If you ever thought about designing your own games, there are a couple of ways you can go about it. The first is to code everything by hand. Although you can get full control of your game environment using this method, it is far more difficult and time-consuming. The second option is to use a readily available game engine. Depending on the complexity of the game engine, you may be required to code much of your game yourself or it may be designed as a drag-and-drop interface making it easy for non programmers to create their own games.
The drawback to game engines is twofold: there are a lot of them to choose from (how do you know what the best one is?) and some of them are easy to use but only produce 2D games. Although 2D games are fun, you’re unlikely to win the next game developer of the year award producing a flat looking 2D game. Fortunately, there is an answer. Game Development Made Easy shows you how to start creating powerful 3D games right now.
Basically, you need a powerful 3-D game creation engine to create the stunning graphics and realism that has come to be expected by today’s gaming community. There are many choices – but one that stands out and has been used successfully for many popular game titles is known as Unity 3D.
What is Unity 3D?
Unity is a multiplatform game development tool. It is designed to make creating breathtaking games much easier and contains one of the most powerful 3-D game engines in the world. Unity 3D allows you to create jaw-dropping visuals, ambient soundscapes, and non stop excitement without an in-depth knowledge of programming.
The engine supports one click publishing to numerous gaming platforms including the Web, desktop, mobile devices, and even consoles such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
The major components of Unity 3D include the world’s best Lightmapper, Beast, and the PhysX physics engine which has been developed by NVIDIA. The actual programming environment in Unity is known as MonoDevelop. This environment provides full auto completion and a very powerful debugger that allows you to pause your game and inspect logic at any point.
Installing & Familiarizing Yourself with the IDE
Unity 3D is available as a free 30 day trial. This should be ample time for you to evaluate the IDE and become familiar with many of its important features. After the 30 day trial, Unity Pro can be purchased for $1,500 with add-ons available for one click publishing to popular mobile platform such as Android and iOS.
At the time of this writing, Unity also offers a monthly subscription service for $75 per month. This gives you the benefits of Unity Pro without shelling out $1,500 right off the bat.
After downloading the Unity installer, installation is extremely straightforward. Simply click Install and the application will take care of everything for you.
The first thing you should check out after installing Unity 3D is the impressive demo project known as AngryBoots. This project should load by default the first time you open Unity and you have full control of this demo project. Take some time to move around the levels and you should start to gain an immediate appreciation for the power of Unity 3D for game development. You can even tweak this demo project as you see fit; allowing you to test out various components of the IDE before starting your own project from scratch.
The Unity 3D Master Class explores this demo project before showing you how to create your own games.
Important Unity 3D Components
Unity 3D is full of useful tools that make game development extremely easy considering the quality level of the games typically produced using the IDE. Some of the major components you will be using throughout game development in Unity include:
Toolbar – The Toolbar spreads across the top of the IDE and features several important manipulation tools for the Scene and Game Windows. It also holds the Play button – used when you want to test out the environment you have created.
Scene View – This view is where you will spend most of your time building and editing the components of your game. A fully rendered 3-D preview of the currently open scene is displayed and allows you to add, edit, and remove GameObjects.
Hierarchy – The Hierarchy window displays a list of every GameObject within the current Scene view. If you select an object within the Hierarchy it is also selected within the Scene view and vice versa. New objects can be added to the Hierarchy via the Create menu.
Project Window – If you want to explore the Assets directory for all models, textures, scripts, and prefabs used within your project, the Projects Window is where you want to look. In large, complex games, the Project Window makes it easy for you to search for specific game assets as needed.
Game View – This view is probably going to be your favorite part of Unity because it is where you can play your game as if it’s actually been published already. Using the Play button located on the Toolbar, you can manipulate your assets as if you were playing a real game. What’s unique about Unity is that you can make changes to your game while you are playing in real time. Very few (if any) other game engines allow for this functionality and it truly sets Unity 3D apart from other game development engines.
You can learn more about the powerful tools within Unity in the Introduction to 3D Game Development course.
Please note that this only scratches the surface of what Unity 3D offers as a game development platform. It is relied on by game development companies around the world and allows games to be deployed to practically any platform you choose.
Unlike other game engines that are relatively drag-and-drop, you will need to understand programming concepts to use Unity effectively, but the results are undeniably well worth the extra effort as you can create professional looking games on your home PC using Unity 3D.