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Best VR & AR Development Online Courses to Enroll Into for 2019

If you’re anything like me, you absolutely love VR.

Everything about the technology excites me, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going in the future.

I also tend to think that there are some serious lapses in the games and apps available, and I believe I could do a good job developing the software myself.

Because of this, I took a look into the best virtual reality courses to enroll in.

My research process has been complex, and I think you’ll find some great courses to sign up for.

In this article, I’m going to review the following CPUs:

  • Unreal Engine C++ Development Course
  • Udemy 2D, 3D, and VR Games Masterclass
  • Circuit Stream
  • UC San Diego Virtual Reality App Development Course
  • Udacity Intro to VR

Things to Consider Before Enrolling in a VR Development Course

Let’s be honest with ourselves: software development isn’t easy.

There’s a lot of work that goes into making even a basic game, and you need to know what you’re doing.

Because of this, I thought I’d share some things that I’d consider before jumping in and enrolling in a VR development course.

What Kind of PC Do You Have?

One of the major things that gets overlooked is the equipment that software developers need to develop VR content. You’re going to need a pretty beefy PC to develop VR software, as the content needs to be able to run through a headset. There are usually substantial loads put on rigs when playing VR, and when you’re crunching and rendering and bug testing, you’re going to want to make sure your PC is up to the test.

At the very least, I’d recommend taking a look at our article to determine whether or not your PC is ready for VR.

Do You Have Software Development Experience?

If you’re thinking about just jumping in and developing VR apps with no experience at all, you’re most likely going to fail. Honestly, VR development is an extension off of normal software development, so you’re going to want to make sure you have the basics down before you start working in a whole new area.

The more you know before starting with the VR aspect, the better.

A good jumping-off point is to check out the YouTube video below, where Hitesh Choudhary explains a bit about game development and how you can get started.

What Kind of Time Commitment Can You Make?

As I mentioned above, designing any software isn’t easy.

Even when you get the basics down, you’re going to have a lot of time into putting everything together, fixing bugs, and making sure that the app is as freakin’ awesome as it can be.

The grind can be grueling.

In order to avoid leaving your projects in the lurch once you get started, ensure that you have the time to put into learning this new skill. While it’s time heavy, the potential for great reward is also there.

Distributing Your VR Game or App

Once you get a game or app developed, what are you going to do with it?

How are you going to get it out to the masses? This is an overlooked aspect of development in general, but it’s something you should be thinking of when you start putting your ideas together.

If you’re developing a PC style game, you can release your games on Steam, HTC Viveport, or the Oculus library.

Mobile VR apps can be released through the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Each of these marketplaces has their own pros and cons, as well as compatible hardware.

Make sure you research each of these and determine where you’re going to launch your masterpiece.

Is the Investment Worth It?

Looking introspectively, I think we can all admit that you’re going to be investing a lot of time into learning to develop VR content. This investment isn’t just money; your time comes into play as well.

If you’re going to be putting all of these resources in, what are you getting out of it?

Independently developing games and software can be lucrative, but it’s no sure thing.

Conversely, knowing how to develop is a marketable skill, and there are always people looking to hire software developers.

I think that learning how to develop and design from scratch is a great investment professionally and personally, but you need to be willing to stick with it. If you don’t, you’re just wasting your time.

Do You Need a Certificate?

Many of the online courses you’ll find can teach you the same things, but not all offer something when you’re done. There are some programs that award you a certificate, but that is more or less there to make you feel like you accomplished something.

That piece of paper doesn’t hold the weight of a college diploma, and you have to be cautious about using them on your resume.

Rest assured, though. There are plenty of places that will hire you based on what you learn in these courses rather than needing you to have a fancy piece of paper.

What Kind of a Learner Are You?

Are you the type of person who can learn things on your own, or do you need someone to walk you through a program? This is important to know, as different programs are designed with different learning styles in mind.

Some of the more standard learning sites will expect you to be able to read through lessons and do work on your own, whereas others have lecturers that walk you through what to do step-by-step.

I myself prefer to have someone telling me what to do in videos, as I’m more of an audio-style learner.

If you don’t know what kind of learner you are, you can take this quiz from Arden University to find out for yourself.

Is Hiring Out an Option?

If you decide that you don’t have the time to commit to developing your own app, there are alternatives out there. If you can put together the base stages of your idea and execution plan, you can always try to shop out the work. There are sites like Upwork that have competent freelance workers, and there are firms that will help design your app.

You should know that these services don’t come cheap, though. Paying someone to go through the aches and pains of making your software isn’t cheap. You’re going to be shelling out for this and paying more than you would if you did the learning. That’s the tradeoff, and you should weigh the pros and cons before deciding to leap in.

One more thing: You get what you pay for. Keep this in mind when you’re shopping out your work.

The lowest bid will almost certainly result in subpar work. Vet your workers and be sure to hold them accountable for milestones.

The Best VR Development Courses Online

I’ve taken some time and looked at all of the major platforms that offer online VR development courses.

There are some really good spots out there, but there are also some that are really not worth your time.

Here are the top five courses that I was able to track down.

Unreal Engine C++ Development Course

This course is offered directly through Unreal, and getting the ins-and-outs straight from the horse’s mouth is always a welcome experience. This course isn’t just focused on virtual reality, instead starting you off with the basics of game development and eventually working your way up to VR. I really like the layout of the classes, and find the instruction to be pretty cut and dry.

If you’re developing on a budget, this may be the best way to get your feet wet.

I should note that Unreal is owned by Epic Games, the same folks that developed the uber-hit Fortnite. That game is developed in this engine, as are countless other big titles from top developers around the world. If you’ve played a video game in the past few years, you’ve almost certainly played something on the Unreal Engine.

