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Meanwhile at Valve... VR layoffs

ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
Restructuring, or preparing for a decreased footprint in VR?

Valve Lays Off Parts of VR Team, Denies Change in Direction

“Last month, 13 full-time employees were let go and a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated. It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company. We thank those affected for their contribution and wish them well in future endeavors.”

One of the people who departed the company as part of the layoffs was Nat Brown, who had been working as a VR engineer for the company since September of 2015. Brown announced his departure on Twitter Thursday morning, saying that he left Valve in early February.

https://variety.com/2019/gaming/news/valve-vr-layoffs-1203157565/
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Comments

  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    edited March 7
    As a follow-up,

    Valve's tracking system seems to be getting left behind both with Home VR and Facility VR.

    In 2019, HTC’s next VR headsets (Cosmos and Vive Focus Plus) don’t use SteamVR Tracking. We’ve uncovered hints from Facebook that a follow-on PC-powered Rift S is likely this year featuring the same Insight tracking system as the standalone Oculus Quest. This tracking system might also be capable one day of finger tracking.

    Valve, meanwhile,  developed a second generation of its lighthouse-based tracking which can precisely locate objects across multiple rooms, or perhaps even  warehouses. That might make SteamVR Tracking 2.0 ideal for certain large-scale VR attractions and arcades. Microsoft ‘s tracking technology, however, was recently adopted by VR attraction company Zero Latency and we were super impressed by Oculus Quest’s arena demonstration by Facebook late last year. Today, Rift is often used with OptiTrack or other external camera-based tracking at venues with VR entertainment.
    https://uploadvr.com/valve-employees-vr-2019/


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  • SkScotcheggSkScotchegg Posts: 1,247
    Wintermute
    hmm, not sure what to make of all this....

    ...Continues to eat Snickers. :wink:
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  • pyroth309pyroth309 Posts: 1,568 Valuable Player
    Small layoffs like that aren't usually cause for concern. They could have just finished the project they were working on and Valve didn't have anything else for them to do. If more layoffs follow i'll be concerned.
  • snowdogsnowdog Posts: 7,115 Valuable Player
    It's cos they're abandoning high-end PC VR. >:) :D :D :D
    "This you have to understand. There's only one way to hurt a man who's lost everything. Give him back something broken."

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  • inovatorinovator Posts: 2,098 Valuable Player
    Its interesting. Only time will tell.
  • MradrMradr Posts: 3,536 Valuable Player
    For Steam to do it - I dont feel like its a problem. If this was HTC - I be like oh no!! Another around of lay offs is super bad.  Either way the number is small - that the same turn out you usually have a small business of workers per year anyways. 
  • OmegaM4NOmegaM4N Posts: 585
    Neo
    Maybe Valve are looking at just having VR support across the board and letting third parties take the strain and cost.
  • LZoltowskiLZoltowski Posts: 6,774 Volunteer Moderator
    I think outside in tracking might be out of the door with everyone moving towards inside out tracking. As inside out tracking algorithms get better and better, I heard machine learning and AI are also going to give further breakthroughs in that category, perhaps Valve is abandoning lighthouses.

    I think outside in tracking was the first-gen idea.
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  • inovatorinovator Posts: 2,098 Valuable Player
    Exactly. It will join the dinasours. Just like wired vr will be laughed at some day. I was born during the dinasours age. You young whippersnapers may find it hard to believe but the 1st TV remotes were attached across the room to the TV with a cable. 
  • DaftnDirectDaftnDirect Posts: 5,227 Volunteer Moderator
    Yep, and the first company to use it for consumer VR will most likely be the first to make it good enough for everyone, even the doubters. I'd rather that was Oculus, who've had a good track record for consumer VR stuff so far and who's software ecosystem I'm invested in.
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  • ShocksVRShocksVR Posts: 464
    Trinity
    edited March 8
    I'm still not convinced Valve has the resources nor desire to dedicate and create their own camera based Computer Vision tracking software.

