Senior Developer Adam Horvath has joined 80 Level to tell us more about Whitewater VR, a highly-realistic kayaking simulator for virtual reality, and explain how Unreal Engine and its Blueprints system help to set up the game's mechanics and digital water.
Hello everyone! My name is Adam Horvath, and I am a Senior Unreal Engine Developer living in Budapest, Hungary. I've always had a strong passion for gaming and technology.
I was fascinated by the idea of creating interactive worlds and experiences. I started as a hobbyist developer, creating small applications and experimenting with various game engines. My journey into the industry began with a degree in computer science, where I studied different programming languages and design. Over time, I became increasingly interested in game development and decided to focus my career on developing tools, game concepts, and interactive experiences for AR and VR.
I’ve made some useful plugins to extend Unreal Engine's default functionalities such as Hand/Face/Pose tracker plugins, a Kinect-powered AR Virtual Dressing Mirror, and created a VR concept for my favorite strategy game Red Alert 2. After working on many interesting projects in the past few years, I decided to start my first commercial game project Whitewater VR: Extreme Kayaking Adventure.
Thoughts on Unreal Engine
I first learned about Unreal Engine several years ago when I was researching game engines to upgrade my augmented reality dressing room application to the next level. What excited me about Unreal Engine was its impressive graphical capabilities, scalability, and extensive community support. Also, Unreal Engine provides access to its source code, so it was quite easy to create missing functionalities using C++ and Blueprints.
Unreal Engine is often associated with realistic games and shooters due to its stunning graphics and physics capabilities. However, it's a versatile engine that can be used for a wide range of projects, from architectural visualization and educational simulations to artistic, abstract, and even non-gaming applications. The engine's flexibility and robust toolset make it suitable for various creative endeavors beyond traditional gaming.
The variety of tools within the Unreal Engine ecosystem is a significant advantage for developers. Having everything in one place, from animation and effects to shader creation and environmental generation, reduces the need to switch between multiple software packages. This seamless integration enables me to maintain a unified workflow, improving efficiency and allowing me to focus more on the creative aspects of the project.
Developing a VR Game With Unreal
Unreal Engine is known for pushing the boundaries of what's visually possible in real-time rendering, making it a fantastic choice for creating immersive VR environments. I wanted to push the limits of visual fidelity and realism as far as possible while maintaining optimal performance on current and previous-generation hardware.
One of the unique features of Whitewater VR is the realistic flowing water. The water was simulated inside the engine and then baked into textures, which made it possible to run in real-time. As far as I know, that is only possible with Unreal Engine. The last and one of the most important reasons why I chose Unreal is its rich ecosystem (Megascans, Unreal Engine Marketplace, etc.) that made it possible to access various assets and create five unique realistic environments as a solo developer.
Setting Up Gameplay Mechanics With Blueprints
Unreal Engine simplifies the setup of VR mechanics through its Blueprints system. Blueprints are a visual scripting language that allows me to create and prototype complex VR interactions without writing code. There is a wide range of VR templates, plug-ins, and VR development tools that expedite the creation of immersive VR experiences, including features like motion tracking and haptic feedback integration.
I use both C++ and Blueprints in my projects, however, using Blueprints is way faster. They save a considerable amount of time and streamline the development process. The visual nature of Blueprints makes it easier to understand and use, even for those with limited coding experience. With Blueprints, I can quickly iterate on VR interactions, test ideas, and create functional mechanics in a more efficient manner.
My current plans involve continuing the development of my game and expanding its reach to various platforms. Whitewater VR is participating in the Steam Next Fest in 2024 February, with a playable demo. Currently, I am focusing on the PCVR version. In the future, I am considering additional VR platforms, including Meta Quest 3 and PSVR2
Advice For Beginners
For beginners looking to get started with Unreal Engine and VR development, there are many valuable resources available. I recommend checking out the official Unreal Engine documentation, which offers comprehensive tutorials and guides for all skill levels.
Additionally, forums like Unreal Engine Forums, and Unreal Engine's Reddit community can be great places to ask questions and get assistance from experienced developers. Online learning platforms like Udemy also offer courses specific to Unreal Engine and VR development. Lastly, YouTube channels like Unreal Engine's official channel and various Unreal Engine community contributors provide a wealth of video tutorials to help you get started on your journey.
This content is brought to you by 80 Level in collaboration with Unreal Engine. We strive to highlight the best stories in the gamedev and art industries. You can read more Unreal Engine interviews with developers here.