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New Skillshop conferences want to give devs a crash course in VR and AR

Aug 16, 2016

by Eric David | Aug 16, 2016 | 0 comments The creators of Utah-based code school DevMountain  and React.js conference React Week have announced the launch of  Skillshop , a new series of continuing education conferences aimed at giving developers a crash course in creating apps for augmented reality and virtual reality. The virtual reality industry has undergone rapid growth  over the last year due to the release of devices like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR, and now thanks to the phenomenal success of Pokemon Go , it looks like augmented reality’s day in the sun may have arrived as well. That means that many developers will need to learn how to create AR and VR apps or risk getting left behind, which is why Skillshop wants to offer a way for existing developers to learn how to handle these new media as quickly as possible. AR and VR development: A whole new beast Speaking about AR and VR game development specifically, lead Skillshop instructor Ontario Britton explained that these formats offer a few unique challenges for developers due to the way users interact with the apps. “The main challenges in AR/VR game dev are in UX (user experience) because these media are so new,” Britton said. “These challenges include how to let the user make choices in an environment where menus would break the immersion. There is also the consideration of the game’s topic—is VR the best, native expression of your idea, or is it tacked on as a gimmick? And there are many basic technical considerations to meet what the human visual input system expects to not get queasy.” Skillshop’s virtual reality courses will create programs in Unity 3D, a popular game engine with an extremely active developer community. There are other engines that support virtual reality development, most notably Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4, which was recently used by BMW to design cars in VR with HTC Vive. However, Britton noted that Unity is by far the more popular VR creation tool. RELATED:  Valve releases free VR workshop tool to create and share virtual worlds “Unity has won out here,” Britton said. “According to Epic Software’s CEO Tom Sweeney, the user base of his Unreal Engine is only about a quarter of that of Unity. While Unreal would be the obvious choice for higher fidelity VR, Unity is certainly the developers’ choice of engine for VR and traditional game dev.” Skillshop offers livestreaming option Skillshop’s events will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, but the conferences will also offer livestreaming tickets for developers who want to participate but can’t make it in person. Skillshop founder Colt Henrie said that the inspiration for this came from the success of a similar feature at React Week. “When we first announced React Week, we received a lot of interest that people wanted to attend, but couldn’t in person,” Henrie said. “Therefore we offered the option to attend the live-stream but had the goal to have online be as close as possible to the in-person experience; meaning that it would be an environment where attendees could still get questions answered from the instructors, mentors, and peers. Because the feedback we received from online attendees was really positive, it was an easy decision to offer live streaming for” In addition to courses focusing on AR/VR development and on Unity 3D, Skillshop will also offer courses on 2D game development for iOS, as well as courses on Mac OS development for coders already familiar with iOS. Here is the full schedule for Skillshop’s first round of conferences: iOS 2D Game Development: October 19-21 Unity 3D Development: October 24-26 VR/AR development: October 27-29

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