In the last three years, we’ve watched as countless VR games and experiences have come and gone. From thrilling multiplayer titles like Mario & Pokemon GO to failed experiments like Google Earth VR, gamers have learned a lot about what doesn’t work in virtual reality.

Now that we’re on the other side of the coin, it’s time to see what does work. This is Part 1 of a four-part series that will introduce you to the joys of VR and guide you towards creating your perfect experience.

The Best of Both Worlds

We live in an amazing time; the technology for VR has reached an incredible level of maturity, and it’s finally here to change the way we experience the world around us.

Not only that, but it’s opened up a whole new dimension of gameplay and possibility. We’re not just limited to 2D screens anymore, which means we can finally achieve true virtual reality — the best of both worlds.

What is VR?

Virtual reality is a digital experience that imitates reality. In other words, it takes you somewhere else within yourself. You can think of it as a kind of hyper reality; it is more real than real life.

When you put on a VR headset and step into the virtual world of VR, it feels like you’ve entered a whole new dimension. You can move around in three-dimensional space, look at objects from all sides, and even interact with them. While this may sound like science fiction, every major tech company and hundreds of indie teams are currently working hard to make it a reality.

To create a fully immersive virtual reality experience, you need very high-end computers, headsets, and a variety of other gadgets.

That’s a lot of gear! But don’t worry, making sense of it all is actually quite easy. We’re going to cover the basics of setting up your own immersive VR environment in this guide, which will equip you with the basics needed to create your perfect virtual reality journey.

Why Create a VR Environment?

If you’ve ever tried VR, you know that it is a totally different animal to just play in a regular old 2D game. It requires a complete rethinking of how you interact with games and digital content. Even if you’re not into game development, a VR environment can still bring a lot of value to your life.

Why? Because with a VR environment, you can create any kind of game or experience you want. You don’t have to limit yourself to the games that are already available for the platform. In fact, the opposite is usually the case, and independent developers often have a hard time getting their games funded, let alone released. With a little bit of creativity, you can change all that. Just imagine what kind of games could be available for the VR platform if creators could actually get their ideas funded and released.

The Four Basic Steps To Creating Your Perfect VR Environment

Now that you’re equipped with the basics, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of actually creating your perfect VR experience. We’re going to cover the four steps that will help you make it happen. Keep reading if this sounds good, or just hit the play button to get started.

Step one: Set The Mood

When you create a VR environment, you’re not just limited to the games and experiences you can create. A good VR creator should be able to set the mood of the entire environment simply by changing the color, feel, or ambiance of the space. This is where sound design, music, and atmosphere come into play.

It’s a known fact that video games can be quite the stressful activity, especially when they’re built using an unproven tech like Unity. If you’re creating your first VR experience, consider using a game engine that is more suitable for the task, like Unreal Engine or even the simpler Unity.

With any video game development, it is crucial to establish a vibe throughout the entire project. While you don’t want to make your game too serious (since that will make it less enjoyable for your players), you also don’t want to make it too light either. You want to find that happy medium, and you can definitely achieve that with a good story, memorable characters, and an epic soundtrack.

Step two: Visual Design

Now that you’ve set the mood of your environment, you can begin designing its graphic elements. In a VR environment, you’re going to need things like floors, ceilings, walls, and even furniture (just kidding).

The design of your VR environment doesn’t necessarily need to be fancy or complicated; you just need to ensure that everything is functional and fits together well. Additionally, since you’re in VR, you want to make sure that your visuals are as immersive as possible.

Once you’ve laid the foundations of your environment, it’s time to bring objects into it. To create a more realistic, immersive experience, you’re going to need to find ways to represent real-life objects in your virtual space. This might mean taking a leaf out of modern architecture’s book and using 3D printing to create unique furniture or even entire houses that you can move around in the VR world.

Step three: Programming

In true 3D programming languages like Unreal or Unity, you have complete control over the positions and rotations of the Objects you place in your environment. However, for VR environments, you don’t need to be a programmer to make it work. Instead, you need to understand how to make it all work behind the scenes.

Depending on your background, you may or may not have a natural inclination to program. If you’re not the technical type, consider looking into web development or even computer science, which could lead you to a career in software development. For those interested in game development, this is a field that is constantly evolving and changing, so if you’re looking to get into the industry, now is a good time to do so.

Step four: Testing And Optimization

Finally, you need to test and optimize your VR application. Just like any other digital creation, your VR application may have bugs or glitches, which could potentially ruin the entire experience for yourself or others. So while you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, you also need to keep in mind that this is a beta version (roughly speaking) of your product, and it could still need some work.

The final step in the creation process is to optimize your product for the VR platform you’ve chosen. Once you’ve done that, you can sit back and enjoy your work — knowing that others can now have an experience that is much more comfortable and enjoyable than before.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve just created your perfect VR environment. That is, until the next person decides it isn’t and comes and stabs you in the back. Be careful out there.