Review: Getting Started with Unity (Packt Publishing)
I had the opportunity over the last week to review a recent published guide for getting started with Unity. I thought that this would be a great time to do it, seeing as I’m looking forward to learning Unity 4 and participating in the crowdsourcing efforts for Shroud of the Avatar. It wasn’t… quite what I was expecting.
The book, Getting Started with Unity by Patrick Felicia, published by Packt, starts off as one might expect from an introductory book by talking about how to download, install, and use the Unity package. However, I would have expected quite a few tips and tricks for navigating within Unity; it took me several hours to be comfortable with its nuances. This book describes all of the parts of the interface, the navigation, and its functions in four and a half pages. The remainder of the chapter describes how to create a scene, how to add objects to the scene, applying a texture, adding a light, and adding a controller. All of these are great steps, but are just covered too briefly to really wrap your head around, especially if you are new to game development.
There are a few downsides, unfortunately. All of the code is very simplistic, and would need to be completely replaced in a fully working game. Its reliance on publicly available assets is also a liability; it directs you to download textures from CGTextures, audio from FreeSound and Incompetech, and the “companion code” from the author’s own WordPress site (http://patrickfelicia.wordpress.com/publications/books/unity-outbreak/), some of which are already defunct. Thankfully the downloads are still available directly from Packt, and alternative assets can be acquired at the same sites.
One brilliant gem at the end of this book is the bibliography. The first two books on game design are the two I normally recommend: Rules of Play by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, and A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster (although the author misspells his name as Ralph). It also introduced me to Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Braithwaite and Ian Schreiber, which I am already digging into.
Unfortunately, most of what is in this book is easily available for free on the Internet. However, the author does make it interesting by slowing building up a playable, albeit simple, game. I give it a 3/5 for a brand new user, with the advice that anyone who knows their way around any game development package skip it in favor of a more intermediate guide.