Computing Reviews

Unity virtual reality development with VRTK4: a no-coding approach to developing immersive VR experiences, games, & apps
Coutinho C., Apress,New York, NY,2022. 428 pp.Type:Book
Date Reviewed: 12/22/22

This book provides practical knowledge and step-by-step instructions on how to use Unity and VRTK version 4 to develop virtual reality (VR) experiences. By the end of the book, readers will be able to “create advanced VR mechanics that can be used within any VR experience, game, or app and deployed across several platforms and hardware.” This book is intended for Unity game developers familiar with Unity’s editor; basic knowledge of Unity Prefabs, events, and programming logic is also helpful.

The book consists of 22 well-organized chapters. These mark a progressive content flow that leads readers from the installation of the software to the creation of a mini game. The first two chapters introduce VR, its possible uses, and the characteristics that an environment must have in order to be virtual. It must, in fact, cause three illusions: of place, of plausibility, and of embodiment. These chapters are particularly useful for newbies and readers who want to quickly and effectively focus on the central topic of the book.

The second and third chapters are devoted to the setup of the first project and the import of plugins and Tilia packages. This book is a “no-coding” guide to VR development. However, my feeling is that this approach, so detailed, can certainly be less effective than following a tutorial on the web.

Chapters 5 to 8 are very useful because they illustrate how to configure the most common camera rigs: Unity XR, Oculus, Spatial Simulator, and Tracked Atlas. Furthermore, they illustrate in a very empirical way how to configure the virtual hands and interactors. Chapters 9 to 11 explain how to navigate the virtual world. The keywords for these chapters are teleportation, (seamless) locomotion, and arm-swinging.

The book closes with two chapters explaining how to create angular and linear drives; a chapter summarizing tips, tricks, and recipes; and a chapter on mini game development (a simple game based on a rolling ball that must be guided to fall through a garden path and must collect strewn objects until the time runs out). The creation of the game is described without writing a line of code.

In conclusion, the book is accompanied by many images described in great detail. I’m just worried that a tutorial-like book of this kind is outclassed by the hundreds of tutorials available for free online, which are certainly more effective and up-to-date. I wouldn’t buy this book; however, I would suggest it to readers who want to approach the subject for the first time.

Reviewer:  Tommaso Mazza Review #: CR147525

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