The arrival of Virtual Reality (VR) took everyone by storm. It gave a whole new type of experience that is literally beyond the world we know. Interestingly, VR did not start out in the gaming field. It has its roots in NASA and flight trainings which was offhand its most practical application. But beyond its practicality, VR has developed into a new form of entertainment.
In order to fully appreciate VR one must escape reality itself. Today, one of the most popular VR headsets is the HTC Vive. It is created by the same company that prides itself in the production of Android gadgets. HTC Vive allowed people to dive into virtual worlds and see it in all its awesomeness and splendor. The headset comes with two “lighthouses” (two small infrared-emitting boxes) which tracks the user’s position. It has two handheld controllers as the player’s hands so s/he can interact with objects inside the virtual world.
The reason why I’m sharing this is because VR can be the future of, not only gaming, but also medicine, military, education, and other fields. VR can be applied to so many areas, however, it lacks people to develop it. Good news is that it’s a nascent field yearning to be explored. This makes it the best time to be a VR developer.
So what does it take to develop VR applications? This article will shed light on VR application development and what tools would best suit a budding VR developer.
VR DEVELOPMENT TOOLS
Unity is the most popular game engine for building all sorts of games, including Virtual Reality. Also it is the most popular game engine around with a huge community of developers backing it up. If you’re a beginner, you’ll need all the help you can find. Unity offers a supportive community that will surely improve your VR developer skills.
Unreal Engine is the second most popular game engine with its logo and branding tacked onto many popular games out there in the market right now. Performance-wise, Unreal Engine definitely delivers, priding itself in its visual scripting for quick prototyping which developers will definitely appreciate.
Cry Engine took the gaming world by storm when it released the Crysis franchise which boasted amazing aesthetics especially with the weather effects, the look and feel of the environment, and its models radiating with realism and amazing detail. It is also one of the game engines to consider when building VR applications, however, reviews indicate that the game engine is more suited for FPS (First Person Shooters) since it’s what this engine is well known for. But if you’re after realism and graphics for your VR application then Cry Engine is the way to go.
Do you really need to be an IT expert or a software engineer to develop VR applications? The short answer is no, but it does help if you have knowledge in software engineering and basic coding.
You also need to be pretty good in math because, like making games, creating VR will need analytical math skills. You have to solve for the scale to which the person will move within her/his environment. Math is also needed to solve coordinates and position of objects, NPCs (non-player character), and the player. Even though game engines will automate most of this, you’ll still scale characters and objects inside the virtual world.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There’s no sugarcoating it. Developing VR games and apps will take time and effort, maybe even sleepless nights. Make sure you’re prepared to go through a struggle before you accomplish virtual success.
Tons of testing
When you code, almost every move you make will have to include testing. Whether you added one line or a hundred, it’s always a good idea to test your code for any errors. It may be meticulous, but VR apps have to be continually improved and checked so users gain comfort and enjoyment. You might even have to code with the headset on your head so you can experience the VR you made.
Hours of debugging
Whether it’s a missing semicolon or a function not returning properly, tons of testing needs tons of code as well. As a developer, you must embrace debugging, thus, it’s essential for you to be patient and to fix your code. It’s not like you have a choice anyway, right? If you don’t debug then your code won’t work, it’s as simple as that.
Lots of research
Problems that might occur when you develop VR apps are most likely the same ones experienced by other VR developers. Through research, you’ll find information shared by developers who made a fault or found an error and learnt from it. The internet, or Google specifically, will be your best friend, and also Stack Overflow. But, aside from these usual sites, going to forums of game engines are also good sources.
No one becomes an expert at VR overnight. The whole VR platform itself hasn’t even reached its peak yet. It continues to evolve and even the biggest VR companies are just starting to wrap their heads around it. Don’t worry if you feel like a total amateur at VR and just be ready to fail and learn. Exhaustion may get you, but don’t let it beat the excitement of being a VR developer.