If you want to get into virtual reality development, knowing where to start can be daunting. VR Development takes lots of skill and dedication, but these three steps will help get you started.
1) Obtain the necessary hardware
There is a myriad of available VR platforms that you can develop on. The two most robust systems are the Oculus Rift and the Vibe. Geared towards gaming, both of these VR headsets carry hefty price tags to match. Each system also has some relatively high system requirements, so prepare yourself for some high start-up costs if you decide to go this route.
If you are on a budget and looking to develop for something a bit more lightweight, consider Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is designed to turn any mobile phone into a virtual reality device. Its capabilities are significantly fewer than the Rift or the Vice, but the small opportunity cost makes it great if you’re just starting out or want to dabble in VR before jumping in.
2) Obtain the necessary software
Just as there are a wide array of options to pick from on hardware, there are also plenty of software options from which to choose. One of the most popular platforms to develop VR with is the Unity game engine. Unity allows developers to jump in with a minimal setup to begin developing rapidly. Alternatively, the Unreal Engine supports virtual reality as well but can have a steeper learning curve.
If mobile apps are your development target, you will additionally need the Android SDKt and software to support your given platform. In the case of Google Cardboard, there is an SDK that will allow you to interact with the hardware.
3) Obtain the necessary knowledge
Depending upon your skill level, you may have a little or a lot of reading to do to get up to speed on developing for the virtual world. Most game engines allow a would-be developer to dive into the action with minimal knowledge, but brushing up on the basics wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you’ve chosen to work with the Unity game engine, you’ll want to take a moment to read over some of the basic C# programming lessons available online. If you are working more closely with Google Cardboard, it won’t hurt to familiarize yourself with some Java tutorials.
Once you are comfortable with the basics, you will want to acquaint yourself with the nuances involved in developing VR apps. There is a whole host of best practices that have been developed to help ensure users have an optimal VR experience. Once you are ready to dive in, Google has provided an extremely helpful demo app that will help you become familiar with the various options and capabilities provided by the VR hardware.
Getting into virtual reality development can seem a challenge, but once you have the hardware, the software, and the knowledge, you will be able to dive right in and start making all of your ideas into virtual realities.