This post is a continuation of another post. If you haven’t read the first post please do so.
Month 2: Developing
Once you are comfortable with Unity and feel like you have a pretty good understanding of how it works it is time to start work on your first project. For me, it didn’t take long to decide what I wanted to do – I had had the idea for Happy Cloud long before I learned Unity. For some people, however, finding inspiration is the most difficult part. I recommend thinking about games or things that you like and going from there. It’s never easy to work on something that you don’t enjoy, which is exactly why you should pick something that sounds interesting to you. Despite the fact that Happy Cloud was more of a random idea, it was an idea that I was excited about and an idea that I knew how to work with. It inspired me, and when it came to actually developing the game I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like.
Having been inspired by the Flappy Bird craze of that same time period, I instinctively knew that Happy Cloud would be a fun game to play, it was just a matter of creating it. Before I started to develop the game I first outlined my ideas for it on paper. Another thing that I did during this period was that I drew pictures of what I wanted the end product to look like, which is something that really helped guide me during development. After outlining the main structure and ideas of the game I started to actually develop it in Unity. Due to the fact that game development is a rather complicated process, I had to break down development into different smaller projects (which, in all honesty, is how most people work on projects of any variety). For example, one day I would work on score mechanics, and on another I might work on something like the physical attributes of on-screen sprites. In order to be successful when making a game you really just have to take things one step at a time, otherwise, it quickly becomes overwhelming and stressful.
Something that should be noted about this month was that my knowledge of Unity wasn’t even close to perfect. When it comes down to it, in fact, much of my knowledge of C# was learned during this month because I was forced to adapt what I had learned from tutorials to my own specific problems. Prior to this, I had only been using it in the tutorial examples, and thus had a limited knowledge of its workings. This is exactly why you learn so much from working on personal projects; it’s easy to do things when people are telling you how to do them, but it is much different (and more rewarding) when you have to figure them out on your own. It was very rare, however, that I felt completely alone in my problems. One nice thing about Unity’s popularity is the number of online resources and forums that exist to help everyone with their various problems in game development. I do have to give some credit to Unity’s community, because I definitely would have struggled much more without them.
As far as the specifics of development, the steps you take will depend entirely on the type of game you are making. What you might start with is finding a sample project in Unity that is similar to the one you want to undertake. Look at the code, and how the project is put together. You might even want to get started with your first project by adapting another project or one of the tutorials. Change a few things, and make it your own. Then, change a little more, or find another project to play with. In doing this, you will see how other games are put together, and learn the different ways of accomplishing tasks like keeping score, starting a new game when one game ends, etc. When learning something like Unity and game development, tinkering is one of the most valuable things you can do.
Let me speak directly to the adults here: The biggest obstacle you will face in learning Unity, or any other technology for that matter, is your own tendency to avoid failure. Adults have spent a lifetime being programmed to behave in ways that avoid failure at all costs. It’s a survival thing. However, it’s also a huge limitation. Edison famously said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” This quote reminds us that trying and failing is one of the best ways to learn. So be brave. Try things out. Make failing a productive activity.
To be continued in Part 3.