Virtual Reality is increasing in popularity with the launch of every headset and the announcement of every new development. Analysts predict that there will be millions of units sold in 2016, representing a considerable growth sector within the entertainment industry, and estimates of 2 million may be smashed depending on the popularity of the PlayStation VR headset, which is slated for release in October 2016. If the console based headset proves a popular tool, then there could be many more headsets sold than currently predicted. 

1 – Develop In C# Or C++

Unity and Unreal engines both offer advantages and disadvantages, both include usable blueprints that also provide source code so that they can be altered entirely at the developer’s whim, and the choice of which platform you use will be dependent on your personal preferences. One factor that might point you in the direction of one particular platform over another is the programming language. Unity uses C# while Unreal uses C++ so if you have experience in one language and not the other, then it would be best to choose a platform based on this experience. 

2 – Buy Existing Assets

As the saying goes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and this is true when developing VR apps and games. There are highly skilled 3D model artists out there, as well as audio producers, and video producers. Sites like enable you to buy existing 3D models that you can customise, if necessary, and then use in your VR development cycle. This can greatly reduce the time you spend on development while also giving you access to good looking and articulated 3D models.

3 – Develop For Mobile First

If you truly are new to the VR development world, then it can all seem overwhelming; not least the fact that you can develop absolutely anything and create any world or experience you want. Start small, develop a web app for use in mobile VR headsets, and move up to full PC development once you have the experience and the knowledge of mobile development.

You can get to grips with a lot of the basic premises involved in Virtual Reality development and these transfer from mobile development to PC development, so the time certainly won’t be wasted. What’s more, there is a constant need for VR app development, so you could end up concentrating your efforts in this area with great effect.

4 – Install Analytics To Optimise User Experience

Many elements of Virtual Reality and game development come down to user experience. If gamers endure a poor experience then they will close the game or app and walk away. They may also avoid future releases by the same developer. With VR development, you not only need to ensure that the game is great but that the VR experience is excellent.

A gamer will remember your game if it makes them feel sick after basic use. Install analytics, determine whether gamers are leaving before they have finished, if there is a particular time point or area of the VR world that is causing users to leave, and also to determine where people are spending the most time and getting the most enjoyment. You can use this information to release improved updates, and also to further improve your future developments.

5 – Use Unity And Unreal Blueprints To Start Your Development

Both Unity and Unreal offer blueprints to users. These are basic platforms and games, that are fully functional, and that include the source code for anybody to pick up and use. You can take these blueprints, adapt and customise them, and release your own version of what is a working VR experience. Make the most of blueprints, especially during your early VR development days.

6 – Never Overlook Audio

It is very easy to get caught up in creating the best looking VR experience possible, and forget about the other elements, but sound is just as important. Visual cues, background music, dialogue, and sound effects, as well as music scores, are all considered part of the overarching VR experience and if you don’t have good quality audio, then your users will be left wanting. VR is supposed to be fully immersive, and the audio adds to this in no small way.

7 – Be Consistent

VR is still new to many gamers, as well as to developers, and this calls for even greater consistency than usual. Consider that when gamers pick up a console controller to play a first person shooter or to play a football game, they naturally tend towards certain buttons to perform specific actions and they can find it difficult to adapt to new controller layouts. With VR, this expectation may not exist yet, but if you have gamers use certain controls or movements to perform actions early in the game, then be consistent with this control throughout the game.

8 – Be Predictable With Interactions

A VR experience is a Virtual Reality world, but a fully immersive experience will usually require that there are some recognisable elements in the game world. For example, if you are using real world tools like blowtorches, then users will expect them to behave in a particular way and you should meet these expectations unless there is a genuine plot based reason that this isn’t the case.

9 – Use Clues To Direct Gaze

Virtual Reality experiences enable users to look wherever they want, restricted only by the game design itself. However, you may not want to provide access to the whole world, and you may not have the resources to fully develop every area. Use gaze clues to direct a user to look in the right direction. Not only does this enable you to cut the amount of VR world development that should be necessary but it also means that gamers will not be left wondering exactly what they’re supposed to be doing or where they should be looking and moving.

10 – Ensure The VR Experience Is Top Notch

VR gaming is still new, and most gamers are playing VR games to experience VR rather than to specifically enjoy the games. While it is important that you create a compelling game, in order to retain their attention, you also need to provide the best possible VR experience. This means that graphics and audio should combine to create a truly immersive experience and it means that you should do everything possible to reduce or eliminate feelings of motion sickness for your users.

Lauren Williamson

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