Those looking to get into 2D game development with Unity would be well served to check out Packt’s new Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook by Claudio Scolastici. The Unity game engine is an increasingly popular and versatile development tool for indie game developers. While Unity is a capable 3D utility, it is also a powerful 2D solution. The Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook serves as a useful reference guide to game creation with over 50 common “recipes” that will be used over and over again when making games.
Unity Technologies released its fifth iteration of the game engine, on 3 March, 2015, and that is not really addressed in the Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook, but most of the updates in Unity 5.0 are also not particularly relevant to simple 2D game design. Since it’s a “cookbook” it’s not necessary to read the book from front to back, unless you’re building the sample project. Each of the chapters can be referenced individually, by those looking for a little more insight into particular tasks or elements of the Unity game engine. That being said, beginners shouldn’t be intimidated, as the book is fairly thorough in its explanations.
The Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook starts off with a preface covering the most basic of tasks, creating a new project in Unity. From there, the first chapter covers importing models and their animations. The author’s modeling program of choice is Autodesk’s Maya and the first half of the chapter provides some instruction on the program. While it would have been nice to see some other 3D programs covered, there are plenty of other books that give more in-depth instruction on each of those software options. Once you get a supported model into Unity, it’s all pretty similar anyway.
Even though the first chapter covers 3D models and animations, the theme of the book is 2D game development, and that’s what the second chapter gets into. Actually, both the second and third chapters cover importing and animating 2D assets. Again the author references Maya, but the information on materials is fairly generic. Though most of the tasks in the second and third chapters are handled in the Unity program itself, Chapter Two does introduce C# scripting. It’s all in small bites though, and even non-coders should be able to follow along.
From Chapter Four on, the mix is about half work in the inspector and half writing scripts to make those objects do what you want. You can of course download the scripts from Packt’s website. Chapters Four through Seven cover subjects like building levels and graphical user interfaces, controlling audio and video, creating a character controller, and managing game scenes. The final chapter is all about sprites, or the 2D images that are animated in 2D games.
Claudio Scolastici’s Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook runs 256 pages and covers all of the basics in 2D game design. It’s probably best suited for those new to 2D game design with Unity, but even those with more experience might find some useful nuggets in the fairly thorough explanations Scolastici provides. Where other books might provide specific instruction of how to do more things, this cookbook is more of a reference manual. Unlike Unity’s online manual, this cookbook provides actual examples of how the game engine’s features can be used.
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