We’ve seen Unity’s impressive in-VR authoring tool a few times throughout 2016, with no real clue of when it’s coming. That changed today.
Speaking at the 2016 Unite conference in Los Angeles, Principal Engineer of Unity Labs Amir Ebrahimi confirmed that the in-VR editor would be launching in December and Principal Designer Timoni West showed it off in action.
— Unity (@unity3d) November 1, 2016
For the demo, the pair headed to the iconic lookout tower seen in Santo Campo’s Firewatch, which was released on Valve’s Destinations app late last month. This time, West used the HTC Vive, having used the Oculus Rift with Touch controllers in previous demos. The Vive wands appeared within the experience, with laser pointers extending out from the front ends to help select objects.
West pressed a ‘Unity button’ to bring up a menu, which hovered above one controller. She brought up a project view, described as “the 3D equivalent of a window.” Files of game objects were listed, and West could simply reach over and grab the ones she wanted then place them in the game world. Ebrahimi, meanwhile, assured that developers wouldn’t have to learn anything new to use the editor, which he dubbed ‘EVR,’ which was short EditorVR.
“One reason we decided to go with Firewatch instead of a native VR experience is that we think this will be genuinely useful for you, even if you’re not making a VR experience, you’re just making a VR experience in 3D,” West added.
She then brought up the inspector, which could be used to quickly edit the world. They even demonstrated different number pads, one of which could be interacted with like it was a drum that you were hitting with drum sticks. The console and profilers were then brought up, showing data on movable windows, while the chessboard, a minimap of the area you’re already in, also made a return. In fact, two chessboards were shown to allow moving objects to further distances.
Finally, the pair debuted Tools, featuring VR-specific extensions for Unity. EVR features an open API that developers can use to quickly build or extend functionality. One example of this was Creations, which allows a developer to quickly sculpt with one controller. Tvori, a VR creation tool we recently called the “most impressive piece of VR creation software” since Tilt Brush, was also shown fully integrated with the system. Using it, West recorded item movements.
It was a hugely impressive display from Unity, and developers won’t have to wait long to have it on their hands.
Update: Unity is aiming the VR editor to launch in December. Representatives from the company didn’t want to commit to a specific launch date.