Following swiftly on the heels of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 and Unity game engines announcements at GDC this week, Valve has announced not only the existence of Source 2, but that it will be available for free to all content creators.
Valve’s new engine includes not just developers, but also players who produce content for the Steam Marketplace. Source 2 will also feature a Vulkan-compatible version. In case you’re wondering, Vulkan is a graphical API that supports multiple platforms and vendors.
In the same presentation, Valve detailed a bit of information about their upcoming virtual-reality contender, SteamVR – including the updates to tracking discussed in the Vive announcement. Along with information on the in-room tracking, the company behind Half-Life and Left 4 Dead also discussed some developers and tech companies currently working with the VR platform.
Valve also detailed the various versions of the upcoming Steam Machines, some of which are going to be used at GDC to run Epic’s upcoming new installment of Unreal Tournament at 4K resolution (which, ironically, runs on Unreal Engine 4), to showcase the machines’ hardware grunt. To go along with these Steam Machines is a new product called Steam Link, which enables your entire home network to become a Steam local cloud – letting any machine connected to run any Steam game from any of the participating computers in the network. LAN-based streaming, as it were. Remember LAN gaming? It used to be a thing, back in the old days when people would lug PCs around to their mates’ houses.
Between this, the announced collaboration on a VR headset with mobile phone manufacturer HTC, and Steam Machines, Valve is using this year’s GDC event to show off the various directions that the company is headed in the coming year and beyond.
With Source 2, Unity 5, and Unreal Engine 4, developers are certainly spoiled for choice in picking an engine for coming projects. Epic recently announced that they are scrapping the subscription model for Unreal Engine 4, while Unity’s popularity continues to grow amongst smaller developers – particularly in the mobile gaming space. Other engines, such as Crytek’s CryEngine, are struggling to compete against the dominance of major rivals, but still remain popular – largely because creating an in-house game engine is a lengthy, not to mention costly, endeavor.
The original Source engine debuted back in 2004 with the buggy, but largely excellent, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines from the dearly-departed Troika. It was followed shortly after by the engine’s showcase game. That would be Half-Life 2, in case you were wondering. Despite now being a decade old, the Source Engine continues to be a popular choice among developers, noted for its ease of use and scalability to different hardware specifications. Source 2 is therefore likely to build on the success of its predecessor, rather than drastically reinvent the wheel.
More information on the Valve’s showing can be found here, or when Steam Machines become available in November.