Meta Releases UE4 Graphics Demo to Show What Quest 2 Can Do with Expert Optimization

In an effort to help PC VR developers bring their content to Quest 2, Meta has ported Showdown, an old UE4 VR graphics showcase, to the headset as a case study in optimization best practices.

Showdown is a UE4 PC VR demo originally made by Epic Games back in 2014 to show off high-fidelity VR graphics running at 90Hz on a GTX 980 GPU at a 1,080 × 1,200 (1.3MP) per-eye resolution.

Eight years later, you can now run Showdown on Quest 2 at 90Hz on the headset’s Snapdragon XR2 chip at 1,832 × 1,920 (3.5MP) per-eye resolution.

Meta ported the short demo as a case study in optimizing PC VR content to run on Quest 2.

And while the app has been heavily optimized and doesn’t look as good as its PC VR counterpart—decent anti-aliasing, lighting, and high-res textures are missing—it shows that developers don’t have to shy away from lots of objects, particles, and effects just because they’re targeting Quest 2.

The video above looks slightly worse than the experience in the headset itself due to a low-ish bitrate recording and the visibility of fixed foveated rendering (lower resolution in the corners of the image), which is significantly less visible in the headset itself due to blurring of the lens. Here’s Showdown running on PC if you’d like to see a comparison.

It’s not the best-looking thing we’ve seen on Quest 2, but it’s a good reminder that Quest 2’s low-power mobile chip can achieve something akin to PS2 graphics at 90Hz.

Meta’s Zac Drake published a two-part breakdown of the process of profiling the app’s performance with the company’s App Spacewarp tech, and the process of optimizing the app to run at 90Hz on Quest 2.

The GTX 980 GPU (which Showdown originally targeted on PC) is at least six times more powerful than the GPU in Quest 2… so there was a lot of work to do.

While the guide is specific to projects built with UE4, the overall process, as surmised by Drake, applies to optimizing any project to run on the headset:

  1. Get the project building and running on Quest
  2. Disable performance intensive features
  3. Measure baseline performance
  4. Optimize the stripped down project
  5. Optimize individual features as we re-enable them
  6. Re-enable feature
  7. Measure performance impact
  8. Optimize as needed

Although it’s plenty possible to get ambitious PC VR games running on Quest 2, building from the ground up with the headset in mind from the outset is sure to bring better results, as developer Vertical Robot is hoping to prove with its upcoming Red Matter 2.

The post Meta Releases UE4 Graphics Demo to Show What Quest 2 Can Do with Expert Optimization appeared first on Road to VR.

Unreal Engine Gets OpenXR Improvements Just in Time for Oculus Development Shift

The latest version of Unreal Engine 4, version 4.27, brings “production-ready” support for OpenXR. The change comes just in time for Oculus developers, as the company recently announced it’s fully moving open to the OpenXR standard for VR development going forward.

You may recall news back in May that the early access version of Unreal Engine 5 includes improved support for OpenXR. And while developers can play with that version of the engine and its XR tools, the engine’s creator (Epic Games), doesn’t recommend the early access version of Unreal Engine 5 for anything more than experiments at this point. For developers building anything they intend to ship to the public, the company is still recommends Unreal Engine 4.

Since Unreal Engine 5 itself isn’t ready for prime time, Epic Games is continuing to update the production-ready Unreal Engine 4. The latest of which, version 4.27, is the first that the company says includes production-ready OpenXR capabilities.

OpenXR is a royalty-free standard that aims to standardize the development of VR and AR applications, making hardware and software more interoperable. The standard has been in development since April 2017 and is backed by virtually every major hardware, platform, and engine company in the VR industry, including key AR players.

OpenXR has seen a slow but steady adoption since reaching version ‘1.0’ in 2019, and in the last 12 months it has significantly picked up pace with SteamVR officially supported it back in February and Oculus announcing last month that it’s going “all in” on the standard, saying that all new developer features will be built on top of OpenXR going forward.

That makes Unreal Engine 4.27 a timely release; when Oculus said it would be fully shifting to OpenXR development last month, it put XR developers in an odd spot because the two biggest game engines, Unity and Unreal Engine, didn’t yet claim to offer production-ready OpenXR support.

