Social Platform Series: Events and Avatar Support for Unreal Engine
Oculus Developer Blog
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Posted by Mike Howard
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May 24, 2017
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The Oculus Social Platform team helps developers create compelling social and multiplayer VR experiences, surface these experiences to people across the Oculus Platform, and encourage people to reengage and even share their experiences with apps.

In our first post of the Social Platform series, we walked through our framework for building the Oculus Social Platform:

  • Discover—Helping people find your app and easily access it within the Oculus platform
  • Connect—Providing ways for people to meet in VR, coordinate, and play together
  • Experience—Getting the most social value out of the experience itself
  • Invest—Reengaging people with rewards and other hooks to bring them back to the experience
  • Share—Providing ways for fans of your app to share it with friends, even beyond VR

In our second post of the new Social Platform series, we’ll look at Events, a way for people to discover and engage with scheduled social experiences.

DISCOVER: EVENTS

VR is a new and rapidly growing platform, and we’re at the early stages of building ways for friends to connect in VR. We saw that our communities had begun to self-organize in forums, planning times to meet up and play specific games, and this inspired us to build Oculus Events, which is available for all Gear VR developers.

Oculus Events highlights date—specific VR content on Gear VR. With Oculus Events, developers can increase discoverability and concurrent usage of their app by publishing events that show up in Oculus Home, the Oculus mobile app, and on our website. People can subscribe to these events and will get a reminder before the event starts—with enough time to get into VR and join the fun.

Not only is this an excellent way to get large groups of people into your app at the same time, the placement of Events in Home and our mobile app helps people discover your app. Anyone without the app will be directed to the Oculus Store page to download prior to the event’s start.

We initially rolled out Events in a limited beta, which gave us an idea of how people would browse and interact with events. In addition, developers participating in the beta release reported an increase in app installs on event days and an over 10% lift in people visiting their apps during the course of an event.

Sounds Great! How Do I Create an Event?

It’s easy to create an event from the Developer Dashboard, where you can see your upcoming and past events, along with lightweight analytics (attended, subscribed) and approval status.

Clicking the “Create Event” button will bring up a simple flow in which you’ll specify the name, time, date, and description of the event—you can even upload an event image and specify any additional hooks that you want to trigger when someone clicks into the event and loads your app. Once you submit an event, we’ll review it and either publish your event or provide feedback.

Events must surface time—sensitive content and comply with the Oculus Code of Conduct. Social events will also be given preference during the approval process.

Click here for more documentation regarding events. If you have additional questions about the product, please post on the Platform SDK section of the Oculus Developer Forums.

Experience: Avatars update

In our first post in the Social Platform Series, we talked about the work we’re doing to bring Oculus Avatars to mobile. We’ve also been busy on the PC side, and with SDK 1.14 we added support for Unreal Engine.

Just like the integration we provided for Unity, the UE integration provides everything you need to integrate Oculus Avatars SDK into your UE VR title. Currently, this is provided as a plugin that can be imported into your project. Longer term, we plan to incorporate Oculus Avatars directly into the Oculus Unreal Integration, as well as provide support for Blueprint users. We’ve published the current integration with a ‘Beta’ label, which we’ll remove once we have the additional UE Integration and Blueprint support.

To help developers get up to speed on the Avatar SDK features, we’ve created a comprehensive UE Sample, which provides for all of the following:

  • Retrieving a specific person’s Avatar
  • Spawning/removing remote Avatars
  • Setting custom hand poses
  • Moving the hands independent of the Avatar (custom hand placement)
  • Showing/hiding controllers
  • Network-optimized Avatar movement recording and playback

You can find the Avatars UE Integration in the Downloads section of our Developer Center.

We can’t wait for even more developers to incorporate these features for more robust social experiences in VR!