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Daydream Elements: Free VR Development Guidebook App

Daydream Elements: Free VR Development Guidebook App
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Daydream Elements by Google is a new, free app that serves as a guidebook, covering VR development basics. While those familiar with VR development would probably be disinterested in this new app, as it is so basic, it’s a great starting point for those unfamiliar with VR. The app showcases six examples of tips and tricks for VR development, complete with the pros and cons for their use.

According to Upload VR, “three of these [examples] are concerned with locomotion. One details teleportation, another showcases smooth movement with restricted peripheral vision, and another shows third-person gameplay. Interestingly examples of all three of these types of experiences have hit Daydream in the past few months. Teleportation can be seen in the VR port of Layers of Fear, while the excellent Eclipse uses smooth movement. Meanwhile both Lola and the Giant and Along Together both used a third-person camera that followed a main character.”

Google’s developer page outlines the following examples below:

Locomotion: techniques for enabling navigating a VR environment

Three ways to achieve locomotion:

  • Teleportation is locomotion technique for apps using first-person perspective that allows the user to near-instaneously move to a target location. This technique reduces the simulator sickness that many users feel when the virtual camera moves.
  • Tunneling is a technique used with first-person locomotion (such as walking) where, during movement, the camera is cropped and a high-constract stable grid is displayed in the user’s peripheral vision. This is analogous to a user watching first-person locomotion on a television set.
  • Chase Camera is a technique used with third- person locomotion, where the user is controlling a character. Standard third-person camera implementations are problematic in VR and contribute to simular sickness. Chase Camera offers predictable motion – camera rotation only occurs under user direction, and small character movements don’t move the camera at all.

Menus and Virtual Controls: The Daydream controller only exposes two buttons to developers: the clickable touchpad, and the app button. For many developers, two discrete controls does not provide a rich enough set of commands for the games and applications that they would like to create. One solution is to present the user with virtual controls for the app’s command scheme.

  • Click Menu provides the user with a radial menu of commands emanating from the cursor when the menu is invoked. Because users must click directly on options, this menu design trades the speed of a more gestural approach with the control of discrete clicks and scales well with complex command hierarchies.
  • Swipe Menu leverages the Daydream controller touchpad to allow the user to quickly select between a small set of commands. This menu trades efficiency for accuracy and does not scale well to large number of commands.

Rendering and Lighting: Performance is critical to VR apps but can be especially challenging on mobile GPUs. Many commonly available mobile shaders and per-pixel lighting solutions provide high quality results but perform poorly on mobile VR systems due to extremely high resolutions, rendering multiple views, distortion and general mobile performance issues.

The Rendering & Lighting demo uses Daydream Renderer to showcase rendering effects that are typically difficult to achieve on mobile hardware. This scene demonstrates Daydream Renderer features like per-pixel lighting, tangent-space normal maps, dynamic shadows, realtime specular highlights, and reflections.

The app also spells out all known issues, which you can find here.

This app is definitely for newcomers to VR, however since many people are not yet familiar with the space, it seems like a user-friendly platform that encourages people to try their hand at developing.

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