One thing that I haven't mentioned so far is environment creation. This post is going to be longer than others but believe me I tried to keep this simple… Whether you are creating virtual reality experience or a game it requires worlds and objects for the audience to explore and experience. The environments can be complex and expansive or totally opposite.
It is really exciting to know that anything can be created, whether it is an environment as we know it like forest, city or an imaginary planet. However, as tempting it can be to let the imagination loose it is useful to learn a bit more about how 3D assets are created.
My first environment creation experience has been using Tilt Brush, it is a program used within headset to create 3D paintings and sculptures. There are also few other programs working on similar premises like Microsoft Maquette or Gravity Sketch. Benefit of using these types of programs is that the creator is wearing a headset while painting therefore they can experience the sketch in 3D. They can move around, see it from different perspectives and decide what angle they would like the audience to see the sketch from.
One thing to mention at this stage is that even though these tools are great for 3D assets creation once assets are imported into the game engine they might not have the same look and feel as they did within the painting software. This is particularly apparent with Tilt Brush, brushes have different colours and often animations which might not look the same in the game engine. Also when painting in the software you set certain lighting and this lighting will be different within the game engine. However, there is a way around it, it is possible to adjust settings in Unity to get Tilt Brush SDK and then the majority of brushes have the same look and feel. Something to consider is creation of a base sculpture and application of mesh (the colour of the sculpture) separately. If you decide to go down this route you might want to consider using Substance Painter. This software allows you to choose from many existing textures, colours, materials but also you can paint over the sculpture to decide on it’s look. You can also download free meshes from 3D texture website.
I should also mention that 3D assets creation can be done without use of a headset. There are many programs to create 3D assets and meshes amongst them: a SketchUp, Blender, Maya, Autodesk 3D. It might take some time to upskill, it is really a discipline in itself but programs like Tiltbrush are relatively easy to use.
However, if the idea of 3D painting or using any sort of 3D modelling software scares you but you still would like to try and create your own world, don’t worry there are many free and affordable 3D assets available online. These can be imported directly into the game engine from Poly, Sketchfab or TurboSquid. There are many assets available from environment building ones like furniture or trees, to spaceships and Mars craters. So, probably before being carried away with making crazy worlds it is worthwhile to think how the audience will be exploring them, will they be static or able to walk around? Would they be able to interact with any of the objects? What will happen if they walk into the object? Deciding on what you want your audience to see and how they will be able to explore the environment will help you decide on the contents of the world you want to create. Afterall there is no point of making an entire galaxy if audience is within windowless spaceship. I would definitely advice playing around with free assets in the game engine to understand how mesh and objects are brought together, there are many YouTube videos explaining how to do this. I would also recommend learning about creating skyboxes which is basically a sky that the audience will see, again YouTube is a great resource for that. This should give you basic abilities to create big or small worlds!