    Lighthouse was something they could license and rake in the money with. Camera based Computer Vision (Inside Out via cameras) would be following in the footsteps of others in the VR industry (Microsoft, Facebook/Oculus, Google, HTC (surprisingly), Apple), and isn't something they would be able to license out for profit since Inside Out would be available from many other vendors.  If Valve hasn't already started on Computer Vision tracking tech, then they've already dropped the ball and are significantly behind the competition.

    I see Valve at being good at creating niche ideas. Trackpads on controllers, Knuckles, Lighthouse. All small scale proprietary tech.  But a massive Computer Vision algorithm may be beyond their scope, considering VR is not Valve's top priority.
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  • MradrMradr Posts: 3,536 Valuable Player
    edited March 8
    I could still see them releasing a headset to sell on the side though while they work out the idea of software. Granted theyre not in for the hardware sells - but they are in for the software sells. IF anything - they would still need to make a phototype headset here and there to keep up with software demands such as future support for eye tracking, hardware testing, new software methods to improve performance, etc etc. Without something - they could be left in the dust later on (by something - I mean having hardware in hand to do test with). 

    Though - honestly - I think if Valve wants to do it right - they could offer the research for a license fee if anything. This would allow big leaps for new headset makers to jump forward with while Valve wont have to take on any risk of hardware sells while providing the research for future software support they will need to keep up with anyways.

    A simple headset + their naming could allow VR to be known a lot more as well for anyone looking to get into VR. I still run into people who dont really know what VR is. Possible if they could release a headset with in a low price but same specs at the CV1 - you could be a smash hit for the people that want VR for the cheap (150-200 price range). 

    As of right now though - hands down everyone pretty much agrees that Valves tracking is still the best around. Granted it has downsides - but Vision tracking still has some ways to go compare to current tracking methods as far as coverage goes. I am 100% sure though that Vision tracking will take over though, but still at least 3-4 years out before it will be consider as good or close to what we currently have for 360 coverage.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    edited March 8
    Mradr said:
    I could still see them releasing a headset to sell on the side though
    You mean Valve would suddenly take up panhandling as a hobby?  :p
    Making a consumer PCVR hardware product isn't exactly something that involves a hobbyist approach.


    As of right now though - hands down everyone pretty much agrees that Valves tracking is still the best around.

    Completely false. Hands down - as of right now - everyone agrees that Inside-Out tracking is the greatest thing for VR since it frees up the limitations of cables and a single-room, while opening up true freedom-of-movement and arena-scale VR.

    Not to mention that Valve's tracking couldn't even handle Beat Saber (while Oculus' tracking could):
    https://www.roadtovr.com/valve-updated-steamvr-tracking-because-beat-saber-players-were-too-fast/


    So no, there is no hands down situation that puts Valve's tracking as "the best" from any viewpoint.
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  • inovatorinovator Posts: 2,098 Valuable Player
    3 to 4 years before inside out is as good. Talk about making statements like a blind person guessing what color shirt I'm wearing today.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    edited March 8
    The hands-on reviews of those with experience using Rift and Vive who also tried Quest agree that the tracking is "Rift-like" and the overall gains from a tetherless self-containing HMD surpass everything released to-date. Reviewers like Tested give it high praises, and even SuperData predicts that it will sell over 1-million units in a short time-frame. Compared to the Vive and Rift which barely sold 1 million units, combined, after 2 years.

    3-4 years for inside out to be "as good" is an exaggeration considering that all it needs is an extra camera in the back of the headset!
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  • LZoltowskiLZoltowski Posts: 6,774 Volunteer Moderator
    inovator said:
    3 to 4 years before inside out is as good. Talk about making statements like a blind person guessing what color shirt I'm wearing today.
    3-4 years is a VERY long time these days. 3 years is now the difference between a Blackberry and a Foldable phone at the rate of tech advances these days.

    A hardware refresh is imminent either way. 

    https://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-rift-stock-web-suggesting-rift-s-near/
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  • pyroth309pyroth309 Posts: 1,568 Valuable Player
    edited March 8
    Here were GabeN's comments on twitter.

    Gabe Newell: Valve still working on VR, Layoffs were a "people thing, not a hardware thing", No VR games cancelled

    272 points•91 comments•submitted 1 day ago by Mochipoo to r/vive_vr

    Gaben took some time to shed light on the rumors circulating this morning

    Is Valve still working on VR?

