Friday, September 11, 2015

Quick Look: Using Unity 5.2 native VR support to create a scene for the Rift

Unity 5.2 came out before I had time to write a 5.1 native VR post. With the book out,  I can now get back to writing blog posts. Here's what happened when I took a look at using Unity 5.2 native VR support to create scenes for the Rift.

I downloaded Unity 5.2 and gave it a quick trial run with the DK2, the Oculus Runtime 0.7.0-beta, and the Oculus Utilities for Unity 5 0.1.0-beta package. As you might have guessed from the runtime version, this test was Windows only. To test it all out, I built a quick sample scene using assets found in the Unity standard asset packages, enabled native VR to get the scene on the Rift, added a player character, and then did a test build and run.

Enabling VR and getting the scene on the Rift

I used the same sample scene I’ve used in all my previous tests, a simple beach scene with a few palm trees created using assets from the Unity standard asset Environment package along with a single camera located at 0, 1, 0.

The example scene

To run the scene on the Rift, I selected Edit > Project Settings > Player > Other Settings and made sure that Virtual Reality Supported was checked.

Player Settings for VR

That done, with the Rift plugged in, I pressed Play in the Editor and was able to see the scene both in the Editor window and on the Rift (with the 0.7 runtime and Unity 5.2, direct mode works in the Editor).  As I moved the headset around, I could see that head tracking was enabled and with the Rift on, I could look anywhere I wanted in the scene. Two differences to note between the Editor view and the Rift view: first, the Editor preview is monoscopic and does not include lens correction, and second,  the Oculus Health and Safety warning is visible in the Rift view, but not visible in the Editor window.

With only a camera in the scene and no scripts for navigation, I couldn’t move anywhere. So, my next step was to add a player character.

Adding a player character to navigate the scene

The first option for quickly adding a player character I looked at was to use the first-person player character prefab  from the Unity standard assets Characters package. After downloading this package, I  simply dragged the FPSController prefab onto the scene and pressed play. This worked, but even though I've been using VR for a while and have my "VR Legs," I still found the default speeds for this controller fairly uncomfortable. 

After a break, I took a look at a second option: using the first-person player character prefab (OVRPlayerController) found in the  Oculus Utilities for Unity package. This package contains a variety of scripts and utilities that can be used to improve the VR experience (which I’ll be looking at in future posts) along with the first-person player character prefab.

The OVRPlayerController prefab from the Oculus Utilities for Unity package is a basic character controller that uses A, S, D, W controls.  The default speeds were slower than the first option I tried and, for me, were much more comfortable to use. In addition, like versions of this prefab from the older integration package, it includes a menu of diagnostic information you can view by pressing the space bar. 

Using this menu, I saw that I was easily getting 75 FPS for my sample scene.  A good start.  One issue I noticed though, was that while running the scene with the player prefab from the Oculus Utilities for Unity package, the console would sometimes be spammed with following error:

Quaternion To Matrix conversion failed because input Quaternion is invalid {0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000, 0.000000} l=0.000000
UnityEngine.Matrix4x4:TRS(Vector3, Quaternion, Vector3)
OVRTrackerBounds:Update() (at Assets/OVR/Scripts/Util/OVRTrackerBounds.cs:151)

Looking on the forums, this does not appear to be a serious issue, and word is it should be fixed in an upcoming release.

Now that I had a VR scene that I could navigate, the next step was to do a test build and run.

Building and running the test application

In previous versions, building a VR application resulted in two executables: <application>_DirectToRift.exe and <application>.exe.  Now there is just one: <application>.exe.

I first tried just selecting File > Build Settings > Build and Run but this didn't work as the application failed to run. I then built the application and ran the executable by clicking on it and that worked fine.

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