Unity learning path

This article gives beginners an overview of the “noob to pro” learning path to Unity. This list is a starting point for anyone, who has no prior knowledge of game engines or development environments.

If you already have Unity up and running and are familiar with the most basic things, skip ahead to the Learning Resources section.

Step 1 – Getting Unity and the right mindset

Download Unity 5 from here and install it.

Open Unity and select the Get started tab to view a quick introduction video.

Before diving into the editor, I recommend watching the Your First Game video series by Extra Credits to get first advice on how to start. Many of their tips can help beginners avoid common pitfalls and frustration.

Start small and build projects, which you can complete within a few days.

Step 2 – First steps in the editor

To get started in the editor, create a new Unity project.

Create your first project in Unity.
Create your first project in Unity.

 

You do not need to create a new folder for your project. Unity automatically creates one from the project name.

Next, you might want to chose a different window layout:

Unity window layouts.
Unity window layouts.

Select the Layout panel from the top right or hit Window > Layouts and then select 2 by 3. This view shows you the most typical window tabs in Unity.

What you are looking right now is all part of a Scene. At the moment, you haven’t saved your scene, therefore it it untitled. Take a look at the Unity application frame:

Untitled Unity scene in your project.
Unity application frame showing scene title, project name and build target.

 

Click File > Save Scene to save your scene and thereby creating your first Asset.

The Project panel shows you all assets that are currently stored in your project.

Unity's project view.
Unity’s project view.

 

Click the tab menu at the top right and select One Column Layout if you want to browser assets in tree view. All assets, including scenes, images, scenes, models, animations and scripts, are stored in a folder called Assets.

Now, select the Main Camera GameObject from the Hierarchy.

Unity's hierarchy panel.
Unity’s hierarchy panel.

 

The Hierarchy panel shows all GameObjects that are part of the current scene. In Unity, everything is a GameObject: models, scripts, lights, cameras, etc.

A GameObject alone does nothing at all. To have functionality, it must contain Components. You can view attached Components of any GameObject in the Inspector:

The Unity Inspector shows Components.
The Unity Inspector shows Components.

 

If you want to find out what a certain component does, click the blue book icon. This will take you straight to the corresponding page in the Unity manual.

The Unity Manual will be your main resource for learning everything you need to know about the game engine.

Step 3 – Using the official learning resources

Unity offers us great documentation to learn just about everything: the manual, the scripting reference, video tutorials and live trainings.

These pages and videos alone are more than you can ever read, so I will try and give you a guide where to begin:

After this introduction and some playing around you should be able to create scenes with simple objects.

From now on you will want to focus on specific topics, but to get started making your first game, you should learn about scripting:

My favorite tutorial:

 

Now you’re ready to start a real project:

Once you’re done or if you have problems, watch one of the scripting videos for detailed information about specific topics:

I encourage you to go through those videos in order, but also follow along with your own scripting experiments.

Put all beginner techniques to use in this great Unity project:

Finally, move away from noob topics and create your first intermediate game:

Step 4 – Pick your own topics from recommendations

Nobody can be good at everything, so after stepping from your beginner’s pedestal, you should focus on certain topics more than others. In any case, I still recommend to at least glance over all topics from the official Unity documentation, just so you know what exists..

Some of my personal favorites:

Step 5 – Beyond the basics

Up to this point, I’ve only linked resources which teach you how to use Unity, but not how to make real-world games. In fact, going from knowing how Unity components work to knowing how to make a great game is the difficult part.

Be aware that the nature of tutorials is to be concise, but real-world games are very complicated. You can only bridge this by creating your own projects and take away experience with every finished game.

You may also want to buy a book from a professional game developer and look at how they design their projects in the business world.

 

Published by

Chris Yarbrough

Game Design student at Mediadesign Hochschule, Munich.

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