Getting started in Unity 3 is made even easier with this quickstart guide from Unity Technologies
Unity is a free game engine for everyone. It’s free because Unity Technologies wants people to be able to use it to make money, so when you download the free version of Unity 3 you have the license. Even startups get it for free! The concept behind this generosity is that eventually these companies will grow, and then invest in the professional version.
Not just for games, Unity 3 can also be used for arch-vis, military simulations, pre-visualisation and more – there are many people working in the same ways, with the same skills, same needs. Unity 3 steps in to make life easier, transforming worlds by allowing people to be productive in a couple of days – inevitably saving money, as well as time.
Once you’ve downloaded Unity 3 for free, importing assets into the free game engine is a streamlined and painless process, with almost all commonly-used art file formats supported.
To add a mesh or texture, place it in the Projects/Assets folder. Import files into subfolders that specify file category, and name them to stay organised. Organisation is a must for coordinating assets in an interactive environment!
Select a tool from the toolbar in the upper-left corner and use the mouse to control the corresponding gizmo to easily translate, scale, or rotate the mesh. You can enter values into the number fields directly in the Inspector window.
Imported textures with layers (like those in Photoshop) are flattened automatically for use by Unity, but layers are maintained in the assets themselves. So you can work with a single texture file in a streamlined fashion.
To change texture properties select the texture file in Project View and modify import settings in the Inspector. Texture settings are simplified into seven types – select the correct one to tell Unity what the texture will be used for.
To apply a texture to a mesh, drag a texture from the Project onto a selected object in the scene. For multiple materials select the object in Scene View to reveal the materials in the Inspector window. Drag and drop or select a texture for each texture square.
When selecting a material, the Inspector window will change to show the material properties, which change depending on the shader selected. The properties can be colours, sliders, textures, numbers, or vectors.
Lock the material by clicking the link in the upper-right corner. With the lock enabled, the mesh can be deselected in Scene view so that the wireframe will no longer obscure the view, allowing fine-tuning of material properties.
It’s easy to import all animations attached to a specific model and define which frames make up each part of the animation. The ‘@’ naming convention can also be used where separate FBX model files are exported from an animation suite with the name ‘model_name@animation_name.fbx’.
On the left side of the Animation View is a hierarchical list of the properties that can animate in the selected object. In the top right of the list is a pull-down menu where each animation associated with the object can be found.
Check out the following resources for more useful guidance to help you on your way:
All images © Unity Technologies and Massive Black