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.
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!