Virtual Reality (VR) Software Development: Tools You Need
Virtual reality (VR) software development has become a new way to create media and entertainment. And it’s used for more than game development. A wide range of industries — like automotive, virtual production, and more — are applying VR technology to simulate environments to train people and test products in real time. Learn what tools you need to accelerate VR development and create immersive VR experiences.
What Is VR Software?
VR software is used to build immersive, simulated 3D environments. Teams do this by pulling together all their digital elements using a suite of VR software development tools.
What Is the Difference Between VR and AR? MR and XR?
What's the difference between VR, AR, MR, and XR?
Virtual reality (VR) transports the person into new, highly interactive environments, often using VR goggles. The goal is shut out the physical space and make the user feel like they are part of a new digital world — real or imaginary.
Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements into the real world. Remember the Pokémon Go phenomenon? People were able to travel around physically to collect virtual creatures. Mixed reality (MR) combines aspects of both AR and VR to have real-world and digital objects overlay and interact.
All three of these terms are classified under the umbrella term, extended reality (XR). This includes technologies that enhance all the senses.Back to top
How Virtual Reality Software Works
Virtual reality technology creates a new world by:
- Developing objects that exist in a virtual 3D space, which helps to create robust VR scenes.
- Adding in sensory feedback to give a sense of presence — for example, sound or haptic feedback.
- Emerging the user in interactive elements.
VR software development tools work based on the level of immersion they provide. Most VR technology can be categorized in terms of software development kits (SDKs), build tools (like game engines), and content creation/management.
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Get Free Virtual Reality Software 🥽
To build the next VR experience, get free tools and deploy them your way (on-premises or in the cloud). Perforce integrates with everything your teams need to get started, including Unreal Engine.
What Software Is Used for Virtual Reality?
VR needs to not only look real but feel real. Virtual reality software development tools can make that happen. And you can get some virtual reality software free.
Software Development Kits (SDKs)
A software development kit (SDK) includes a set of software tools and programs used for multiple platforms. It can include libraries, samples, process, guides, tutorials, blueprints and more.
For VR software development, the VR SDK you select determines the hardware your users will need. It is important to research options and determine the best fit for your product. Some of the most popular SDKs for VR software development include:
OpenVR SDK is an open VR software development kit (SDK) and API that supports HTC Vive and other VR headset related devices. SteamVR SDK and VRTK (Virtual Reality Tool Kit) are also used for HTC Vive. These offer additional benefits like access to controllers, chaperoning, models, and preview in Unity play mode.
To develop for the Sony PlayStationVR, you need to have PSVR Dev Kit and to become a registered developer. Features of this VR SDK include 360-degree vision, incredible visuals/audio, and enhanced tracking.
Considered the best SDK for Oculus Rift, Oculus SDK comes with game engine specific kits. It also includes sample assets, audio packages, and more. There are also supporting SDKs for Windows and Oculus Mobile. The Oculus Mobile SDK has been used for the Samsung GearVR and includes tools and libraries for C/C++.
Cross Platform SDKs
Google VR SDK is meant to work with the Google cardboard VR headset. But it offers a wide range of development tools that you can use to create VR applications. Amazon Sumerian works with popular VR platforms like Oculus Go/ Rift, HTC Vive/Vive Pro, Google Daydream, and Lenovo Mirage. It also is compatible across Android and iOS mobile devices as well.
Game Development Engines
Game engines are vital for VR software development. Using a game engine allows you to bring all your assets together and gives you a powerful editor for 3D elements. They integrate with artist and designer tools, as well as CAD software, to help you build realistic visuals and experiences.
Unreal Engine 4
Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) offers teams a powerful set of VR software development tools. It works with a multitude of VR technologies. With UE4 you get:
- Access to scripts in C++ and/or Python to customize the tool for your needs.
- Multiplayer framework combined with a flexible editor.
- Blueprint visual scripting which helps you design prototypes fast.
Unity is well-known for game development with a specialty in mobile. But it also can be used to design VR solutions. Teams across industries have used it to design training and simulation because it works well with all popular VR platforms. With Unity you get:
- Powerful 3D editor.
- Built-in artist and designer tools, as well as support for CAD tools.
- Collaboration features that streamline your process.
CRYENGINE is well known among game developers. But it is also a powerful VR software development tool. It works with a variety of platforms. With CRYENGINE you get:
- Stunning visuals to create characters.
- VR app that can be used with their sandbox tools.
- Built-in audio solutions to design a truly immersive experience.
3D modeling and rendering software — like 3ds Max and Maya — are essential for design visualization and interactive creation. Teams can use these tools to create 3D animations textures, and effects. With Maya, you can also create motion graphics. It is used for 3D rendering, 3D modeling (data or visual), and 3D shading.
With so many types of digital assets, VR software development requires a tool to manage it all, and efficiently store iterations. For many VR projects, that solution is version control.
Version control allows you to store and manage all of your files. And with the right system, you can even version your builds and other large binary assets. Think of version control as your foundation. Then you can integrate all other VR software development tools, allowing for seamless collaboration across your team.Back to top
Integrate With VR Software Development Tools
There are endless possibilities for VR software development. Industries like game development, health care, and automotive are all looking to build the next great virtual experience with VR tools.
To streamline your builds, get the tool used by 19 of the top 20 game dev studios — Helix Core version control.
Why Helix Core
Helix Core delivers lightning-fast performance to control all your digital assets. You get a single source of truth for your entire project. Helix Core stores binary files, audio files, video files, code, and more all in one spot — and it scales as your project grows.
Perforce Federated Architecture helps you deliver large files around the globe faster with superior performance. It is cloud ready. Now you can transport large binary files without the WAN wait.
Plus, Helix Core integrates with the tools VR software development teams already use. For code, you can customize and automate workflows for branching (Perforce Streams) and code review (Helix Swarm). Everything you create can be securely stored with Helix Core’s access control.Back to top
How New Reality Used Helix Core
When New Reality Co. wanted to make their VR experience before the Sundance Film Festival deadline, they needed technology that could enhance collaboration and deliver files fast.
Perforce’s strength is that it runs in the background and is reliable. It's like a force. It seamlessly integrates so you don't notice it, but it's connecting everything.” — Winslow Porter, Co-Founder and Director New Reality Co.
New Reality Co. was able to coordinate a diverse team or artists and designers located around the globe. Helix Core helped deliver all their files fast and handle several iterations. With Helix Core’s exclusive checkout functionality, team members never had to worry about duplicated efforts. Everyone had visibility into what was happening, allowing them to deliver a state-of-the-art-experience, on time.
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“In a world of unknowns, Perforce is a known, helping us spend more time creating and less time worrying about organizing. We want Perforce to be the backbone as we continue to grow.” — Winslow Porter
Get Free Virtual Reality Software
There is free virtual reality software available for teams who want to jump-start development without a big commitment. Some of those include Unreal Engine and Helix Core, version control by Perforce. Helix Core integrates with the most popular game engines, including:
See for yourself how you can use Helix Core for VR software development. Get virtual reality software free. Start using Helix Core — free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces.
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