How to get your VR app started with Unreal Engine on macOS

We've spoken at length about being able to run an HTC Vive on your iMac as well as running a beta version of SteamVR on macOS High Sierra. We've also pointed the way on where to start if you want to port your Unity developed VR game to macOS. What we now need are Mac developers jumping in with both feet and creating some awesome VR and AR applications.

Luckily for us end users, some development toolkits allow for porting of their Windows-based SteamVR application to macOS relatively easily. Some more prominent VR developers such as Alvios, the makers of QuiVR, have told us how simple that transition can be.

Enter Unreal Engine

One development toolkit is the Unreal Engine. Unreal engine is named after the wildly popular 1998 FPS Unreal and it's underlying platform has since been released and updated for anyone to register and download to hone their skills. Unreal provides access to forums and tutorials to help you learn basic and more advanced techniques.

How to get started with VR on macOS and Unreal Engine

When you've decided that you're primed enough and are ready to get started, you'll need the following to make VR happen on macOS:

  1. You need to install macOS High Sierra. Updates to Metal and GPU drivers have been made to macOS High Sierra that facilitate the adoption of VR capable applications on macOS.
  2. You must have access to a decent GPU. With GTX 1060 to GTX 1080ti driver support from Nvidia as well as Apple's own eGPU development kit running an AMD RX 580, you can now have the power needed to develop and run VR applications.
  3. You'll need to install the macOS version of SteamVR. For now, you'll need to enable the beta branch to get VR support, but once we get some more VR applications in the macOS Steam app store, it will be part of the default installation.
  4. Finally, you'll need to download Unreal Engine 4.18. Mac VR support, together with general Metal 2 support and wide-ranging Mac optimizations, are packed in this version of Unreal Engine binary tools. All we need now are more devs to use those tools to make us some great VR applications.

Go to the Unreal Engine forums for questions

If you feel stuck or need help with some aspect of your Unreal Engine code, there is a dedicated forum when you can discuss and collaborate with other macOS SteamVR developers.

Final thoughts

So there you have it! I've pointed the way, all we need now is for you creative types to follow the path. From my personal experiences with VR and AR (which have been extensive), it's obvious to me that we are living in the future. It may now be a costly, corded, cardboard, grainy implementation. But these limitations will be overcome and I look forward to your creations on macOS! You working on anything for SteamVR on macOS? Let us know what that is in the comments!

Anthony Casella