How to 'VR'?

So i decided to look around the web at what ‘vr’ gear there was, it seems for UE4 i mostly hear about oculus… that appears to be the rift and the gear … some talk about the HTC vive, which a few articles I read said that the SteamVR was the HTC vive…

But for everything I see, pretty much nothing is available… I find release dates of “2016” for most everything. Yet I see people on this forum talk about making games … so is the stuff available to the general public or do just a few lucky and rich people have them?

Just curious.

The rift had a developer kit available to purchase a couple months ago for $350. They have since removed it from the store, likely because they are gearing up for the release of the consumer version of the rift in 2016.

There are a few select developers who currently own Vives because they are working on VR games for the headset. You wont see many ar

A bit of background. Before the DK1 there were hmds, but they were expensive, didn’t have the latency nor crucially the FOV to be really immersive, that changed when a hobbyist, Palmer Luckey, showed off a prototype in early/mid 2012.

Based on the feedback, around August 2012 there was a kickstarter for what was to become the Oculus Rift (retrospectively referred to as the DK1), the kits started shipping in March 2013 and that kicked off indie vr development. Back then there was no UE4 so you could develop on UDK (UE3) and Unity.

Around Mar 2014 UE4 released, Playstation VR (then called Project Morpheus) was announced, HTC Vive was also announced, and shortly afterwards, in July 2014 the new development kit called Oculus DK2 started shipping. When people refer to developing VR games for UE4, this is most likely the unit they refer to. The DK2 introduced positional tracking, low persistence (removing motion blur from head turns), higher resolution as well as higher required FPS (75).

In December 2014, Samsung with the help of Oculus, released Gear VR, the first edition for the Samsung Note 4 phone. The Gear VR is a case which pairs with a compatible smartphone and turns it into an HMD. The Note 4 struggled with heat dissipation, but it still spawned the first mobile development for VR. Later, in March 2015 the second innovator edition was released for the Samsung S6/S6 Edge which had better thermal handling and GPU performance. Finally, in November 2015, the consumer Gear VR was released which had a slightly wider range of support for phones.

In May of 2015, Oculus announced that the consumer version of the rift, commonly referred to as CV1 will be released in Q1 2016. About a month ago, Oculus shifted production to the consumer version, and discontinued the DK2.

So where does that leave you and what are your options right now?

UE4 supports all of these VR options in some way. The engine has out of the box support of Oculus DK1/2/CV1, Gear VR, HTC Vive, Playstation VR (PS4 only), and OSVR support is currently available through a plugin. There is also google cardboard for simple VR.

The main deciding factor should be whether you want to develop for PC, Console, or Mobile platform as that will narrow your choices down drastically.

The main advantages of the PC platform are the wider choices for headsets as well as being able to add in third party input systems such as Razer Hydra (& Sixense STEM), Leap Motion, Thalmic Myo, Perception Neuron, PrioVR, Virtuix Omni, and tons of other input! Additionally both Oculus CV1 and HTC Vive have support for their own motion controllers called Oculus Touch and Lighthouse, respectively. It’s important to note that the CV1 will ship with an Xbox controller, and the Touch will be optional, whereas the current vive devkit comes with the lighthouse system as a default. The main downside of PC VR is the requirement of having a desktop class PC + being tethered to your HMD. Wireless HMDs are a long way away.

The mobile platform is good for targeting specific hardware (e.g. S6 class of GPU) and with much easier consumer setup. The main downside is the lack of positional tracking, input, and much slower GPU. These problems are being worked on, but it may take some time before a good solution exists.

The console platform is good for similar reasons to the mobile platform, but with higher processing power available along with better input out of the box.


Now options
Oculus DK2 - Ebay
Oculus DK1 - Ebay - Not recommended, it’s support is largely deprecated
Gear VR - Samsung - Need a compatible device (Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/+)
Get an OSVR dev kit
Somehow apply for a Playstation VR/Morpheus Devkit - I’m assuming this one is through connections only.

Waiting options:
Q1 2016 - Wait for Oculus CV1
April 2016 - Wait for consumer release of HTC vive or apply for a devkit, batch 2 (these are still very rare in the wild)

Wait for Apple VR
Wait for Unicorns

So the reality is that as much as people talk about how VR is the new ‘thing’… at the price for an Oculus (from 500 to over 1K), it is not very common, nor will it be any time soon. So every day VR is much futher away that has been suggested. Quite a bummer actually.

