Valve is releasing Destinations Workshop Tools on Steam this week to enable the creation of photogrammetry-based virtual worlds like those found in The Lab.
The Lab is set inside Aperture Science from Valve’s popular Portal games. In the lab, there’s a collection of different things, including fun games like Longbow and Xortex. In one corner of the lab, though, there’s a set of breathtaking destinations, and you can quickly transport to any of them.
Among the places you can go is a hillside in Iceland and an underground cave, each of which were captured using a technique known as photogrammetry. The approach uses hundreds or thousands of photos taken from different angles to create a 3D model of a location. This environment can be combined with virtual objects and interactivity so you can, for example, teleport around the space.
The Destinations Workshop Tools releasing this week pairs with a detailed Wiki that should make creating these types of worlds easier. In addition, the app will also give creators a place to distribute their works.
The release includes The Source 2 tool set used by Valve, example destinations and a map creators can modify that shows how to add interactivity.
This is a major release for Valve as it begins the long process of opening up VR creation to more people. A lot of the initial tools used in the creation of VR existed prior to the advent of affordable consumer systems, but without instructions or a place to publish creations, not as many people are taking the opportunity to create something others can see in VR. Software and instructions like the ones included in this package could go a long way.