    Gabe says: "Nothing has changed"

    https://twitter.com/J0nahSaunders/status/1103835949480493056

     

    Any truths to the layoffs?

    Gabe says: "It was 13 people. It was a people thing, not a hardware thing."

    https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/480847885806731265/553374354285658123/Capture.PNG

     

    Have some of the VR games been shelved?

    Gabe says: "Nope"

    https://twitter.com/phantomunboxing/status/1103845697961541634



  • kevinw729kevinw729 Posts: 4,781 Valuable Player
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  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    I love the YouTube comments on this news, making it about Half-Life 3,

    • THEORY: The 13 employees all came together and pitched HL3 on VR - Gabe didn't like it.
    • 13 hmmm I guess he still hates 3

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  • Nekto2Nekto2 Posts: 270
    Nexus 6
    Zenbane said:
    Completely false. Hands down - as of right now - everyone agrees that Inside-Out tracking is the greatest thing for VR since it frees up the limitations of cables and a single-room, while opening up true freedom-of-movement and arena-scale VR.
    How about lighting?
    Have not read anything on required room lighting level. Will it work in dark and pitch-dark rooms?
    Are those cameras recording IR lite (likely)? So can you get an external IR lamp to make a dark room not so dark for Insight? Can you place stationary IR leds across the room to help Insight?
    Is a ceiling the best way to place them? So it will not interfere with multiple players inside a room.

    Is there any info on Insight helpers? If you have an empty room for VR what is the best wallpaper pattern to use for better tracking? (for home and LBE use).
    Will Oculus sell branded wallpaper for best tracking?
    :lol:

  • MradrMradr Posts: 3,536 Valuable Player
    edited March 9
    Zenbane said:
    The hands-on reviews of those with experience using Rift and Vive who also tried Quest agree that the tracking is "Rift-like" and the overall gains from a tetherless self-containing HMD surpass everything released to-date. Reviewers like Tested give it high praises, and even SuperData predicts that it will sell over 1-million units in a short time-frame. Compared to the Vive and Rift which barely sold 1 million units, combined, after 2 years.

    3-4 years for inside out to be "as good" is an exaggeration considering that all it needs is an extra camera in the back of the headset!
    inovator said:
    3 to 4 years before inside out is as good. Talk about making statements like a blind person guessing what color shirt I'm wearing today.
    I dont see vision tracking doing 360 on Quest do you? The controllers still have to hit the senors in the front while current tracking methods for both CV1 and Vive allow you to place or have more coverage of area to track outside the Quest limits allowing you to place your controllers behind your back and still be track no problem. Are you two trying to make the claim that vision tracking has magic to track controllers like this already? Far as I know - there is a limit in what vision tracking will be able to capture with either in a price point or a real coverage area of tracking.

    Yes, it will be the next generation headsets that will most likely be as good or better than current methods of vision tracking as I am sure they will have figure out how to add more cameras by either placing them on the controllers allowing a disconnection between headset and controllers along with other wearable that will simply "connect" back to the headset for more optional vr gear later on.

    As you said - they are "Rift-like" but the "" means it is not 100% the same meaning it is still not as good as the current tracking methods. I think you are confusing between price to performance of coverage area to make the claim that Vive tracking is not the best around. Everyone - even you - said it was the best tracking method around. The downside - is usually cost and it being boxes around the room that is what makes it not the best solution though for everyone witch is not what I said at the start:) So you are assuming something big to make a claim that current vision tracking is better than our current tracking methods for both the CV1 and Vive products.

    Not to mention that Valve's tracking couldn't even handle Beat Saber (while Oculus' tracking could):
    https://www.roadtovr.com/valve-updated-steamvr-tracking-because-beat-saber-players-were-too-fast/

    Despite the challenge, SteamVR Tracking has held up extremely well to Beat Saber’s tracking needs except, it seems, in some edge cases which have now been patched. It’s frankly pretty amazing that the system manages to work as well as it does for the game; Valve ought to be pretty happy that they chose to aim for such a high tracking performance threshold from the outset.

