Friday 9 August 2013

Unity in three easy steps

I mentioned Unity a little while ago, and said that I would get back to it at some stage, well that stage is NOW! I'm not going to go into too much detail about everything to do with Unity, and cover all of it's good and bad points. That time is not now, and honestly may never be. I will drop three tutorials on you that I fell everyone should be able to complete with minimal difficulty. I will talk briefly about those tutorials, but I think you should hook into the free downloads and let them speak for themselves.

A quick word on monitor sizes before we get too far into this. I having been playing around with Unity on a couple of systems and a couple of different monitor sizes, and while some other system resources don't seem to have made a lot of difference, the difference between 13", 15" and 22" monitors is definitely worth mentioning. I found working on the smaller monitors frustrating, and often found that it negatively affected my workflow (as well as my mood). You can still use Unity on smaller monitors, but in this instance bigger is better. If you are thinking about getting into this seriously and are working with a laptop or smaller monitor, you can pick up reasonably priced monitors from MSY, and other places of that ilk. I'd love to quote my friend Adrian on monitor sizes during his experience with modelling software, but his exact words escape me. Maybe he'll comment.

Getting Started

The current version of Unity is 4.2, and you can retrieve (download) it from When you install it, you will be asked which version you would like to use. I recommend the free version for now. You will also be asked to register a Unity account. Do this. This isn't one of those pointless things that is about getting your e-mail address, and flinging spam, this lets you access the asset store, so pick your favourite e-mail and get started.

Beginner Tutorial Modules

The tutorial modules cover a surprising amount of stuff. They are incomplete for the time being (2013-08-09), but would hardly be classified as useless. Far from it. While only beginner level tutorial modules are provided on the site, they introduce you to the editor, graphics, physics, audio and scripting. This is about all you need to know to get started.

To get into these tutorial modules you will need the Unity Labs 01: Robot Lab, which will have all of the assets and things that you will need for the tutorials. The other thing you will probably need is a link.

3D Platformer Tutorial

This was the first one that I completed, and you could probably jump in here. The game is very basic, but you still feel productive. I also really like the way that this tutorial is written. It was made by the Unity guys a few years ago for a previous version of Unity, but it is still pretty straight forward. There are only a few minor differences between what is in the tutorial and what you will need to do.

Whenever colours come up the with RGB and opacity values the opacity value needs to be multiplied by 2.5ish. In the old version of Unity the opacity scale was out of 100, but most programs use a 0-255 scale now.

There are going to be a few extra things, as well as things moved around when they show you screen shots of the user interface. Nothing major, just be careful.

The other thing worth keeping in mind is that some of the values for things, like particle systems, tend to err on the cautious side. The tutorial was written a few years ago, so you can jack up some of the values fairly substantially for bigger effects. Just play around with it. You can get it through the asset store built into Unity or you can grab it from the site.

UPDATE: There are more problems with this tutorial in more recent versions of Unity, which include the sound.

Project #01: Stealth

I've read through this one, but haven't had time to start it. There isn't really anything in it that should throw you if you have done the other tutorials, but the final product is definitely more impressive, and is playable online. Unlike the 3D Platformer Tutorial, this one was actually written for the current version of Unity, but like the modules, the instructions for the tutorial are online, at the projects page, and the assets are in the asset store, under Unity Projects 01: Stealth.

Let me know how you go.

(All of the images including the Unity logo are the property of the people over at Unity, and are nabbed from their website. I'm not really across the rules for this stuff, but I thought that seeing as I am promoting them they probably wouldn't mind so much. I'll drop them an e-mail and see how they feel. Either way I will be talking about Unity again.)

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