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Unity Announces SteamVR Support, Demoes New Way To Build Virtual Reality Games

11 February 2016, 6:35 am EST By Vincent Lanaria Tech Times
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Unity Technologies and Valve announced that the Unity platform will have SteamVR support, paving a new way for developers to create virtual reality games efficiently.

Unity broke the news during the 2016 Vision VR/AR Summit in Hollywood, California.

Because of the integration, developers will soon be able to take advantage of the immersive nature of virtual reality in making games. In other words, they will be inside the 3D environment while creating software, allowing them to find areas that need some tweaking easily.

Unity Principal Designer Timoni West demonstrated the tool using the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers.

The video game developer's news comes on the heels of Epic Games' announcement regarding the VR updates for the Unreal Engine platform, which will be unveiled at the 2016 Game Developers Conference.

According to Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, developers will be able to use their hands to control interactions in the virtual world and motion-control devices to "make things happen" in both the Unity and Epic Games demos.

He continues to explain that they'll be capable of grabbing objects or aiming at them with a virtual laser pointer to move them around, noting that it's possible to zoom in and out by pinching like on smartphones.

Sweeney emphasizes that they can move around inside the virtual reality environment and that it "brings the intuition of the real-world actions into video game editing."

It appears that Epic Games took cues from Google's Tilt Brush VR, an app that lets users paint in a virtual reality world, and Oculus' Medium, a tool that allows users to sculpt objects in virtual reality.

Needless to say, this technology will not only benefit video game designers, but it will also be useful to painters, sculptors and architects, to name a few.

It's no mystery why these big players in the gaming industry are taking things up a notch, as virtual reality is widely expected to be a huge market in a few years' time. To put things into perspective, TrendForce estimates that the market value of the technology's hardware would amount to $20 billion and the software to $50 billion by 2020.

"Valve and Unity are both dedicated to creating the highest quality VR experiences possible. That means giving developers every possible chance to succeed, and our collaboration with Valve is designed to do just that," John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, says.

In the same vein, Unity also announced that there will be a new plug-in to render virtual reality. The company says that it'll provide developers "enhanced fidelity and performance."

It's also worth mentioning that Amazon recently rolled out a free 3D game engine for Amazon Web Services, where these efforts of both Unity and Epic Games could be considered as a way for the two to stay ahead in the industry.

At any rate, these projects are opening up a whole new world in creating virtual reality games, and Unity and Valve are stepping up their game with the SteamVR support.

"We made many of our Vive demos using Unity, and continue to use it today in VR development. Through that process, and in working with VR developers, we found some opportunities to make Unity even more robust and powerful for us and really want to share those benefits with all VR content creators," Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve, says.

 

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