Unreal Engine 4 will let devs build VR while inside VR

What better way could there be to build virtual reality games than from within virtual reality? Epic Games couldn't agree more.

Virtual reality may have seemed at first like a passing craze, but now it seems it's here to stay -- as evidenced by Epic Games' newest tool for Unreal Engine 4, the VR editor.

The makers of one of the most widely-used game engines available have already been heavily invested in creating tools for VR development; including making Unreal Engine 4 a VR-native development platform. The next logical step for developers is to move from just previewing their work in virtual reality to actually building within it -- something Epic Games promises its users will soon be able to do.

Currently, Unreal Engine 4 is compatible with all the major VR gear, including Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Steam VR, Leap Motion, PlayStation VR, and of course, Oculus Rift. This means that games built using the engine can be previewed using the gear they were designed for. However, changes cannot currently be made from within the game. Forthcoming updates will change that, allowing developers to use HTC Vive or Oculus Rift motion controls to manipulate the game from within.

Epic Games has discussed several applications for VR beyond gaming in their documentary series Sense of Presence, including uses in architecture and design, biology and medicine. Being able to develop from within could have its uses in these and other areas as well, making the VR editor as valuable a tool as the Unreal Engine itself.

Though there isn't currently a release date, there will be a more in-depth demonstration and release date information revealed on March 16 at Game Developers Conference 2016.

How useful do you think this capability will be for game developers? How do you think it will streamline the development process? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Published Feb. 7th 2016
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