Tomorrow Unity plans to launch the first experimental build of EditorVR, a component of the Unity game engine which will let developers build games within virtual reality.
Timoni West, Principal Designer at Unity Labs, has announced that EditorVR will launch tomorrow, December 15th. The initial launch is being called “experimental,” and is likely to change over time.
EditorVR (which the company calls EVR for short) provides a robust virtual reality interface for Unity that’s said to support both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Much of what developers already know about using Unity translates to the VR version; Amir Ebrahami, Principal Engineer at Unity Labs, says “This is just Unity’s normal UI system, so as a developer you’re not building anything new—you don’t have to learn anything new.”
In VR, the familiar Unity interfaces are presented in “workspaces”, which West says is like the equivalent of a program ‘window’ for VR; it can be resized and placed wherever you want. As you teleport around the environment, the workspaces will follow you.
West and Ebrahami demonstrated EditorVR last month at the company’s Unite 2016 conference in Los Angeles. The video (heading this article), shows how functional the system can be, especially when it comes to picking and placing 3D assets. The company thinks EditorVR will be useful even for those not making VR games, because of the advantages it has over developing with the traditional mouse, keyboard, and screen interface.
One interesting design element of EditorVR is the ‘Chess Board’, a miniature scene viewer which lets developers more easily manipulate large objects. West shows how it’s possible to have multiple Chess Board views, and seamlessly move objects from one scene to the next—almost like teleporting an object from one room in your house to another—allowing for efficient movement of assets across large game spaces.
EditorVR also includes ‘Tools,’ which are VR-specific extensions built on an open API which allows developers to build new tools or extend existing ones. One such tool is Tvori, which brings in-game camera and animation recording into EditorVR.
Unreal Engine, Unity’s biggest competitor, has also launched an early version of a similar ‘VR Editor’ back in June with version 4.12 of their game development engine.