You’re going to find more than 75 different courses available on the site, with learnable skills including:

  • C++ programming
  • Lighting techniques
  • Optimization
  • Ray tracing
  • Blueprinting
  • VFX services
  • And more

In all, everything you need to learn about software development is here, but it should be noted that VR development is just one small portion of the overall picture.

I really am a big fan of the basic workflow found in these lessons. You have a simple list of videos and projects to follow, and if you can keep on track, you’ll eventually come upon little quizzes to test your knowledge. Pass those, and you’re ready for the next one.

If you’re new to programming, start with the Introducing Unreal Engine course to get a good feeling for the software. You can then move on to the Your First Hour With Unreal Engine to start your path.

Below you’ll find a video directly from Epic showing off a sample tutorial on one of their lessons.

Pros
  • Free to use
  • Excellent instructors who use the engine on a daily basis
  • Doesn’t require you to have any knowledge in programming
Cons
  • Self-paced, which means you have to be motivated to continue
  • Not exclusively focused on VR, which could be a letdown if you have development experience

Udemy 2D, 3D, and VR Games Masterclass

This course is offered through online learning portal Udemy, and the course is presented by Mammoth Interactive and John Bura. You get more than 88 hours of instructional videos (I told you this was a big time investment!) as well as resources for projects.

I really like the comprehensiveness of this course, and the fact that it’s all in one place and linear means that you can start at the beginning with no experience at all and walk out knowing how to develop an excellent game in Unity or Unreal.

Some of the skills you’ll learn in this course are:

  • Using Unity
  • C# coding
  • Inputs
  • Prefabs
  • VR with Unity introduction
  • An intro to Blender

Unlike the Unreal course listed first, this course isn’t free, so you’re going to have some skin in the game.

If you can put up the money though, this is a great course that’ll teach you how everything you need to know.

I really like the ability to go back and rewatch lessons as well as use your software with the included files to get some hands on training. This is without a doubt the best way to teach yourself a hard topic.

You’ll also have the ability to message the instructor to get you past any issues you’re having.

One great thing about Udemy is that you can learn almost anything on there. I have used the site in the past for everything for learning some extra drone skills to learning to use Adobe Premiere Pro.

If you can think of it, there’s a pretty good chance that Udemy teaches it.

Pros
  • Very comprehensive set of tutorials
  • Friendly and easy-to-understand instructor
Cons
  • Costs a decent amount of money
  • May be too slow-paced for some users

Circuit Stream

Circuit Stream is a company that specializes in providing courses specifically related to VR and AR development. The company has a VR program that runs 10 weeks where you take online courses and then have a one on one session with an instructor to go over what you’ve learned. In a lot of respects, this is a lot like a college class, as each session runs for four hours.

The class requirements are pretty basic, as you just need a PC or Mac and a copy of the Unity software. You don’t need a virtual reality headset, although I’d certainly recommend you pick one up if you’re going to develop VR software.

The price of the course is up there, coming in higher than a lot of the other options listed. This makes sense, as you’re getting one on one time, but it’s something to be considered if you’re on a tight budget.

I will say that I was impressed with the free workshop that they have, as it gave me an excellent idea on how the operation worked.

Pros
  • One on one instruction is excellent for education
  • You don’t “need” a VR headset to use this course
  • They can help you develop your idea into a working product
Cons
  • More expensive than a lot of other options

UC San Diego Virtual Reality App Development Course

If Circuit Stream looked like a college course, then UC San Diego’s is more like the real deal.

The course is taught by real UC San Diego professors and helps students learn the various components associated with VR app development.

Users will be working in Unity and will also learn OpenGDL development as well as tips on making your app successful. Users will also have the opportunity to work with augmented reality, which uses a combination of virtual and real world experiences to create something new.

This program is very in-depth and will require about 8-10 hours per week for the 6 week duration of the program. The price is also high, and comparable to what you’d find at Circuit Stream. Once again, the quality of the instruction is top-notch, and you’ll be able to apply the skills you learn here to many other software development areas.

If I do have a knock here, it’s that the course is self-paced, but has deadlines for ending. You need to wrap up one of the three included courses before you move to the next in order to complete the program. Once you get all three courses done though, you do earn a certificate, which looks nice on resumes.

Pros
  • Class is conducted by a well-renowned university
  • Comprehensive information in the three courses
  • The instructors make it easy to learn
Cons
  • This course is expensive
  • There are deadlines to finish by

Udacity Intro to VR

I am a big fan of Udacity, as I have used it in the past to brush up on a digital marketing course.

The group offers a free Introduction to Virtual Reality course, which gives users a crash course on the technology as well as getting started with programming and coding related projects.

Without a doubt, this program is not nearly as comprehensive as the others listed, but you can use it as a stepping stone. Udacity offers nanodegree programs and you can move from this program onto other programming sections where you earn skills.

Udacity’s prices are the highest for their programs when compared to anyone else on this list. The school works on a monthly subscription basis rather than a flat fee, which gives you incentive to try and dedicate yourself and work through the course in a timely manner.

Pros
  • A great entrypoint into the world of virtual reality
  • The learning platform is attractive and easy to use
Cons
  • Not as in-depth as other VR development programs
  • VERY expensive

Conclusion

If you’re all-in on wanting to develop VR software, there are plenty of online courses that you can take.

These vary in price and quality, but there are some great options out there. I am a particular fan of the Udemy course, as it’s the most in-depth of the programs offered, and it also features all of the resources you’ll need to be successful.

If you’re looking for something with a lower price point, then the Epic Unreal course is a great choice.

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