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The Process of Building a Metaverse Experience in Unreal Engine: An Interview With Our Head of Development
Aug 9, 2023
200+ projects, countless Fortune 500 brands, and over 1.2 million sq. ft of metaverse developed, our Head of Development, Bryan Kier (Zon) certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to building incredible experiences and activations for brands and organizations.
Being platform-agnostic, we build activations on an array of software, but one platform, in particular, is a favorite of ours. The high fidelity, immersion, and scalability of Unreal Engine enables Zon to lead his team of 120+ developers and create breathtaking metaverse experiences.
To unravel the intricacies of Unreal Engine, we sat down with Zon to explore the process of building an immersive metaverse on the engine.
Q: Tell us a bit about how you got started working in the metaverse?
I got started in the metaverse world by creating 3D rooms and apartments, kind of like virtual interior design. I also got into voxel art, which is all about making things out of little blocks. It was all about 3D creation for me. But things really kicked into gear when the whole metaverse concept started buzzing. The idea of interconnected digital worlds and cool experiences got me hooked! I was hired by Landvault and transitioned into making games, initially creating for platforms such as Minecraft, The Sandbox, and more. The journey didn’t stop there, of course, and now I’m using tools like Unity and Unreal Engine to craft interactive stories and virtual spaces. It's like bringing creativity into this exciting new realm where imagination and technology collide. I'm all in, exploring the endless possibilities of the metaverse landscape.
Q: Now, Unreal Engine is known for creating high-quality, immersive experiences. What key features make it a suitable choice for building metaverse experiences?
Unreal Engine's cutting-edge rendering capabilities enable the creation of stunningly lifelike visuals, essential for establishing a sense of presence and immersion within the metaverse. There’s a reason why this tool has been used across multiple industries outside of gaming.
Secondly, Unreal Engine's scalability is a real game-changer. Whether you're a small team with a big idea or a major brand aiming for AAA experiences, this engine can flex to fit your needs. It's like a tailor-made suit for immersive experiences, giving Landvault the freedom to create something for clients they can uniquely call their own.
Q: Building a metaverse experience is a complex task. Can you briefly run us through the process, from concept to execution?
The specific steps involved will vary depending on the complexity of your experience and the platform you are using. However, this process should be a great template for anyone looking to create virtual experiences:
Concept: The first step is to come up with a concept for your metaverse experience. What do you want your experience to be about? Who is your target audience? What are you trying to achieve with your experience? At Landvault, we call this the Discovery Phase.
Design & Development: Once you have a concept, you need to start designing and developing your experience. Start with a prototype. This gives the client and the team a great idea of what the output could be. Once everyone is aligned, we get to work.
Testing, more testing, and feedback: Once the experience is developed, you need to test it thoroughly. This includes testing the gameplay, the user interface, and the performance of your experience. We also need to get feedback from users, clients, and other stakeholders. This ensures everyone is happy and proud of what we deploy in the metaverse!
Q: Why do you like working with Unreal Engine specifically?
That’s a tough one, but I can try to narrow it down to 3 reasons:
Out of the box, features like Nanite and Lumen make it possible to create graphics that were previously difficult. These allow developers to create experiences with photorealistic visuals that are also incredibly performant.
Unreal Engine's Blueprint visual scripting system simplifies the development process by facilitating rapid prototyping of metaverse interactions and functionalities.
The metaverse must be accessible across a wide array of devices and platforms. Unreal Engine's cross-platform compatibility ensures that metaverse experiences can be enjoyed on PCs, consoles, VR headsets, and mobile devices, enabling a diverse user base to partake in the virtual ecosystem.
Q: So, how do you address cross-platform development in Unreal to ensure a consistent experience for all users?
Cross-platform development within Unreal Engine is a meticulous artistry that we’re mastering at Landvault. Leveraging Unreal Engine's inherent cross-platform compatibility, we test and optimize each aspect, accounting for hardware variations and input methods. We calibrate graphics settings, performance metrics, and user interface elements to maintain a consistent look, feel, and functionality across platforms.
Q: We’re constantly innovating at Landvault. Are there any unique or groundbreaking features your team is currently utilizing for future metaverse builds?
Many people think they’re just buzzwords but the technology behind AI and blockchain will truly be what accelerates and transcends the development and functionality of the metaverse. By infusing our virtual realms with AI-generated content, we amplify engagement, replayability, and the sense of discovery, crafting immersive experiences that continuously surprise and captivate our users.
On the other hand, blockchain technology is a cornerstone of our metaverse architecture, revolutionizing how users interact, own, and engage with digital assets. Through blockchain's decentralized ledger, we empower users with true ownership of virtual items, from rare in-game rewards to custom avatars and virtual IP authentication. This transformative shift from traditional ownership models ensures that users have verifiable proof of ownership and the ability to trade or monetize their assets across multiple metaverse experiences.
Q: A lot of our clients are global brands. How do you incorporate brand identity and messaging into the builds without derailing away from the immersive experience?
Our process begins with a deep dive into the essence of the brand – its values, ethos, and aspirations. We then infuse these core elements subtly into the metaverse's fabric, much like weaving threads into a vibrant tapestry. Visual cues, architectural design, and even character interactions echo the brand's character, creating a connection that resonates with users.
But that doesn’t mean we tell our clients to slap their logo on every corner! We always suggest being subtle and focusing on what matters most: the user experience. The result is a metaverse experience where brand identity becomes an intrinsic part of the journey, enhancing engagement without disrupting immersion. This allows users to become active participants in the brand's story, fostering a genuine connection that lingers beyond the digital experience.
Q: Where do you see the future of metaverse experiences heading, and what role does Unreal play in that future?
I see the future of metaverse experiences heading in a number of exciting directions. I believe that the metaverse will become more immersive, engaging, and realistic. I also believe that the metaverse will become more widely adopted and that it will be used for a variety of purposes outside of gaming, such as marketing, tourism, urban development, and much more!
Although the concept of the metaverse is nothing new, the technologies that allow it to succeed, relatively are. Unreal Engine is well-positioned to play a leading role in the future of metaverse experiences. It is a powerful and versatile tool that can be used to create immersive, engaging, and realistic experiences. More importantly, its large and active community of developers, who are constantly creating new and innovative metaverse experiences, will be crucial to the advancement of the space.
A big shout-out and thanks to Zon for taking us behind the scenes of building a metaverse experience in Unreal Engine. We hope his insights have been both intriguing and educational. There’s also much more where this came from as we look to interview more of our talent across tech, product, and delivery to give you a deeper look into the cogs that work the Landvault machine.
If you’re looking to build in the metaverse then be sure to get in touch with us.
Aug 9, 2023
LandVault is the largest metaverse builder with over 100 million square feet of virtual real estate, more than 120 full-time creators, and nearly 300 completed projects. We’ve been helping brands build and grow in gaming environments since 2017 and the metaverse since 2021.
LandVault’s platform-agnostic proprietary technology and creative powerhouse builds and delivers tailored, data-driven, and optimized business solutions and insights. We help clients launch, optimize, and monetize metaverse experiences.
LandVault’s mission is to accelerate the metaverse economy through technology with a vision of a fairer wealth distribution across the web.