How to become a VR Engineer in 2020 - Also, the difference between Design and Engineering.
Do you remember that episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon touches Leonard's cheek while wearing Virtual Reality glasses, and scares the crap out of himself?
As hilarious as that episode was, it was also pretty accurate about Virtual Reality (VR) and how it can transport you to a completely different world without you having to move an inch.
Think about it, you can learn to drive - without driving an actual car! Which is wicked, because amateurs are statistically more likely to run into accidents (don't hate the player, hate the game).
Or, if you're a closet Tony Stark (without his millions, but with his thirst for knowledge), you can learn how to fix engines in a workshop environment, with all the necessary tools and techniques. Heck, you can play games in Antarctica, surrounded by ice, without having to worry about unpleasant realities like frostbite.
It wouldn't be wrong to call VR one the most amazing inventions of the digitized world because of the stunning possibilities this technology has to offer. It can transform your corporeal world by offering a virtual habitat, complete with sensations, stimuli, and resources.
All you need to do in most cases is put on your VR headset, or other supporting equipment, and - voila, you can access any type of reality you want. VR Technology is being used for education, gaming, training, and even science. It's more than versatile, and in case you're interested here are some fabulous examples of how VR is impacting our world.
Boaz Ashkenazy is Founder and CEO of Simply Augmented - an augmented reality platform that helps enterprises interact with their customers in novel and unique ways, and creates new opportunities for sales.
He and his team work to bring virtual and tangible worlds together. One of his noteworthy projects involves working with the Smithsonian to make Augmented Reality technology available through mobile devices. Users will be able to download solid and life-like images with a few clicks and a QR code.
Can you imagine the kind of knowledge that would pour out of institutions like the Smithsonian if this kind of technology was applied everywhere? The mind boggles.
Chance is one of the founding members of the Call of Duty franchise, and his venture 'Doghead Simulations' is all about bringing VR collaboration to business teams. Their product 'rumii' can help businesses connect with their teams or co-workers in an invite-only highly realistic space, and work in collaboration.
Rumii has the potential to revolutionize education and training techniques by allowing people to immerse themselves in an engaging environment. Recently, Doghead Simulations in a technology partnership with Parsons School of Design and the New School, was chosen as one of the winners of the Verizon 5G Edtech Challenge.
From real estate showings to decorating your room in a virtual setting, there isn't much that VR can't contribute to. Industry giants like Nike and IKEA are looking into VR possibilities, and who knows how far businesses will be willing to invest in VR in a post-COVID-19 landscape.
What are the basic technical skills to get into the VR/AR/MR World?
Before we get into the details of the requisite skills required to enter the XR world, there's something we need to clarify.
People can sometimes get mixed up between VR, AR, and MR. But Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality are three different domains of virtualization, and, collectively they're referred to as XR (or Extended Reality).
There's also a variation in the way these technologies are utilized - for instance, VR involves the process of integrating virtual sensations, operations, and working within a virtual environment. Whereas, AR is the process of integrating virtual objects in the real environment, like trying on a pair of shoes available in an online store.
Ever since VR was first popularized back in the 1950s, global tech companies have been trying to create simulations, virtual environments, and relevant hardware resources to make advances in the field.
Programming languages and integration IDEs are also being enhanced to create a feasible interface for developers and VR engineers to have their applications made. VR requires an entirely independent and different set of programming libraries, packages, hardware, drivers, IDEs and programming tools.
Starting with - programming languages. As a matter of fact, VR started with competitive languages of C, C++,C#, and Java. However, the latest technological innovations have prompted the use of C# and C++ for the development of VR technology. There are quite a few libraries available to enjoy the features in a single go.
One of the most popular libraries is MonoBehavior of C#. That’s probably because it has all the essential tools and features available to integrate VR through programming. However, you can also use some of its features with others that are integrated with IDEs.
Learn what you should choose: https://www.valuecoders.com/blog/technology-and-apps/unreal-engine-vs-unity-3d-games-development/
As far as development IDEs are concerned, Unity and Unreal 3D engines are dominating the market.These engines provide an excellent interface for development, with a large number of tools to use for front and back end development.
But, this takes me back to my first point - which is learning C# or C++. The catch is, that learning the VR library can be challenging for someone used to enterprise software applications.
That’s exactly what Ihar Heneralau, CEO of ICVR said when I had the opportunity to interview him. He believes that senior software engineers working on enterprise applications have to conquer a massive learning curve when it comes to Unity/Unreal Engines.
It takes a whopping 3+ years to become a mid-level engineer. Which is why companies can sometimes choose to invest in a junior engineer (the way Mr. Heneralau has done in the past) to mold and mentor them for their specific surroundings. Obviously, the situation requires an individual who’s extremely passionate about gaming, and has taken the time to learn about what the job calls for before showing up for the interview.
Another thing you need to familiarize yourself with is - Autodesk. Softwares by Autodesk are used to design characters, environment options, and objects, among others. Autodesk tools allow engineers to create high-quality, multi-dimensional objects with ease and can take designing and rendering to a whole new level.