    Still - something that was fix pretty easy and it was just a refresh rate issue than it was a coverage or tracking issue. There for - you havent provided any information that they are lacking compare to vision control.


    All I can say is, LOL wtf xD I think you guys are drinking the kool aid a bit too much there:) Either way, vision tracking is good enough for now. Next version they release will be a night and day differences to what Quest is using now VT1.0 vs VT2.0.

  • DaftnDirectDaftnDirect Posts: 5,227 Volunteer Moderator
    edited March 9
    @Nekto2 there must be IR (or near IR) cameras to defect the controllers LEDs, thery’ve also mentioned the possibility of mixed reality capabilities so I’m guessing visibile through to IR light is all being picked up.
    Theres probably a minimum level of light needed for optimum tracking, plus I’m hoping there’s still a small nose gap so we can see if we’ve stepped on our dog/cat/small child
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  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    edited March 9
    Nekto2 said:
    How about lighting?
    Have not read anything on required room lighting level. Will it work in dark and pitch-dark rooms?
    Are those cameras recording IR lite (likely)? So can you get an external IR lamp to make a dark room not so dark for Insight? Can you place stationary IR leds across the room to help Insight?
    Is a ceiling the best way to place them? So it will not interfere with multiple players inside a room.

    Is there any info on Insight helpers? If you have an empty room for VR what is the best wallpaper pattern to use for better tracking? (for home and LBE use).
    Will Oculus sell branded wallpaper for best tracking?

    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    edited March 9
    I dont see vision tracking doing 360 on Quest do you?

    WTF is "vision tracking" ??


    As you said - they are "Rift-like" but the "" means it is not 100% the same meaning it is still not as good as the current tracking methods.

    I understand what "like" means in Rift-like. I also said this in the exact same sentence, which you chose to ignore,

    "and the overall gains from a tetherless self-containing HMD surpass everything released to-date."


    I think you are confusing between price to performance of coverage area to make the claim that Vive tracking is not the best around.

    Nope, I explained exactly why the Vive tracking is not the best around, and even gave you a link as to how Vive's tracking couldn't handle Beat Saber. Perhaps you are confused?

    Still - something that was fix pretty easy and it was just a refresh rate issue than it was a coverage or tracking issue. There for - you havent provided any information that they are lacking compare to vision control.

    I successfully refuted your claim that Vive Tracking is "the best." It's not. If it was, then it would not have needed an update to handle Beat Saber. But it did need an update, because it is not the best.

    You have not provided any information that it is the best. You just keep repeating yourself.

    All I can say is, LOL wtf xD I think you guys are drinking the kool aid a bit too much there:

    Pot/Kettle. You've been carrying the "anything but Oculus" torch religiously for quite some time now.


    Either way, vision tracking is good enough for now.
    I forget, do you even have a working headset right now? List your currently working VR gear and the last VR experience you actually enjoyed. For the last year (if not longer), I've never seen you talk about anything fun you're doing in VR. You seem to just wait for threads to appear that give you the opportunity to talk negative about Oculus. It's cute n' all, but is there something constructive in VR you are doing?


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  • WildtWildt Posts: 2,081 Valuable Player
    Zenbane said:

    I successfully refuted your claim that Vive Tracking is "the best." It's not. If it was, then it would not have needed an update to handle Beat Saber. But it did need an update, because it is not the best.

    To be fair, it was SteamVR that needed to have a programmed limitation removed (or increased), so in essence they changed code that would be executed regardless of hardware, as long as the SteamVR codepath was active.
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  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    Yeah Wildt, I read about that. But that is an issue Valve had, and Valve resolved. 
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  • pyroth309pyroth309 Posts: 1,568 Valuable Player
    edited March 9
    Yea the SteamVR thing only affected the very top players anyway. It remains to be seen if inside out will even be able to play expert+ effectively much less be good enough to run into the ceiling SteamVR had. We shall see. I hope inside out is now good enough to ditch my Rift for everything/game like beat saber, but for a taller person like me, I'm pretty skeptical. If i have to tuck my hands like I do on WMR to stay in the cameras that's a big negative on the enjoyment factor.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 14,605 Valuable Player
    A funny thing about the very top... that is typically where the very best resides lol
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