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Section 3: Virtual Reality Methods and Techniques#

3.1 Introduction#

There are several formats for developing desk-top virtual reality and new formats are continually emerging. For those considering creating virtual reality, the format chosen will depend on a number of factors. The first considerations will be whether the format supports the features required and how successfully these can be delivered to the intended audience. It is important to consider whether the preferred development software is available for the platforms used both during development and by users. This includes considering whether plug-ins or viewers are needed to view the virtual reality, at what (if any) cost and whether these run on the users' likely range of computer platforms. When selecting a format, it is important to consider the lifespan of the virtual reality world to be created and the implications of maintaining and archiving it throughout that period. Other considerations are the investment needed to buy software and hardware and the time required to learn new skills and create the worlds, all of which vary from one format to another.

This section looks at general practices relating to the creation of virtual reality worlds and then considers web-deliverable virtual reality formats: bubble worlds (including QTVR), VRML, Java 3D and X3D. Although bubble worlds are not true virtual reality, they are included for the purposes of this Guide because they give an experience close to virtual reality and limited investment of time and resources is needed to create them. Each format will be introduced and consideration given to issues relating to viewing the worlds, their functionality, and the skills and equipment required to develop them. Advice is also given on how to get more information.

Although this Guide includes references to specific software products, this should not be taken as a recommendation from the AHDS. Similarly, the order in which the software is introduced has no significance.

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