The recent launch of Unreal Engine 4.13 brought significant changes for many areas of videogame development, not least virtual reality (VR). However, arguably the biggest change for VR developers is the inclusion of a VR Template: made entirely in Unreal Engine 4 Blueprints, this VR Template allows any keen VR developer to jump straight in and create projects of their own, for free.
The VR Template has been designed for development with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or PlayStation VR (mobile formats have been omitted from this release, though many of the lessons that can be learned may be applicable). To begin, developers must first download the latest complete build of Unreal Engine 4.13, via the Epic Games Launcher, and create a new project through the Project Wizard.
The VR Template is located in the pre-constructed Blueprint section, labelled ‘Virtual Reality. Two maps are included as standard, designed specifically for different kinds of locomotion depending on hardware features, which can be found in the Content Browser.
Once the developer has set their scene through these basic steps, they should refer to a handy VR Templates guide prepared by Tom Looman, Developer Support Engineer at Epic Games. The guide includes a brief breakdown of each of the aspects of the template before diving into the details of control input mapping, rendering and performance settings and how to transfer the lessons learnt into your own project, allowing you to begin developing from scratch.
Unreal Engine 4.13 is available to download now for free. VRFocus recently hosted a special event in London, UK, called the Virtual Reality Challenge (VRC) in which four teams went head-to-head to produce a VR videogame in just 24 hours utilising Unreal Engine 4. Many of the teams had no prior experience with Unreal Engine 4 yet created some fantastic videogame experiences. A testament to what is possible with a little imagination and a lot of patience.