Valve Launches Experimental “SteamVR” Beta

Valve Launches Experimental “SteamVR” Beta

With the still-ongoing development and support of the virtual reality headset the Oculus Rift, Valve has now launched its own experimental “VR mode” for the Rift, which has been integrated into its digital distribution client Steam as a further extension of the company’s support of the device.

The new feature is currently in Beta right now, and can only be accessed by opting for Steam’s “Beta participation” program, which can be accessed through the client’s settings via the taskbar (assuming you aren’t using Windows 8, you poor sod). You’ll also need your own Oculus Rift too. The announcement of this new implementation was posted on SteamVR’s dedicated community page on the official Steam website, where a Valve employee outlined how to install the VR mode and how to access it through Steam’s Big Picture feature.

“As of the most recent Steam Client Beta steam now supports an experimental VR mode. If you own an Oculus Rift dev kit you can try it out by starting Steam with “-vr” on the command line. Then press the Big Picture button to enter Big Picture + VR mode.

The first time you run you may need to do the following:

1) Run Steam in the desktop client without the -vr option

2) Find “SteamVR” under “Tools” in your library. (If you don’t have it installed, install it.)

3) Bring up properties on SteamVR and opt-in to the “Beta Update” beta. Let the update download.

4) Quit the Steam Client again and start it with -vr”

Initially this announcement was met with mild complaints about users who have an Oculus Rift dev kit who weren’t able to access the VR mode, even with following the previous instructions, with reports of users experiencing client crashes and of their Rifts sometimes not being recognised as a connected device at all. After a little bit of back-and-forth, comradery and some attempts to fix the error, someone finally managed to suss something out. Thanks to Steam user Tbone , they put together a new set of instructions based on their tests to try to get VR mode to work. Though these new instructions did work for some, others are still experiencing problems getting access to the feature. Tbone’s instructions are detailed below, along with their impressions on their experience with VR mode.

“I got it to work. It’s pretty fickle, but here are the steps:

Go to “Library”, “Tools”, and download SteamVR

Opt into SteamVR Beta. Make sure it’s up-to-date

Set Steam to start in Big Picture mode.

Create a shortcut to Steam and add -vr to the launch options

IMPORTANT: Set the Rift as an extended monitor and make sure it’s the secondary.

Start Steam using your modified shortcut.

If you try to do it in clone mode, it just reverts to the non-VR UI. They’ve designed it to where the non-VR UI shows up on your primary while the VR UI shows up on your secondary monitor.

It looks pretty good! It’s a giant floating curved screen in front of you. Head tracking works fine. Everything is big enough to read that I’ve looked at so far.”

Problems like this are to be expected when dealing with software that’s still in Beta, or indeed anything that’s in Beta. If you’re interested in keeping track on SteamVR, you can head on over to its dedicated community forum over on Steam’s website here . No doubt the bugs for the SteamVR feature will be stamped out relatively quickly (hopefully).

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