Episode 6: Virtual Reality and Unity3D

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Today, TIME magazine released an article about Palmer Luckey, the Oculus Rift, and the recent stir that virtual reality has caused in the tech industry — an article that couldn’t have come at a better time!

In this episode, the whole crew sits down to talk about Virtual Reality and Unity3D. The five hosts weigh in on the current landscape of virtual reality headsets, how the rising stars of VR and AR are poised to shake up future game development, best practices when developing VR applications, and where the Unity3D game engine intersects with it all.

Thanks again for tuning in this week and we hope you enjoyed the show! Feel free to send any emails with comments, questions, and concerns about virtual reality in Unity, to: thedebuglog@gmail.com

Game of the Week

Star Wars Commander – Disney Interactive Studios

TL;DL  — “Too long, didn’t listen”

  • Thank you all for the ratings and reviews on iTunes!
  • Definitions of Note:
    • Virtual Reality (VR) which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life, replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and lets the user interact in that world. Virtual reality artificially creates sensory experiences, which can include sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste (Wikipedia).
      • VR: “The Computer in yo Face” (Andrew).
    • Augmented Reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data (Wikipedia).
    • Head-mounted Display (HMD) is a display device, worn on the head or as part of a helmet, that has a small display optic in front of one (monocular HMD) or each eye (binocular HMD) (Wikipedia).
    • Tracker is generally a system capable of rendering virtual space to a human observer while tracking the observer’s body coordinates (Wikipedia).
  • We discuss our old school experiences with VR:
  • Old school headsets we discuss:
  • In 2012, Palmer Luckey, at age 21, invents the Oculus Rift technology and launches a Kickstarter that’s backed by some big names like John Carmack, raising over $2.4M.
  • Oculus Rift offers Developer Kits post-Kickstarter (DK1 & DK2)
  • Oculus Rift’s consumer version is targeted for release in the Spring of 2016
  • Discuss the minimum/recommended specs for the Oculus
  • First impression of Oculus
    • Pretty low-res of the game world on DK1
    • Insanely immersive after being in the world for awhile (you begin to feel as if you’re really there)
  • For awhile, Oculus was the “lone gunman” in VR headsets but soon after a bevy of VR headsets sprung up.
  • A lot of the major companies began developing their own VR and AR headsets, such as:
    • Dive Headset (Durovis) turns your iPhone/Android device into a VR headset.
      • The Dive comes with a Character Controller component that you can easily drop into your scene in Unity3D.
      • It uses the gyroscope in your mobile device to track head movements.
    • Google Cardboard (Google) is another mobile VR headset.
    • Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus).
    • HTC Vive (Valve & HTC collaboration)
    • Morpheus (Sony) which runs on the PS4.
    • Magic Leap (Magic Leap) is an AR solution, shrouded in mystery but backed by huge dollars and big names (Google, QualComm, and others invested over $500M in the company).
    • Microsoft Hololens (Microsoft) is another popular AR solution.
      • Unity3D is currently the only supported platform for development on the Hololens thus far, but other game engines will surely be added to Microsoft’s list.
      • Has a very small field of view when compared to the likes of the Oculus Rift.
  • Not all games should be pushed to be VR or AR games
  • AR could be the possible future to all things ‘normal’ — think, “Tony Stark.”
  • Hangups when dealing with VR:
    • Trackers and orientation of the player in the game world vs. physical world.
  • Oculus setup and configuration of the parts can be tough as there are a lot of moving parts/cords to manage.
  • The future of VR headsets is one where all headsets are wireless
    • Problem with current wireless headsets is latency, which can be very disorienting for the player.
  • Best Practices in Virtual Reality game development:
    • Keep your frame rate high
      • Low frame rate causes latency when the character controller moves.
      • This also negatively affects the immersion of your player in your game.
    • Don’t take control away from the player!
    • “Moving the player without their consent is a big NO-NO!”
    • You can’t just shoehorn a game idea into being a VR game.
      • Tune your game for VR
    • You have a lot of power in VR. Be careful what and how you deliver your game content in a VR settings.
      • “Design your game around the strengths and the weakness of the platform”
    • Watch for Tracker Drift
      • The tracker can tend to drift to the left or right several degrees off-center and can force you to re-orient yourself/character to the center.
      • Eduardo’s Quick Tip:
        • Add a Hotkey to re-orient/reset your character/headset/tracker so that the character is looking in the right direction.
      • Be VERY careful when toying with “degrees of drift” during runtime in VR environments.
    • NEVER adjust the height of the eyes so that they’re not ‘even’ as this can be devastating to the player.

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