The amount of VR tools that are available can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. This resource will help you get an overview of popular VR tools and make it easier to find the right tools to use for your project.
Before we jump in:
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First of all, you need to choose an appropriate framework for your project.
Unity is the most popular framework when it comes to creating games. It can be used to create high-quality 2D and 3D games which can then be deployed across mobile, desktop, console, TV, R, AR and the Web. Subscriptions range from $0 for beginners to $125/month for pros.
Unreal Engine 4
If you are looking for a complete suite of real-time 3D tools for building games, simulations or visualizations then Unreal Engine 4 is for you. Generally, Unreal Engine 4 is free to use but you will have to pay a 5% royalty on gross product revenue from commercial products after the first $3,000 per game per calendar quarter.
CryEngine is another powerful game engine that supports Oculus Rift, Linux, HTC Vive, Windows PC, OSVR, PSVR, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Mobile support is in development. CryEngine is available under a royalty based model. Your first $5,000 of annual revenue per project is royalty free, then a 5% royalty fee has to be paid.
Amazon Sumerian is a fast and easy way to create VR, AR and 3D experiences without having any exerpertise. It runs on Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, Lenovo Mirage, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices. You can create an account for free and will then be charged certain rates based on scene storage and scene traffic.
A-Frame is a web-based framework for creating virtual reality experiences. It runs on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, desktop, as well as mobile platforms. As an independent open source project it is free to use. There is no need to install anything since it can be developed from a plain HTML file.
React 360 is a great tool for creating interactive VR and 360 experiences. It is an open source project and runs on PC, Mobile and VR devices.
Primrose is used for developing virtual reality experiences in the web browser. You could use it for building 3D chatrooms, live-programming environments, games, music sequencers and much more. Primrose can be used for free.
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With Simbol you can transform 3D content into a social VR experience. It allows you to create Virtual Personas that can interact with virtual worlds. You can use this software for free.
Use Vizor for creating VR content that you can easily share with people on any web-enabled device. Vizor is commonly used for VR storytelling.
Godot Engine is a free and open source game engine. It is said to be very user friendly and easy to use, ideal for people who don’t have experience in building VR games.
Apertus VR is an embeddable Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality engine which enables you to integrate virtual and augmented reality technology in new or existing products. It is completely free to use.
Simmetri is a creative VR workbench aimed at artists, educators, designers and students. You can use it for building VR experiences, animations, live interactive art, games, physics experiments and much more. You can purchase the software for $19.99.
Beloola is a platform that allows you to create your own 3D space where you can then meet and interact with people in real-time.
Kokowa is a free to use webVR publishing platform for non-programmers. It makes creating and sharing webVR content really easy.
With VRCHIVE you can create 360 degree panoramas and share them easily across devices.
Use SceneVR for a new way of storytelling. You can easily transform your panoramic photos into VR scenes.
LÖVR is a free simple framwork for building VR experiences with Lua. Lua is a fun little scripting language that is easy to use. LÖVR projects run on an Oculus Rift and an HTC Rift and can even be exported to WebVR.
Google Daydream is a platform for creating high quality, mobile VR experiences. It provides software development kits (SDKs) for Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal, Android NDK and Web.
3D Modeling and Animation Programs
The following tools can be used for creating your own 3D models and animations which you can then use in your VR projects.
Blender is a free 3D creation suite. It can be used for modeling, simulation, animation, rigging, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, game creation and video editing.
Maya provides a toolset that you can use for for animation, motion graphics, environments, virtual reality and character creation. A one year subscription costs around $2,000. Students can use it for free for 3 years.
3ds Max is a 3D modeling and rendering software that helps you create massive worlds in games.
With Blocks, you can create models in VR. With six tools you can create models as simple as a mug and as complex as a spaceship.
With Mixamo you can easily create animated 3D characters without having any 3D knowledge.
ZBrush is a great tool for digital sculpting in a real-time environment.
MODO Indie is the perfect package for indie game makers that includes tools for 3D modeling, animation and sculpting.
Speedtree is a tool for 3D vegetation modeling for UE4.