Consumer Rift is expected to be roughly $400 and people are guessing around $500 for Vive. OSVR devkit is $300. I don’t know what price point PSVR is targeting, but it can’t be far from those ballparks. Oculus is also pushing for Oculus Ready PCs in the range of $1000.

For mobile, GearVR is only $100 if you have a modern Samsung phone and on the lowest end you have google cardboard for $3?

It is likely mobile/console will take off as a market before PC does. Might be a few years before the headset prices come down and for PC specs to rise enough for mid-tier desktops and laptops to be able to run Oculus/Vive level of content.

Yeah, that’s what I seem to have found… and of course the quality of one’s using the phones are limited (as well as functionality)… so consoles/mac/pc will be the way to go. And technology will improve in time, so VR is not really ready for prime time yet. Neither in standard or in pricing. Kinda a bummer.

But makes me wonder why such an emphasis is put on it if it’s just not there yet.

Well, it is “there” already, it just hasn’t released commercially yet. Unfortunately, one cannot just snap their fingers and have a million+ of inventory to sell. The entire reason why it looks like it hasn’t “Become a thing” yet is due to the way Oculus and the others have “come out of the closet” in hardware development terms. This has never(?) happened before where the general public could purchase a hardware development kit, and use it to create their own software (or just use it to game with).

You would feel the same way if Sony/Microsoft announced their console development kits right when they made them and allowed the general public to purchase them. 2-4 years before consumer release I suspect?

It’s kind of irrelevant when they would release a development kit, if it will still be years until the gear is affordable enough for the ‘average guy’ to have.

I understand a super small minority will want to be in at the ‘start’, to be on the fringe. But between now and when such gear is common so the majority has it, there are going to be massive changes in technology… consider the stuff out there now like this of the VR world:


Of course they are going to offer development kits before public release, it would be dumb not to, as there would be no use for their product if they did not.

When I worked in retail, most of the computer systems I sold were over $1000 (unless it was a customer that only wanted it for skype and email). Add in a monitor, and you’re well past the $1250 mark. Want a way to back up data? That gets you up to $1350-$1400… etc, etc…).

Anyways, to say that the equipment is not affordable for the “average guy” is not very accurate. In fact, I would say that most mid range computers sold in the last 2 years would be adequate for VR as long as the video card is upgraded to a GTX 970 ($300 upgrade) or something equivalent.

Sure, the HMD will cost $350-$600 depending on the HMD, so in that regard, to start with it will be a fringe accessory. But by the end of the year, especially during the holiday season, it will be “the holiday gift to give”.

A $300 video card and up to $600 for a vr visor… not cheap upgrades, more than most spend for their computers. And it doesn’t matter if that’s the cost now or a year from now, it will be prohibitive to most people. Eventually it will get there, but not for quite some time…

Largely depends upon how compelling VR is for consumers. For some it is quite the emotional experience and it’s worth the price of admission today. That’s even before you take into account the upcoming crop of vr experiences which utilize the motion controllers available at launch. I think uptake will be healthy, it will just take time before it’s a must-have for the wider population; probably only after productivity becomes superior in VR.

It also depends on how you look at it, i agree that in the short term it’s going to be a small market in comparison to say mobile or general PC, but it’s also going to be orders of magnitude easier to get noticed, especially if you do something different and innovative. And you can leverage a game engine like UE4 to release on several different platforms like Rift + Vive + PS4.

I believe that now there’s a small window where as an indie developer you can make a dent in this new medium, on the other hand if you wait to start developing when it’s “prime time”, say in 2 or 3 years, by the time you are finished (4 or 5 years?) you’re going to have to compete in a saturated market against the big boys and against indies that have a lot more experience in the field than you.


You could make a ok’ish game, something different… a 30 minute play-time game, sell it for $4.99 or something, and people will happily purchase it. Even if by summer of 2016, only 100,000 units are sold (PC, console, mobile combined)… that is still $500,000 (minus royalties). You won’t be able to do that if the market is saturated with games.