Valve Lays Off 13 Full-time Employees and More

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2019 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: valve, layoffs

UploadVR received a statement from Valve that 13 full-time employees and “a portion of our contractor agreements were terminated”. The statement goes on to say that “It’s an unfortunate part of business, but does not represent any major changes at the company.”

UploadVR (and others of course) then went on to check who the affected people were. Based on their research, they found individuals working on projects related to VR and the Steam Controller claiming that their employment at Valve ended in 2019.

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An old render of the Steam Controller. Image Source: Valve Software.

I have not heard any info about the contractors, such as who they are or what they were doing.

According to a PC Gamer post from 2016, there were approximately 360 employees at Valve at that time. Assuming then is roughly the same as now, which is not really a good assumption but it’s what we need to work with, this would represent about 4% of their workforce… depending on how instrumental the “portion of our contractor agreements” was.

A restructure for larger companies is typically around 10% lay-offs, which 4% is significantly below. Granted, I’m not too worried about Valve’s financial health, but it’s generally good to check as an early sign of financial or structural issues involving the whole company.

Source: UploadVR

Elements of Steam Redesign Starting to Appear

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2019 - 09:51 AM |
Tagged: valve, store, steam

As it approaches its sixteenth birthday, Valve's Steam client is long overdue for a redesign. Facing new competition in an increasingly fragmented digital games marketplace, Valve late last year teased that a fresh overhaul of Steam's look and feel was on the slate for 2019.

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And while Valve hasn't made any official announcements regarding the timing of the Steam redesign, users are beginning to notice some changes that indicate a rollout may begin sooner rather than later. Most notably, Valve has quietly updated Steam's About page, which now sports a much more modern look, complete with bold text, simpler graphics and icons, and lots of white space (technically "dark" space in Steam's case).

There's also an auto-playing video in the upper-right corner that shows a simplified Steam interface layout that significantly differs from the current design.

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Others have noticed that certain interface elements within Steam, such as a pop-up window listing mod prerequisites, are now displaying a different look in terms of fonts and colors.

Valve has already taken a componentized approach to Steam updates, releasing redesigned chat and wishlist interfaces last year, so it's not clear if the overall store and client redesign will be unveiled all at once or roll out piece-by-piece over time.

Source: Steam

NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft Collaborate on VirtualLink VR Headset Standard

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 17, 2018 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: VR, VirtualLink, valve, usb 3.1, Type-C, Oculus, nvidia, microsoft, DisplayPort, amd

Today, NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft, members of the VirtualLink consortium, have announced the VirtualLink standard, which aims to unify physically connecting Virtual Reality headsets to devices.

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Based upon the physical USB Type-C connector, VirtualLink will combine the bandwidth of DisplayPort 1.4 (32.1Gbit/s) with a USB 3.1 Data connection, and the ability to deliver up to 27W of power.

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VirualLink aims to simplify the setup of current VR Headsets

Given the current "Medusa-like" nature of VR headsets with multiple cables needing to feed video, audio, data, and power to the headset, simplifying to a single cable should provide a measurable benefit to the VR experience. In addition, having a single, unified connector could provide an easier method for third parties to provide wireless solutions, like the current TPCast device.

VirtualLink is an open standard, and the initial specifications can currently be found on the consortium website. 

Source: VirtualLink

Steam Is Going Windows 7 and Up

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2018 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: windows xp, windows vista, valve, steam, pc gaming

Valve has just announced that the Steam Client has deprecated Windows XP and Windows Vista. On January 1st, the Steam Client will stop playing video games unless you upgrade to at least Windows 7. They have also announced that new features, like the updated Steam Chat, currently in Beta, will not be brought to those platforms, because why would they bother when they’re going to obsolete in about six-and-a-half months? Don’t poke it if it works, and fix what doesn’t.

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The pun writes itself...

Linux and macOS are still fine of course.

In terms of market share numbers, 32-bit Windows XP is sitting at around 0.34%; Windows Vista is unlisted. I doubt this will affect many of our viewers unless they have a “retro PC hobby”. Still, to some extent, it sucks that DRM shuts down games that could otherwise run on the target environment. It’s not like they can just make the games DRM-free for the affected OSes, though, but it’s still something to think about.

And, yes, both OSes (XP SP3 and Vista SP2) are already deprecated by Microsoft.

Steam's Lunar New Year Sale Started Today

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2018 - 09:50 PM |
Tagged: valve, pc gaming, steam sale, steam

If you need more games that you purchased on sale but probably will never play, then Valve’s Lunar New Year sale is for you. Year of the Dog is the theme, and so most of the promoted games have dogs in them. Yes, Half Life 2’s robot counts – Valve’s 2004 classic is currently sitting at 90% off.

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Personally, I just picked up Okami HD. I was interested in this game when it first came out, but I was purposely avoiding console titles, so I just kept waiting. I just found out that it was released on the PC back in December, and it’s now 30% off its regular price. Good enough for me!

It’s cute that Valve is going back to some sort of meaning in their sales. These sorts of things used to be conversation starters. I don’t know, but it felt like a lot of the Steam Sales lately became… sterile. It feels odd to describe a sale as an experience, but they kind-of were at times.

