The average development time for a VR training program is 8-10 weeks or more, but some projects can be completed in as quick as 4 weeks or as long as 6 months or more. VR content development time is affected by the following 4 factors:
- The development of the flowchart and script
- The complexity of the modeling
- The intensity of the programming
- The level of expertise of developers
Did you know that 45% of organizations in high-consequence industries consider VR training either important or critical to achieving their business goals?
So, you want to adopt VR as a training modality, but may be wondering how long it takes to actually develop VR training content. Every week, we consult dozens of clients on all things VR training, including required equipment, training topics, learning objectives, and more.
This article will explore the typical timeline for VR content development, map out the different factors that affect development time, and explain who can develop VR content across different platforms.
How Long Does It Take To Develop VR Content?
The average development time for a VR training program is 8-10 weeks or more, but some projects can be completed in as quick as 4 weeks or as long as 6 months or more.
VR program development time is dependent on the three phases of development and the factors that go into each phase. Let’s begin by breaking down each of the three stages.
1. Instructional Design
This first stage of VR training development is instructional design. This phase defines the learning objectives and outlines the appropriate approach for behavior change and feedback. This is a critical first step that helps organizations target business challenges and create a VR training program that’s relevant, successful, and meets their needs.
Instructional design could take 1-8 weeks or more depending on the complexity of the subject matter, access to SMEs, and the number of people needed for final sign-off.
2. Asset Creation
The next stage is asset creation. This stage involves creating digital assets, like 3D models, characters, 2D graphics, video clips, and sound effects. These assets must meet learning goals that are reflected in the immersive experience.
Asset creation can be completed in 4 weeks-4 months or more depending on the complexity of the environment or scene, whether custom or stock assets are used, and if there are already reference files (CAD drawings, blueprints, etc.)
3. Development and Programming
This phase of VR training development builds a working virtual environment by referring to the flowcharts and assets created during the previous two phases. Development and programming loads digital assets into an authoring tool, writes C# scripts, and makes the program playable on its intended platform (VR headset, desktop, or mobile).
VR development and programming could take 1-8 weeks or more depending on the size of the virtual environment, number of digital assets, and the number of interactions.
Two Examples Of VR Development In Action
The development timeline of VR programs can vary based on complexity and overlap between each of these stages.
For example, if an organization’s VR program is a simple two-minute linear experience and takes place in a generic environment with no interactions, it could take as little as 4 weeks from start to finish.
On the other hand, let’s say a program has branched learning, multiple tasks, and different learning objectives. In addition, the program needs to take place in a custom-built 3D environment with non-player characters (NPCs) and multiple animations that can be delivered to headsets, laptops, and mobile devices. This program could take as long as 6 months or more.
Let’s dive deeper into the factors that go into each stage of VR development and explore how they affect the overall development time.
What Factors Affect VR Development Time?
There are several content, design, and digital factors involved during the three phases of VR development that affect the overall development time. These four factors include:
- The development of the flowchart and script — A major first step for the development of VR content is to develop a detailed flowchart and script based on the training program’s outline and goals. This establishes the steps a learner will experience and where the visual elements will be placed. The more complex this development is, the longer it will take to complete.
- The complexity of the modeling — During asset creation, VR developers create digital models and assets that meet learning goals. These models and assets include 3D models, characters, 2D graphics, voice over, and more that are more or less complex depending on their size, the number of them, and their resolution.
- The intensity of the programming — During the development and programming stage, programmers build unique interactions that give the project shape. The larger the size of the program and greater the intensity of the script writing, the longer it will take to develop the VR experience.
- The level of expertise of developers — The level of expertise and knowledge of your developers will affect the pace at which content is developed. Less experienced developers will likely take longer to create VR content, while more experienced professionals will be able to develop quality content faster.
Who Can Develop VR Content And Where Is Content Created?
VR content is developed using a wide skill range. It typically takes a team of experienced professionals that may have any of the following roles:
- Instructional Designers
- Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
- Graphic Designers
- C# Programmers
- Unity Developers
- 3D Artists
VR can be developed in a myriad of programs. Given the popularity of professional VR development platforms Unity and Unreal, at the bare minimum, organizations will need someone who is proficient with these platforms if you choose to develop with them.
At Roundtable, we use Unity for its vast tool set, documentation, and capabilities, but there are dozens of other VR authoring tools and programs including:
- Adobe Captivate — For more introductory VR development
- Amazon’s Sumarian — A web application programming interface (API)
- Software development kits (SDKs) — Major hardware manufacturers offer SDKs that allow you to develop content directly in Android Studio or Xcode
Is It Time To Develop VR Content At Your Organization?
In this article, we’ve covered the basics of VR content development, from who can create content, the three typical stages of development, and differences between off-the-shelf and custom VR content development.
Whether you’re considering adopting a VR training program or have already started planning and designing your content, we hope you feel equipped with the knowledge needed to move forward with ease and confidence.