What It Takes to be a Virtual Reality Developer

When Virtual Reality (VR) was introduced it took everyone by storm, giving 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 created by the company that prides itself in the production of android phones and gadgets. HTC made Vive to allow people to dive into the virtual world and see it in all its awesomeness and splendor. The headset comes with two “lighthouses” (two small infrared-emitting boxes) which allows it to track the user’s position and two handheld controllers that serve as the player’s hands which s/he can use to interact with objects inside the virtual world.

The reason why I’m sharing this with you is that virtual reality can possibly 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 and this is the best time to try out as a VR developer.

So what does it take for one to develop VR applications? This article will help shed some light on what it’s like to develop a VR application and what tools would best suit a beginner of VR development.

 

VR DEVELOPMENT TOOLS

Unity

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 and you need all the help that you can find, Unity offers a helpful community that will surely improve your VR developer skills.

Unreal Engine

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

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. Cry Engine is also one of the game engines to consider when building VR applications, however, reviews indicate that Cry 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.

 

CODING KNOWLEDGE

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 virtual worlds will need analytical math skills such as solving for the scale to which the person will move within her/his environment. You also solve for the coordinates and position of objects, NPCs (non-player character), and the player. Even though game engines will handle this for you, there is no denying that you will have a problem with scaling your characters and objects inside the world you created.

 

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 that could compromise your program. It may be meticulous but VR apps have to be continually improved and checked for errors so users gain both comfort and enjoyment. You can even say that you should code with the headset strapped on your head because every now and then you will have to enter the VR world to see and experience what you made.

Hours of debugging

Whether it’s a missing semicolon or a function not returning properly, with tons of testing comes tons of code as well. As a developer you must embrace debugging, thus, it is essential for you to be patient and willing 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 start to develop VR apps are most likely the same ones experienced by other VR developers. Through research, you’ll get to see tons of 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 you are using can also provide a lot of assistance.

No one becomes an expert at VR overnight. The whole VR platform itself hasn’t even reached its peak yet. If anything, it continues to evolve, and even the biggest VR companies are just trying 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.

Timothy Esquillo

Timothy Esquillo

Tim belongs to our team of Web Developers and a geek for anything tech and everything Star Wars. Besides creating bizarre remixes, he also collects speakers which saves us from sleepy work hours. He spends time getting updated on tech trends and devices, playing video games, and watching movies. He also occasionally dishes out a sarcastic comment or two when the need arises.