Learn Unity Game Engine – Part 1

Introduction – What is Unity?

Unity is a game engine, providing you all the tools you need to create 2D or 3D games. And that’s over simplifying it, greatly. To better understand its capabilities and applications I suggest you go straight to the source and look around the Unity website. Come back here though!

Ok. By now you should be thoroughly impressed and eager to start creating games. But before you do I would like to share some thoughts.

Why use a game engine?

The question should really be: why wouldn’t you? Can you imagine how much longer it would take for software houses to develop and release games if they had to write them from scratch every time? Game development is a business. In fact, it’s huge business. I happened to be in New York around the release of Call of Duty 4 and practically the whole of Time Square was festooned with Call of Duty adverts; imagine how much it costs to do that! Then imagine how much money they expect to make in order to justify that kind of advertising budget! Like any other business, to be profitable you need to make your processes cheap and efficient. That means you reuse assets and code wherever possible and this ultimately led to the creation of game engines so that problems like physics, animation, scene layout etc. didn’t have to be solved over and over again. Check this article out for more detail.

That’s fine for the big software houses, what about us?

Over the last 8 years or so I have flitted between trying to code games from scratch to using a variety of other game engines, such as: Coco2d, SpriteKit, Corona SDK and a few others. The game engines listed are are all great but the when compared to Unity they fall short in many key areas, the biggest of which is that Unity supports so many different platforms. And as for creating a game from scratch… Well it’s a great learning experience, but its too much work. That being said, if you want to try then I really do recommend the book below

If nothing else this book will highlight just how much learning is required. It’s a good book though.

Why use Unity?

Because it is the most complete. Because it runs on Windows, Mac OSX. Because you can develop games that will run on more platforms than you can shake a stick at. Because it will allow you to create 2D games and 3D. Because the quality it phenomenal. Because there is a free version. Because there is a huge community of users. etc. etc.

Get started

First things first. Go to the Unity website and download it. Install Unity on your computer and run it.

When you first run Unity you should be presented with a screen like this.

unity start screen

The Welcome to Unity splash screen has some very important links to official Unity tutorials and other resources, such as the official documentation, forum and the the Asset Store. I would recommend following the tutorials offered by Unity Technologies as it is always best to be guided by the official source. I release this may not be the best strategy for my own series but they do have some good tutorials and later I will be covering stuff that Unity Technologies have not done.

When you have had a look around, come back and let’s get started with the user interface in part 2 of this series.


NOTE: As Unity have now released version 5 I will be updating this whole series to take into account the new functionlity

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