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Valve has three big 'surprises' for us, is experimenting with biometrics

PC Gamer UK's recent trip to Valve just keeps delivering bigger and better slices of mystery. According to Gabe Newell, Valve has "three pretty big surprises in the next 12 months." More surprises? Is the cancelled E3 surprise one of them? Is it Half-Life 3? Tell us Gabe!

Newell revealed, "I'm just laughing because... people will be shocked again." Dammit Gabe.

Newell also discussed something Valve has been experimenting with (other than toying with our emotions): biometrics. He also admitted that Valve and its games only exist to distract law enforcement from the true existence of Aperture Science. Okay, no he didn't, and Valve's new interest in physical monitoring is actually awesome:

"When you look at our games, more and more we have this representation of player state, where we think we know how you feel, essentially," Newell told PC Gamer.

"With biometrics, rather than guessing, we can actually use a variety of things like gaze tracking, skin galvanic response, pulse rate and so on. Through combining those pieces of information, we can get a much more accurate indication of player state, so that's something we're super interested in."


Above: Fictional?

Newell says that Valve's experiments have yielded "surprising side-effects," and that they may be able to implement the technology in "non-clunky, non-stupid ways" in the near future. Why would your skin galvanic response be important data for a game to have? Lots of reasons! Newell explained:

"If you're in a competitive situation and you see someone's heart rate go up, it's way more rewarding than we would have thought. And if you see somebody in a co-op game sweating, people tend to respond to that way more than we would have thought."

The idea that you could sense your friend's anxiety level as he's being crushed under a zombie dog pile is kind of awesome. We imagine that several sensors could be directly built into controllers, where your palm grips them. Is biometric sensing the new rumble? The new motion control?

There's more in the latest issue of PC Gamer UK, so you should probably buy that, or so the chip Valve implanted in my spine tells me.

Sep 1, 2010

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22 comments

  • RebornKusabi - September 4, 2010 3:56 a.m.

    I'm gonna go ahead and guess that none of these three announcements are going to be anything Half-Life related. It'll be ANOTHER Left 4 Dead game, ANOTHER Portal installment and maybe an announcement for a sequel to one of their multi-player games like Counter-Strike or Team Fortress.
  • taterboob - September 2, 2010 5:34 p.m.

    I don't care about heart rates, I don't care about sweating. Just announce Half Life 3 already!!!
  • Defguru7777 - September 2, 2010 4:41 p.m.

    If at least one of those surprises is either something about Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or Team Fortress 2 DLC coming to the 360, I will be a happy gamer.
  • MrDuracraft - September 2, 2010 6:11 a.m.

    @BlindMarskman Of course not. I mean a black mask that only covers the area immediately around his eyes. *EDIT* I wrote this and thought I posted it hours ago, so I am just posting now with Marksman being the last comment.
  • Cwf2008 - September 2, 2010 3:11 a.m.

    Galvanic response sensors built into a controller? So i could see how stressed my opponent is getting everytime i teabag him?! AWESOME!
  • Spybreak8 - September 2, 2010 3:04 a.m.

    That is neat, especially since they actually know of a good way to use something like that other than it giving you your heart rate. Cough Nintendo/Ubisoft...
  • BlindMarksman - September 2, 2010 12:59 a.m.

    @MrDuracraft: IN DISGUISE?!?! DO YOU MEAN... A MUSTACHE???
  • OriginalJonty - September 2, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    Half Life/Portal mashup? Because that would be awesome.
  • Thequestion 121 - September 1, 2010 11:54 p.m.

    That is cool. But I want Valve to reveal Half Life 3 already!
  • D0CCON - September 1, 2010 10:34 p.m.

    3 surprises and the game is called Half Life [Episode] 3 (hopefully because of the wait the word episode will be removed). The numbers do line up at least. Since Left 4 Dead has already had tons of attention in a short time (for Valve especially, one sequel in one year, woah), I doubt that will be an announcement and I couldn't see Portal 2 having 3 surprises with Half Life having none, so either there's something Half Life related, something to do with a few new IPs, or something I don't care about (like the last Portal surprise. I thought it was coming to PS3 because I apparently don't pay much attention to what Valve does. I still thought it would go multiplatform though, but on the Wii since the 360 and PS3 would already be getting it [in my way wrong way of thinking].) recaptcha: aumserc ...,
  • TAToutik - September 1, 2010 8:19 p.m.

    Just give us HL3 already... Gabe, stop torturing us! :(
  • CH3BURASHKA - September 1, 2010 8:04 p.m.

    They have GOT to announce HL3. They have strung us along for too long; at this point, it's just sadistic. The whole biometrics thing is interesting, but it will never take off without physical implants. The stuff he talks about, heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, if all those things are monitored via a shitload of wires and patches, I think that speaks for itself. Unless this is all a hint of Valve Wii Exclusives using the Vitality Sensor. Yeah...
  • Porcupeth - September 1, 2010 7:47 p.m.

    iPhone Portal!!
  • may.be.vital - September 1, 2010 7:43 p.m.

    Sounds interesting but its all about implementation.
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - September 1, 2010 7:41 p.m.

    It's funny, because upon hearing about the vitality sensor, I was like, "lolwut... okay, yes, another dumb peripheral I don't need and don't care about." Then Valve starts talking about basically the same thing, and I'm interested. Of course, that probably has to do with the fact that Valve wouldn't use it to check my heart rate while I do jumping jacks. They'd use it for something cool.
  • n00b - September 1, 2010 7:30 p.m.

    just hope its not a vitality sensor knockoff *cough* UBISOFT *cough*
  • asspills - September 1, 2010 7:23 p.m.

    I'm with Johnny Maverik. BUT, if any 3rd party developer could sell hardware it would be Valve. They got Steam under their thumb. Plus, if its small, they could have it come with some of their games. Which would also help battle used game sales. Oh- SNAP!!!
  • JohnnyMaverik - September 1, 2010 7:17 p.m.

    The problem with Biometrics is that it requires hard-ware, and if it's just Valve using it for stuff like pulse rate and sweat to measure anxiety, where will the hard-ware come from? I love Valve but even I don't delude myself in thinking they can drive sales of a new (probably reasonably costly on both development and consumer sides) hard-ware peripherals... certainly sounds interesting though and the benefits and possible massive improvements it could bring to single player and co-op games are obvious.
  • AngryScotsman - September 1, 2010 7:11 p.m.

    I put 5 units of your chosen courency on one of the surprises being Gabe Newell becoming one with the internet and forming the ultimate troll.
  • CAPST3R - September 1, 2010 7:08 p.m.

    Now this is what I want, not motion-control and 3D. Valve, you are now officially my favourite developer. I would very much like you to release games on the PS3, starting with Portal 2, and hopefully Left for Dead 2 or 3. But not 1. I didn't like 1.

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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