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How a Project Manager can Prepare for VR Project Development

How A Project Manager Can Prepare For VR Project Development, Project Management Blog
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In the year 2019, most people have tried or seen VR in one form or another. VR ranges from very simple and basic versions like Google Cardboard to full experiences with Oculus Rift or similar technologies. For VR project development, project managers need to embrace a multifaceted approach that includes staying updated with the latest VR technologies

Some people feel like VR is just another trend that will pass and others praise it for being the next amazing thing in marketing, computing, video gaming, storytelling and so on. It’s a new medium and it’s focused on interaction with computers while steadily moving onto markets and impressing consumers over the past decade.

Project managers, however, need to understand this technology better to help them manage their VR projects. They will also have to prepare for any challenges that are specific to this area.

The key factor that differentiates 3D videos or cinema is the fact that VR has a space called presence which is a term used to describe that type of total immersion with the space. The VR headset allows the user to do just that. This device needs to trick many different systems of perception to make a person feel present and immersed within a space. VR is tricking us into thinking that we are somewhere else, experiencing something that we are not really experiencing.

Most people immediately think of video games when they think about VR. While gaming has seriously moved the VR in the right direction and it’s an important part of the VR market, it’s not the only use of VR.It has been applied in many fields and gaming is just one of them.

For instance, it’s used in healthcare as a way to allow surgeons to analyze the anatomy of a patient and plan a surgery in a better way.

It has been used in space exploration, museums, automotive industry, military, real estate, social networks, education, sports and so on.

As a professional project manager, you will need to learn everything you can about the project at hand and then how everything within that project makes an impact on the bottom line.

There are several things you will need to know before you start your VR project.

Contents

Employees You’ll Need

Of course, a good project is nothing without good team members:

  • You’ll need to hire a VR specialist

The VR apps are not so hard to build, they get more and more complex as you add more features. VR apps come with their own challenges that will become apparent to you when you start designing your VR project. An easy way to handle these issues is to hire a specialist that has experience with specific VR apps.

Some challenges are related to technical difficulties while some are related to the human interface. It’s sometimes hard to trick the brain into thinking something else so you need to think about positioning of your customer as they experience the VR.

These problems don’t happen in regular software design which is why you need this professional to make your VR experience better.

  • 3D artist and animator

A 3D artist is a person who animates and creates 3D content. You will also need a scene designer which will help you design a scene and put together the 3D elements and you will need an animator that will prepare these models for animation and create those animations.

These jobs can be done by one person and usually are when someone is working in a smaller team. But when it’s a larger film or game design, there would be many more and different individuals working on these projects.

These roles are crucial for any VR project because the very experience relies on the quality of the 3D content and production. This can take up a lot of time and effort for the team and it’s important for you to understand that these roles will need the most money and resources from you and you should plan a proper budget for that.

3D content takes a long time to produce

This type of modeling is not an easy task and it can take a lot of time to produce. Creating these animations for the models is even harder and requires even more time because everything needs to be believable. It’s important for you as a Project manager to understand this at the outset before you start putting pressure on your team members and causing people stress. People and other biological creatures take 100x longer to make than buildings, windows, and other inanimate objects.

A good rule is to think of these in terms of drawing – when something is hard to draw, it’s likely hard to animate and turn into 3D too.

So, have realistic requirements and realistic timelines.

VR is limited by GPU

Everything created in VR has to be displayed with a graphics processor in your computer. And even the best computers in the world have limited GPUs, meaning that they can’t manipulate many 3D objects at the same time. The fact is that VR puts a really heavy load on a computer it’s on.

Available platform

As there are many different devices available for VR. In fact, there are over 30 devices out there. This means that you will need a lot of tweaks to make your app work on different devices and platforms. Making content work between mobile and desktop is especially hard.

However, you can use an engine like Unity 3D or Unreal engine to make an app that can be used on more devices and without all of that work. This way, it’s easy to share the builds between desktop systems but mobile might need some extra work.

As a PM you need to research and define your scope accordingly.

Side effects

VR has been around for a long time but there are still not too many studies confirming the health risks and side effects of using VR. Most of the hazards are related to the surroundings of the user rather than the VR itself. Someone could trip, fall, hit a wall, fall down the stairs and so on when they are in virtual space.

