April 8, 2014

Experiments in Unity

I've found a new toy and it's called Unity. It's common to use Unity to make games, Rovio used it to make Bad Piggies, but more and more people are using Unity for other purposes. I've seen a few newspapers who are using it to make interactive visualizations, and a few makers of military software are also using Unity (see examples here). Unity is completely free if you are using only the basic functions, and the largest benefit is that the programs you design work on all devices, such as Windows, iPhone, Android, Web.

It's quite easy to learn Unity because a lot of people are using Unity. The creators of Unity have a lot of tutorials on their website, and there's more tutorials available on YouTube than what you have time to watch. You need to know how to code, you can use either C#, JavaScript, or Boo, and you will also have to learn to make 3D models in a program like Blender, which is also available for free, so it's really inexpensive and fast to get going.

Before programs like Unity existed, the aspiring developer had to spend several months to build a game engine. One famous game designer who is using Unity is Peter Molyneux. According to his talk at the 2012 Unity conference, it took him and his team 6 months to build a game engine before they could build the actual game. With Unity, you can experiment from day 1.  

This is how the Unity editor looks like:

The game is an experiment called Endless Road where you drive a car, and the computer generates a new road as you drive. It also generates new cars and small jumps randomly. The car itself is actually a Tesla car - that's why there's no sound and no damage when it collides with other Tesla cars!

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