Many articles have been written about Google’s entry-level virtual reality viewer Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR, and the released software as a stand-alone finished product. But as high-end VR hardware is released the relatively low-cost of viewer and smart phone combinations have started to be used as an aid for high-end VR development.
VR is still finding its feet in terms of defining best practices and fulfilling development potential. But it’s clear that developers can benefit by using VR viewers as a prototype platform to quickly try out a game idea before further development on high-end VR headset options. This also presents a great opportunity to have professional user experience testing and focus groups involved with the early concepts and ideas of a VR experience.
The benefits of embracing VR technology will cement new cost-effective and practical ways to test by identifying best practices, creating safe and thorough guidelines and knowing the best ways to respect the user. Getting feedback on issues like jump scares, quick brightness changes, the onset of motion sickness or how to guide the user could be very useful information to have early on in development.
There has also been an increase of indie developers creating a demo or proof-of-concept on VR viewers to pitch to publishers. This is a very accessible and cost effective way to outline the ideas and visuals as there is no need for a high specification PC and VR headset.
It’s no surprise that the use of VR Viewers and smartphones as development aids is on the rise; the low cost, shorter development times and familiar engines and SDKs places them in a uniquely suitable position. This could drive developers to consider if a release version could work on mobile VR; and the more quality VR experiences out there the better!