most recently launched VR applications, your Friends list, and open Public or Private rooms. Creators will also have access to these panels and can embed them into any environments they create.

SteamVR Workshop
All existing SteamVR backgrounds and environments are being updated today and will still be available for use. Once updated, players will be able to move around, customize the environment, and invite their friends. The hand customization workshop is under active development and will be available soon.

Creators can use SteamVR Workshop Tools to create and submit environments. This application is accessible in the Tools section of the Steam Library. To learn more about how to get started creating an environment from 3D models or photogrammetry, visit the SteamVR Workshop Wiki.

If the content of this update seems familiar, good eye! The core functionality for this update comes from one of our other VR applications - Destinations. To learn more about what's happening with Destinations, see this post.

We believe these updates will improve the SteamVR experience for all players. Let us know what you think in the discussion boards.

*** To opt into SteamVR Beta:
  • Open Steam on your desktop
  • Find SteamVR in your Library under Tools
  • Right click and go to Properties
  • Select the Betas tab and pick SteamVR Beta from the dropdown

Steam Audio for Unreal Engine 4

May 3 - freemancw

Today we are excited to announce the first beta release of Steam Audio for Unreal Engine 4. Our plugin now ships with UE4 by default, so you can get started by upgrading to 4.16 Preview 2. This release brings our physically-based sound propagation and HRTF rendering to the UE4 engine, enabling developers to immediately begin creating immersive audio experiences for games and VR. The plugin is free of charge and is not locked to a particular platform or VR device. Users can get started by upgrading to 4.16 Preview 2, then grabbing the documentation from our downloads page.

The plugin is designed to work with the new audio engine introduced in 4.16. Starting UE4 with the -audiomixer flag will enable the new engine and give you access to the plugin. The first release is experimental and will benefit greatly from your feedback in the discussion forums. You can explore existing issues and report new ones over at our GitHub issues page. We expect to fix major issues as they arise and provide timely bug fixes as we progress through the beta. Many of the features we've built for the new audio engine together with Epic will be broadly helpful to all third party developers. We encourage developers to explore the plugin's source code to see the new capabilities exposed by the native audio engine.

The Steam Audio plugin for UE4 provides three major pieces of functionality: HRTF filtering with per-source settings, direct-sound occlusion, and physically-based sound propagation.

HRTF Filtering with Per-Source Settings

Two years ago, UE4 introduced support for third party HRTF spatialization. In 4.16, spatialization plugins can customize the behavior of HRTF processing on a per-source basis. Users configure spatialization plugins with Spatialization Plugin Settings assets. The Steam Audio plugin provides robust HRTF processing and lets users choose between nearest-neighbor and bilinear HRTF interpolation.

Direct-Sound Occlusion

UE4 provides a raycast occlusion solution by default. In 4.16, occlusion plugins can handle how direct sound is occluded on a per-source basis. Users control the processing with Occlusion Plugin Settings assets. The Steam Audio plugin lets users choose between raycast and partial occlusion, and whether to apply physics-based attenuation.

Physically-based Sound Propagation

UE4 allows users to author reverbs using traditional reverb volumes. In 4.16, reverb plugins can efficiently apply convolution reverb to mixed audio and customize how reverbs are generated and applied on a per-source basis. Users control the processing with Reverb Plugin Settings assets. The Steam Audio plugin lets users choose between realtime and baked sound propagation and configure a mixing fraction. Steam Audio also allows users to apply a globally-configured listener-centric reverb.

This portion of Steam Audio is what many users are going to be most excited about. We've introduced a variety of new actors and components that handle tagging acoustically meaningful geometry, specifying acoustic materials, and creating acoustic probes for baking sound propagation data. We've extended the UI in ways that should be familiar to UE4 users. In the same way that you use the Build menu to bake lightmap information, you can now find a button for baking listener-centric reverb. Finally, we have a robust set of globally-configurable settings to customize quality and performance.

Introducing Steam Audio

February 23 - christen

Steam Audio is now available, delivering an advanced spatial audio solution for games and VR apps. Steam Audio includes several exciting features that significantly improve immersion and open up new possibilities for spatial audio design.

The Steam Audio SDK is available free of charge, for use by teams of any size, without any royalty requirements. Steam Audio currently supports Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android. Just like Steam itself, Steam Audio is available for use with a growing list of VR devices and platforms.

Visit the Steam Audio Community Hub to hear examples of what's possible with Steam Audio.

Destinations: The Quest Update

January 31 - Lawrence

Complete quests, collect souvenirs, and stick them to your head! The Quest Update to Destinations is here, with a host of new features and content to explore.

Introducing Geocaching Quests

Travel to various Destinations to find hidden item caches using the new Cache Finder tool. Locate one, and you (along with anyone questing with you) will earn a wearable item or avatar head to customize the way you look. Fancy a different hat than the one you found? Trade with other Destinations players on Steam or head over to the Steam Market. A new set of geocaching quests will appear each week, so get out there and find some caches!

New Avatar Options

Show off your sense of style with new avatar customization options. You can now place hats, hair, and other wearables (which you’ve found on various quests) on your head. Resize and recolor every item to your taste, then save the whole set as a preset outfit for quick access.

New Destinations, Tools, and More

Two new official Destinations have arrived: ponder the cosmos in the Clockwork Orrery, or enjoy a relaxing stay on the water at Illia’s Retreat. With the addition of tools, like the Airbrush and Drone Controller, players have new ways to interact with the world and other players. We’ve also added new avatar heads, avatar hands (complete with gestures of course), and a refreshed interface which makes it easier to meet up with friends in Destinations.

Ballooninator vs Pop Zapper

Collaborate in multiplayer with the Airbrush tool

Take control of the skies with the Drone Controller

Whether you're using a Vive, Rift, or any other OpenVR compatible headset there's never been a better time to book a tour in Destinations. (Motion controllers are required for Quests, Tools, Props, and Wearables).

As always, let us know what you think in the discussion boards.

Working on Khronos VR Standard

December 6, 2016 - Programmer Joe

Today the Khronos Group announced a new open standard initiative for VR. The goal is to allow VR hardware and software to talk to each other without the need to go through anybody’s proprietary API.

As the number of competing VR systems grows, this effort will provide a stable platform for application developers to target. And as new VR headset manufacturers come online, the same standard will give them access to a broad set of applications without the need to convince anyone to port those applications to the new piece of hardware.

This new standard is the next logical step from what we’ve been working on with OpenVR. The VR team at Valve is hard at work with the rest of the VR standard group at Khronos to define these APIs. Over time we expect significant pieces of OpenVR itself to be replaced by the Khronos APIs.

If you work on VR hardware or engines, we invite you to join us and work on the standard through Khronos. You can find information about joining Khronos on the Khronos site.