Wings 3D is an advanced subdivision modeler that offers a wide range of modeling tools and a customizable interface.
FreeCAD is a free 3D modeler made primarily to design real-life objects of any size.
Anim8or is a 3D modeling and character animation program.
DeleD 3Deditor CE
DeleD is a 3D modeler and level-editor combined into one. It is specifically designed to create static scenes in games.
With A-Painter you can paint in 3D using hand-tracked motion controllers.
With Recap360 you can create 3D models from photographs.
If you would like to save some time and effort you can easily download great 3D models from one of these platforms.
Sketchfab is a platform where you can find and publish 3D models online.
Unity Asset Store
Unity Asset Store is an online store where you can purchase 3D models.
TurboSquid offers 3D models which are used by game developers, news agencies, architects, visual effects studios, advertisers, and creative professionals around the world.
Free3D offers a collection of over 16,000 free 3D models.
NASA Space Models
NASA actually has a model library of everything space, from models of astronauts to lunar modules to shuttles.
3Delicious They have free 3D models of cars, furniture and technology among others.
Oyonale offers a nice range of high quality models.
DMI 3D has amazing vehicles, anything from WWII tanks to modern race cars.
CadNav offers tons of free 3D models from aircrafts over furniture to weapons.
Clara.io offers 3D models of vehicles, people, science fiction, architecture and many more.
archive3D has loads of furniture 3D models available for download.
cgtrader has free 3D models available for download from car to human 3D assets.
Sketching & Prototyping
Use the following tools for sketching and prototyping.
Gravity Sketch is an intuitive creation tool designed for mixed reality. You can create 3D models and concept drafts.
Tilt Brush lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality.
Quill is a rich text editor.
Substance is a 3D painting software that lets you texture with brushes, masks and particles.
Quixel offers thousands of PBR scans for games, visualization and VFX.
Textures.com is a website that offers digital pictures of all sorts of materials. They have pictures of fabrics, wood, metal, bricks, plastic, and many more.
Unbound enables players to make 3D things in a new and fun way.
Oculus Medium lets you sculpt, paint, model, and create objects in a VR environment.
These guides and tutorials might help you to get familiar with VR tools.
VR Toolkit is a collection of scripts for prototyping in Unity.
VR Glossary is a glossary of terms that are used in the VR industry.
VRTK is a collection of scripts that will help you use Unity3d 5+.
NewtonVR is a virtual reality interaction system for tracked controllers.
Unity Tutorials is a list of award winning tutorials from Unity.
More Unity Tutorials is a list of some good Unity tutorials.
Blender Tutorials is a collection of video tutorials on how to use Blender.
Oculus Best Practices are designed to help you create great VR content.
Unity Hotkeys is an overview of Unity keyboard shortcuts.
Good lighting resources for Unity is a list of recommended lighting resources for Unity.
How to Render your Blocks with Unity is a Youtube tutorial on how to render blocks in Unity.
GPU Performance for Game Artists is an article about performance for game artists.
The Book of Shaders is a step-by-step guide through the abstract and complex universe of Fragment Shaders.
Unity Compute Shaders is a Youtube tutorial on how to use compute shader.
Create a Fog Shader is a guide on how to create a fog shader.
Mixed Lighting in Unity is a blog post about mixed lighting in Unity.
Getting Started in WebVR shows you a way to think about WebVR and acquaint yourself with what it is.
Export a rotating GIF in Blender is a Youtube tutorial on how to export a rotating GIF in Blender.
In-Depth With Tilt Brush 8.0: Paint In 2D And Capture 360-degree Videos is a guide for Tilt Brush.
Game Engine Architecture is a book written by Jason Gregory.
Vision Science is a book written by Stephen E. Palmer.
Computer Vision: Algorithms and Applications is a 900+ pages resource on algorithms and applications.
VR Design Best Practices is an article published on Medium.
Mitch’s VR Lab is a great Youtube channel about VR.
Introduction to VR UI in Unity is a Youtube tutorial.
Five ways to reduce motion sickness in VR is a Youtube tutorial on how to reduce motion sickness in VR.