Valve revealed big changes that are coming to SteamVR Home. Starting with the latest SteamVR beta release, Valve turned its Destinations app into the default SteamVR environment. Now you can create a unique SteamVR space with high-resolution environments and interactive props for you and your friends to enjoy.
SteamVR underpins of HTC’s Vive VR system. The technology baked into SteamVR is responsible for making the Vive and its room-scale VR capabilities work as well as they do. It’s also the driver interface that lets you use third party VR platforms, such as the Oculus Rift and OSVR HDK HMDs, on games purchased through Valve’s Steam content delivery service. The SteamVR software works well, but it’s always felt somewhat utilitarian. The basic SteamVR Home environment is barren and bland; by contrast, the Oculus Home environment is rich with detail.
Valve identified that the SteamVR Home environment could use some dramatic improvement, and it turned to one of its internal projects to solve the problem. Valve launched an application called "Destinations" in June 2016 that allows you to create and explore stunning VR environments. You can pool together collections of images to render 3D environments with a technique called photogrammetry. Because the virtual environments are created from real images, they appear photorealistic when you experience them in VR. Destinations started off as a standalone application, but Valve decided Destinations would make a much better SteamVR Home environment. The company is discontinuing work on the standalone application and merging the technology directly into SteamVR.
Valve released the SteamVR Home update to the SteamVR Beta channel late on May 18. The new SteamVR Home allows you to choose from a wide range of Destinations to create a custom environment in which to begin your VR experience. Valve said that you could customize the environments with props and drawings, and you can add interactive elements, such as mini-games. The new SteamVR Home platform also supports environmental animations and sounds.
It also features customizable avatars so you can create a unique look for your virtual persona. The software lets you select from a variety of head shapes, and you can choose to add a selection of accessories for your character.
Valve said that every environment for SteamVR Home features a Quick Links pane that lets you quickly access your most recently played games. The Quick Links pane also includes a list of your Steam Friends and a list of open rooms for you to explore.
The original SteamVR Home environment was strictly a single-player experience. You had to connect to a game to interact with your friends in VR. The new SteamVR Home lets you connect with your friends right inside the SteamVR Home. You can invite friends to your private space, visit them in their private space, or meet new people in a public room.
Valve said that it's in the process of updating all existing SteamVR backgrounds and environments so that you can use them in the new SteamVR beta. Once an environment is updated, players should be able to move around within the environments, customize them, and invite friends to join.
SteamVR Home based on Destinations is currently available to everyone in beta form. To opt into the beta, open Steam, right click on SteamVR, and go to properties. Select the Betas tab and select the beta to build from the drop-down box. SteamVR should automatically download the update.
Valve didn’t say how long it plans to run the SteamVR Home beta test, but it did say that it plans to discontinue the standalone Destinations app once the beta period ends. Once everyone with SteamVR has access to the new SteamVR Home, Valve will cease rolling out updates for Destinations.