Scratch is a great little platform from which one may create stories, games and animations. It is so easy to use that it is even popular among children. Scratch is great for aspiring game developers to learn very basic concepts, but is not as feature rich as something like Unity. If you would like to graduate from Scratch to a more professional level tool, then this series is for you.
There are a few things I expect you to know, and to have, while following this guide. First, I assume the reader has at least an intermediate level of experience with Scratch. I’m targeting someone who is asking “How can I do an equivalent of the glide block with Unity?” Rather than someone who is still asking “what does this glide block do?”. However, even if you are a complete beginner to both, I imagine you’ll still be able to learn the basics of Unity by reading this guide.
Second, I expect you to have installed a copy of Unity. If you don’t already have a copy of Unity, you can get it here, for free. Just follow the prompts / directions on the website. At the time of this writing I am using “Unity Version 2019.1.5f1 Personal”. If you use a different version of Unity your screens may look a little different, but will probably function the same.
The installation of Unity may not be intuitive for some. This is because you don’t actually download and install Unity directly. You actually install something called the “Unity Hub” which is a tool that can manage multiple installations of Unity at the same time. This is important because a lot of game projects take long periods of time to develop, and may be maintained long after they are published. Unity changes quickly over time, and those changes could break your game. The Hub will show you what version of Unity was used the last time you worked with any given project and will automatically open the project with that version of Unity if it is available on your machine.
When you open the Hub, you will see the “Projects” screen appear, though if you have just installed the Hub, your list of projects will probably be empty.
Look on the left side of the Screen, under “Projects”, you will see “Learn”. Here you will be able to supplement your training with tutorials, sample projects, resources, and links. There is a ton of free material to get you started.
Look one more down from “Learn” and find the “Installs” tab. This screen is where you will actually manage the installations of Unity versions. In this image, I have already installed a version of Unity 2019.1.5f1, though yours may be blank for now.
You’ll get started by clicking the blue “ADD” button:
Each of the versions are labeled with a similar naming convention that is something like: “Unity [Year].[Major Version].[Minor Version][Type Suffix][Extra Minor Version]”. Generally speaking you will probably just pick the top entry from the list of Official Releases, with one small exception. I tend to avoid “Alpha” and “Beta” releases because they are less tested and may be error prone. You can tell the difference between these test builds and “Final” builds by looking at the “Type Suffix” in the name. It appears as a letter where “f” indicates a final version, and “a” and “b” are for “Alpha” and “Beta” versions.
After selecting your release, click the “Next” button in the bottom right and allow Unity to install before continuing.
There is a lot to cover, so this material will be presented as a multi-part series:
- Part 1 – Intro. You’re reading it now. This includes an overview of the project, plus a list of prerequisites needed to follow along.
- Part 2 – User Interface. Helps you learn to navigate Unity’s user interface by comparing it to similar features from Scratch.
- Part 3 – Scripting Intro. Here we will give an introduction to programming and how it relates to Scratch’s code blocks. Along the way we will learn to make a cube that can move on its own and bounce off a wall.
- Part 4 – Scripting Over Time. Some of Scratch’s code blocks execute over time, and any blocks connected to them wont begin until the first block completes. Here we will learn how to write similar code while presenting a simple conversation on the screen.
Once you’re ready to move off on your own, you may find the following reference guides helpful. Here I have taken each of Scratch’s code blocks and shown a simple equivalent in Unity, or suggested an alternative where needed.
We are just beginning a new project series that helps anyone experienced with Scratch to make a quick transition into learning Unity. In this post I provided a quick overview of the Unity Hub. We discussed how you may use it to manage your projects, to learn, and most importantly for now, how to install Unity itself. Finally we gave a quick overview of the project structure. If you want to skip ahead, feel free to jump to the part that is most relevant. If you’re a complete beginner, I would recommend reading it straight through.
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