The Unity 5 game engine has one huge advantage for beginner game developers. It can be downloaded for free. If you start making a whole load of money (currently over $100K), you’ll need to pay of course. But make a little, even quite a lot, or make nothing from it and you can create games without any charge. All legal and covered in the EULA.
Is Unity 5 easy to learn? Well, that depends on your definition of easy. Like anything, you’ll need to work at it. There are some great tutorials out there that can help you get to grips with the basics, and then skill up further. Like any software, it has its quirks and is not something you can aim to master. Rather, go into it with the goal of learning what you need to know, a step at a time.
It’s likely you’ll need to do some coding along the way and this can be the trickiest part for non-coders. Programmers will have an easier time of it here. Unfortunately for the rest of us, good tutorials are thin on the ground and the monkey-see-monkey-do approach isn’t ideal for understanding why you are doing something.
If you do devote some time to it, you’ll be able to make both 3D and 2D games in Unity. More good news (possibly) is that Unity has just announced a partnership with Facebook. That means you have an opportunity to publish finished games on Facebook as well as other game sites.
Getting Started with Unity 5
As a beginner myself, I recommend the Jimmy Vegas tutorial series. There are several to choose from but I went with the 24-part Unity 5 Tutorial for Beginners – How to Make a Game. This one doesn’t assume any knowledge. Once you’ve got Unity’s free download installed, you’re good to go.
What’s great about this series is that it gets you moving quickly, building a game with objects you can interact with. By the 10th video tutorial you’ll have created a hand-painted, morphed terrain with buildings, an animated fire, a river with bridge, even a portal for beaming from one place to another. You’ll know how to stop your character walking through things, will have created some basic scripts to pick up objects, and will be working on your first weapon. Not bad! Oh and all the assets you need are available for free on the presenter’s website.
Another plus is that Jimmy Vegas has a good presentation style for beginners. He has a friendly voice, and doesn’t move too quickly. He’s not slick and he occasionally gets things wrong and has to figure it out. In other words, it’s like having a friend next to you, talking you through things.
One thing to watch is that Unity development seems to progress quite quickly, so if like me you are starting now, your version of Unity will have changes. Things won’t always work as in the video, and options won’t be in the same places. I’ve completed 10 of the videos now and, while pleased at how much ground has been covered, I hit a few obstacles. All were things I could figure out and I’ll share my solutions here with you too.
In the meantime, why not jump in and see how quickly you can build a first-person game world!
Unity 5 Game Tutorial Troubleshooting
I don’t think this is mentioned at all, but when you want to close Unity, make sure you go to File > Save Project. Saving the scene is not enough, and when you return to Unity your progress will have been lose.
The light in the videos is nicely even, with soft shadows. Light and shadows are looked at in a later video. However, even then it is hard to achieve a similar effect. If everything is all black, or if the unlit areas are black and make it hard to work, just turn off scene lighting. Do this by clicking on the tiny sun icon at the top of the Scene tab (i.e. your main viewport). The light will now be dimmer, but at least you will be able to see everything.
Game Mode (on pressing Play):
If you can’t move around in play mode after adding the FPS Controller, and there is a separate camera in the scene, delete the camera. Now the camera will default to that of the FPS Controller and you’ll be able to walk around.
No mouse cursor? That’s not a bug, it’s just how it is currently in Unity. You can press Esc to get a mouse cursor so that you can click out of Game mode and return to your Scene tab.
Duplicate Object Naming:
In the videos, when a duplicate is created with Ctrl+D, the name adds a sequential number, e.g. Wall001, duplicate is Wall002. In the current version of Unity, it becomes Wall001 (1). This is annoying but there is no obvious workaround so just rename it.
Interacting with Objects:
When you create an object that the FPS Controller is going to interact with, make sure the FPS Controller can ‘see’ the object. This means you need to press play and note which way the FPS Controller’s camera is looking. Then create or move the object so that it can be seen by that camera.
Missing Assets (Objects, Textures, etc.):
Did Jimmy drag and drop something into the Assets area and you don’t have it? Everything’s available on his website, which you can find linked to from any of his videos over on YouTube. Once on the site, look for the Teal series in the downloads area. That’s this particular video series. If the thing he added wasn’t from his site, it was probably part of Unity’s own assets which were imported by right-clicking and choosing Import Package. (You’ll need to carefully watch that part of the video again to know which particular package to import.)
Did the water show up as pink? I didn’t experience this problem but many have. The answer is here: http://answers.unity3d.com/questions/1192325/pink-water.html
Is your texture too shiny? Find smoothness in the Inspector for your material (it is the third one down in Unity 5.4, under Metallic). Dial it down to zero.
Other texture issues? For some reason, Jimmy has us add the textures to the normal map slot. You don’t need to do this. Make sure there is nothing under Normal Map and that your texture is applied to Albedo only.