Unity developers will have to wait a while longer before they can confidently make the leap to OpenXR as oculus expects that the Unity OpenXR plugin won’t be “fully supported” until early 2022. That will be a bigger deal once it finally happens because Unity is far and away more used than Unreal Engine when it comes to building XR content.

But maybe developers should take another look… last we checked, Oculus still has a special deal for developers building VR apps with Unreal Engine; the company offers to cover engine royalties for a game’s first $5 million in revenue.

Epic says that the OpenXR support in Unreal Engine 4.27 supports extension plugins from the Unreal Marketplace, which means that developers can add extra OpenXR functionality through plugins rather than waiting for updates to the entire engine.

New VR and AR Development Templates

Unreal Engine 4.27 also adds an improved VR Template which Epic says is “designed to be a starting point for all your VR projects,” and comes with basic VR capabilities built-in, like teleport locomotion, snap rotation, object grabbing, a spectator camera, and a VR-capable menu system.

The VR Template offers support for Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Quest with Oculus Link, Rift S, Valve Index, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality. Thanks to OpenXR, Epic says that “the template’s logic works on multiple platforms and devices without any platform-specific checks or calls.”

For PC VR, Unreal Engine 4.27 also includes experimental support for fixed foveated rendering, a technique which reduces the quality of peripheral imagery in favor of higher quality at the center where the user can see most sharply through the lens. Fixed foveated rendering in Unreal Engine 4.27 is currently limited to Windows platforms with DX12 and a GPU supporting VRS Tier 2.

Unreal Engine 4.27 also includes a new template for handheld AR development which is designed as a starting point for developers building AR apps based on ARCore (Android) and ARKit (iOS). Similar to the VR template, the AR Template includes basics like a built-in UI, a tool for users to take snapshots of the AR content, and the ability to move, rotate, and scale models places into the world.

The new engine update further includes heaps of improvements to Unreal Engine’s virtual production tools which are designed to combine real-time CGI environments with live-action filmmaking. Check out the complete patch notes for Unreal Engine 4.27 here if you want to go in-depth.

The post Unreal Engine Gets OpenXR Improvements Just in Time for Oculus Development Shift appeared first on Road to VR.

Facebook ‘Phase Sync’ Tech Can Dramatically Reduce Quest App Latency

A new Oculus For Developers blog post details the addition of Phase Sync, a frame-timing management technology, to the Oculus Mobile SDK. Implementation can result in dramatic latency reduction for some Quest 2 apps.

The Phase Sync technology was originally introduced for the Oculus PC SDK, but is now available for Facebook’s mobile VR devices as well. This provides developers with an alternate method of frame timing management that can dramatically cut down latency. According to Facebook, due to increased GPU and CPU compute in Quest 2, many apps “can finish rendering their frames earlier than planned” resulting in so-called “early frames”. Facebook used the graphic embedded below to demonstrate the difference between Phase Sync and the existing fixed-latency mode:

phase sync quest 2

In the “Impacts and Considerations” section of the post, Facebook details how they’ve already enabled Phase Sync on some Oculus apps to great results:

We have enabled Phase Sync on a couple of Oculus apps, for which the latency savings have been fairly impressive. For example, we were able to achieve a 10 milliseconds latency reduction in Oculus Home with Quest 2, and an 8 milliseconds reduction with Quest.

We encourage every in-development app to enable it, especially if your app is latency sensitive (if it uses hand tracking, for example). 

As developers enable Phase Sync, it is possible certain Quest 2 apps may see a similarly significant reduction in latency. That, in turn, should equate to a significantly improved the experience for the end user. If you’ve heard about a developer who implemented the feature on Quest, please share in the comments. We’re curious to see what results developers find with their apps after implementing the feature.

Developers can access Phase Sync as an opt-in feature in V23 of the Mobile SDK. It has also been integrated into the latest versions of Unreal Engine 4 and Unity.

For a more in-depth break down of Phase Sync, check out the Oculus for Developers blog post.

Unreal Engine Apps Can Now Be Built with Quest Hand-tracking

An update to Oculus developer tools has brought a handful of updates, including support for Quest hand-tracking in Unreal Engine 4.

