VR development is an emerging discipline at the intersection of animation and game design. Done well, a great VR experience can create a level of immersion that no other visual medium can match. That immersiveness has made VR a hot area of development for a diverse array of fields, from content marketing to job training to game design.
But what should you look for when finding a VR developer? Here are some best practices to consider.
Unfortunately, there’s no well trodden route to becoming a VR developer, so you’ll need to ask some pointed questions to suss out their experience and determine if it’s the right fit for your project. A portfolio is important, of course, but you’ll also want to make sure you’re engaging someone with a collaborative spirit who can handle criticism, incorporate feedback, and appreciate the goals you’re trying to achieve. These questions should help you identify qualified talent, no matter what kind of VR experience you’re looking to build.
1. How would you approach our project if you’re starting from scratch?
VR development is a huge creative and technical challenge, so it’s important to have a strong sense of how a VR developer approaches that challenge. After giving them a brief overview of your project and your overall business goals, let the developer walk you through how they would approach it in a freeform manner. Are they anticipating the right challenges or coming up with innovative ideas you hadn’t considered? If so, they’re likely to be strong.
2. What sets VR development apart from traditional animation or game design?
There’s no one correct answer here, but it’s important to get a sense of how a VR developer thinks of their medium. All three mediums require strong storytelling to be effective, but VR also comes with its own challenges: Some examples could include working without a frame, needing to find ways to teach new users how to navigate the experience, or the need to develop new tools and technologies.
3. Are there specific platforms you prefer working with? If so, why?
There are a few major platforms for VR development, including the Unity and Unreal engines. While both can speed up the development process, each requires slightly different programming skills (Unity uses C# while Unreal uses C++) and in general, Unity is seen as the more customizable (but also more challenging) platform to work with.
4. What interests you about VR development?
This question is about figuring out how well the VR developer knows their field and how passionately they feel about it. There’s no right answer, per se, but you’ll want to look for answers that demonstrate a certain level of thoughtfulness and expertise. Bonus points if their response aligns with your specific project goals.
5. Tell me about your work process.
Here you’ll want to look for evidence that the developer applies some kind of problem-solving process to their work. You usually don’t want someone who seems to just “jump in” and start developing without doing any initial explorations or prep work.
6. What’s an example of a time you received hard feedback–how did you incorporate or address it?
When engaging a freelance developer it’s important to make sure that you’re going to be able to communicate openly and directly with them. A good developer will solve challenges, not create them. Look for someone who’s not going to be precious about their work and who actively solicits and incorporates your feedback into their work.
7. How do you like to collaborate with others? What’s your hand-off process like?
While some VR developers also bring substantial design and animation skills to the table, the odds are they’ll be working alongside a larger creative and development team. What matters here is that they have a process and can stick to it.
8. How do you make sure you stay on target with tough or shifting deadlines? Give examples if possible.
Creating a VR experience is a complex undertaking that’s likely to involve shifting deadlines and intense development sprints. Make sure the person you’re engaging has the maturity, patience, and flexibility to accommodate a fluid development environment.
9. Walk me through your portfolio. What work are you most proud of and why?
The portfolio walkthrough should serve several purposes. Obviously, you’ll want to see examples of quality work, but you’ll also want to pay attention to the way they talk about their work to get a sense of how they approach VR development. Lastly, you’ll want to be on the lookout for examples of work that are relevant to your own project.
10. How do you test a VR experience?
One of the challenges of developing for VR is that it needs to be able to work even when the user doesn’t necessarily know what they’re doing. That means you’ll need to do extensive testing to gauge how users are interacting with your experience and make changes if necessary.
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Author: Tyler Keenan