Book Image

Unreal Engine Virtual Reality Quick Start Guide

By : Jessica Plowman
Book Image

Unreal Engine Virtual Reality Quick Start Guide

By: Jessica Plowman

Overview of this book

With the ability to put players directly in the game, virtual reality gives users the chance to experience digital worlds directly. Nevertheless, many designers are unsure where to start when working with this amazing technology. With this book, you will learn user experience design processes and create immersive gameplay experiences designed for entertainment and player comfort. Using the power of Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprint visual scripting language, you will build player interaction and locomotion systems from scratch and use these flexible systems to create a sample game, as well as develop functional 2D and 3D user interfaces for players to interact with. And also learn the best practices for creating game art for virtual reality. Finally, you will learn how to test your application with your target audience and finalize your game for distribution. By the end of this book, you will have the knowledge to be able to make the leap from traditional game development to creating immersive virtual reality experiences using Unreal Engine 4.
Table of Contents (8 chapters)

Why use Unreal Engine 4 for VR?

VR represents the next great frontier for game developers. Just like mobile technology allowed for developers to reach new markets and move video games into the mainstream, VR gaming will also be able to tap into new markets and appeal to new fans who are looking for a more active style of gaming. To accommodate this, game engine developers have been quickly working to add new features and refine existing ones to entice developers to choose their platform for their next big title:

Robo Recall was one of the first standout tiles that was built for VR using Unreal Engine 4. Image courtesy of Epic Games

Beginning in 2014, Epic Games began laying the groundwork for full VR support within Unreal. This led to the development of their first VR title, Robo Recall. In this game, players were able to shoot and smash their way through a city overrun by murderous machines. The game utilized a teleportation system for locomotion and some pretty solid controls for its gun-based gameplay. The game began development in 2016 and was released for Oculus Rift in 2017. It took full advantage of the most recent build of Unreal at the time to show off the latest rendering techniques and optimizations for VR.

Since then, Epic Games has continued to update and develop Unreal Engine 4 to provide game developers with the best tools available for their projects. Unreal Engine versions 4.17, 4.18, and 4.19 included many optimizations and performance updates geared specifically toward VR headsets and VR developers, with the goal of being able to improve performance and framerates, two of the most crucial elements to monitor in VR game development.

Beyond a commitment to bringing developers the best tools for their VR games, Epic Games provides developers with many other reasons to choose Unreal Engine for their games:

  • Unreal Engine is free to begin using, with only a 5% royalty after the first $3,000 per game per quarter. These terms allow smaller teams of developers to dive right into projects without worrying about how to pay for their tools.
  • Unreal provides support for most VR hardware, including the Samsung Gear VR, the Oculus Rift + Touch, the HTC Vive, and more.
  • The Blueprint Visual Scripting language allows non-coders to develop game features and prototypes without the need for a programmer.
  • Unreal Engine is capable of high-end materials and shaders, thus providing your players with incredibly immersive experiences.
We will be using the latest version of the Unreal Engine for our sample project. At the time of writing this book, this version is 4.20.2. During the course of your game's development, new versions of the engine may become available. It is up to you whether to update your project to the latest version. Make this decision by looking at the release notes provided with each new version and see whether the new features will benefit your game.