Virtual reality (VR) development brings with it a very specific set of requirements that place it apart from any other form of videogame development. Oculus VR has been preaching these rules concerning developing for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) to anyone that will listen for much of 2014. But what about Gear VR, Samsung’s smartphone-based HMD? Does running VR on a handset such as the Galaxy Note 4 bring its own set of rules to the table? Development engine company Unity certainly thinks so.
Speaking at the ‘Creating a playable VR environment with Unity and Samsung Gear VR’ session at the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) this week, Unity’s Mark Schoennagel revealed a lot of ‘Do’s and Don’ts for Mobile VR’. Schoennagel noted that developers should make their videogames as efficient as possible, using low poly counts, for example, and using higher resolution textures to compensate. He also suggested developers use pooled objects and audio clips as well as avoiding CPU spikes on the likes of complex calculations that an engine must process.
Moving on, Schoennagel also recommended using static objects to assist performance, as well as baked lighting whenever possible to reduce strain on the engine in some scenes. Developers will need to take ‘thermal degradation’, which essentially means overheating the phone, and battery drain into consideration at all times. With these points in mind developers should be able to create efficient VR experiences that won’t cause the Galaxy Note 4 too much trouble.
Gear VR is set to launch in the US in early December 2014 as an Innovator Edition for early adopters and developers. Just how many developers have taken these points on board will become obvious at that time as fans will undoubtedly test the kit to its limits. VRFocus will continue to follow Gear VR leading up to launch and will report back with any further updates on its progress.