You’ve seen the ads for workshops and courses that promise to teach you Unity virtual reality game development. The Unity Virtual Reality course teaches students how to build a virtual reality game using the Unity Game Engine. Designers, programmers and 3D artists can take the course to explore the possibility of working with VR development teams. If you are a designer, programmer, student, or anyone who has never used a game engine for development, learning basic Unity skills will help ease the anxiety and frustration associated with learning a new skill in a short period of time.
I attended a virtual reality game development with Unity weekend workshop in April 2017 for the first time. I decided against taking the 10 week course because I felt that the lack of experience with C# would hinder my progress in such a short period of time. For the weekend workshop I was sent an email with the recommended preparation material.
But, as the workshop progressed, I realized that the recommended preparation was not enough. I had prior experience with the Unity Game Engine, so for me that part was easy. I had only a basic knowledge of C# and programming in MonoDevelop and needed help with writing C# scripts. Most of the attendees struggled throughout the workshop and the initial excitement faded by the second day, One student who worked as a designer had never opened then Unity Game Engine and couldn’t navigate the interface. For some of students, the frustration culminated in them dropping out before the last day of the workshop.
A group of tutors were actively helping anyone who needed additional instruction. But, without basic knowledge of the Unity game engine and C# for game development, it was impossible for a most of the participants to do coursework on their own.
While I was there, I kept thinking that if I had run this event, I would have created a learning document/lecture to ensure that most of the people at the event could have maximized their time learning. You know, instead of catching up and wasting their time. Most of the students were UI/UX designers. They participated in the workshop because they wanted to expand their skill set by learning VR game and UX/UI development.
So I’ve decided to create a prep template for people. What follows is a brief training document that I recommend Unity developers read through and think about before ever stepping into Unity’s course.
Downloading and Installing Unity
From the Unity download page, choose the version of Unity that your instructor recommended for the course. Unity uses a download assistant which lets you select which components you want to download. Once the assistant has been downloaded, follow the instructions for installation.
During the installation include the Standard Assets Example project. Later, you can use it to practice navigating the Unity interface.
Exploring the Unity Editor
In the 2 x 3 layout mode, there are 5 main windows that comprise the Unity interface. They include the scene view, game view, hierarchy window, project window and inspector window. The tool bar is located at the top of the Unity interface.
The Scene View Window
The scene view is used to view and directly interact with the game objects in the current scene.
Located in the scene view’s upper-right corner is the scene gizmo. It tracks the camera orientation. The scene gizmo can be used to modify projection and angle modes. Right clicking on the cube brings up a menu of view angles.
The Project Window
All available assets are displayed in the project window including scenes, 3D models, textures, scripts, audio files, plug-ins and other resources.
The project window also has a search feature for locating assets. To the right of the search bar are buttons that help you locate assets by type or label.
The Hierarchy Window
All the game assets in the current scene are displayed in the hierarchy window. By default objects are listed in the order in which they are created. The game objects in this window can be rearranged or grouped together.
To create an object family, the object that is placed at the top will becomes the parent. Objects placed inside the parent will become the children or child object.
The Game View Window
product. The tool bar buttons are used to control play mode. All changes made in play mode will be lost once you exit play mode.
To prevent mistakes and loss of work, select preferences from the Unity drop-down menu and choose colors—playmode tint. Choose a color such as red that will remind you that you are in play mode.
A game objects properties and components can be modified in the Inspector window. The public variables of game objects can be edited in the components window without changing the code.
The Tool Bar
The tool bar contains transform tools, gizmo controls, play controls, controls for Unity services, layers and layouts.
The Transform Tools
The Transform Gizmo
The transform gizmo toggles allow the developer to switch between pivot and center rotation. The local button toggles between local and global world space navigation.
The Play Controls
Play, Pause, Step frame by frame
The Unity play controls allow for testing at any stage of game development. The controls start play action, pause and allow developers to step frame by frame through the game.
The Collaboration, Cloud Services and Account Services Menus
Using the Unity Collaboration Services Menu, developers can download, update, and manage shared projects.
Cloud services are managed using the cloud menu button
Account settings can be accessed using the account drop down menu, allowing developers to sign in and out of Unity in the editor.
The Layers and Layout Menus
The layers menu is used to show and hide layers in a scene.The layout drop down menu allows developers to choose a Unity Layout or create a custom layout and save it in the menu.
Importing Assets from the Unity Store
You may need to import assets from the Unity store such as 3D models, special effects, skyboxes and plug-ins. To access the Unity store, go to the Window drop down menu on the main menu. If you haven’t signed up for an account, you will need one to import items from the asset store.
You can find items by using the search bar and filter. Once a package has been downloaded, it can be imported by opening the Assets drop down menu in the main menu using Import package.
Standard packages are made by Unity and Custom packages are made by other developers. Unity’s Standard asset packages contain collections that are most commonly used by developers. Custom asset packages are created by the community as free or paid assets. Many of the custom assets in the Unity store are provided by artists who want to showcase their talent.
A list of packages you’ve already bought and their updates are found in Download Manager.
Practice using Unity by opening the Standard Assets Example. Learning to navigate the interface will reduce frustration and will help you get the most benefit from a Unity VR Course.
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