SteamVR: Launch Flow & Device Support Changes

We’re changing the way Roblox client and Studio integrate with SteamVR-supported headsets and this post explains how and why!

TL;DR: Make sure SteamVR is running before launching player/Studio if you want to play or develop in VR. This doesn’t affect you if you are using an Oculus Rift or if you don’t have a VR device.

How did VR integration work before?

Up until this week, the way we’ve worked with VR devices is that upon launch, client/Studio would try to see if you have a VR device that’s connected to your computer. If that was the case, we would assume you want to start Roblox in VR mode. This was true for both Oculus Rift devices (that work when side-loading is enabled) and SteamVR devices like HTC Vive or Valve Index.

When working with SteamVR devices, this meant that Studio or Client would automatically start up SteamVR - this is the behavior dictated by SteamVR SDK.

What’s wrong with that?

While convenient if you always want to use VR, this behavior presented significant challenges when you want to use VR occasionally - especially when using SteamVR.

One problem with this is that all content will use VR whether you want it or not. When we launched VR support in 2016 we didn’t clearly understand the interaction patterns and expected that if you have a VR headset connected, you want to use it all the time. We also expected a lot of Roblox games to work out of the box once we invest in VR-friendly camera/control schemes.

Unfortunately, Roblox games are often not VR-optimized and as such forcing VR use prevents people from using VR comfortably. Similarly, if you use Studio for development, with this flow you must test your games in VR. As much as y’all love VR, it probably makes more sense to test your games without VR unless you’re testing VR mechanics specifically.

In addition to that, we’ve hit bugs with SteamVR interaction with some systems that would mean that in some cases, SteamVR UI would show up even if you don’t have any VR device connected! This wasn’t great since it was impacting some users who never even had a VR device to begin with - launching SteamVR if you don’t want to use VR can be distracting. To work around these bugs, we’ve implemented a custom USB discovery mechanism that relied on us explicitly enabling support for select VR devices. This mechanism also didn’t work well when your device was connected wirelessly, as the system would not have any USB devices related to VR!

To solve some of these problems we’ve introduced a VR setting at the end of 2017. However, this setting also isn’t without faults:

  • It’s easy to enable this setting when you aren’t in VR, but the setting persists for future launches, and disabling it requires VR interaction (naturally), which can be inconvenient especially if you forget about it
  • Due to how the setting is implemented, even when it’s disabled we would still launch SteamVR when starting up client/studio - we would just not activate VR! This can have a side effect of switching the current audio input/output device in Windows which can interfere with the normal behavior of the game.

Ok, fine, now what?

VR currently is not a high priority area for us - while we’re happy to maintain the level of support we have today and fix reported issues as time permits, we can’t dedicate a lot of time to completely rework product flows for VR.

However, we do want to fix issues we find in VR and this launch behavior was decidedly suboptimal. It resulted in users getting VR headsets that SteamVR supports only to realize they don’t work with Roblox, or forgetting to unplug your Index and suddenly being put into a VR experience.

Because of this, we’ve implemented a simple change that some other dual-mode games on Steam use, which is:

When using SteamVR, VR will only activate if SteamVR is already running.

This means that if you want to use Roblox in VR, you simply need to start SteamVR before starting client or Studio. And make sure that VR setting is on, if you’ve already disabled it long time ago, of course.

We hope that this is going to result in a smoother experience for SteamVR users, as they will be able to use the platform as they normally would for non-VR-compatible content, and explicitly start SteamVR every time you want to check out a game that works better in VR or want to experiment with a new game idea that requires VR to shine.

Note that this change is specific to SteamVR; if you use an Oculus Rift headset, you won’t be affected. We also suspect that this enables people with various VR headsets that didn’t work before to check VR out in Roblox, but we can’t exactly go to the office and verify this, so let’s just assume it’s all perfect now!

This change was briefly live a few weeks ago but we had to disable it as it didn’t result in correct VR display on some systems; the version this week should work well.

This is great, what about these other VR-specific issues?

We can’t promise any ETA on fixing anything else that’s wrong with VR; if you have any bugs that you want us to look into, feel free to report them on the forum as usual - but please be patient as this isn’t high priority for us right now.

191 Likes

This topic was automatically opened after 16 minutes.

This is great! (If I had a headset) Although, I did have a question, when a user disables VR mode, what device would they be put under? This update is great because as I heard you didn’t have that much accessibility as a VR player, really the only games you could join were the VR hangouts.

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Is this just a mistake in grammar? I know it’s possible to play in VR via studio and maybe do some debugging but how is it possible to do basic functions?

Unless that support is coming… :eyes:
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This is absolutely exciting, mind blowing and most of all revolutionnary to the ROBLOX platform.
The world is now for sure a better place :relieved:
Jokes asides, i’m loving this new feature. Carry On !

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I’m pretty sure those two things also counts as developing, wich is what he is referring to in this post

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I think it should be clarified to say “testing” as it’s a bit confusing.

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Yeah this refers to play testing, not editing. We don’t support editing-in-VR just yet.

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That feature would be freaking amazing. You can even tell how fun would it be if you can develop and make anything cool or I don’t know In VR via Roblox Studio. even in playtest or not.

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You can already develop in VR on Oculus devices because of the Screen Mirror function. The same goes for other headsets but it seems to work best on Oculus Rift S for me.

When trying to input something you can use VR controllers as a mouse and the VR keyboard as input. But as of now there is no voice typing in VR and unless you want to spend longer time then needed scripting, building, or doing even the most basic functions of Roblox Studio, most VR developers take off there headset, make adjustments to their game on their computer, and then put there VR headset back on when they need to test it.

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I’ve had to keep plugging and unplugging my HTC Vive whenever I wanted to use Studio since it would launch SteamVR as well automatically. Such a pain. Glad to see this change!

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Does this mean we will finally be able use Oculus Quest with Virtual Desktop to play Roblox VR games? When is this fix going to be enabled? Because I just tried and it doesn’t appear enabled.

This is a thread discussing the specifc bug zeuxcg is referring to:

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Glad to see VR get some attention after a while. Are there any plans to also make the launch changes for Oculus VR players like my self, perhaps just unsupport Oculus client and just make us use SteamVR?

I’d love to see some quality of life improvements for Roblox VR as well in the future like better camera system and KeyCode / UserInputType enums for specific controllers.

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Thank goodness! Goodbye 3.5 months worth of SteamVR gameplay time. It looks like I’m trying to escape reality.

I hope this also resolves the issue where you can’t have more than one studio open with VR enabled, but I’m not really holding my breath!

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some of a gun, stole my line.

Do we have an ETA on that version? I’m still getting reports of SteamVR users not being able to see the actual VR game?

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Will people who use Valve Index VR headset etc be able to connect to Roblox VR fine. Because I know way back it worked perfectly until recently when I tried to do it again and it just didn’t want to display Roblox correctly inside the headset.

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THANK YOU!!!
I had made a post about this several years back and it was one of the main problem points of VR. I had to disconnect my headset anytime i wanted to open studio or play roblox, and im glad i dont have to now.

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This is really nice. I no longer have to check if my valve index is plugged in before starting another studio window. I just have to simply close Steam VR. Previously it would close all the other studio windows without warning or asking if I want to save if I had my index plugged in.

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LETS GOOOO! Thank you so much Roblox Staff! SideLoaded Quest 2’s can now play Roblox wirelessly and that is really cool! Expect to see ALOT more Vive, Steam Index, and WMR players Roblox! Have a good one. And cheers Roblox Staff!

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I wonder if this will work with things like Virtual Desktop with that working on anything that supports SteamVr.

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