VR development: Unity explainer 4 of 8

Let's build a city!

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Import a low poly city scene and add a VR camera rig to it


Name of explainer:
Import a low poly city scene and add a VR camera rig to it

Creative theme: VR development

Software used: Unity


This is explainer 4 of 8 in this series

This series includes:

  1. Install the Unity hub and Unity LTS
  2. Download Oculus integration, create a new Unity project and set it up for VR
  3. Install VRIF and send a VR scene to a Quest 2 headset
  4. Import a low poly city scene and add a VR camera rig
  5. Edit a 3d object so it can be interacted with in VR
  6. Import and set up animated people to populate the city
  7. Animate a police car to race around the city streets
  8. Add a soundtrack and attach sounds to individual objects

The Software

This series of explainers uses Unity, one of the most popular real-time 3d development environments. It’s used by millions of creators to develop games, create animations and visualisations and even produce short movies. Need inspiration? Check out their showcase.

Unity personal edition is completely free. If you start to make money commercially from your Unity creations you’ll need to upgrade to a paid professional license.

Over the course of eight explainers we’re using Unity and various free and paid assets from the Unity asset store to test a workflow from Unity to a Meta Quest 2 headset, send a city scene to the headset and add objects we can interact with. We go on to add animated people and a speeding police car! Finally, we import an ambient soundtrack and attach sounds to specific objects.

Our city at the end of this series

This is how our city looks at the end of this series. Remember the environment is designed to be experienced in a VR headset and not viewed as a ‘flat’ video!

The pre-requisities

This is an INTERMEDIATE workflow explainer series. We’re starting from scratch so don’t worry if you’ve never used Unity, but you’ll find this series easier to follow if you have basic knowledge of the Unity interface and how to navigate a 3d scene.

If you’re new to IT / computing, this workflow series is not likely to be suitable. To get started with 3d software in a beginner-friendly environment, we recommend the free Tinkercad. See makeuseof for a helpful overview of 3d design and the specialisms available to you.

Why would I do this?

Exploring the XR DEMO scene supplied with VRIF is fun, but it will be better to have a ‘proper’ VR environment to explore. This could be anything from a virtual gallery, to a space station, to the low poly city we’ve chosen to use here.

We’re using the PAID asset ‘Synty POLYGON City’ for this explainer and for the remainder of this series. It includes a demo city scene ready for us to customise as much as we like!

SYNTY polygon city shown at the Unity asset store

The asset can be purchased from the Unity Asset Store (above)or direct from Synty’s website. Check both in case there’s a sale on!

Let’s do it!

Click the play icon to watch this video. Subtitles are available – Click the settings cog at the bottom right for options. You can also watch this video full-screen by clicking the full-screen icon at the bottom right.

Good to know

If this city environment doesn’t appeal to you , you can use an alternative from another low-poly pack! For example, Synty also sells a sci-fi Neon City (below). We’ve worked with it before – See the screenshots below!

An alternative city environment to consider!
SYNTY sci-fi city pack
We’re gonna need more synthwave!
With added grain!
VR in VR!

Low poly scenes from other developers may work just as well but we can’t guarantee it 🙂

Where to next?

Why not move the camera rig to be atop a building, or even have it ‘floating’ in the sky? When you run the scene, the gravity acting on your VR character means it will fall to the ground at speed, making for an exciting start to your city mission! Below, we’ve placed the rig in the sky above one of the buildings…

XR camera rig placed ‘in the sky’ at the start of the scene
Switch to the GAME tab to see the view!

You could import a more realistic environment into your project, but highly detailed/realistic environments can run slowly in VR headsets, even when properly optimised. Optimisation is beyond the scope of this series but see Unity’s guide to optimisation.

Our city is explorable in VR, but we can’t actually interact with anything! In the next explainer we’ll look at how to set individual objects to be ‘grabbable’ so our character can interact with them.

Notes and updates

There are no notes or advisories at this time. This video explainer was last updated in May 2022. This page was last updated in May 2022.

We at pixels.cool are not responsible for the content of any external webpages or software downloaded from third party sites. Links are included in good faith at the time of writing. All explainer content is compiled in good faith using processes and methods used by the team. Modern software offers users many ways to accomplish a single task, and for reasons of clarity we choose not to refer to multiple options. All computer users should run up to date virus / security software at all times to minimise risks of data loss.

This is number 4 of 8 explainer videos in this series. Make sure you check out the others!