Building Effective 3D Applications

PaleBlue CorporateBlog

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It is no secret that computer-based training is the future. It has proven to be faster, better at capturing and keeping the attention and transferring knowledge than traditional learning.

The latest developments in computer learning promise even greater things. The advent of virtual reality and augmented reality-based learning allows specific training in hard to replicate situations, whether that be in VR, or actually on-site.

As a natural consequence, companies are now heavily investing in the hardware and software to train their staff using these methods.

Let us look together at some of the things the endeavor of developing 3D and VR simulations must consider.

Have all of your building blocks fall into place

While applications are built on top of an existing foundation, one has to make sure all the necessary building blocks are in place. We have highlighted below all that you must consider for 3D applications.

Graphics: The first impression of the 3D apps is definitely created by the graphics, and how well your 3D scene looks. For this, 3D objects have to be modeled, textured, and placed into the scene. You might want to pick an existing 3D engine for this or create your own if you aim to achieve something unique.

Physics: Movement of the objects and their interaction is programmed on top of the physical model, including the forces, the weights, frictions, and many more. The physical movements are tailored and balanced to achieve the desired effect. For this, you will build on top of physics modeling libraries, that will help you solve physical equations for object positions in real-time.

Interactions: This is where the user meets the 3D objects. Will that be using VR and hand interaction? Will that be the point-and-click interface? You will need to build a User Interface system, for placing the controls on the screen, or inside the virtual world, and connect the buttons to the actions. This is where a scripting system will come into place, or perhaps you would want to use visual scripting instead and connect blocks of functionality to define interactions.

Behavior: Building the logic of your virtual world and how it runs. Is there gravity? Are there zones the user is allowed and not allowed to go into? What is the storyline, or the main task to achieve? Will there be points for gamification? These questions have to be answered when building general behavior for your application.

Networking: Multiplayer is here to stay, so we just have to help users to connect to each other. When designing your app – whether that is for professional training or gaming – you would want to synchronize what is happening between all the connected peers. You do not want to see an object fly upwards for Player One and downwards for Player Two. That is where you have to establish network synchronization, and send the coordinate positions, likely to be aligned at a central server. Just to make sure everyone is on the same page.

User roles: Can anyone use your application? Will there be different roles and different assignments? For example, there might be a special kind of user call an Instructor, the one who can introduce alarms and failures in the 3D objects around you – for people to react to. There might be some 3D observers, flying around freely in 3D space, not taking part, but still seeing it all, and perhaps talking to you with voice. For this, you would need to build a database with your role types, and make sure those are applied correctly in the logical rules of your application.

Software Architecture – one thing that can make or break your product

There is a reason programmers and graphic designers charge a premium.

Any piece of software that meets all or as many end-user requirements as possible is no easy thing. All efforts go way beyond what users see, require highly skilled work and mistakes must be kept to a minimum. You must also factor in that most 3D and VR simulations are designed for a specific purpose that won’t generally use off the shelf assets, besides a basic framework.

These jobs can be quite complicated for someone without prior experience, and developers attempting to create a working simulation will need much more time to fine-tune the application behavior.

One more thing to consider is the creation of 3D assets. This is not only a fairly demanding task but also can require a powerful PC. The resulting 3D models have to be optimized in order to run with a good frame-per-second rate in the 3D application and not to slow down the experience.

The workforce needs educating

The world is changing. The existing workforce is aging out, and as people retire, their skills leave with them.

Despite this, the newest generation of workers does not have the skills necessary to fill these gaps. We are in one of the historically tightest labor markets, with incredibly low unemployment figures right now.

In the next few years, it is expected that hundreds of thousands of skilled job positions in many industries, especially manufacturing and engineering, will go unfilled.

Filling this skill gap is difficult. Many graduates are leaving schools without the necessary skills to take on these positions. In addition, managers need to think about training new employees quickly and effectively.

Under these circumstances, only the best tools can do the job. An ineffective simulation costs time and money on both ends: first to create, then at the back end, after the users come out of it still unprepared for their jobs.

Final thoughts

Creating 3D apps can be a lot of fun. And those 3D and VR applications can help your business.

Make sure that you have the right tools and the components for making a good experince in 3D, by picking the right components, including the graphics and the physics. There is more and more great 3D apps being created each day, so why not join the growing community? Good luck!

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