The market for driving simulators continues to grow. Do you want to make a mark in this market? You can utilize Virtual Reality (VR). You first need to know how to develop a VR driving simulator.
We at DevTeam.Space can guide you since we have experience in complex projects like this.
Let’s see how you can build a VR driving simulator.
The growing market of driving simulators
Many geographies witness a growing demand for skilled drivers. The high rate of road accidents drives this demand.
Driving simulators using virtual environments can help drivers to hone their car driving skills. Therefore, the market for driving simulation systems is growing.
A MarketsandMarkets report projects that the global driving simulator market will grow from $1.5 billion in 2020 to $2.1 billion by 2025. This report estimates a CAGR of 7.2% during the 2021-2025 period.
Many organizations find VR a useful technology solution to build driving simulators.
How to create a VR driving simulator?
Developing a VR driving simulator is an involved project. Take the following steps:
1. Form a small team to define and plan the virtual reality driving simulator development project
First, create a small team for the groundwork of your project. A project manager (PM) should lead this. The team should have a software architect. It should also have a few business analysts.
You need to provide the following inputs to this team:
- Organizational strategic objectives;
- Market and competitor research insights;
- Details target audience;
- Use case, i.e., whether you will offer a VR simulator for training of a racing game ;
- Pricing model, e.g., paid, freemium, etc.
Based on your input, this team should work on the following:
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- Gathering the functional requirements;
- Agreeing on the non-functional requirements;
- Defining the project scope;
- Choosing an appropriate development methodology;
- Formulating a suitable software development approach;
- Choosing the right development tools and technology stack;
- Choosing the right project management tools;
- Planning the project phases and schedule;
- Estimating the project;
- Planning the human resource aspects;
- Planning other relevant aspects like risk management, communication management, etc.
2. Review some of the most popular VR driving simulators
Whether you build VR games or simulators for training, you can get design ideas by reviewing the best VR driving simulators. Check out the following:
Among popular video games that provide a racing experience in a virtual environment, Assetto Corsa is a well-known brand.
The developers first developed it for PCs. They later released it for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (PS4). Developers later launched a version for VR.
The following quick points about this game are noteworthy:
- Assetto Corsa has high-quality content. It offers a wide range of tracks and cars in VR-mode for professional racing drivers.
- The game offers excellent visuals and interesting gameplay scenarios.
- The game has plenty of positive user reviews.
- You can find this game on Steam as well as PlayStation VR (PSVR).
- You can use popular VR headsets like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift for the PC edition of this game.
- Despite its popularity and excellent content, this game is a relatively low-cost one.
A company named Slightly Mad Studios developed Project Cars. The company made a name for itself in the VR gaming space, thanks to the success of Project Cars. The game is a popular one among VR racing simulators.
Note the following key points about this game:
- It offers excellent simulation for people to get an exciting driving experience in virtual settings. Players get a real-world feel of realistic car behavior.
- The game offers high-quality content including excellent graphics. You get engaging VR experiences.
- You can get this game on Steam.
- You can use Oculus Rift with the PC version of this game.
iRacing VR is a very popular VR game. It’s a subscription-based game. The following points about this game are worth noting:
- iRacing VR is one of the best VR racing simulators. Players feel that they are behind the steering wheel of a real car. They get a real-time feeling of an exciting racing environment in VR mode.
- The game offers high-quality content. It’s one of the most difficult VR games to play, and that’s by design. The immersive experience appeals to the players. They experience excellent visuals.
- You can find this game on Steam.
- This popular VR racing game is available on Windows PCs. It supports popular VR headsets like HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, and Oculus Rift.
RaceRoom Racing Experience
RaceRoom Racing Experience is a well-known driving simulation game. It’s especially popular with users of Windows PCs. Note the following key points about this game:
- It has a free version. You can download this game on your Windows PC and play it for free. The game has both online and offline modes.
- This game is available on Steam, and you can buy additional content there.
- RaceRoom Racing Experience is a high-quality VR racing game. The game offers an immersive experience, and players get the feeling of driving real cars.
- The content is very engaging, and the game offers variety. Players can choose a wide range of vehicles and tracks.
- This game supports popular VR headsets like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
3. Familiarise yourself with the rich VR ecosystem
Which VR headsets Head-Up Display (HUD) units should your VR driving simulator support? Which steering wheels should it support?
You will have many such questions when you plan your project. You need enough familiarity with the VR ecosystem to find the answers. Review the following aspects:
Popular VR headsets and Head-Up Display (HUD) units
Several companies have entered the market for VR headsets. Consider the following examples:
- Oculus offers several popular VR headsets like Oculus Quest, Oculus Quest 2, Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift So, and Oculus Go.
- Note that Facebook has acquired Oculus in 2014. This acquisition is just one example of how technology giants have entered the market of VR.
- Sony offers PlayStation VR (PSVR).
- HTC made an impact with HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, and HTC Vive Cosmos.
- Valve offers the Valve Index.
- Samsung offers the Samsung Gear VR headset, a popular HUD that works with Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
- Varjo Aero VR headsets give a true-to-life experience to gamers in racing games like VR sim racing. Sim racers experience an ‘in-seat’ and track experience.
