BigScreen was an important release for the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, as it made it possible to play games not designed for VR in a communal space. Whether for remote-LAN gaming, or just playing something outside of VR without taking the headset off, one drawback was a lack of motion controller support, but that’s been fixed with the latest update.
Now if you head into BigPicture mode with the Beta 0.2.0 version installed, you’ll be able to wave your Vive wand controller around as if it’s a mouse pointer. That means that if your game doesn’t require keyboard input of any kind, you can likely play it without sitting at your desk at all.
Now the wand controllers can be used to not only simulate the mouse and therefore control other games, but control all aspects of the BigScreen experience. You can adjust the size of your virtual screen, tweak the environment and open up your space to friends and strangers if you want.
In reality, that could be the more important feature of this update, because virtual reality is already a little bit of a hassle to get going. You need to make sure your base stations are powered on, your blinds drawn, your floor space cleared. If you have to switch between mouse and wand controllers, that’s an additional layer of annoyance you don’t need.
Now that BigPicture is mouse-free, it should be a lot more user-friendly.
On top of that, the Vive controllers also introduce some extras to the BigPicture experience, like a laser pointer you can control with the wands and use to point to different areas of the virtual world to highlight them for your VR guests. You can also use it with the Steam virtual keyboard for keyboard-free text chat.
In addition to the Vive controller update in this latest beta release, there are a few bug fixes and tweaks to make streaming more stable, improvements to multi-monitor set-ups, and Tom’s has it that CPU overhead for BigScreen itself has been reduced. There’s also new support for 3D, side-by-side, and over-under video, as well as offline mode, and the ability to see other “players” as silhouettes in other rooms so you know where everyone is.
You can pick up BigScreen on Steam for the price of absolutely nothing.