VR development ‘akin to traveling back in time and developing for the N64’

The need for virtual reality devs to get as much bang for your buck out of the limited processing capacity available harks back to the early days of coding.

That’s according to Futuretown co-founder and CTO Justin Liebregts, who told Develop: A large portion of the engineering and art issues lay around the tight CPU and GPU constraints. There is no forgiveness in VR for not hitting 90fps, as it feels absolutely terrible.

Engineers need to optimise their code to prevent issues like poorly running code causing framerate spiking. Artists need to have strong fundamental understandings of the render pipeline to provide maximum visual fidelity while working with essentially half the performance that would normally be available to them.

It’s akin to traveling back in time and developing for the N64 with extremely tight memory and CPU budgets. It can be difficult finding developers, especially artists, that have such strong fundamental understandings of how the art pipeline can be best optimised. This is a challenge that will be overcome with practice and experience.”

However, these early pains serve a greater purpose – they lay the foundations for easier VR development in the future.

There are so many new and exciting problems we run into on a daily basis where there are simply no previous solutions to refer to, to see how someone else has solved it,” he added.

As more and more content becomes available and developers start pushing content out, this will become less of an issue. Each time we encounter a new problem and provide a solution, we’re providing a backbone for what will become standard best practices in VR. Other developers can then look at earlier solutions and use those as a starting point to solve their own challenges.

Touchscreen interface interaction went through the same innovation curve, and now that we’re over 10 years into touchscreen design, the design language has evolved. This will be the case for VR. It takes time and many people simultaneously tackling similar problems together. It’s an exciting space to be in.”

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