One of the most commonly trending concepts in the software development niche right now is virtual reality. Yes, VR-based software requires special gadgets to operate – the Google Daydream virtual reality glasses, for instance. But as much as it is demanding in the technological aspect, VR allows the creation of a very impressive user experience, which reduces any related tech nuances to nothing but a slightly higher entry barrier into the niche for developers.
Virtual reality wonders
The following article will come in quite handy if you are starting up your own VR-based project. We have formed a virtual reality SDK list, which includes the most advanced solutions for the creation of VR-based apps in 2018.
Top-10 tools for VR development
Without further ado, take a look at our top-10 solutions for the implementation of functionality and 3D animation in virtual reality apps.
Although it initially began as ‘just another startup’, Unity 3D is currently regarded as one of the best tools for virtual reality development. This framework has an extremely steep learning curve. Many consider this to be the main feature of the platform, which allows many inexperienced software engineers to use it to create projects, the quality of which are, sometimes, pretty close to AAA products. All you need to start working with Unity 3D is JS and C#. The Google team also released the special SDK for this engine, which allows you to build animation elements which are very similar to real prototypes. Last but not least, Unity 3D doesn’t require any investments to start working with it. There is a premium version with a paid license available, but the freemium is quite enough to figure out the specifics of the platform and to test certain developments.
We couldn’t but mention Cryengine here, recognized as the best virtual reality SDK on multiple occasions. The availability of an excellent toolset for the visualization of 3D graphics objects eventually ‘lured’ a whole army of fans. In order to start using Cryengine, you’ll need solid experience in C++ or C#. Among the main features of this framework are: the FMOD Studio and DirectX 12 support; built-in 3D rendering optimization tools; the minimization of downtimes in the processes of animated objects’ visualization and business logic execution; the new system of particles, which allows focusing all rendering load at GPU in the real-time mode; and the special chat for connecting with other developers – CRYENGINE Q&A. The platform isn’t free, but before the purchase you are able to test it out ‘far and wide’ without any payments.
This free platform was released only 2.5 years ago by the Amazon team of developers. Nevertheless, Lumberyard made a real breakthrough in the 3D modeling industry from the get-go and initially became one of the best tools for VR developers. Being a cross-platform engine, the solution is basically an enhanced CryEngine clone. Its main unique feature is the integrated AWS. This provides VR developers with an ability to post the created applications on the Amazon servers, thus making the development of such important gaming backend components as the load balancer (which autonomously distributes the load between the servers) faster and more accessible. In particular, the fast, automated involvement of additional server powers during stress loads can save the server side from crashing. Considering that, the paid version of the solution will be very helpful to large-scale multiplayer projects that require the simultaneous support of a several thousand strong online presence. The Lumberyard software is, currently, actively used for the creation of software compatible with Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation.
An absolutely free framework, Unreal Engine is a well tried and tested over the years solution (the initial release took place back in 1998), intended primarily as a video game creation platform. However, developers gained the ability to build VR-based software in this framework only in 2015. Unreal Engine is famous for its very advanced set of tools for modeling new video game characters and items – talented designers can create truly impressive, highly realistic models. Just take a look at the picture above. The UE editor has a bunch of useful tools that enable developers to, for instance, view graphic objects from different angles, change the scale for a more accessible view of gaming scenes, flexibly manage objects – conveniently drag them to various distances, copy, magnify, etc. All in all, if you’re looking for the tried-and-true software for VR development with an impressive user and fan base, the UE version 4 is the thing you need!
Written based on Python, Blender is regarded as one of the most preferred (free, which is important) tools for web designers that work with the 3D objects modeling. Once it became an open-source product, the learning curve got much steeper, which is additionally reinforced by the well thought-out documentation. There are also numerous videos and regular tutorials online, provided by professional artists to help you figure out all the nuances. Blender includes the means for animation modeling, rendering, post-processing and editing of video with sound, composition with the help of Node Compositing; it also has tools for the development of interactive games – generally speaking, everything both novice and professional 3D graphics creators may need.
Autodesk 3ds Max
This renowned project is a full-blown enterprise software system for the creation and editing of 3D graphics and animation. Despite the fact that you’ll need quite expensive plugins for integration with VR-based products, the 3ds Max brings a colossal number of tools that help to create the most complex objects in the field of architectural design. Notice that in order to witness the ‘full power’ of this framework, you’ll also need a powerful PC.
Google’s project, SketchUp, is a great framework in which to build 3-dimensional objects, which is also pretty easy to master. It was especially created as a solution for the random audience (that’s why it doesn’t feature displacement maps). In this way, with the good documentation that features detailed tutorials, this tool will help novice developers and designers open the door to the world of 3D modeling. You can start working with SketchUp absolutely free of charge.
Our list of the most efficient tools for VR development concludes with Tilt Brush – another offspring of the Google company, frequently used in the combination with other engines to conveniently develop VR-based apps. The software allows doing really impressive things inside virtual reality: you can draw animated characters, build houses, or design interiors in real time. Some call Tilt Brush a revolutionary solution, which significantly expands the scope of VR gadgets application. Extraordinary effects can be implemented with a wide variety of paint brushes (including dynamic effects). Tilt Brush is also praised for its intuitive, user-friendly interface. It is a paid product, the price of which, we believe, is completely justifiable (just under $20).
The modern day and age makes the process of developing apps based on VR fast, cheap, and spared of any hidden risks. On the other hand, if you’re planning to start developing a commercial project, your best bet would be entrusting the implementation to the real experts. We will gladly take such an opportunity. We’ll deliver a competitive product with the best possible user experience. Let’s build something truly impressive together!