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Here is a Workflow of How to Execute a VR Project Development

Here Is A Workflow Of How To Execute A VR Project Development, Project Management Blog

1. Understand the Technology

  • Before diving into VR project management, take the time to understand the fundamentals of Virtual Reality technology. Familiarize yourself with the different types of VR systems (e.g., tethered, standalone, mobile), VR hardware (headsets, controllers), and VR development platforms (Unity, Unreal Engine).
  • This knowledge will enable you to communicate effectively with developers, designers, and stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.

2. Define Clear Project Objectives

  • Establish clear and achievable project objectives that align with stakeholders’ expectations and business goals. Identify the specific use case for VR technology within your project (e.g., virtual training simulations, immersive experiences, product visualization) and outline key deliverables, milestones, and success criteria.

3. Build a Skilled and Collaborative Team

  • Assemble a skilled and interdisciplinary team capable of handling VR project development. Your team should include VR developers, 3D artists, UX/UI designers, QA testers, and possibly specialists in audio and motion tracking.
  • Foster a collaborative environment where team members can share ideas, troubleshoot challenges, and innovate effectively.

4. Conduct Thorough Research and Planning

  • Research existing VR projects and case studies relevant to your industry or project objectives. Understand best practices, technical requirements, and potential challenges associated with VR development.
  • Develop a comprehensive project plan that outlines timelines, resource allocation, budget estimates, and risk management strategies.

5. Select the Right Development Tools and Software

  • Choose the appropriate VR development tools and software based on project requirements and team expertise. Popular VR development platforms like Unity and Unreal Engine offer robust capabilities for creating immersive VR experiences.
  • Evaluate plugins, SDKs, and third-party integrations that can enhance development efficiency and functionality.

6. Prioritize User Experience (UX) and Testing

  • VR projects heavily rely on user experience (UX) to deliver immersive and engaging interactions. Prioritize UX design principles, such as intuitive navigation, comfortable movement, and realistic visuals/audio.
  • Conduct rigorous testing across different VR devices to ensure compatibility, performance optimization, and user comfort.

7. Communicate Effectively with Stakeholders

  • Maintain open and transparent communication with stakeholders throughout the VR project lifecycle. Provide regular updates, demonstrations, and progress reports to ensure alignment with project goals and expectations.
  • Address concerns and gather feedback to refine project deliverables and enhance overall quality.

8. Prepare for Iterative Development and Feedback Loops

  • Acknowledge that VR project development often involves iterative cycles of prototyping, testing, and refinement.
  • Embrace feedback from end-users, stakeholders, and QA testers to iterate on design, functionality, and performance. Be prepared to adapt and pivot based on emerging insights and changing requirements.

9. Consider Ethical and Privacy Implications

  • Be mindful of ethical considerations and privacy implications associated with VR technology, especially in sensitive industries like healthcare or education.
  • Implement measures to protect user data, ensure accessibility, and uphold ethical standards throughout the development process.

10. Stay Updated with Industry Trends and Innovations

  • Finally, stay informed about emerging trends, advancements, and innovations in the VR industry. Attend conferences, webinars, and networking events to connect with industry experts and learn from thought leaders.
  • Continuous learning and adaptation will enable you to lead successful VR projects and drive innovation within your organization.
  • By following these guidelines and best practices, project managers can effectively prepare for VR project development and navigate the complexities of integrating Virtual Reality technology into diverse applications.
  • Embrace the transformative potential of VR and empower your team to create immersive, impactful, and memorable experiences for your target audience.

Latest Virtual Reality Insights You Should Know 

  • In 2022, the global market for virtual reality headsets achieved a total value of $4.1 billion.
  • Nearly 80% of the 8.8 million VR headsets sold in 2022 were Meta’s devices.
  • The first quarter of 2023 saw a 54.4% decrease in headset sales compared to Q1 of 2022.
  • In the second quarter of 2023, Meta dominated 50.2% of the VR headset market.
  • Horizon Worlds has around 200,000 monthly active users.
  • The VR gaming industry is projected to reach $6.9 billion by 2025.
  • In 2022, 51% of U.S. companies were in the process of integrating VR into their strategies.
  • Employees trained in VR learn four times faster than those in traditional classrooms.
  • V-learners felt 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the content than those in conventional learning environments.
  • By 2025, VR is expected to be incorporated into approximately 70% of employee training programs.

Conclusion

As virtual reality continues to revolutionize industries and transform user experiences, project managers play a crucial role in the successful development and deployment of VR projects.

To excel in VR project development, project managers need to embrace a multifaceted approach that includes staying updated with the latest VR technologies, fostering collaboration among diverse teams, and understanding the unique challenges and opportunities of VR environments.

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