The 4 Tools You Need to Start Learning VR

(Level: Beginner)                                                                                                                                                                     (Platform: Windows and Mac)

You need 4 tools to start learning virtual reality development and the best part is, all of them can be downloaded for free! In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps for downloading and installing the essential tools and provide you with a couple bonus resources. If this is all new for you, don’t worry! Simply follow the steps in the article below and things will become more familiar as you begin to learn how to create VR games in Unity.

1. Unity

To create a virtual reality game or experience you’re going to need a 3D game engine. There are two major engines for virtual reality development, Unity 3D and Unreal. We recommend using Unity, download the latest free personal version of Unity from www.unity3d.com/get-unity/.

You can use Unity with a Mac or Windows computer to develop virtual reality applications.

In this article, we’re focusing on the tools needed for creating a mobile VR game. Download and install Unity. During the installation, when the Choose Components window pops-up, select Android Build Support if developing for an Android, or iOS Build Support if you’re developing for an iPhone.

2) Google VR

The next step is to download the Google VR SDK for Unity from https://developers.google.com/vr/unity/. The Google VR SDK for Unity let’s you create VR applications for Google Cardboard and Google Daydream on an Android and for Google Cardboard on an iOS device. To download the file click on the link Download the Google VR SDK at the bottom of the page under the heading “To more more:” then click on the Download SDK button.

The Google VR SDK provides several files and tools used for VR development.

3) Android Studio

Next we’ll need the android SDK and Android Studio (Android’s developer tools). Visit developer.android.com/sdk and click on the Download Android Studio button.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Android Studio, launch the program. From the Android Studio home screen click configure and select SDK Manager then click on the SDK Tools tab.

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If you’re using Windows, select the check box for Google USB drivers and click apply to install the drivers and establish a connection between the android SDK and any android phones you will be plugging into your computer via USB. This allows you to export the applications you create in Unity directly onto your phone for testing.

If you’re using a Mac and don’t see the option box for Google USB drivers, ignore the paragraph directly above and proceed with the steps below. We have included a section for iPhone (iOS) development in our next article, Creating Your First VR Project.

Leave the Android Studio window open.

4) Java Development Kit

The final download you’ll need for VR game development is the Java Development Kit (JDK). Search JDK in Google and click on the first link from Oracle.com. Select the blue download button, it’s labelled “Java Platform (JDK)”.

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From the next page click on the download link for your windows platform (Windows x32 (86) or Windows x64). If you’re using a Mac, select Mac OS X. On your Mac you will also need to navigate back one page, and click the blue download button for the JRE. Download the JRE file for Mac OS X as well.

Double click to install the JDK file you downloaded (and JRE for Mac users) and on the first page of the install window, in the bottom left it should say Install to: C:\Program Files (x64)\Java\jdk (or something similar with the JDK version #). Copy that file path into a separate text editor like Notepad or Google Docs, we will need it in Unity. Once you’ve copied the file path, continue with the standard installation of the JDK.

Xcode (iPhone users only)

If you’re building for an iPhone, you will also need to download and install the latest version of Xcode (Apple’s developer tools) available from the Mac App Store.

Conclusion

And that’s it! You now have all the essential tools you need for VR development. 

Interested in VR classes? Signup for our Introductory VR or HTC Vive Workshop

Written by the team at academyofvr.com.