Getting Started with Unity (Part 1: Installing Unity and editor basics)

In this guide I’ll cover the basics you’ll need to know to get started with Unity. First things first, let’s install it!

  1. Unity projects are managed out of a Desktop program called the Unity Hub. Here you can select between your projects, create new projects in 2D or 3D, and select different versions of the Unity editor itself. You can download Unity here: https://unity3d.com/get-unity/download. The software is free to use for personal use or for small businesses under the “Personal” plan — woohoo!
  2. Once you have downloaded and installed the program to your selected folder, go ahead and run Unity Hub. You may need to approve access to allow Unity to edit files on your computer. You will see four sections inside the Unity Hub — Projects, Learn, Community, and Installs.

Projects is where you will find all of your existing projects and where you can create a new project. Learn has a number of cool microprojects to help you understand how to use unity — definitely worth checking out! Community details some ways you can participate in Unity-hosted learnings or get in contact with their team for help, and finally Installs will show the Unity versions you have installed on your local machine and allow you to install past versions if necessary.

3. Create a new project! Depending on your goals you can choose between 2D, 3D or some advanced high definition rendering formats called the render pipelines (RP). I’ll be walking through a 2.5D game tutorial in the coming guides, so if you are following along you can start there with me. Go ahead and name your project (mine will be a space shooter) and let’s get into the interface.

4. Welcome to Unity! Let’s go over some of the basics of the interface. First on the left hand column you have the Hierarchy view. This column will be a list of all of the game objects currently in your scene, and will be your go-to source to find objects and manage them. Next to that we have the Scene view. The Scene view is the interactive editor portal of Unity. Here you can see your 2D or 3D world from any angle, click on various elements, and interact with them — such as selecting, moving, rotating, and resizing your game objects. You can right click inside the Scene view and drag to look around, or you can hold down the right click button while hovering over the scene view to use the enter “FPS” mode and use the WASD keys to easily navigate around in 3D space. This is the preferred method for navigating your Scene. Using the scroll wheel while holding down right click will allow you to adjust the speed of your movement, and using the scroll wheel by itself while hovering over the scene view will allow you to zoom.

Fun right? Next is the Game view, which is located in a tab just to the right of the scene view. The game view shows you what your scene will look like from the player perspective, and you can use this window to test the various elements of your game. One of the great things about Unity is that it is a real-time editor, and you can immediately “play” your game in the game view every time you save a change. Similar to a film, the game view is “shot” from the main camera. You can choose the position and direction of your main camera or even have multiple cameras to work in sequence. We will get into that later. For now, it is only important to understand the basics of the game view and the main camera (shown as a camera icon in the gif above, along with the directional light, a sun icon, which provides the illumination for your scene).

On the right hand column you will find the Inspector. This is where you can view and manage the specific elements of each game object, such as position, physics, collider interactions, and every other element a game object might contain. This is also where you will attach your code scripts to an object to give it an intended behavior. We will cover this in detail in future guides.

Finally, along the bottom of your screen you have the Project and Console windows. The project window contains all of the assets of your game — images, animations, scripts, sounds, etc. This is your library of files which you can use to build your game. The Console window will come in very handy for debugging. Every time there is an error or bug in your code, the Console window will print out the error and exactly where you can find it in your script. The console can also print out messages for testing or data from your game objects to ensure you are getting the expected behaviors from your code.

Those are the essential windows within Unity, and there are a number of others we will come across as we get deeper into development. In the next guide, I’ll walk through my preferred Unity layout and why it is useful from a professional developer standpoint. See you there!

Unity Developer from Los Angeles, CA