Oculus released controllerless hand-tracking on Oculus Quest as a beta feature back in late 2019. At the time, the company had only added support to the Oculus Unity integration, meaning that developers building apps in Unreal Engine didn’t have access to the feature.

Hand-tracking on Quest went from beta to a fully-fledged feature last month, allowing developers to publish third-party apps with hand-tracking in the Oculus Quest store.

Now Oculus has updated its Unreal Engine integration with support for Quest hand-tracking in the v17.0 release. This allows developers working in Unreal Engine to make their app work with both controllers and hands, or hands-only, by selecting the appropriate option in the OculusVR plugin, and rigging up the rest of their app according to the newly released documentation.

Oculus is (still) Covering Unreal Engine Royalties for $5M in Revenue Per-game Through 2025

The v17.0 release for both Unity and Unreal engine also adds new capabilities to help developers achieve consistent color grading across Oculus’ different headsets (all of which use different displays).

Both Unity and Unreal Engine integrations now allow developers to choose a specific color space to work in; grading an app’s colors against a specific color space allows each headset to more accurately display the colors intended by the developer, even when the displays have different color capabilities.

Oculus published a new ‘Color and Brightness Mastering Guide‘ for developers which overviews four color space standards which are supported and provides recommendations for color mastering to “avoid issues with low-level banding, hue shift, and under or over-saturation.”

We recommend app developers to master all of their applications for the Oculus Rift and Rift S to the Rift CV1 color space on an Oculus Rift CV1, Rec.2020 color space for Oculus Quest, and Rec.709 color space for Oculus Go. The OLED display has a wider color gamut than the LCD and allows for richer visual experiences. VR apps authored for the Oculus Go and Rift S color spaces tend to have dull or washed out colors when viewed on the Oculus Quest and Rift CV1 displays.

Color space documentation specific to Unity, Unreal Engine, and the Oculus Mobile SDK has been added.

The post Unreal Engine Apps Can Now Be Built with Quest Hand-tracking appeared first on Road to VR.

Optim Turns Unreal Engine Enterprise Projects into VR-capable Apps for Collaboration & Review

Optim is a tool designed to make Unreal Engine more user-friendly for enterprise use-cases like design, visualization, and review. The latest version allows businesses to easily turn their projects into collaborative apps, allowing multiple parties to remotely step into the scene with expected features like voice chat, locomotion, and avatars.

While Unreal Engine is a popular game engine, the tool is also increasingly being used for things like architecture, visualization, training, planning, and even filmmaking.

Optim is a tool from Theia Interactive which is designed to simplify Unreal Engine for non-developers, making it easier for business without game development expertise to use the engine for these non-game development use-cases. Theia received an Unreal Dev Grant in 2018 for its work on Optim.

Released earlier this month, Optim 1.2 take an inverse approach to some other enterprise-focused VR collaboration tools. While most expect users to import data into some other app, Optim 1.2 allows users to simply turn their existing Unreal Engine projects into multiplayer apps which can be joined remotely via VR and desktop.

After preparing an Unreal Engine project, the user can package it as an app and send it to any participant who can launch it without installing any other tools. From there, the app is set up to automatically connect with other users, anywhere else on the internet, that are running the app at the same time.

Participants can join via desktop or VR headsets; once connected, users have expected ‘game’ capabilities (like movement and voice chat), which is pre-configured by Optim. The tool automatically includes fully-featured avatars and some useful extras like a whiteboard & pen, a laser pointer, and a virtual camera for saving photos.

Beyond just adding a set of pre-built collaboration features, Optim also offers pre-made environments like showrooms and office spaces to dress up the presentation with little additional work.

34 VR Apps for Remote Work, Education, Training, Design Review, and More

Unreal Engine actually already includes a ‘Collab Viewer Template‘ with similar capabilities, but Theia says that Optim streamlines the process for non-developers. This includes dynamic networking—which means hosts and participants don’t need to play with firewalls, IP addresses, or ports—as well as latency compensation and voice chat.

The new collaboration functionality in Optim 1.2 is part of the tool’s broader set of features which are designed to help enterprises easily navigate Unreal Engine and optimize their existing models and content to be able to run in real-time.

