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)

Pros and cons of popular VR headsets

Now that we know who our players are and what type of experience we want them to have, we can make the decision regarding which VR headset we would like to use to design our experience. Each type of VR headset brings different strengths and weaknesses to our project, along with specific requirements for the computer that will be running it. Let's take a look at some of the most popular VR headsets available today:

  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus Rift + Touch
  • Windows Mixed Reality headsets
  • Samsung Gear VR

HTC Vive

Released in April 2016, the HTC Vive system consists of the following:

  • VR headset
  • 2 x Vive motion controller
  • 2 x infrared sensors, known as lighthouses

Great for room-scale experiences due to its 16ft x 16ft maximum size play area, the Vive is one of the two most popular VR systems available today, accounting for 45% of all SteamVR players in February 2018. Capable of a resolution of 2,160 x 1,200 (1,080 x 1,200 per eye), this is the headset of choice for many developers. The motion controllers can be tracked to the millimeter, and each offers nine different buttons that can be mapped inside Unreal Engine 4, which provides developers with a significant number of input options. Audio is provided by the player plugging in their own headphones, though a separate Deluxe Audio Strap may be purchased to provide a more comfortable distribution of weight and integrated headphones.

Minimum hardware requirements

  • Intel Core i5-4590/AMD FX 8350 equivalent or greater
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 970/AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or greater
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
  • 1x USB 2.0 or newer
  • Windows 7 SP1, Winodws 8.1 or later, Windows 10

It is worth noting that while the HTC Vive is compatible with Unreal Engine 4, SteamVR is required to be running during use. With its excellent tracking, solid resolution, and flexible motion controllers, the HTC Vive is an excellent option for room-scale and seated VR experiences.

Oculus Rift + Touch

The original Oculus Rift headset was released in March 2016 by Oculus VR, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Due to its status as a crowdfunded project, the Oculus Rift has the interesting distinction of having had its development heavily publicized. The company released two different development kits (DK1 and DK2) to its backers during development, before releasing the first commercial version. The current version of the headset includes the following:

  • Oculus Rift headset
  • 2 x desktop-based infrared sensors
  • 2 x Oculus Touch controllers

These controllers have six different button inputs that are tracked by Unreal, but their real claim to fame is the fact that these controllers are capable of finger tracking and hand gestures. The Rift has a resolution of 2,160 x 1,200 (1,080 x 1,200 per eye), exactly the same as the HTC Vive.

Minimum hardware requirements

  • Intel i3-6100/AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater
  • Nvidia GTX 960/AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater
  • 8 GB+ of RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port and 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Windows 10

Similar to the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift + Touch requires its own application running in the background to be able to operate. Though the Rift comes with two sensors, its recommended room scale play area is 5ft x 5ft. Though much smaller than the Vive but with the Rift's decreased hardware requirements, it is still an excellent option for seated and room-scale experiences.

Windows Mixed Reality headset

With an impressive resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 (1,440 x 1,440 per eye), the latest crop of Windows Mixed Reality headsets currently being manufactured by Acer, Lenovo, HP, and others, have the potential to really shake up the VR landscape. These headsets have integrated motion tracking to decrease setup time and potentially increase the room-scale play space available to a gamer. Their lower price compared to Vive and Oculus is also an attractive feature. However, even now, they are a new and unproven technology. The integrated motion tracking may seem like a time-saving feature, but this requires that the player is looking at whatever they want to interact with to get a smooth interaction. For developers attempting to develop the next big VR blockbuster, this is an issue that cannot be overlooked, since player experience is everything. In the end, Windows Mixed Reality hardware brings much-needed variety to the VR hardware market, but it may be too new to choose as a platform for development just yet.

Minimum hardware requirements

  • Intel Core i5-7200U or greater
  • Intel HD Graphics 620 or greater/DX12 capable GPU
  • HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A or Type-C
  • Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Samsung Gear VR

The Gear VR represents the fusion of smartphone and VR technology in a sleek little package. The most recent version of this device allows the user to snap a Samsung Gear phone into a sleek frame and enjoy a variety of VR titles built specifically for the device. Controls are handled by inputs on the side of the headset, as well as by a handheld motion controller, reminiscent of those that ship with the Vive. This gives the player a variety of comfortable input options and precision controller motions. So, what does this mean for developers? The mobile CPU and 4 GB of RAM limit the ability of this device to run high-end content, but the Gear VR sports an impressive resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 (2,960 x 1,440 with Samsung Gear S8 and S8 Plus phones). The Gear VR also represents an underserved market. Though its hardware may be small, Unreal Engine 4 has supported development for the Samsung Gear VR since version 4.7, and this device is by far one of the best available for developing mobile experiences. For the savvy developer looking to build small applications, this may be a great opportunity.