Want to create in VR? Without code? Totally nontechnical? If Unity has its way, you’ll be doing that in the next 18-36 months. All you’ll need to do is grab a VR headset and a pair of hand controllers. You’ll select assets and activities as you stand inside a virtual space. It’s like playing around with Tilt Brush. But instead of creating art, you’re creating immersive environments.
All of this surfaced in Unity’s Unite Conference in LA last week. They introduced their VR Editor software earlier this year at the GDC conference but it now has a host of new features. And Unity announced that the software will be open-sourced, incorporating developer contributions. Unity already drives about 70% of the games in the virtual reality market. With the expertise in virtual reality scattered all over the map, they’d like to keep that lead.
Create in VR without code
Unity’s VR Editor platform is not about writing code, but providing users with a set of tools to create content in VR. UploadVR shared parts of an interview with the VP of Unity Labs, Sylvio Drouin.
There is a lot of work that we’re doing right now to have pre-made VR frameworks so you can start and you can just bring your own assets, and you don’t need to code,” Drouin said. “We have entire libraries of behavior.”
He stated that eventually users will be able to “assemble content through Unity pretty much without writing a line of code.” This would be done in VR, though that doesn’t mean you can only create VR experiences; yesterday’s demonstration showed how Editor VR could be extended with additional tools made by other developers to modify scenes in non-VR games like Firewatch.
Here’s the presentation at Unite by Timoni West (Principal Designer) and Amir Ebrahimi (Principal Engineer) showing the improvements in the VR Editor software. It’s still in the early stages of development, so imagine what it will be like in another year as the community contributes tools and assets.
A new era of creativity
Unity’s VR Editor is just a step toward a how we will create in VR in the future. You can see the long term vision in Unity’s Carte Blanche research project. Here, you won’t even need your hand controllers – just gestures and voice commands. Wave your hands, say some words – and build a world.
Unity’s concept video for Carte Blanche was released back in May of this year:
Carte Blanche is probably three years away from release. But it has incredible possibilities. Try to imagine how art, education, entertainment, retail, and other areas will change when immersive environments are brought to life simply through words and gestures. Virtual Reality will no longer be the domain of skilled coders, but the playground of a future Snapchat generation.
Unity’s VR Editor is an impressive piece of software of that will arrive before the end of the year. But powerful as it is, it’s just a stepping stone to the future – a future that will empower our imagination and creativity.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.