PC gamers won’t be getting Half-Life 3 any time soon, but video game company Valve did announce the next best thing — a few things, actually — at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
For starters, the company lifted the curtain on the successor to their widely-adopted game engine, Source, which has been used as the foundation for many popular titles in the Counter-Strike, Half-Life, and Portal series. Simply called Source 2, Valve’s new next-gen engine will be free to content developers, similar to Epic’s recent Unreal Engine 4, and will launch alongside a special version of the engine that makes use of the Vulkan cross-platform, cross-vendor 3D graphics API.
“With Source 2, our focus is increasing creator productivity,” said Jay Stelly of Valve. “Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not just for the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favorite games.”
The company did not announce pricing, nor did it reveal what upcoming projects might make use of the new engine.
In addition to Valve’s new software announcement came new details on what hardware plans the company also has in store.
Later this year, a new product called Steam Link will allow PC users to stream content from any PC, including Windows, Mac, Linux and Valve’s own Steam Machines, to other devices over a local network. It will support 1080p resolution at 60Hz “with low latency,” says the company, and will boast an easy set-up with three USB ports, an HDMI out, and automatic network detection. It, along with Valve’s Steam Controller, will retail at $49.99 and will launch by this November.
Furthermore, Steam Machines from Alienware and Falcon Northwest, along with a dozen additional partners, are also due to launch some time in November and will start “at the same price point as game consoles, [but] with higher performance,” says Valve.
Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney says, “Whether you’re running incredibly detailed scenes at 4K or running 1080p at 120 FPS for an intense shooter experience, [Valve’s Steam Machine] brings world-class gaming and graphics to televisions with an open platform true to Valve’s PC gaming roots.” Epic plans to demonstrate Unreal Tournament running on Falcon Northwest’s Steam Machine on a 4K display.
More details were also disclosed on Valve’s Virtual Reality device, Vive, manufactured by HTC and available to developers this Spring and to consumers by the end of the year. Powering it are two new technologies, a VR input system and a room scale tracking system called Lighthouse. “In order to have a high quality VR experience, you need high resolution, high speed tracking,” said 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.”
VR demos at this year’s GDC include work from Bossa Studios, Cloudhead Games, Dovetail Games, Fireproof Studios, Google, Owlchemylabs, Skillman & Hackett, Steel Wool Games, Vertigo Games, and Wevr.
“We continue to see very strong growth in PC Gaming, with Steam growing 50% in the last 12 months,” said Valve President Gabe Newell. “With these announcements we hope that we are helping build on that momentum.”
Exciting times to be a PC gamer. What new technologies are you most looking forward to?