- What Is VR in Game Development?
- What Software Is Used for VR Game Development?
- 1.Unreal Engine
- 4.3ds Max
- How Does VR Game Development Help People?
- Common VR Game Development Challenges
- Limited User Base
- Limitations of the Development Tools
- Skepticism from Investors
- Potential Security Issues
- Headaches and Dizziness
- Proper UI Integration
- What Will the Future of VR Game Development Be Like?
- The Bottom Line
When it comes to gaming, we’re always looking at the next big thing. And the most exciting thing, right now and in the future, is VR game development. You’ve probably seen a lot of VR games and gaming devices – like the Oculus headset – on the market in the past few years. But VR in gaming is still relatively new, at least to the consumer market. For that reason, if you’re a game developer considering getting into VR, you need to know everything about it and where this field of software development is headed so you can, well, get ahead of the game. More specifically, you need to know exactly what VR in game development is, the different types of VR game development software that exist, the different industries where you can apply it, and what you can expect from this field in the future.
In this article, we cover all these topics. So, hold on to your virtual hat and let’s get started.
VR stands for virtual reality. This is a type of technology that, when applied to gaming, allows the player to immerse themselves in a virtual world made up of 3D computer-generated graphics.
VR gaming is all about bridging the gap between real life and video games. Rather than just looking at their TV screen or a screen on their phone, players are donning VR headsets and using hand controllers or even sensor equipped gloves to physically participate in the game they’re playing.
By turning their heads, they can change their viewpoint within the game – just like they can in real life. And by lifting their hand controller or glove, they can virtually interact with people or objects in the digital world.
VR games are becoming increasingly accessible. The most popular way to access them is by using headsets, such as Meta Quest and Oculus. PlayStation, the classic gaming console, has created their own VR headset, as well.
Developers who work in VR gaming use specialized software, in which they can create and manipulate interactive 3D environments.
Below are the most popular VR game development software tools – called “engines” – that are in use today.
Unreal Engine is a 3D creation tool that is capable of producing some of the most realistic graphics you’ve ever seen. It’s been used to create thousands of games, including some famous titles like Stray (2022), Lord of the Rings: Gollum (2022), Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020), and Fortnite (2017) – just to name a few. This is certainly one of the most popular VR game development software platforms that you’ll find.
Benefits of Using Unreal Engine
- Free Initial Download
- Free Courses
- Full Gambit of Developer Tools
- Flexibility for Project Size
- Covers All Gaming Platforms
- C++ API
Unity is used to create real-time 3D animation for 50% of the games in the world. Most notably, the platform has been utilized by developers like Respawn, Riot Games, 505 Games, and Atari. Unity provides lightning-fast rendering, hence their emphasis on “real-time 3D rendering,” which can help accelerate your project. They also offer cross-platform development options, which means you can use them to help you develop your VR games, as well any other games you have in your pipeline.
Benefits of Using Unity
- Real-Time 3D Rendering
- Access to Industry Leading Tools
- Different Development Plans to Fit Your Project
- C++ and C# API
CryEngine provides VR game development teams with a vast array of tools to help them create stunning 3D visuals and interactive, high-performance gameplay. The platform currently supports VR games for the Oculus Quest, and their parent company, Crytek, has used CryEngine to develop three games for the VR headset to date: The Climb (2019 for Oculus port), Robinson: The Journey (2016), and The Climb 2 (2021). One of CryEngine’s best known features is its Physics tool, which allows developers to create dynamic in-game animations, as well as its AI system to power NPCs.
Benefits of Using CryEngine
- Wide Array of 3D Creation and Rendering Tools
- High-End Physics Tool
- Sophisticated AI System
- Enterprise Licensing
- C++ and C# API
3ds Max is an industry-standard animation software for developers who want to create photorealistic visuals for their games. The designs you can create using this program are so stunning and true to life, you’ll be blown away. With 3ds Max’s rendering, extruding, retopology, spline workflows, and more special features, you can imagine the immersive VR experiences one could create on the platform.
Benefits of Using 3ds Max
- Photorealistic Visuals
- Smart Intuitive Animation Tools
- Professional VR Game Development Software
Blender is a free, open-source software development platform that also supports VR animation. While it’s not as robust as Unreal Engine and Unity, it may be a great option for smaller VR game developers with a low budget. The software comes with just about all the basic tools you need to render 3D animations, including modeling, sculpting, animation & rigging, VFX, simulation, and more. That’s an impressive list, considering Blender is, as we mentioned before, completely free to download.
Benefits of Using Blender
- Free to Download
- Wide Array of 3D Tools
- C, C++, And Python API
By developing VR games, developers have the opportunity to help people as well as provide them with entertainment. Gamification can be a useful tool to help people across several different industries learn and retain important information, develop new skills, troubleshoot problems, and experience new concepts and ideas.
Let’s take a look at some of the areas where VR game development helps real-life individuals.
- VR in Education
VR can help students ranging from elementary to university level to broaden and enrich their education. It does so by promoting a more interactive, visual, equitable form of learning that can contribute to real retention.
Using VR game development software, developers can create gaming experiences that allow students to see and interact with environments different from their own. Thus, they can learn more about the world they live in from diverse perspectives. VR games can also help students visualize facts, figures, and graphs in 3D, so they are easier to understand.
More importantly, VR is a way for students of any background to experience the same visuals, feelings, and lessons. Thus, their education becomes limitless.
- VR and AR in Manufacturing
VR and AR (augmented reality) can be extremely helpful, even critical, in manufacturing processes. These processes include operating heavy machinery and product assembly, as well as product design and prototypes.
