How to prototype VR games, virtual tours, or training sessions with just your Chromebook

A friend of mine named Scott Jacobson, who is a game science and design teacher (thanks, Scott!) recently brought a great product to my attention. He stated that he had used a Chromebook to prototype a VR game with his students at the start of the global pandemic, like many people. However, as software like Construct 3 came to the rescue, an unlikely hero also emerged.

You see, he was looking for web-based apps that could be used on the Chromebooks his students were given, but he also wanted to make sure it was rigorous enough for deep learning and application. What he discovered was something called Blocksmith, a user-friendly 3D content creation and sharing platform.

Open Blocksmith Builder on the web

What is Blocksmith Builder?

Blocksmith Builder (not sponsored) helps both the hobbyist and the professional to quickly create 3D art assets and develop virtual reality experiences right in Chrome. By launching the editor with one click, you or your class can effortlessly position, scale and rotate models from either the large built-in library or imported ones.

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Sure, you can load Blender through the Linux container, but considering there’s literally no configuration for this service, it’s much more accessible to the common man, and that’s great. Truly, this is my cup of tea when it comes to discovering and recommending forward-thinking PWAs to all of you.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that there are built-in animations that you can use to bring your creations to life, as well as tactical and visual feedback among other interactive elements that can be applied to whatever scene you’re creating. Once you’re done, you can watch this in a VR headset, on the web, on your mobile device, or really anywhere else. There is also a player that can be inserted into any website.

It seems like the company has thought of almost everything for its users, including performance metrics for cross-platform shipping. If that’s not enough, you can even export your project and continue building it directly in Unity3D – wild, right?

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This is technically a free tool if you just want to play with the XR Builder app, have some cloud storage and access to nearly 3000 3D models and templates, but there is a paid tier if you want more of the experience . It’s affordable though, which is great. Over 50 hours of curriculum, a ton of extra cloud storage, and assets will cost you just $7.99 per month. It’s worth it if this is a tool you’ll find yourself using often, I think.

Just so there’s no confusion, releasing a commercial product built with Blocksmith will cost you $1,200 for a year, but that price is meant for companies, creative teams, and client projects, not individuals! There are countless games and projects that have already been created by those who have either paid for themselves or used the app for free, so check out the community center if you want to better understand what it’s capable of.

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You get out of it what you put into it

Honestly, what’s out there isn’t too impressive, but when you look at what professionals are doing with it to create virtual home tours, VR training sessions for companies, and even video production, I think its purpose and potential will become much clearer and the tools will become more attractive. do not forget – it looks just as good as you do with imported 3D models like the ones you see below!

Blocksmith is much cooler when you import your assets

Ultimately, this is a powerful toolset that lets you get away with the amount you put into it, and can be seen more as an incredible sandbox playground than anything else. I’ll definitely mess around a bit more over the next week. I’m pretty surprised I’d never heard of Blocksmith Builder until today when Scott and I were talking. Let me know in the comments if you’re going to check it out!


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