Autodesk's media and entertainment division have created brilliant 3D animation software like Maya and 3D Studio, and being proficient in the use of such software is a big plus.
The Adobe software collection is also a popular choice among VR developers. You can easily design and share augmented reality experiments using programs like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, within the software collection, without having to resort to complex coding.
Adobe has also managed to acquire Substance Painter, which is quickly becoming the benchmark for texturing 3D models and digital painting. The gaming and animation fields, in particular, have started to adopt the program as a standard.
Also, understanding the principles of Physical Display Rendering (PDR) workflow is vital to designing for VR. Boaz Ashkenazy, CEO of Simply Augmented believes that understanding this workflow truly makes the difference between solid AR and AR that can feel fake. Anyone who wants to learn more about PDR is a game-changer in VR, should click here.
While UX Design in VR is different from VR Engineering, it's still a crucial aspect of the designing experience.
UX or User Experience Design is a human-first manner of designing products. And, UX can apply to anything that can be experienced - be it a website, an object, or a virtual space.
It has to do with all the elements that shape the interaction between the user and the relevant product. This means that without good UX experience, a VR engineer lacks the one thing that's crucial to bring the VR experience to life - design.
web browser? Not to mention there are libraries and communities working together to widen the scope of XR over the internet.
Difference between Design and Development: https://www.seamedu.com/blog/confused-between-game-design-and-game-development/
What are the Soft Skills Every Leader wants in Gaming and Virtual Reality?
Right, so having covered the technical skills you're likely to require when it comes to the VR industry, let's move on to the soft skills you should have. Here are a few you might want to start working on.
Hangout: No, I'm not recommending the kind of hangout where you get boozed out of your mind and wake up in a foreign country with little or no memory.
I'm talking about networking and being able to communicate. The trend in the gaming and VR industry is that every studio has a really tight culture, that sort of works as a filter for separating the gold from the proverbial dross. That's why you need to be able to reach people about what you can offer.
Glen Schofield, CEO of Striking Distance Studios, made it clear, if you pass the first technical phone interview, and manage to clear the take home assessment - then there's a very big chance you're going to land the job. If you get onsite with the team in the studio, you are there to showcase your personality and creative thinking skills. Do your homework, hangout, and show them how you would problem solve in your day to day. They want to imagine what it would be like working with you on an interpersonal level.
Engagement: When you do show up for your interview, make sure you bring your A-game. Engage with the team and even ask a relevant question or two yourself.
You want people to know that you're interested in being a problem-solver. This is also where you'll have the chance to show your creativity by sharing ideas and concepts that can directly benefit the studio in some way.
Apart from that, any smart candidate will know to do their homework. That means you need to walk in the studio with knowledge of the products, services, or games that the studio deals with.
Attitude: Other than being a technical whizz (sort of), it doesn't hurt to be the kind of person businesses will want to invest in. What kind is that you ask? Two words - responsible and determined.
You want to be the kind of person that makes an effort to get along with the team and has drive and ambition. Every single person we interviewed, including Ihar Heneralau (CEO of ICVR), essentially said, 'We can train skills, but cannot train attitude and drive.'
What are common mistakes that people make in their interviews?
Interviews may seem like a form of cruel and unusual punishment, but there's no reason why you can't ace them if you avoid the following mistakes.
Resume Inflation: People go out of their way to make their resumes appear impressive. The problem generally begins when you get too carried away. Avoid all attempts at resume inflation. Be genuine and include information you're prepared to be challenged or questioned on.
Preparing Yourself: Another classic interview oopsie is being underprepared. Nothing leaves a bad impression quite like walking into an interview as dull as dishwater. You can easily avoid this roadblock by familiarizing yourself with the kind of work the studio produces.
Communication Woes: Anxiety kills creativity. It can also ruin your chances of landing a good job if you pull the ole robocop routine. Instead, be inquisitive and engage the interviewers. Getting the answer right is generally not the main goal of these interviews. The goal is to understand who you are as a person.
Mike Mctyre- Mike Mctyre was big about being honest with yourself and doing your research. He also said, “There are no straight lines to success, follow your gut.” The biggest mistakes candidates make in interviews are being unfamiliar with company products and games that they produce, and because of this, are unable to offer insight as to what works and what doesn't. This is not a tremendous red flag but it does separate you from the pack of candidates who are familiar with what Survios works on.
So, best advice we can give you
Here's my two-cents worth on how you can make yourself a stellar potential candidate.
The starting point is touching up your technical skills and knowledge. You also need to gather information about the company you're planning on interviewing for.
The more detailed your know-how about a studio's reputation is, the more you'll be able to engage in the interview. Remember that some businesses are willing to invest in junior engineers, but you'll have to display your willingness to learn and conform.
Another aspect you should focus on is strengthening your problem-solving abilities and coming up with creative answers to any issue that's particular to the relevant business. It's not about whether you are willing to drink the kool-aid, but whether you're willing to drink just the right amount.
Finally, you should be able to communicate that you're willing to learn and grow in your potential field and that you can positively contribute to the company's growth.
Now, you have the keys to a successful interview. It’s up to you to showcase not only your skills, but your motivation and personality to the team.