Valve invited Tom’s Hardware to participate in the Steam VR Developer Content Showcase that took place this past Wednesday. The event was put together by Valve to show off a selection of the content we’ll see released on the HTC Vive later this year, much of it launching alongside the hardware in April. Many of the demos that were shown during the showcase are experiences we’ve already tried in one form or another, or at least written about. Some of them were complete surprises, though.
Valve hosted the VR Developer Content Showcase in its hometown of Seattle, though we weren’t brought to the Valve offices. The company rented an event center in the city for the private event, which was decorated to Valve’s tastes. The company seemingly spared no expense in making the event a success.
Each developer was provided with a walled space large enough to host their demos in. Though they were only temporary, the walls appeared to be customized for the event, and each room had a fancy-looking etched glass placard indicating the number of the experience. Valve also provided Steam VR-branded notebooks and pens, along with a customized schedule for each attendee.
The content showcase was strictly limited to invited guests, which included the developers that showed their wares and members of the press (such as myself) that were there to take said wares for a spin. Valve curated the list of 12 different experiences it wanted to highlight for us, but Valve's Chet Faliszek said these are just a small selection of what will be coming out this year on the Steam VR platform.
Despite some late invites (from what I was told, some of the developers had very little lead time to prepare for the event, and at least one journalist got invited the day before), Valve pulled together an excellent production that was scheduled beautifully. Our day started off at 11am PT (after being shuttled to the event location) with a quick lunch and short briefing from Faliszek explaining what to expect throughout the day. At noon the demonstrations began, and we all started our individual schedules.
There were 12 stations with the different games to try that Valve selected for the showcase, which covered a variety of genres and each one demonstrated different ideas of what you can expect to see in VR this year. There were a few shooters, some puzzle games, a rhythm game, space-themed games, and experiences designed to simply have some fun. Here’s the full list of games we got to experience while attending the showcase.
- Hover Junkers – Stress Level Zero
- Tilt Brush – Google
- Space Pirate Trainer – I-Illusions
- Job Simulator: the 2050 archives - Owlchemy Labs
- Arizona Sunshine – Vertigo Games
- Final Approach – Phaser Lock Interactive
- Audioshield – Dylan Fitterer
- Elite: Dangerous – Frontier Developments
- Budget Cuts – NEAT Corporation
- The Gallery: Call of the Starseed – Cloudhead Games
- Fantastic Contraption – Northway Games
- Cloudlands: VR Minigolf – Futuretown
Everyone that attended the showcase event was given 15 minutes with each developer to get a quick rundown and short trial of each game. After each session, you were given a 15-minute break to write some notes or get a beverage. In some cases, this time could be used for further questions, if there happened to be a second representative present that could talk outside the demo room.
The 15-minute schedule was strictly enforced, as there were two separate groups doing the rotation, with one group playing while the other was on break. I was in group A, which meant that my first demo was right at 12pm, and my last trial took place at 5:30.
All 12 of the developers in attendance were given their own temporary room with an HTC Vive and demo machine. The one exception was Frontier Developments with Elite: Dangerous. That game doesn't use roomscale, so there weren't any walls on that booth -- just a desk with a Playseat and H.O.T.A.S to play the game.
The pace and atmosphere of the showcase was very atypical to what you would expect with a press event. There was an unusual calmness to the whole thing. Even though we were all taking turns playing some very exciting games in VR, our time back in the real world was described by several attendees as “very laid back.”
Once the demonstrations concluded and everyone had a bite to eat, Valve pulled out some beer, and for the next hour most of the invited journalists and developers mingled and discussed what we had all just experienced.
I’d like to thank Valve Corporation for hosting a fantastic day and for inviting Tom’s Hardware to participate. There are some amazing experiences for the Vive coming soon, and we look forward to covering more of them as they are announced.