High Fidelity Now Available On Steam Early Access

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High Fidelity, the virtual world and virtual reality platform, arrived on Steam early access this week for Windows users. The welcome message states :

We’re incredibly excited to launch High Fidelity on Steam Early Access!

High Fidelity is an open-source virtual reality platform that gives everyone the power to create, explore, and share virtual spaces. It works with both Oculus Rift and Vive, and you can also run it on your PC in desktop mode if you don’t have a headset.

We’re looking forward to your feedback! We expect to learn important lessons about the needs of social VR from the active, engaged, and connected users here on Steam.

There’s a notice that you need a virtual reality headset to use the software, but as the above message informs us, you can run the software without a headset. However the minimum specs should be noted :

MINIMUM:

  • OS: Windows 7 SP1 64 bit
  • Processor: i7-4700 quad core equivalent or greater
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290
  • Storage: 2 GB available space

Now when you find the software on Steam there’s a good chance you will see this message : “Content in this product may not be appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work“.

This isn’t because High Fidelity is a den of iniquity, it’s because user generated content is involved, as the High Fidelity Twitter account explained to me : “The warning is a precautionary measure because it’s an environment with a lot of user generated content“.

The advantage of software being on Steam is that it makes downloading and installing the software extremely easy. In this case, to get going, you just click the green Free button.

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Then after downloading, the install kicks into action.

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After install the software appears in your Library under Software, rather than games. This is good to see and there’s even a sub heading of VR. In the past virtual world platforms have often had to label themselves as games, even though they aren’t games. The excitement relating to virtual reality means that there are now suitable categories around.

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Now that the software is in your library all you have to do is click launch and you’re on your way to virtual reality if you have suitable kit.

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A few points to note, this is early access software and although High Fidelity has been in development for a while, this still means that it may change during this part of the development cycle. The early access period is expected to last a few months but what happens after that? Well High Fidelity will remain free and open source, as the Steam Page informs us :

Will this software be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“High Fidelity is free and open source, and will remain so after Early Access ends. Enjoy!”

One of the purposes of software being in early access is for the developers to get feedback, so if you do use the software on Steam, don’t be shy about providing feedback, just try and make it constructive feedback.

High Fidelity does run on a Mac, but on Steam it’s a Windows only option, I asked on Twitter whether there were any plans to have a Mac client version on Steam and the High Fidelity Twitter account told me : “We’re looking into it. In the meantime, a beta for Mac is available on our website“.

The specs for a Mac are :

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD R9 290 equiv. or greater
  • Intel i7-4700 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Mountain Lion (10.8) or newer

The download for both Mac and Windows can be found here.

The move to Steam is an interesting one and for end users, as long as any updates run smoothly, it should make for a more enjoyable experience for those who don’t like having to download, uninstall, reinstall etc. Those who don’t mind doing the reinstall/uninstall dance can of course, download the software from the website. The latter may be a better option for developers as updates may break content, scripts etc. from time to time, whereas end users who want the social experience may prefer to let Steam take care of updates.

I feel this is a good move for High Fidelity, it will be interesting to see whether this move increases High Fidelity’s reach.

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