Valve has returned to the world of Portal for Moondust, a brand new virtual reality demo. Working for Aperture Science's Lunar Resources Initiative, you are sent into spaaaace to construct a modular space station, and then down onto the Moon itself for further testing.

Moondust is a sandbox experience designed to show off the Knuckles EV2, Valve's latest VR controller. Specifically, you'll be manipulating objects using the device's pinch grip technology and ability to finely detect hand poses and movement.

On board with that? Then you'll be crushing moon rocks, driving a moon buggy, building things and lobbing items onto targets in no time.

The usual brand of Portal humour is in evidence, too: "That rock you carelessly tossed was worth more than you are," the player is told at one point.

There's a detailed look at the creation of the demo available on the Steam Community forum, with some amusing insights:

"The buggy scene was a nightmare to create," Valve worker Zulubo wrote. "We went through at least 20 control schemes, mapping and remapping the buttons. Every playtester liked something different. We started out with the joystick controlling the global direction of the buggy, top down style.

"About 50 per cent of people loved this, and 50 per cent hated it and couldn't steer to save their life. Eventually (two days ago), we settled on what we have now."

Here's a quick glance at the Knuckles EV2 controller. You can wear one or a pair. Currently, they are only available via a developer kit.

Valve concluded its blog post with a message that passes the baton over to other Knuckles EV2 developers.

"Take the ideas presented here and expand on them. Prove us right, prove us wrong, build on our ideas and learn from our mistakes. You are at the forefront of VR input, so get out there and make some great games."

Meanwhile, there's no sign of Portal 3.

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Tom Phillips

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