Steering wheels used for VR driving simulators
Several companies offer steering wheels for players to use with VR racing games. Review the following examples:
- Logitech offers popular steering wheels like the G293 TRUEFORCE racing wheel. It works with PlayStation and PC. Logitech also offers G290/G29, which works with Xbox One, PlayStation, and PC. Logitech steering wheels support all the best VR racing games like Assetto Corsa, Project Cars, etc.
- Thrustmaster offers several popular steering wheels. One example is the Thrustmaster T300RS GT. Thrustmaster T150, another racing wheel from the same company offers force feedback. Steering wheels from Thrustmaster support PCs and PlayStation VR.
- Hori offers Racing Wheel Apex, which supports PlayStation VR and PCs. It’s a relatively low-cost steering wheel. It offers a robust user experience though.
Various other products related to VR offered by technology majors
Quite a few technology majors have invested in the VR space. They offer a range of products, e.g.:
- Microsoft created HoloLens.
- Valve provided SteamVR. Users can play games available on it on different VR headsets.
- NVIDIA offers GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) for VR.
- GTX graphics cards from Asus are useful for VR systems.
- Intel offers an end-to-end VR solution named True VR.
4. Collect, document, and manage the requirements for the proposed virtual reality driving simulator
Your team now needs to define the project scope. It needs to gather business requirements first. The team needs to have brainstorming sessions with the business stakeholders in your organization.
BAs need to play a key role here. They need to collect the functional requirements on several aspects, e.g.:
- Gameplay scenarios;
- Integrating aspects like traffic lights, predicted vehicle positions, etc.;
- Types of cars and tracks;
- Whether the game will support both single-player and multiplayer modes;
You need to decide the following:
- Whether to offer the driving simulator on Steam;
- Which VR headsets to support;
- Whether people can use the VR driving simulator on their web browsers;
- Whether you will offer the driving simulator on mobile platforms like Android and iOS.
The architect in your team needs to play a key role in defining the non-functional requirements. The following aspects need particular attention:
- Performance since users don’t want latency;
The PM, architect, and BAs need to focus on the following:
- Writing the project specifications effectively;
- Reviewing the project requirements;
- Getting the relevant approvals from the business stakeholders;
- Managing the requirements effectively, e.g., using a change management process.
5. Choose the features for your virtual reality driving simulator MVP
How do you know whether your VR driving simulator will succeed? You need market feedback.
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The best way to validate a business idea is to get feedback directly from the end users. Launch an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for that.
An MVP doesn’t have all the features of the final product. However, an MVP is a functional product. It has enough features for a limited number of end-users to test it.
You can assess whether you are on the right course based on the feedback. Users might like the MVP, and then you can build the full product.
Go back to the drawing board if users aren’t satisfied. We recommend you adopt the Agile methodology for projects like this. It facilitates iterative development.
You might have decided to offer many features in the final VR driving simulator. However, you need to prioritize them for the MVP. Identify the most important features and include them in the MVP.
Check out our MVP guide if you need more information.
6. Select an appropriate VR development tool to build your VR driving simulator
We talked about the VR ecosystem earlier, and now we talk about another part of that. Several companies have developed VR development tools. You can use open-source tools too.
VR development tools can significantly expedite your project. Review the leading tools before choosing one.
The following are a few prominent VR development tools:
Unreal Engine is a powerful platform for real-time 3D creation. It offers many advantages, e.g.:
- You can create high-quality VR content using it.
- Unreal Engine supports many VR platforms like Oculus, SteamVR, Windows Mixed Reality (MR), Samsung Gear VR, and Google VR.
- You can use its extensive learning resources.
- Unreal Engine provides extensive VR development documentation.
CRYENGINE is a well-known game development platform. You can use it for creating a VR driving simulator. This platform offers the following advantages:
- You can create highly engaging VR content using CRYENGINE.
- CRYENGINE offers very useful development tools, furthermore, it provides a sandbox environment.
- You can create real-time visualization and interaction.
- CRYENGINE enables you to offer an immersive experience.
- This platform supports popular VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
- CRYENGINE offers extensive documentation for VR development.
Maya is useful software for 3D computer animation, modeling, simulation, and rendering. Autodesk has created Maya. You can use Maya to create a VR driving simulator.
It offers the following advantages:
- It’s enterprise-scale software.
- You can create 3D animations with Maya. It allows 3D rendering, 3D shading, 3D modeling, motion graphics, etc. These capabilities are useful for creating VR content.
- Maya also includes Create VR, an immersive conceptual design tool for VR development.
- Autodesk provides extensive documentation and support for Maya.
Open 3D Engine (O3DE)
Open 3D Engine (O3DE) is a game engine. You can create a 3D VR racing simulator using it. Open 3D Engine (O3DE) is free. It is Apache’s licensed successor to Amazon Lumberyard.
O3DE offers the following advantages:
- You can create very engaging VR content using it.
- It supports popular VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
- It integrates easily with other AWS services like AWS Core Gem.