Image courtesy Theia Interactive

“Built to sit on top of Unreal Engine’s viewport, the [Optim] Toolkit has a sleek, easy-to-use UI that brings essential functionality out from the depths of extra windows and details panels. It provides a myriad of time-saving features, like clustered merging, batch LODs, simplified lightmap settings, and even a lightbuild scheduler,” Theia explains.

Optim uses a subscription model which starts at $12 per month (less if paid annually), though the ‘Multi-user Collaborative Template’ tier with the collaboration features starts at $90 per month (less if paid annually).

The post Optim Turns Unreal Engine Enterprise Projects into VR-capable Apps for Collaboration & Review appeared first on Road to VR.

Oculus is (still) Covering Unreal Engine Royalties for $5M in Revenue Per-game Through 2025

With the recent news that Unreal Engine was permanently waiving engine royalties for the first $1 million in app revenue, we were reminded of a similar program for VR apps based on Unreal Engine 4 that Oculus established back in 2016. We reached out to Oculus which confirmed that the program, which covers UE4 royalties for the first $5 million in revenue, is still in place and will continue through 2025.

Back in 2016, just a few months after Oculus launched its first Rift headset, the company announced a UE4 Royalty Payment program.

Although Epic Games announced last week that it will permanently waive Unreal Engine royalties for the first $1 million in app revenue, Oculus confirmed that its own program remains in place to cover Unreal Engine 4 royalties for the first $5 million in revenue from the Oculus store, per-app, through 2025.

While the change to Epic’s own royalty structure makes the Oculus program just a little less sweet, it’s still effectively free money back into the pockets of developers building VR apps with UE4.

Previously the program would have saved developers up to $250,000 per application; with the core changes to Unreal Engine’s royalty structure, the Oculus program will now save developers up to $200,000 (assuming all revenue from the Oculus store), though that first $50,000 will still get waived anyway given Epic’s new policy.

Unreal Engine 5 Tech Demo on PS5 Shows Where Next-gen Graphics are Headed

An Oculus spokesperson told Road to VR that the royalty waiver program only applies to Unreal Engine 4, but the company will consider extending it Unreal Engine 5 as well, which is due out in 2021. The company also clarified that the calculation for covering royalties on the first $5 million in revenue is based on gross revenue (which means before the 30% Oculus store cut).

While the Oculus royalty waiver program is applicable for apps on Quest, Rift, and Go, we aren’t clear on whether or not the same app launched on two or more headsets would be counted as a single app or separate apps in the eyes of the program. We’ve reached out to Oculus for clarity.

The post Oculus is (still) Covering Unreal Engine Royalties for $5M in Revenue Per-game Through 2025 appeared first on Road to VR.

Unreal Engine is Now Royalty-free for the First $1 Million in Revenue

The Unreal Engine 5 tech demo on PS5 wasn’t the only news Epic Games revealed today. The company also announced a change to the pricing structure of Unreal Engine which waives royalties on the first $1 million of project revenue, as well as the launch of Epic Online Services, a free suite of tools to enable in-game friends lists, matchmaking, lobbies, and more.

Alongside the reveal of Unreal Engine 5, Epic Games today also announced a change to the pricing of Unreal Engine. Previously the cost to use the engine for building games was a 5% royalty on gross revenue of the game. Now Epic says it will waive the royalties for the first $1 million in revenue, and then resume the 5% fee from there. This is a permanent change and applies retroactively to revenue from January 1st, 2020.

That works out to mean developers get back $50,000 (not counting platform royalties) from that first $1 million that would otherwise be paid in engine royalties.

Epic already waives engine royalties on all revenue generated from games sold on the Epic Games Store (where it instead collectes a flat 12% platform royalty), but this change now means that games built with Unreal Engine and sold elsewhere will get a sweeter deal. Unreal Engine is also free for personal use, free projects, and linear content creation.

Unreal Engine 5 Tech Demo on PS5 Shows Where Next-gen Graphics are Headed

Unity, the other popular game engine for VR content creation, ranges in price from $40 to $150 per month per seat, depending on project scope. A free version of Unity is available for free projects or those earning less than $100,000 in annual revenue.

