Video Games Tutorials and News - How I Learned Unity Without Following Tutorials (developing 1)
Hi, I'm Mark Brown, and I am making my own article games. To start, I need to learn how to make article games, which is quite a big endeavor and quite a big challenge. So, believe me when I say that this whole game making challenge, well, it almost ended before it ever really began. Let me tell you what happened.
First though, let's back up a step because the first thing I had to do was pick a game engine. A game engine, at least in this instance, is a piece of software that helps you make a game by essentially taking care of the stuff that's hard and boring about game development. Things like getting graphics to render onto the screen, interfacing with a controller, doing physics calculations, and more.
They have loads of really handy tools that are specifically designed for the things that you'd want to do in a game, like animation, Now there are loads of game engines out there. I mean, the most popular ones are Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot, and Pico 8 Game Maker Construct. Plus, there are game engines for specific types of games like Twine, RPG Maker, and Adventure Game Studio.
There are even game engines for specific ecosystems, like Game Builder Garage on Switch Dreams on PlayStation 4 and Roblox in the Roblox Averse. Each one has pros and cons, lovers and haters, but ultimately. I had to just pick one, and so, in the end, I decided to go with Unity. There are loads of reasons why I chose Unity.
It seems to strike a pretty good balance between being very powerful and relatively easy to learn. It's good for both 2D and 3D, which is good because while I plan to make my first game in 2D, I might want to do 3D down the line, and this means I won't have to learn a new engine. Plus. Unity supports pretty much every platform under the sun, so if I want to take my dumb game and put it on PlayStation 5, that is technically possible, if not financially sensible, but really the most compelling argument for using Unity is its sheer popularity.
It is the most popular game engine on Steam at the moment, and when we ran the most recent GMTK game jam, more people used Unity to make their games than every other game engine combined. And that popularity is really important to me because it means there are more people to help me learn it. For example, more resources, more assets, more plugins, more people I can turn to when I get stuck.
For example, there are loads of people in the GMTK discord who know how to use Unity, plus I know very seasoned Unity users like Noah from Blackthorne Prod and Andre from Mix and Jam who can certainly help me get out of a jam that was really bad. Okay, so that's my decision. Sorry, Godot Bros. It's all about unity.
That's step one done. Pick a game engine. Now step two is to learn how to use it. That's the hard bit, so. As I said, there are lots of tutorials for Unity out there, and that is exactly what I tried to use when I first started learning it. I went onto YouTube, I typed in Unity Tutorials, and found a bunch of Swedish men who could teach me how to use the software.
I typed out the same line of code; and before long I had a working game on my computer, which was like super exciting, but then, many weeks later. I couldn't even make a character appear on the screen and move around. It was terrible, and ultimately my own fault. You remember that article I made about tutorials where I talked about how in strategy games they have those arrows that say "click here" or "click there" and they're not effective at teaching people at all?
Well, I had already done exactly that for unity. I had played myself. I had done myself dirty. But to be honest, this was really demoralizing, as I truly felt I was like an idiot, like I had wasted weeks of my life and I didn't know if I was even cut out for game development at all, like if I couldn't even watch a tutorial and have any of it sink in, then maybe I'm not cut out to do this.
Maybe I should stick to what I know. I mean, this was like months ago, and I was planning on doing this series that I'm doing right now, and at the time I thought, maybe I should just cancel it, like maybe I should just never announce it and just pretend it never happened. It was, it sucked, it was horrible.
But then I thought about Adobe Premiere. This is the software that I use to make all the articles on this channel, and it's a pretty complex piece of software, and yet I know how to use it and I know how to use it pretty well, so how did I learn Premiere? Well, when I was working at PocketGamer, we had to do these very basic article reviews, and so a colleague taught me the basics of Adobe Premiere, like just the absolute baseline knowledge you need to make a article, how to import clips, put them on the timeline, apply really basic transitions, and export them to YouTube.
And then I had to make dozens of these article reviews myself, and so I had to repeat those basic steps over and over again as they slowly wormed their way into my brain. Then I made a game maker's toolkit, and at that point, I wanted to do more interesting stuff with article. I wanted to do masks and color and text and transitions and motion graphics and all that fun stuff, and really that should have been very difficult to learn, but I had two things on my side.
As long as I'm always trying at least one new thing in each article I make, I can slowly build up a repertoire of effects and knowledge. And two, because I had done those article reviews, I had become familiar with Premiere. I was comfortable with the software, and so whenever I wanted to try something new.
I felt I could experiment and play around, or at the very least. I knew what I should go and type into Google to get the answers I needed, and so ultimately. I ended up following a pretty nifty three-step formula in order to learn Premiere. Step 1: Learn the absolute basics, and nothing more. Step 2: Familiarize myself with those basics through repetition and simple projects, and then step 3, slowly.
Over time. I have built a repertoire of tools in premiere as I build and build and build my knowledge base of the software, and this has obviously worked pretty well for me. I know how to use Premiere now. I can do pretty much whatever I want in the software, and I think I understand why this worked.
If you think about it, there is an infinite number of ideas I could have, so it is physically impossible to learn how to solve all of them at the beginning, but what I can learn is familiarity. I have my tools so that when one of these ideas crops up. I have both the confidence and comfort with the software to experiment for myself and figure things out, and I have the context for how the software works, so I kind of know where the problem is and I know what terms to use when googling it or I know how to ask someone for help.