The latest version of the popular Unreal Engine is bringing in several improvements aimed at developers of virtual reality (VR) titles. Most of the changes are concerned with the different camera types and perspectives.
The first improvement to be introduced in Unreal Engine 4.17 for VR developers is the Spectator Screen Support for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. The spectator screen is what would be regarded as the ‘normal’ output device for non-VR titles, usually a monitor or TV. The spectator screen function means that when one player is using the head mounted display (HMD) other people can watch or interact with what is going on using the TV or monitor.
The new update allows any texture, including render targets or UI elements to be sent to the spectator screen in addition to, or instead of, the view displayed in the headset.
PC and PlayStation VR platforms will support this function, mobile will largely not.
Another camera-related improvement is the VR Mode Camera Previews. In this, selecting a camera in a scene, or a character that acts as a camera viewpoint, will give the developer an in-world preview of what that camera can see. This view can be pinned similarly to the desktop camera preview.
A number of ‘quality of life’ minor improvements have also been included, such as an option to allow developers to disable the auto-minimise feature on the Play-in-Editor when using VR Preview.
Full information on the changes and improvements to Unreal Engine 4.17 can be found in the official patch notes.
VRFocus will continue to report on developments and improvements in VR tools and technology.