My big move to Unity3D

The Realization

So it’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to report that I’m taking the plunge into Unity3D.  Roger and Nathan have considerably more experience with Unity3D than I, so this is by no means going to be an overnight conversion.  I figure what I’m going to start doing here is probably sharing some of the progress I make and challenges and discoveries along the way to hopefully becoming an effective game developer using Unity3D.

 

The Alternatives No Longer Cut It

Up till now I’ve relied on tools like GameSalad and Construct 2 to allow me to get my ideas up and running faster, which was great and allowed me to make things come to life and learn a lot of important concepts behind programming without dealing with some of the tougher concepts.  This was great because for the last few years I’ve been too busy to really focus on becoming a good programmer.

 

My Background

I’ve dabbled here and there over the years..  AS3, C#, Java, HTML, and JavaScript over the years, but I never became anything close to a proficient programmer..  and so I had to rely on working with capable developers to make things happen, which is not a bad thing, but it can become a bottleneck when I want to experiment with some game mechanic or effect for example.  So while I’m not a total code noob,  I feel comfortable in saying that what I figured out almost anyone else who’s used to working with computers could figure out.

 

Unity3D Student

So far my first week has gone well.  I started with http://www.unity3dstudent.com/  This seemed like a very cool site to start out with.  It has things broken into nice bite sized videos that explain many of the most important things you would want to do in a game.  I burned through the tuts and they all made pretty good sense.  I felt incredible empowered, but then as I got into it I saw some of the shortcomings..

For one, all of the tutorials are using JavaScript, which isn’t a terrible thing, but from what I’ve heard from developers, it seems that C# is far better and what folks favor.  I don’t know really why this is, but it’s just been my experience.  The other big issue I saw very quickly was when I tried to mix things together, things clearly didn’t work right.  This isn’t so much the fault of the the site, but what first seemed like empowerment quickly dissolved as I realized building up any kind of game using these tutorials exposed vast chasms of knowledge I was lacking to get various objects to play nice together and do anything meaningful.

Also it’s very old and hasn’t had any new lessons in awhile.  It’s basically a dead site, but the content still works and in spite of my critiques of the site, it’s not a bad place to start.  It’s free and I still learned a lot

 

Where I’m At After A Week Or So

So yea it’s sometimes frustrating to know what I want to do, but just not understand how to tell Unity3D to do it, or in some cases discover how complicated and confusing seemingly simple things (like clicking an object in 3d space and effecting it) turned out to be.  This is where tools like GameSalad and C2 are great because you can make things happen very quickly and often find solutions to problems without requiring help, but I’ve seen their limitations as well and will not change course.

 

Looking Ahead

I’m now working through some tutorials on https://www.udemy.com and so far they seem good.  They cover C# which is great to see.  They too have a number of granular lessons which helps keep concepts easy to digest.  Hopefully it helps bridge that chasm that I experienced before..   Once I’ve reached some point well into this content I’ll give a more informed opinion of the site and service.

Another site I plan on checking out is http://www.3dbuzz.com/ which I am glad to see is still around.  The folks behind this were not far away from Nashville where I lived for many years.  I’d had some contact with Buzz many years ago so I’m glad to see they continue to create good content.

Code Hero was a kickstarter that I backed awhile ago.  They’ve had some challenges getting it done and at this point I’m not sure it’s going to be something useful after all.  I really liked one of their previous versions that had a “code gun”, but recently when I downloaded what they have made available, its very different and frankly less interesting.  Regardless I wish them success in helping teach people how to make games playing inside a game.. which is what it’s doing at its core.

Playmaker is another tool I look forward to getting into as well.  It’s a visual scripting tool for Unity3D.  It’s incredibly powerful and allows you to do many things without ever writing a line of code.  This is all true and I have the (not free) plugin found on the Unity3D asset store, however it still has it’s own learning curve and sadly the web site’s introduction tutorials are sorely out of date.  Made with Unity 3.x (we’re up to 4.3.3 last i checked) and Playmaker 1.2 (we’re up to 1.7) so yea the visuals don’t line up and things were simply not working as I got deeper into it..

I have heard from the creator of Playmaker that this is going to change soon as they plan on revamping the entire intro tutorial series with new updated videos for Unity3D 5..  so yea I’m excited to give this another go once the tuts are updated.  My hope is that Roger and Nate can find this useful as well for them so we can do more without complex code when Playmaker can simplify things.  We’ll see.

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About Caleb

Game Producer at Part12 Studios here in greater Boston area. Caleb loves game design and the execution of game development. He is also a semi-serious old school skater and a married father of two wonderful boys.