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Valve's new VR Destinations tool lets you create and share imaginary scenes

Destinations Workshop Tool

Valve is releasing a new tool to let designers create and share VR "destinations" on Steam. The software will be available under the gaming platform's Early Access scheme from June 9th, and supports both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. It allows designers to create VR locations, either stitched together from real-life photographs (a technique known as photogrammetry) or 3D models. Users can add sound and interactive elements to the locations, but the resulting locations are still quite basic, with more in common with Google Street View than full VR game environments.

publishing content takes "only a few button clicks"

The beta Destinations software includes the same Source 2 tools used by both Valve and by Dota 2 players to make custom games. "Creating a basic destination is pretty simple, but it can be a bit more involved to build a photogrammetry scene,'" Valve programmer Tom Bui told Polygon. "We’ll have some tutorials to help people get started and that goes over some of the best practices we’ve discovered while building our own content. Actually publishing the destination to the Steam Workshop when a content creator is ready is only a few button clicks."

Some virtual popcorn created with photos from an iPhone 6S, stitched together using Reality Capture. (Image credit: Valve)

Early scenes available via Destinations include an English churchyard, a close-up encounter with a pile of popcorn (based on photos taken from an iPhone 6S), and a face-to-face with the Curiosity rover on Mars (based on images from Nasa). The end goal, says Bui, is to encourage VR designers to create and share more content on Valve's platform. "We've seen all of the awesome things the community can do with user-generated content," Bui told Polygon. "So it seemed a natural extension to enable creators to make cool new VR experiences that they could share with others."