Game development has no doubt evolved greatly since its first inception. Ever since the early days of gaming, with the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), one of the primary objectives of devs has been to deliver an immersive experience to the player. Virtual reality (VR) isn’t new by any means, but recent incarnations are greatly evolved from their predecessors.
Way back in 1995, when you were munching on French Toast Crunch, and bumping Liquid Swords, and rocking your grungiest flannel, Nintendo dropped the Virtual Boy. The ill-fated concept was an utter failure, despite its forward-thinking concept. Now VR headsets abound, from the cheap Google Cardboard which boasts compatibility with most smartphones, to the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and…well, you get the picture. Virtual reality is one of gaming’s hottest trends.
Crytek hosted a neat three part VR Roundtable to explore the virtual reality space, featuring insight from the likes of Frank Vitz, CryEngine Creative Director, and Director of Production David Bowman. Their conversations probed a number of topics, like what will propel VR into the mainstream, and advances in the space. Bowman postulated that while VR isn’t a novel concept, this is the firs time it’s offering an amazing experience to the end user. Vitz stated that the mobile tech involved in virtual reality is what sets it apart from early VR endeavors.
In the '80s we tried this, and in the '90s we tried this—VR is not new; we've tried this before. But this is the first time it's going to be consumer. This is the first time when you can have a quality consumer experience at a price point people will be able to afford. -- David Bowman, Crytek Director of Production
Another key consideration is that VR isn’t comparable to, say, the jump from 1080p to 4k, or even 2D-3D viewing. Rather, it’s an entirely different media experience, offering a much more immersive environment. Virtual reality combines sight and sound to revolutionize audience participation.
For developers though, creating VR media can be a challenge. Unity 3D dropped a fantastic virtual resource post on their blog on Dec. 9, 2015. The post, entitles “Get Started With VR! Sample Pack & Learning Articles” gives a run down of VR games and their potential. It’s free, and meant to showcase to devs how they can use virtual reality. It’s basically a set of mini-games, such as “The Flyer,” and “Target Gallery.” This sample pack might be a bit basic depending on your skills, but it’s intended as a pack for those just delving into VR rather than seasoned pros. Additionally, there’s an entirely new slew of articles dedicated to virtual reality on the “Learn” portion of the Unity site, so be sure to check out that as well.
For parts one, two, and three of Crytek’s VR Roundtable, check out the links below. Happy developing, and happy gaming!