Nice article! I really liked the illustrations.
One of the things in VR that is sooner or later going to have to be tackled is tools to actually build this stuff. Right now, basically everything has to go through a traditional game engine and all the content also has to go through traditional tools (such as Cinema4D, 3dsmax, maya, etc.). This is quite a steep entry price, so to speak.
As a designer, not only will you have to understand the technical implications of how to design for VR interfaces, but you also have to know your way around modeling and animation tools in order to actually produce production ready stuff.
I'm holding out hope that there is a company out there right now that is working on fixing this very problem, but I can't say I'm holding my breath over it. Does anyone know of such a company? I know there's some work done by Mozilla for Web VR, but it seems fairly primitive so far.
Thank you for the feedback!
Unfortunately there is a lack of tools when designing for virtual reality. Framer has started implementing VR to their toolkit. I use Cinema4D and Unity3D for building VR prototypes. Fortunately the two larges game engines (Unity3D and Unreal) are free.
What I am the most excited about is designers using environmental design in order to create comprehensive user experiences. For simple interactions I can imagine using prototyping tools being helpful, however for more complex sceneries I don't see a way around game engines and traditional 3D tools in the near future.
I'm actually thinking of it from the angle of making 3D tools themselves also more accessible and usable to designers. I think the market has to go toward that direction, not just because of VR but also Augmented Reality (some people are starting to call this mixed reality now? what?). When AR really starts taking off, I think there will be a big demand for tools that can streamline this process.
Agreed, 3D tools have the potential to be suitable for VR prototyping.
About MR. Mixed reality is a more relevant term then augmented reality, because it covers both augmented reality (AR) and augmented virtuality (AV).
You can read more about the reality-virtuality continuum on its well written wiki page.
I'm actually thinking of it from the angle of making 3D tools themselves also more accessible and usable to designers.
I agree that 3D tools have a steep learning curve, but it's somewhat out of necessity. We're still trying to make great 2D prototyping tools, and 3D is vastly more complicated. I don't see it happening anytime soon unless someone makes a quantum leap.
I've personally found Unity a lot more beginner-friendly than Unreal Engine, and they seem to be taking quicker strides towards making their app more accessible to people coming from a 2D design background.
Great article, and I love the animations used to illustrate each point!
Thank you! I am currently working on the functional prototype for each use case, I hope I will be able to release it in the upcoming few months.