The VR development community suffered a blow on the first day of the year. The Stonefox, the solo independent developer behind the popular Virtual Reality Toolkit (better known as VRTK), announced that they ceased all development on the project. There won’t be any further bug fixes or feature improvements, and plans for a fourth edition of the toolkit are off the table.
The Stonefox had a Patreon page where they were collecting donations to help support the project, which is now closed. The developer left a short message titled “That’s a wrap,” which states that “the time has come to close down the VRTK Patreon” with a “Thank you” to supporters. In the comments, The Stonefox clarifies that the closure of the funding page corresponded with the halt of development.
“It means no newer versions of VRTK will be coming out, so in the future developers can use existing versions of VRTK still just fine (as it's open source, so the github page isn't going anywhere), but they won't have any updates or new features,” said The Stonefox. “In fact, VRTK v4 was basically a massive re-write to make VRTK so much better than it currently is now, so I guess for devs they won't get that.”
You may not be familiar with VRTK, but the loss of this toolset could be a big deal to some indie VR developers. The VRTK package is a set of open-source scripts that help VR developers skip the heavy lifting for common VR development issues and lets small teams focus on story, art, and making the game fun to play. The VRTK includes solutions for locomotion, object interaction, VR UI elements, body physics simulation, and several other useful tools.
Many VR titles feature elements from the VRTK package. Sea Green Games took advantage of the VRTK to build Stage Presence. Strange Company used the VRTK to help build Left-Hand Path. Blueteak uses The Stonefox’s toolset in its hit archery game, QuiVr, which was among the top 24 highest grossing VR titles on Steam last year. And dozens of other independent developers used VRTK in their games. Put simply: Many gamers have experienced what the VRTK tools offer.
The VRTK is open-source and hosted on GitHub, so it’s not going away any time soon. But the VR industry is in a constant state of evolution, and it’s only a matter of time before a stagnant toolkit becomes a forgotten relic. Perhaps someone will fork the project and take it on from here.