Valve’s decision to construct an entire orb made from 100 OLED prototypes for the launch of the Steam Deck OLED was not only a celebration but also a creative endeavor. The company chose to create the launch trailer using practical photography instead of relying on computer-generated imagery. This decision led to the creation of a behind-the-scenes timelapse video and blog post, providing insight into how the orb was made and how the OLED prototypes were synchronized to illuminate the scene in camera.

The idea of producing the launch trailer for the new handheld device in-house was conceived early on by Valve. However, it was the remarkable brightness of the new OLED screens that inspired the team to consider using them as the primary light sources for the trailer. With the brightness of the panels surpassing expectations, Valve saw an opportunity to experiment with using the Steam Deck OLEDs exclusively for lighting the scene.

Utilizing the 100 OLED prototypes available in the office, Valve’s team focused on lighting a central “hero” device and then proceeded to determine the construction of the surrounding setup. The only viable solution to achieve the desired effect was to build a large metal orb, presenting a unique challenge for the team.

Valve’s shopping list for the project included a range of specialized items such as custom-milled and prefabricated aluminum frames, retired network switches from Steam, a mobile networking rack from a previous event, as well as various mounting accessories. The intricate design and assembly of these components required a high level of expertise and resourcefulness.

One of the fascinating aspects of the project was the method Valve employed to control all the OLED screens effectively. Leveraging the Linux PC functionality of the Steam Deck, the team utilized OBS with a specific plugin called NDI for seamless video distribution over the local area network. To address the challenge of streaming video onto a spherical surface, Valve created a custom video template based on CAD files, ensuring minimal distortion.

Despite the initial purpose of creating the orb for the launch trailer, Valve decided to retain the setup and display it in the lobby of its offices as a permanent installation. This decision not only adds a unique aesthetic to the workspace but also reflects the company’s innovative approach to showcasing its products. The orb serves as a testament to Valve’s creativity and technical prowess, captivating visitors and employees alike.

Valve’s creation of the Steam Deck OLED orb stands as a testament to the company’s commitment to innovation and creativity. The project not only showcased the capabilities of the new handheld device but also highlighted Valve’s technical expertise and hands-on approach to product presentation. The orb serves as a visual symbol of Valve’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of design and technology, leaving a lasting impression on all who behold its luminous glow.


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