Or maybe I just like puppies. I dunno.

What could possibly go wrong? Microsoft may be looking to buy EA, Valve and PUBG

Subject: General Tech | January 30, 2018 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, ea, valve, pubg, rumour, xbox

This one needs more than a few grains of salt but it is possible the Microsoft store might be looking at a significant expansion.  Phil Spencer, once head of XBone and now Executive Vice President of Gaming is taking his role seriously and may be looking to grow Microsoft's presence in gaming.  The company certainly has enough money to purchase all three companies, and in the case of EA they may actually improve the usefulness of Origin.  Valve on the other hand has already mastered the art of online game distribution, unless Microsoft is willing to go with something 'not invented here' that Steam library of yours may be in some peril.  This is pure rumour but that doesn't mean you can't fan the flames at The Inquirer, Polygon or below.

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"SOMEONE HAS GIVEN the rumour mill an almighty kick as it's been suggested that Microsoft is considering buying-up game publishing behemoths EA and Steam, along with PUBG Corp."

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Source: The Inquirer

CES 2018: HTC Teases new VIVE device announcement

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: VR, vive focus, vive, valve, steam vr, Oculus, knuckles, htc, CES 2018

In the run-up to CES 2018, the HTC Vive account on twitter tweeted an image teasing their press conference on Monday, January 8. 

While we've already heard about the standalone Snapdragon 835-powered HTC VIVE Focus set to start shipping in China later this month, it seems unlikely for this teaser to be referring to that device which HTC has already shown off to the public and press.

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Rather, it seems more likely that HTC is ready to start to talk about their next generation VIVE device for PC.

Both the graphic and tagline of "New Year's Resolution" obviously seem to be alluding to improved visual quality, and hopefully less of a screen door effect when wearing the headset. Whether or not this is achieved by a higher resolution display, or improved optics, or both has yet to be determined. 

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Another thing to look out for at this event will be the long-awaited "Knuckles" controllers showed off by Valve earlier this year. With a new generation of VR headset, I would expect the Knuckles controllers to be the bundled option going forward.

We'll be at HTC's VIVE press conference on the 8th, and have some time scheduled late in the week for demos of whatever they are showing off, so stay tuned for more details about their announcements as they happen!

Source: HTC

Valve's Triskaphobia strikes again

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2017 - 04:29 PM |
Tagged: Bridge Constructor Portal, Bridge Constructor, Portal, valve, gaming

Bridge Constructor will be getting a new expansion, one which features GLaDOS as well as blue and orange portals.  The video below doesn't make it obvious if there is a vehicle mounted Portal gun but it certainly gets you thinking.  Incorporating portal physics into the physics of Bridge Constructor will certainly put this on a few Steam wishlists for purchase on Dec 20th.  Check out the video below, and pop over to Ars Technica for some tidbits of other games without the number 3 involved which Valve is currently working on.

"Remember when Valve used to make new games, instead of just making insanely popular platforms for selling games (and hats and skins)? Valve promised a partial return to those days today with the announcement of a brand-new Portal game... that just so happens to be built as an expansion to Bridge Constructor."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Ars Technica

HTC Vive Price Drops to $599

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, vive, htc vive, valve, htc, price cut

While it looked like HTC and Valve wouldn’t budge on their launch price, the Vive has just been reduced $200 USD, from $799 down to $599. This is still significantly above the $399 USD price tag during their competitor’s summer sale, but it might be close enough for those who prefer the Vive for one reason or another.

I should note that their website still has payment plans through PayPal, which breaks up the $599 price tag into, they say, twelve chunks.

For me? This price cut came just a week and a bit late. I already picked up the Oculus. For us Canadians, it looks like the Vive sale price is $800 CDN on Amazon, versus the $550 mark for the Rift with Touch and two sensors. That said, if I didn’t jump on the Oculus... would I consider the Vive? At this price, I’m still not sure. I’m wary of a hardware refresh, now that these devices are hitting the one-and-a-half year mark. The Oculus, during its sale, is priced in the “Meh” territory. It would have served its purpose until it’s replaced. The extra couple hundred dollars on the Vive might just push it out of the “eh, if it’s replaced, so what” range.

On the other hand, the Vive can be upgraded with a wireless kit, and I do have issues with the Oculus sensors being obstructed. It’s an interesting move for sure.

Source: Vive

Valve Announces Artifact Game with Three Somethings

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2017 - 10:16 PM |
Tagged: valve, pc gaming

During their The International tournament for Dota 2, Valve announced a whole new game and a whole new reason for Blizzard to be annoyed at them: Artifact. While the teaser doesn’t really say much, they allowed Sean Plott, better known as Day[9], discuss his experiences playing it.

Apparently, it’s a card combat game that is based on the Dota 2 universe. Borrowing from the MOBA formula, there are actually three boards, which he called lanes at one point, that you will need to balance your efforts between. Some strategies can push a single board, while others can just safely lean on all three (although I’m not sure whether the metagame will heavily favor one or the other... in practice).

It’s unclear whether Valve will use their own engine, or license a third-party engine like Unity, which was used by Blizzard for Hearthstone and Valve, themselves, for some of their VR content.

Artifact is expected at some time in 2018.