The phrase ‘inside VR’ means something very different as of today. With not a grain of hype or even a prior warning, Microsoft has released beta version of the so-called Maquette VR tool. This design tool goes beyond the sheer utility to present a truly unique VR modeling and spacing experience.
Unexpected things are always the sweetest. Not a syllable on Marquette’s existence ever reached our attentive ears, yet the technology is there, tried and tested. Apparently, ‘WalkingCat’, an inquisitive Twitter user, was the first to disclose any info on the tech. What Maquette (French for model) does best is prototyping spatial layouts and designing VR objects and environment, all of it within the VR itself. Microsoft confirms the tool’s compliance with Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive headsets.
‘We’re working on new ways to prototype ideas in VR’ reads the Microsoft site. On the surface Maquette VR tool looks awfully like Oculus Quill or Google Blocks, but Microsoft did much to distance its darling from such comparisons. For one, Maquette falls under the design rather than art modeling tool. It primarily serves as an ideation engine whereby the spatial ideas can be realized directly on the platform rather that sketch and run strategy. Maquette is faster, way simpler at generating spatial prototypes, and looks cool too. Much like in a game, we get to create our VR worlds from the inside.
It started small, the-staff-only engine that was ‘aimed at empowering Microsoft designers exploring Mixed Reality in the medium itself’. The Maquette VR tool is still very much limited (the beta phase, Microsoft insists), but after showcasing the potential we sense the full-fledged product on the horizon. Users can test the beta however, signing up and waiting for the approval first.
And once the product is out, developers are going to have a field day. Microsoft does have developers on mind planning to release it soon. The evidence for the statement comes from the Unity plugin launch compatible with Maquette. The VR tool users can export their ideas into Unity projects in both FBX and GLTF formats. Unity plugin support comes in form of The Maquette Unity Editor Add-on.
It is still unknown what platform the Maquette VR tool will make its debut on, though we are inclined to believe that SteamVR is the favorite. Just a hunch. As for the headsets supported by Microssoft, they are what you’d expect: Windows MR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift. Seeing it in person and modeling ideas on the fly is a pleasure to behold.
Maquette VR tool fun as it is useful. ‘We depend on user feedback to build the right tool, so give it a try!’ Joining hands with Microsoft’s enthusiastic beckoning, everyone even remotely interested in VR and MR design should give this one a go. What other platform hands you the keys to design what you please inside the platform itself. Very few folks, fewer still make it this good.