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VR Software Development – what do you need to know?

VR Software Development – what do you need to know?

VR has become one of the important technologies that can bring huge benefits in the real world. Recently, the improvement of software and hardware of computer leads to develop and improve the VR technology and its applications.

What is VR Software?

The system of VR essentially has four basic elements:

  • Virtual World that consists of objects and principles of 3D space
  • Immersion, or the sense of presence, that included mental and physical engagement
  • Sensory feedback (visual, aural, haptic and more)
  • Interactivity.

VR systems, and as a consequence, VR software tools,  can be classified according to the level of technological supply and immersion they provide. In our main article, we mentioned that usually all VR systems are divided into content management systems, VR SDKs (software development kits), game engines, and others. Every VR environment is created and constructed by many aspects  (modelling, coding, and then executing) and these aspects should be integrated into a single package. Some of those VR applications belong are considered as frameworks, while others are complete development environments. For example, the main features typically provided by a game engine include a rendering engine, collision detection, sound, scripts, animation, AI, streaming, multithreading, support localization, and others. Top key players in the field of VR game engine software include Unity Technologies, Unreal Engine, Epic Games, Crytek (CryEngine) and others. 

VR SDKs provide fundamental tools for designing, creating and testing VR experiences. In short, this is a plugin that you add to the engine of your choice, which includes resources, content and methods specific to the engine that are forming a common native experience for each device. Most of SDKs include the basic drivers, an interface to access tracking data and call graphical rendering libraries. The developer can start with basic software development kit from a VR headset vendor and build their own virtual space from scratch. It’s important to define the requirements of your project before choosing a proper tool. For example, Google VR SDK can be used only to build apps for Daydream and Cardboard. 

Additionally, the market offers ready-made virtual world generators (or full-fledged development applications) for particular VR experiences with options to add personalised scripts. 

How does VR work?

In order for users to accept an artificial, virtual environment as real, it has to not only look real, but also feel real. This feeling can be achieved by wearing a head-mounted display (HMD), or VR headset, that displays a recreated life-size, 3D virtual environment without the boundaries usually seen on a computer or tablet screen. The primary subject of VR is simulating the vision. Each VR headset puts up a screen in front of eyes that eliminates any interaction with the real world. Two autofocus lenses are placed between the screen and eyes, so they are adjusting based on individual eye movement and positioning. The visuals on the screen are rendered either by using a phone or HDMI cable connected to a computer.

In order to create a truly exciting virtual reality, there are certain values – the frame rate is at least 60 frames per second, and the minimum field of view (FOV) is 100 degrees. The frame rate is the frequency at which the GPU can process the image per second, and FOV is the degree to which the display can support eye and head movement.

Immersiveness can also be achieved with portable input devices, such as motion trackers, which base interactivity on user movements. By stimulating many of the same feelings that could be used for navigation in the real world, VR environment can be felt more like a natural world.

How to develop VR software?

The level of skills and specific requirements is unique to each platform that is used for VR apps development. Ordinary, a good virtual reality developer has to possess a certain set of skills:

  • software engineering (C/C++/C# programming languages)
  • 3D design skills
  • video/sound production skills
  • game development
  • UI/UX.

Similar to most software development projects, VR starts with design.  Sometimes, for prototyping or educational purposes, this step is skipped, so developers can use assets from community-run libraries. You also can find online backgrounds or textures that can improve a project without any additional effort. Nevertheless, 3D modelling is obligatory for customised experiences.

The second decision you should make is the type of platform. Any development requires VR team to pick the starter SDK to shape a virtual experience around. Among community-provided APIs and tools, it’s advised to start with each brand’s official SDK.

For those who want to integrate VR solutions into their businesses (for example, create a remote 3D space or show the clients a prototype of your design project) without having all of the skills above, the best option is to use ready-made software designed specifically for the industry you are working in. It doesn’t require any specific knowledge and allows to add 3D models into virtual space on your own. Let’s say, you are a designer, and wants to present to stakeholders your concept with VR. Here you can see how to make it possible step by step if you have downloaded the app Virtualist created by our team:

  • Import your 3D model from popular software packages in FBX, OBJ, DAE and 3DS format. We are also working on native SketchUp integration.
  • Customize it to your needs
  • Start collaborating by inviting the participants for VR tour. 
  • No programming or game development skills required. Only VR headsets and the dedicated app are necessary.

What is the cost of VR software development?

If you don’t have VR development team at your company and want to build a customised software from the beginning,  you can expect to spend between $40,000 and $75,000 for a non-gaming mobile VR application. For a mobile VR game, it may between $50,000 and $100,000. Moreover, it requires plenty of time. Each development process should start with detailed project documentation. It is the guarantee that VR software will exactly meet the needs of your business. Usually, project planning is done by the software development company and takes about 1-2 weeks, and this is just the first step of developing your own application.

If you are limited with resources or want to use VR only for one particular project that doesn’t require huge costs, the ready-made software mentioned above becomes the best option in terms of time and budget costs. Our app price starts from 44 eur/month with 14 days of free trial. This price already includes multiplayer, English-speaking support, Amazon hosting and other necessary features.