EXCLUSIVE: First details about Valve Deckard have been leaked [APRIL FOOL’S]

NOTICE: This post was published on April, 1st, 2024 as an April Fool’s joke. Keep reading to have a bit of fun, but do not believe anything you read

In the last weeks, I’ve been able to speak with two Valve employees who revealed to me some important details about the upcoming standalone headset by Valve, codenamed Deckard. These employees spoke under the promise of anonymity (you can imagine why) and were able to tell me juicy details about the development of the headset. And wow, there are a few pieces of information that are really cool…

I’ve got to know that the development of Deckard has been a bit troubled because the headset has been re-engineered a few times. Valve is taking its usual ValveTime to make something that is ultra-polished and can put the whole community in awe. In particular, Valve’s interest is to please its current target market, which the PCVR people make: Valve does not want to follow Meta’s route of targeting casual players, but wants to keep aiming at the real gamers, that is the people that currently are using Valve Index.

This is in stark contrast to the release of a standalone headset because PCVR people want to have astonishing graphical quality. But the release of the Apple Vision Pro proved to Valve employees that people are fine with having an all-in-two device with two units connected by a cable. So I’ve been told that Valve revised its design and worked closely with NVIDIA to create a computational unit comprised of a smaller version of the upcoming NVIDIA RTX 5090, an Intel i9 CPU, and a battery to power the device. This unit is connected via a 10-meter VirtualLink USB-C connector to the headset, which so can be as lightweight as a BigScreen Beyond. Since this computational device is currently too big and heavy (around 5 kilos), Valve is reportedly working together with Roomba to make this unit sit on your floor and follow you while you play VR around your house, making sure you are always connected without making any effort. It also clears your floor while you play in VR, so your significant one can not complain anymore about you doing nothing while in VR, because you can still say you are cleaning the floor.

valve deckard roomba computational unit
I tried to create with AI a representation of how the computational unit of Deckard may be

Returning to the specs, thanks to the NVIDIA RTX 5090, the headset can feature 8K x 8K resolution per eye, 166° FOV, and 144Hz refresh rate. The screen is OLED, so the colors appear very vivid. Audio is still delivered through high-quality over-the-ear speakers. The audio system has also a very special feature: it implements the fix for the speakers that Palmer Luckey promised for Rift CV1 users: people thought he was not delivering it anymore, but actually, he was working under the hood with Valve to give it a new use (a bit like when Virtualink seemed dead and then PSVR 2 used it)

Talking about the design, Valve was heavily inspired by the biggest PCVR users: furries. “95% of our users are furries,” said one of my sources, “so we needed to adapt our headset for them”. For this reason, Deckard is going to launch in four variants, with the shape of the head of a cat, wolf, bear, and rabbit, all covered with fur. There is also an ongoing collaboration with bHaptics to release a full-body suit covered with fur so that Deckard can be the perfect kit for furries. There are some problems with the current setup, though, because the Roomba computational unit sometimes starts sucking the fur on the feet of the users, attaches there, and then clogs itself. Valve is reportedly working on this. The headset is so aimed at furries that there is a rumor inside the company that Gabe Newell himself is going to launch the headset by being dressed as a big wolf performing in a lap dance inside VRChat, but I’ve found no reliable confirmation of this.

valve deckard launch
AI reconstruction of how the launch of the Deckard may happen

The controllers are an optimized version of Valve Index Controllers, smaller and more reliable, even if I’m told that the headset can also track the hands thanks to an integrated Leap Motion controller. The Controllers can track the five fingers and have very strong haptic vibrations. They feature also a small sphere on top: I’ve been told this has been inspired by the old 6DOF Kit for the Mirage Solo and serves so that the controllers can be used as butt plugs. Adult entertainment is a strong use case of VR, and while Valve can not explicitly advocate for it, it is releasing these vibrating controllers with these enticing spheres so that they are optimized for it. I’ve been told this use case has been “heavily tested”, but I do not want to know more details about it… especially I do not want to know what happened when there were bugs at the beginning of the tests…

lenovo mirage solo review virtual reality
Lenovo Mirage Solo with installed the 6DOF devkit. The whole VR Reddit community defined them as “butt plugs”. They laughed, but they didn’t know that the idea could be recycled one day… (Image by Google)

Going to the software side, the headset is going to launch with Half-Life Alyx, VRChat, Resonite, AirCar, DeoVR, Boneworks, and an old executable of Echo Arena that doesn’t work anymore. Basically this is the content that the PCVR community has already been playing in loop in the last months because they can not find new VR-native games made specifically for PC. Upcoming titles, coming around 3-4 months after launch, should include Rec Room, Gorilla Tag, Waifu Super-Simulator, and Marky Mark’s Special Sauce. The true wonder of the Valve Deckard is that it is going to integrate an AI layer directly into its hardware to solve the problem of squeaking kids in multiplayer VR games. The AI is going to detect every kid by the Decibel volume of his voice and erase his visuals and his audio as if that player didn’t exist. One of my sources tried this feature in a prototype porting of Rec Room and said that it is like playing it in single-player mode, it feels as silent as a library.

Tumbleweed GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
RecRoom without kids

For us developers, there will be a dedicated Unity SDK at launch, with the Unreal one following a few months later. Valve is also working on native tools using COBOL, which is a language with a long and reliable history.

It seems that Valve is going to introduce a new term to define its virtual reality: Cyberspace. The management team at Valve has seen that with the other vendors, launching a new term created a lot of hype… Zuckerberg’s renaming of Meta created a year of hype around the “metaverse” and now Apple is doing the same with its “Spatial Computing”. Valve picked up “Cyberspace” because it is more akin to the cyberpunk lore and it also sounds cool. I asked my sources what “Cyberspace” means and what is the difference with the other terms and I’ve been told that here Valve is using a strategy similar to the one by Apple. Apple started talking about “Spatial Computing” just because it sounded cool, but they had no idea what it truly meant: it was the community of futurists on Linkedin that started writing articles about “what is Spatial Computing” that created a meaning of it. Valve is planning the same with Cyberspace: throw this name in the wild and let Linkedin people find a meaning for it. I think it’s a very smart idea.

I’ve asked for the release time, but with Valve, you can never know. I’ve been told “Early 2025”, with some planned staged leaks in the second half of this year. Considering that today is April, 1st, 2024, there is still a lot to wait while inhaling copium…

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://skarredghost.com/2024/04/01/valve-deckard-leaked/