How to Learn Unity
Unity is a feature rich, fully integrated development engine for the creation of interactive 3D content. You want to make 3D games? Unity's got you covered. In this article we'll share books, tutorials and suggestions for getting to grips with Unity.
What?! You Haven't Heard of Unity?
Where have you been hiding? For those unacquainted with this awesome bit of kit, prepare to go wow.
Reading this and thinking "but I can't code! I can't design! I can't model!"? No problem. Unity has an Asset Store built right into it, full of all sorts of goodies for you to buy cheaply and use in your projects. The situation has never been better for indie developers.
Unity is also surrounded by an awesome community with many contributing tutorials and open source libraries to integrate all sorts of cool technology from the Microsoft Kinect to mobile Augmented Reality solutions, leaving you able to focus entirely on your game or application.
What's more, with one Unity project you can export to all the various web browsers, PC & Mac desktops, Adobe Flash, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 all from the click of a button. Never has it been so easy to get your content on many platforms and devices without having to pay a royalty share of your profits. A lot of top games on the iOS store are made with Unity!
Think that's amazing? What if I told you there was a FREE "Indie" version for you to download right now and start playing with? That's no joke. It's truly awesome, so let's dive right in...
I Want to Download It Right Now!
Sure you do -- so head over to the Unity Download page and hit that download button! You'll get a free 30 day trial of Unity Pro and (at the time of writing) a free 30 day trial of the Android and iOS exporter add-ons.
Whilst it's downloading (~500MB) grab a cup of tea and have a browse through the Unity Gallery and check out some of the stunning games that have been made with Unity, just to whet your appetite a little more.
Once it's downloaded, run through the installer. It will ask you for an email address and to choose whether you want to purchase Unity Pro, try out a 30 day Unity Pro trial, or just use the Unity Indie version. I'd opt for the Unity Pro trial just to see the real capabilities of the engine. Don't fret about handing over your email address; they don't spam you with anything and you can use this account for the Asset Store later if needed.
When going through the installation options be sure to install Unity, MonoDevelop (coding environment) and the Example Project. The Example Project changes from time to time but usually shows off the latest features of the engine and will be optimized for all the exportable platforms. Currently, the Example Project is AngryBots and it's well worth having a look through.
Learning Unity - Start at the Source
There are so many places where you could start your journey within Unity, and Unity themselves have recently started offering free "Live Online Training Courses". Where better to start learning than from the source? You can sign up and take part in them here.
The two courses available right now will introduce you to the basics of the Unity interface and the key concepts and workflows used whilst walking you through developing two mini games to take home and show your mom. She will love them!
Unity also has a tutorial channel with videos presented by Will Goldstone which walk you through the basics of the interface and the different unity components used to develop your games and applications.
Learning Unity - Where Next?
When you're comfortable with the basics and wish to build on your knowledge you should check out Unity 3D Student – a site by Will Goldstone (again!) which is full of bitesized modules followed by challenges for you try.
For those who like a physical book to hold there is a great read by Ryan Henson Creighton, Unity 3.x Game Development by Example, which will teach you more challenging concepts and walk you through popular obstacles presented in game development. For the screen junkies there's also an eBook available.
Beyond this, Unity Cookie produces a wide range of beginner tutorials as well as two complete series walking you through building your own game. Digital Tutors host some more advanced courses in topics such as Character Scripting, Weapon Systems, Level Design and AI & Waypoints, to mention just a few. Design3 have several courses based on various concepts including mobile development, and last but not least GamePrefabs by the Tornado Twins has a ton of cool prefabs and tutorials for your projects.
Learn to love Bob. He created iTween which you will not be able to live without. Also check out his blog for loads of tips and tricks and cool time saving prefabs and and little insights into his workflow.
If you're a developer and find yourself getting stuck then get used to reading the Unity Scripting Reference before going to bed, it's your best friend and will always help you out.
Then, find and follow the best on Twitter. To name just a few...
I've Gone From Zero to Hero, What Now?
You should now have the confidence and understanding to take on whatever comes your way so go out there and get inspired. Try to make a cool mini game just for fun to aid your learning and fill your portfolio so you can get hired. Most of all, enjoy yourself! And don't forget to check out our other How to Learn guides as well.