It’s a beautiful late winter day in Bellevue, Wash. Instead of enjoying the outdoors, I’m sitting in a rectangular white room with three programmers, surrounded by three walls covered in augmented reality markers. Not that I’m complaining: Valve Software’s Joe Ludwig, the programmer in the room who most resembles a member of Anthrax, is walking me through his company’s latest work in the world of virtual reality. It’s the first anyone outside of Valve will see of the company’s VR efforts thus far.
As it turns out, the software company is working with Oculus VR to port the tremendously popular free-to-play first-person shooter, Team Fortress 2, to the upcoming Rift development kit. The free update, dubbed “VR Mode,” is the latest benchmark in Valve’s ongoing hardware initiative. “We think that both augmented and virtual reality are going to be a huge deal over the next several years,” Ludwig tells us.