VR Quick Start Guide: Getting Started

To get your feet wet in VR, you need Hardware and Software to view and develop VR experiences. The hardware includes at a minimum a headset to view VR and a computer that can handle the generation of real time graphics. VR Experiences are created using what is often referred to as a Game Engine: authoring software for interactive 3D graphics. To create the things you see in VR, the assets used to build your world, 3D modeling and animation software is required. However, there are many pre-build assets available to get started with.


Choice of Platform: Hardware

To experience VR you need a headset and a computer capable of running VR applications. This computer can be a stand alone workstation, a game console, or a mobile phone. Only a standalone VR headset has the computer build in.

Common Headsets

A comparison of Headsets can be found here: https://www.vrbound.com/headsets/compare

To develop VR applications you need a tethered Headset that you can run directly from you workstation, like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Mobile Headsets are a cheap alternative to a dedicated headset. You do need a cell phone that is capable of running VR, and that fits the headset. This gives you limited interaction as mobile headsets generally do not have VR controllers. It is great for viewing 360° Video.

VR ready/capable computer

To run and develop VR applications you need a VR ready workstation. These can be pretty expensive, and computers with slightly lower specs with generally work but not give optimal performance. The most important piece of hardware determining whether or not a computer can run VR applications in the graphics card. Be aware that the computer often costs considerably more than the headset.

Explore VR

Once you have a headset, or Head Mounted Display (HMD) it is a good thing to explore different VR experiences available. Probably the biggest platform for content distribution for VR is the gaming platform Steam, though Oculus and Vive Studios have their own VR collection. You can start exploring by downloading some of the many freely available experiences.

<Examples? List of things to try? - may get old quickly, make separate entry.>

Choice of (Game) Engine / Real Time Application Platform

There are two market leaders: Unity and Unreal Engine. Both offer roughly the same functionality, the approach to building experiences is somewhat different. A comparison can be found here: https://sundaysundae.co/unity-vs-unreal/

Getting started with Unity and VR

For personal use, Unity can be downloaded for free. Free educational licensing is available.

If you are new to Unity, the video tutorials the company supplies can get you started. They also have more advanced tutorial videos posted. As reference, their on-line manual and scripting guide are very useful: 

To create VR experiences, you can download the Steam VR Plugin form the Unity Asset Store for free. Note that you need to have Steam VR installed on your system for this to work (available for free at the Steam Store) The easiest way is to add the Steam VR Plugin to your Unity projects is via the asset store in within Unity. After downloading you want to add the assets to your project.

The SteamVR  package contains a lot of ready to use assets, or prefabs. If you import the [CameraRig] prefab from the SteamVR/Prefabs directory into your scene, and delete the default Main Camera, you have a working VR environment, albeit an empty one. When asked to setup Steam VR Input, simply hit Save and Generate

To get a scene with controllers set up, you instance, you can import the Player prefab from the SteamVR/InteractionSystem/Core/Prefabs directory. In the StemVR directory there is an example scene showcasing many possible interactions (Assets > SteamVR > InteractionSystem > Samples > Interactions_Example) 

Getting started with Unreal Engine and VR

<Coming Soon>

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