Using a combination of VR and AR, manufacturers can revolutionize the way they train their employees. For example, they can simulate the work environment and potential accidents to help employees prepare for any scenario. They can also train them to use equipment that may be new or unfamiliar to them prior to actually placing them in control of said equipment. This eliminates unnecessary risk to new and current employees while still providing an effective “learn by doing” training experience.
In addition to using VR and AR to provide employees with proper training, manufacturers can utilize these tools to create optimized floor plans. By designing work floors virtually, they can find the best arrangement to increase flow and ensure safety before committing to a permanent layout. This process saves both time and energy.
When it comes to designing and prototyping products, VR presents a unique opportunity for manufacturers to troubleshoot and test their product ideas in a virtual environment. This way, they can make changes and adjustments to the prototype in record time without having to send it to the factory to be produced.
In many ways, VR is the next phase of streamlining manufacturing. There are even opportunities to gamify these experiences so that they are more fun and interactive.
- Gamification in Healthcare
Gamification in healthcare has become a popular outlet for VR game development. This is a fairly recent innovation, but it’s changed the way that many people view their health and fitness journey.
VR gaming turns being healthy into something fun and engaging. For example, you can download a VR fitness game to your VR headset and get rewarded badges or points for meeting your health goals. You can share your scores with other players around the world and feel the rush of competition. More importantly, you can visually track your progress through bars and graphs, so it’s easy to see how much progress you’re making on your fitness journey.
Fitness is just one example of how VR gaming can be used to great effect in healthcare. It can also help with diet, emotional health, chronic illnesses, and a host of other problem areas.
But gamification in healthcare is not just for patients. It’s also useful for healthcare professionals. For example, much like in manufacturing, VR game development software can be used to develop simulations or AR environments where nurses and doctors can experience realistic training sessions. The gaming and experiential aspects may help improve retention, which is especially important in such a high-risk field of work.
The first of the major VR game development challenges is that the audience for these games is relatively small due to the high costs of VR hardware in addition to the gaming platform needed to run it.
This can result in the fact that the game sales might not cover the budget for its development, despite the product being popular and well-known. The potential solution to this issue is turning towards mobile VR game development, which is a bit more widespread, or waiting for the hardware costs to get low enough.
According to a HTC Vive 2020 Developer Survey, 26% of developers find the existing commercial game engines have limited abilities when it comes to VR game development. This presents a clear need for specific tools that can help with the creation of VR products.
Another problem with development tools cited by many developers is the lack of instruments for the inclusion of server-side features, including multiplayer and other social tools.
While VR as a technology is getting adopted more widely around the world, many major investors still view it as a temporary fad. A major reason behind this is the lack of experience with technology.
The only solution to this problem is a wider public acceptance. The more people will talk about VR in the gaming context and outside it, the more companies will be ready to look into the technology and invest in it.
The cybersecurity issues of VR have not been explored enough yet. While a lot of it comes down to general security practices you need to stick to on the internet, certain issues might be specific to VR hardware and software.
These issues are closely connected to acceptance from the investors and wider audience adoption. A single exploit can get viral and impact the VR gaming industry as a whole.
Another limit of VR game development is the effects the current technology has on the human body. After long sessions of VR gaming, many players have reported experiencing dizziness, headaches, and vertigo.
Unfortunately, the reason behind such an adverse reaction is not researched well enough. Furthermore, there is no major research on the mental effects of deep immersion into a virtual world, so more studies have to be conducted to ensure the safety of VR gaming gear.
UI is a significant component of most games, but players don’t often pay enough attention to it unless it is done cleverly and uniquely (or, vice versa, extremely awful). When it comes to VR gaming, a standard approach to UI design will often break the immersion and be detrimental to the game as a whole.
So, the challenge is to create a UI that is seamlessly integrated into the gaming world yet is easy to read and understand for the player. To successfully build such a design, you need not only to have a creative approach to the problem, but also conduct thorough user testing to understand which elements work best.
With all the incredible applications for VR gaming that we’re seeing currently, the future is exponentially more exciting. Here are a couple of things that the future could hold in this field.
- Full-Body VR
Have you ever wanted to fully immerse yourself in a VR game, to the point where you can’t really tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake?
This hypothetical scenario, called full-body VR, every gamer’s dream. It’s also a popular concept in many fictional tales, including Ready Player One (the book by Ernest Cline and the 2018 film) as well as the 2009 anime series, Sword Art Online.
It makes sense that we should expect to see this innovation in VR at some point in the future. While our current technology is nowhere near the level of sophistication necessary to make it a reality at this time, it’s important to remember that we’ve made incredible progress in VR over the past decade. Who knows what could be accomplished in the next several decades.
Add to that the increasing influence that VR is having in our daily lives, and it’s easy to see why we should embrace it even more fully. It’s becoming an integral part of our education, our industrial complexes, and even our personal health and fitness. More immersive integrations could just be a few innovations away.
In that context, a full-body VR experience may not be that farfetched.
- A Cyberpunk Reality
As certain technologies are mass produced, they become cheaper and easier to get. We’ve seen this repeatedly over the years. The first cell phones cost thousands of dollars, and now you can buy one from the store for a tiny fraction of that price.
The same thing will happen with VR. When it does, societies in real life will venture closer to a cyberpunk reality.
Cyberpunk is a science fiction subgenre where high-end technology is juxtaposed with a dystopian day-to-day reality. To put this into a real-world context, VR will become an easily obtained commodity, even in less developed countries or war-torn regions.
VR game development is at a fascinating point in time. We’re already implementing it in ways that are both incredibly useful and functional, but also engaging and fun. The future only holds more of this, and game developers should be excited to learn more and get into this line of creative thinking and engineering.
If learning more is exactly what you want to do, then you can tap the brains of our experts over at PingleStudio. Click here to contact us and discuss your next VR project.