Monday, November 09, 2009

Review: Unity Game Development Essentials

Unity 3D is becoming the engine of choice for several independent game developers/designers. Reasons for that include:

- It runs on (and deploys to) both Mac OS and Windows environments.
- It publishes for the web, and the plugin is becoming very popular.
- It's cheap (in fact, the Indie version was made free a couple of weeks ago).
- Wii / iPhone / iPod Touch possibilities (there's a specific license for those).
- It integrates very well with 3D packages - importing models can be quite easy.

Plus, as I am finding out:

- It's not that hard to learn if you are a designer coming from Flash and Director

So I got the Indie version, and I was really keen on learning it, but there was a couple of obstacles on the way such as: (a) you can't find as many tutorials as there are to Flash, specially for beginners; (b) The documentation seems to be very complete, but not very welcoming for newcomers.

So I've found a book on it. So far, it seems to be the only book dedicated to this particular engine. And it's a good one.

Unity Game Development Essentials, by Will Goldstone, does a terrific job introducing the engine's main concepts and workflow. By essentially following a very long tutorial, the reader progresses throughout the eleven chapters of the book, each presenting a set of features that make a game. Importing assets, generating particles, managing collisions, designing GUIs, sculpting terrains, generating folliage, placing sounds ... I would say this book covers a lot of ground - maybe more that just the "essentials".

Here is a sample chapter, by the way.

This is not the first development book I buy (I've purchased titles on Flash and Director), but it is one of the best, for sure. I was not familiar with Packt Publishing (and to be honest, was a bit skeptical about them), but I became very impressed with the quality of their material. Overall, the reason I like the book so much it's because the author seems to assume you don't know anything about the engine - and that's often the case with new users, right? Anyway, by the end of the book you'll have a pretty good idea on how to improve the game you've made by following the lessons, but also have a notion on how to implement game mechanics and ideas of your own. As far as introductory books go, this is a big deal. This book could (should) be made the official introductory guide to Unity.

Any shortcomings?

As a development book, no. But I really wish they could make a second book: one that I could use as a scripting reference guide - a bit like Gary Rosenzweig's Using Macromedia Director MX. That would be the perfect complement to the excellent Unity Game Development Essentials. Packt Publishing and Will Goldstone, if you're reading this, please consider the idea!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Unity 3D (and, finally, a good book on it!)

I've been looking for an affordable 3D engine for a while, and Unity 3D has become my favourite one (and now you can get the indie version for free on their website). I've been away of game-ish projects for a looong time (except for a interesting multitouch application I've worked on recently), and hope to fix that soon. And Unity 3D seems a good tool/platform for that.

Although it helps to have a Flash and Director development background, I've found the documentation not so welcoming to newcomers. Luckily, I've found a book on Unity 3D (perhaps the first on the subject?) that is really helping me to get familiar with the tool.

I am still studying and learning from the book - and not so close to finishing it. But, so far I have nothing but good things to say about it.

The book in question is called Unity Game Development Essentials, and it was written by Will Goldstone. You can read a sample chapter here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Art Exhibition was a success, thank you all!

Thank you all who have submitted your work. I'll post some images of it as soon as I have them.

Again, thank you all so much for the support. I'll send you individual emails as soon as I can. Time has been short lately. For good reasons, always!

Maybe this month we can resume the posts on games and game design? I hope so!
Copyright, Chico Queiroz