Why You Should Use VRTK as your SDK

WHY VRTK?

Because it’s brilliant, that’s why. Also, it can support a wide variety of formats the most important (for me) being VIVE and Oculus. These were the two main platforms that we wanted to come out on.

Once I learned to create a world in Unity, I couldn’t rest until I’d looked at it in my new VIVE headset. I was hooked! I wanted more. I wanted to move around in my world. And that was a little trickier.

I was a beginner to Unity and programming. I had no idea what I was doing. I tried tutorial after tutorial. Usually, I’d get stuck along the way because it didn’t work for me the way the tutorials did.

Then I learned about SteamVR and I got excited. It took awhile to figure out how to put the camera in the scene and get it working, nominally. But I was very excited.

Another tutorial show me that all I needed all along was to drop the “Player” into the scene (and also the “Teleportation” element). Wow, it worked! Now in order to teleport, all I had to do was add a teleport point to any place I wanted to go. Or to put down a teleport plane onto surfaces I wanted to walk across.

But after awhile, it got tedious. I’d put down a path of teleport points and they wouldn’t be close enough together. I had to fuss with them.

Then my co-conspirator Carolyn called and said forget SteamVR. Download VRTK. And I was like “Oh no, not *another* system. I just got SteamVR figured out!” So, I downloaded it and watch maybe one or two tutorials on how to build the VRTK SDK’s and *boom* I was off and running.

VRTK

GETTING STARTED WITH STEAMVR

Steps you through how to set up the SDK for SteamVR using VRTK.

VRTK Website:

https://vrtoolkit.readme.io/docs/getting-started

No need to put down those teleport points or teleport planes. I could go anywhere! It was a sudden freedom of movement.

So friendly. So easy. I think I was in love.

And other interactions were easy, like climbing. (I went a little crazy with climbing). There was even a tutorial to convert that first person shooter project. Nice. All I had to do was find a bunch of useful monsters and substitute them for the ones in the original, build a world and implement it all over again. (Okay, not super easy, but I did it).

CONVERT THE SURVIVAL SHOOTER TUTORIAL TO VRTK

I went through all the sample scenes, of which there are many, and found a ton of useful methods that gave me a lot of control over the interactions with the environment. You can create a gun holster, ziplines, throw things, use a sword! Lots more!

STILL USING STEAMVR?

So, if it’s so great, why did I keep one scene in my game with SteamVR instead of VRTK?

Well, it was the bow.

I loved the SteamVR bow; it’s awesome! (You know, the one from the Lab?) Also, early on, I’d done a tutorial where I learned to make it spawn on the player’s back and return there. Pretty cool.

Try as we might, we just couldn’t get the VRTK bow to work in a way we liked. We called it the “Sausage bow” because in the tutorial, it was made of little links. So, in the Skyway scene, we kept SteamVR instead of VRTK. Still need to sort out a decent bow to use in VRTK. (Email me if you know how).

Here’s Eddie Balderas‘s tutorial on setting up the SteamVR bow to spawn on the player’s back.

NO MORE VRTK? OR IS THERE?

Then I heard the sad news that the developer, thestonefox  (https://github.com/thestonefox/VRTK) was no longer developing it and I felt a little crushed. Still, he was maintaining the SDKs, so I kept using them, hoping to get through with the game before it became obsolete.

But then I heard the good news: VRTK and theStoneFox is back in business! Apparently funded by Oculus. Yay! Good news. I wasn’t keen to learn a whole new system, though I suppose in the ever-changing world of VR, it’s inevitable at some point.

Just not today.