In addition to the royalty change, Epic Games also announced the launch of Epic Online Services, a free suite of tools and services which allow developers to build cross-platform, engine-agnostic multiplayer capabilities into their games. The company says that Epic Online Services offers matchmaking, lobbies, peer-to-peer networking, achievements, stats, leaderboards, player data storage, game analytics, and player ticketing.

The post Unreal Engine is Now Royalty-free for the First $1 Million in Revenue appeared first on Road to VR.

$50 Million Investment Fund SUPER.COM to Focus Support on Unreal Engine Developers

If you happen to be a developer who uses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and you need some investment in your project, using the videogame engine was possibly your wisest choice. Not only does the Unreal Dev Grant exist, but today a new investment fund specializing in investments in interactive entertainment projects and companies called SUPER.COM has announced a new initiative that will see it focus support on developers using the software.


SUPER.COM is a $50 million USD fund that is open to all Unreal Engine developers, able to provide a range of investments up to and over $1 million depending on variables such as the size of the project, how experienced the team is, how far through development the project is and so on. The fund will even help with legal solutions whilst letting teams keep their independence.

And where needed, SUPER.COM can cover the cost of a custom Unreal Engine license which unlocks direct technical support and provides a reduced royalty for the engine.

“We’re excited to be providing this support to the Unreal community and helping to bring more great games to market. We look forward to working with the team at Epic Games to identify relevant projects and help fast-track growth and success,” said Director of Investments and Publishing at SUPER.COM, Anna Grigoryeva in a statement “We started out developing and publishing games ourselves, so we’re very familiar with the problems and challenges faced by any game studio. We’ve done it all, from designing original game concepts to distributing finished products, so we know the challenges developers face and how to tackle these hurdles. SUPER.COM will give the developers of games powered by the Unreal Engine an opportunity to concentrate on crafting amazing new games”.

“It’s great that successful entrepreneurial companies like SUPER.COM can see the tremendous commercial potential that resides within the Unreal development community. Providing access to these kinds of nurturing funds that can help guide developers through the potential pitfalls and triumphs of publishing is an essential part of the service we’re providing UE4 developers,” commented Mike Gamble, Head of Games Licensing EMEA, Epic Games.

For those interested head on over to the SUPER.COM website for further details on how to apply. VRFocus will continue its coverage of the latest investment opportunities for VR developers, reporting back with further announcements.

Virtual Star Trek: The Next Generation Recreation Pulled After Cease & Desist

For fans of Star Trek the release of Star Trek: Bridge Crew was a dream come true, finally giving fans the chance to step into the role of a Starfleet officer aboard one of the most famous spaceships in all science fiction. For one group of fans however, the release of Star Trek: Bridge Crew heralded the end of a passion project.

Stage-9 was a fan project which had been ongoing for two years, which aimed to recreate the Enterprise-D as depicted in Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show.

The detailed virtual reality (VR) recreation was built using Unreal Engine 4, and could be explored using HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, or fans could simply use a monitor for a 2D view of the ship. The recreation allowed users to travel in turbolifts to the various decks, enter rooms, interact with objects and even fire a phaser.

However, after receiving a cease and desist letter from CBS, the head of the project, identified online as ‘Scragnog’, was forced to pull the project after failing to reach a compromise with the CBS lawyers.

Though Star Trek in all its various forms are of course owned by CBS, Stage-9 made it clear from the outset that it was not an officially licensed project, was not affiliated in any way with CBS or Paramount and the VR creation was, in effect, simply elaborate fan art, since they creators were not making any money from the project.

Scragnog said in a statement that the team became concerned when the Star Trek: Next Generation DLC was released for Star Trek: Bridge Crew earlier this year. “Internally this was an exciting development, but at the same time it concerned us,” Scragnog said, going to to explain that the Stage-9 crew had been hoping to pitch the project to CBS. “Throughout all of this we knew it could end at any point.”

Star Trek: Bridge Crew - TNG DLC

Scragnog released a video explaining the situation and making an emotional goodbye to the Stage-9 project, that video statement can be viewed below.

For future coverage on VR projects, keep checking back with VRFocus.