Skip to main content

Valve gives developers and hobbyists a peek behind the scenes of ‘The Lab’

valve the lab behind scenes steam
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Over the course of its ongoing relationship with HTC, Valve has made no secret of its ambition to facilitate virtual reality development for independent studios and hobbyists. Now, the company has released a set of tools that should allow anyone with a capable rig to see what goes into a high-quality VR experience.

Valve has released The Lab Renderer as a free download for use with Unity 5.4. This package contains all the scripts, shaders, and source code used to create The Lab, a series of experimental experiences set in the Portal universe that illustrate the capabilities of VR tech.

The Lab Renderer was used to create all the experiences contained in The Lab, with the exception of Robot Repair, according to a blog post published by Valve’s Aaron Leiby. However, the package isn’t intended to be a replacement for the rendering features already available in Unity.

Instead, it’s meant to demonstrate just what can be done with the technology at this point in time. “We are shipping this for free to Unity developers as an example of how we think current-generation VR rendering can provide the highest-fidelity experience with the best performance,” Leiby wrote.

The features included span from an adaptive quality algorithm that can dynamically change rendering quality, to a single-pass forward rendering solution that allows developers to utilize MSAA — currently the preferred method of anti-aliasing for VR content. There’s also a GPU flushing technique intended to help improve performance.

Valve is supplying full source code and shader code so developers can chop and change various elements as they see fit. Given the relatively recent creation of many VR development techniques, access to these resources could give scores of greenhorns an opportunity to learn from experts working on the cutting edge.

The Lab Renderer is available for free via the Unity Asset Store.

Editors' Recommendations

Brad Jones
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
MSI could be prepping next-gen OLED gaming monitors — and they look insane
Marvel's Spider-Man running on the Samsung Odyssey OLED G8.

MSI is getting serious in the gaming monitor space. Newly leaked information suggests that the company is preparing at least six new QD-OLED monitors that are set to arrive in the coming months. It is said that the new models will range from 27 inches to 49 inches in size, with refresh rates of up to 360Hz.

The alleged information comes from Twitter/X user @chi11eddog, who is known for consistent and reliable leaks, particularly regarding MSI and general hardware-related information. The upcoming monitors are expected to be part of MSI’s MPG and MAG series of product lines, with the first new model scheduled for November 2023.

Read more
Bing Chat’s ads are sending users to dangerous malware sites
Bing Chat shown on a laptop.

Since it launched, Microsoft’s Bing Chat has been generating headlines left, right, and center -- and not all of them have been positive. Now, there’s a new headache for the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, as it’s been found it has a tendency to send you to malware websites that can infect your PC.

The discovery was made by antivirus firm Malwarebytes, which discussed the incident in a blog post. According to the company, Bing Chat is displaying malware advertisements that send users to malicious websites instead of filtering them out.

Read more
Best MSI gaming laptop deals: Save on the Bravo, Delta and Stealth
MSI GT77 Titan (2023) playing Cyberpunk 2077.

MSI makes some of the best high-end gaming laptops on the market. Their Bravo and Delta line are great for gamers on a budget, while the impressive Stealth line is here for people looking for a powerhouse mobile gaming system. Thankfully everything from the budget laptops to the professional rigs is on sale right now, so you can save hundreds on a prebuilt gaming laptop with impressive specs. Our picks for the best MSI gaming laptop deals are below.
MSI Bravo 15 -- $800, was $1,000

The MSI Bravo is a good starting place if you're just getting into the world of PC gaming. It has quality components, but nothing too flashy or expensive. It's compact at just 15.6-inches, but the screen still has a 144Hz refresh rate and 1080p resolution. The main money saver is in the AMD Ryzen 5 processor. The graphics card is an impressive Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, which is where most of the budget goes. It skimps a bit on memory, with a standard 16GB of RAM but only 512GB of storage on its SSD.

Read more