- You can use the O3DE documentation and guides, which are very detailed.
Amazon Sumerian is an established tool from AWS to create 3D, AR, and VR apps. It supports key VR uses including simulators. Amazon Sumerian offers the following advantages:
- You can easily create VR content, including characters and gameplay scenarios. Amazon Sumerian provides useful tools for this.
- Developers can easily integrate Amazon Sumerian with other AWS services.
- Amazon Sumerian supports a wide range of VR headsets, e.g., Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, and Samsung Gear VR.
- You can use the extensive VR development guides provided by Amazon Sumerian.
Note: You can also review other VR development tools like SketchUp Studio, 3ds Max, etc.
7. Decide on the technology stack for web and mobile development
If you plan to offer the proposed VR driving simulator on the web and mobile, then you need to choose the right technology stack. We recommend you use the following:
- Java or Kotlin for Android development: Use either Java or Kotlin for native Android development. Both are feature-rich and powerful programming languages.
- Swift for iOS development: For native iOS development, you should use Swift. This modern language offers a range of powerful features, and Apple prefers it.
- MySQL or PostgreSQL: If you need an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System), use MySQL or PostgreSQL. Both are popular open-source SQL databases.
- MongoDB or Apache Cassandra: Use MongoDB or Apache Cassandra if you need a NoSQL database. These open-source databases are scalable and performant.
Note: You can use AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform if you need a cloud platform. All of them have considerable cloud capabilities.
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They offer IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service). Therefore, you can choose the kind of cloud platform you need.
8. Apply the final touch on the project plan to create a virtual reality driving simulator
You have documented the requirements, chosen development tools, and selected the technology stack. It’s time to complete the project planning process. Focus on the following:
- Identifying the right application security solution;
- Estimating the cost of the project;
- Planning for code review in addition to testing;
- Deciding on the deployment approach;
- Planning for post-deployment support, warranty support, and long-term maintenance.
You need to get the project plan reviewed by the appropriate stakeholders. Obtain the necessary approvals. Implement an effective change management process to enable smooth project execution.
9. Hire the complete software development team
You can now hire the complete software development team. Hire competent people to fulfill the following roles:
- VR developers;
- UI designers;
- Web developers, assuming you are offering a web app;
- Native Android developers, assuming that the proposed simulator will be available on Android;
- Native iOS developers, assuming you are offering an iOS app;
- DevOps engineers.
You might wonder about the hiring platform. Often, you might think that hiring freelancers will be a good idea. We recommend you think through this carefully.
Several freelance platforms exist. They might help you to get freelance developers at low hourly rates. However, these freelance platforms don’t offer any project management support.
You might find it hard to manage the work of part-time freelancers. Freelancers work on multiple projects simultaneously. They might not allocate sufficient bandwidth to your project.
Freelancers might leave your project mid-way. You will need to find a replacement, and this process can be costly and slow.
Developing a VR driving simulator can be a complex project. We recommend you hire developers from a reputed software development company. This approach offers the following advantages:
- You get full-time developers.
- Well-known software development companies provide management support. Their account managers help you to integrate the work of their developers.
- Reputed software development companies encourage their developers to upskill. You get motivated developers.
- You get a replacement if a developer leaves the project mid-way.
10. Manage the project effectively
You now need to execute the project and manage it. We recommend you use the Scrum framework for this. It helps in Agile project management.
You should build a Scrum team. Developers and testers work together in such teams, and a Scrum Master leads them. Scrum teams work as follows:
- They plan “Sprints”, i.e., iterations in “Sprint planning meetings”. They include prioritized features in sprints.
- A Scrum team conducts “Daily stand-up meetings” to discuss project status and resolve issues.
- The team demonstrates the product to the business stakeholders in a “Sprint review meeting”. They receive the approval in this meeting.
- Scrum teams conduct a lessons-learned exercise named the “Sprint retrospective meeting” after a sprint.
Final thoughts on Developing a VR driving simulator
We described the approach to creating a VR driving simulator. This guide explains the required steps in detail.
However, creating a high-quality VR driving simulator can be hard. You might need help to execute projects like this.
Contact us at DevTeam.Space. An experienced account manager from our team will reach out to you and help.
FAQs on VR driving simulator
Many VR driving simulators are in the market, therefore, your product will face stiff competition. Content, usability, gameplay scenarios, etc., determine your success, and all of them require robust planning and execution. Anticipate a complex project. Hire an experienced team.
DevTeam.Space has highly competent VR developers. We regularly encourage our developers to upgrade their skills, therefore, they are motivated. Our developers have worked on a variety of projects. Therefore, you get skilled and experienced developers at DevTeam.Space.
At DevTeam.Space, we ensure that our programmers acquire software development process skills. We recognize that skills in programming languages and frameworks alone aren’t sufficient. We encourage our developers to learn the best software development practices, review techniques, and relevant methodologies.
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Alexey is the founder of DevTeam.Space. He is among the Top 26 mentors of FI’s ‘Global Startup Mentor Awards’ and is a Band Of Angels Technology Expert.Hire Expert Developers