What is Unity? An introduction to the leading global game development engine

By Deniz Ozkaynak
on Apr 10, 2018

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Unity Technologies actively develops the Unity game engine, which game developers use to create beautiful and engaging 2D, 3D, VR, AR games and apps. Using a fully-featured editor interface enables users to realize a creative idea quickly, and deliver finished content to virtually any media or device from PCs, to consoles, to web, mobile devices, head-mounted displays and more.

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An example of the Unity Editor interface

How many people use Unity?

Initially released 12 years ago in 2005, Unity quickly became the industry standard for creating video games. Their market share grew incredibly fast - in 2016 they commanded 45% of the game engine market and as of 2017 38% of the top 1,000 free mobile games were Made in Unity. Although, Unity's biggest competitors tout different statistics to paint a different picture (mainly regarding overall revenue) the fact remains that Unity dominates in user-base.

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Why do so many developers choose Unity?

  1. Ubiquity - after creating a game in Unity, an author can publish it to 28 different platforms with little to no code changes. Want to support Amazon Fire stick, iPhone, and Xbox One? No problem!
  2. Cost - Unity is absolutely free to use and publish games with; Unity Technologies only starts to take a cut of your revenue once your game starts earning over $100,000 annually.
  3. Power - Just like the Unreal engine and similar tools, Unity combines a game engine with a code editor1 (Visual Studio or MonoDevelop) plus an "Editor interface" within which users can "play" changes or additions to a game instantly, making rapid iterative testing a breeze. Coupling that with Unity's ability to deliver stunning graphics2 makes it a powerful tool.

There's plenty of additional reasons why folks choose Unity like it's drag-and-drop features, or the thousands of amazing third-party assets available via the Asset Store, or the ability to temporarily Live-Edit a game at runtime. These are just what I think are the big three.

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1. Also known as an IDE - Integrated Development Environment

2. Checkout these 2 head-to-head comparisons of Unreal & Unity - 2016 & 2018 comparison


 

What's the Asset Store?

Integrated right inside the Unity Editor is the Asset Store - a marketplace for programmers, game designers, texture artists, 3D modelers, animators, and more to share their creations with the entire Unity developer community. Users can sell3 3D models, editor extensions, audio files, programmatic tools, animated sprites and tons of other types of content. 

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Bolt_UnityUnwrapped_LogoFor example, at Happy Code Club we use Bolt, a premium visual scripting plugin made for Unity created by Ludiq. It's a great way for beginners to learn or those with significant experience in other visual languages such as Scratch or ALICE.

How does Happy Code use Unity?

As part of our effort to consistently offer new and innovative curricula, I've developed a series of classes that use the Unity engine to learn Computer Science, game development, and game programming. This series includes:

  • Unity Unwrapped - the entry class which uses Bolt to ease students into the engine and accompanying concepts
  • Unity Unmasked - students jump to using C# & JavaScript to code six 2D and 3D games and learn advanced game design principles
  • Unity Unleashed - solidify coding skills while learning how to develop games for mobile platforms, building 2 simple games for iOS and Android from "concept" all the way to "release"

Want to learn more about what is covered in these courses? Click here:

VIEW SERIES DETAILS

What have Happy Code students created with Unity?

Our students have created a great deal of amazing projects, below are screenshots of only a few of them:

What have game developers in general created with Unity?

Unity Technologies keeps an excellent up-to-date showcase here, but to name a few big ones:

I'm sold, Unity is great! What now?

Install it! Checkout the minimum system requirements to ensure your laptop or desktop can handle running the engine before you jump in. There are excellent tutorials created by Unity Technologies to get going once you have installed the engine. Consider registering for one of our classes if you'd like to supplement your learning with material taught by experienced Unity developers.

 


3. Unity Technologies does take 30% of Asset store sales, leaving content creators with the lion's share of 70% 

Topics: 3D Game Design, games, gaming, Kids Coding, Game Engines, Unity3D, Game Development, Made with Unity, Learn with Unity, Kids Can Code

Author: Deniz Ozkaynak

Deniz just loves working with kids and found his passion of working in a classroom environment while he was a T.A. at Northeastern University. Since joining HappyCode in September 2016 initially as a Curriculum Developer/Instructor, he has since shown great initiative and leadership, becoming Co-Director of HappyCode in June 2017. Deniz is a 2015 graduate of Northeastern with a B.S. in Computer Science & Game Design. In addition to Co-Directing and teaching at HCC, he is currently an independent game developer and was formerly a software engineer at Lockheed Martin ASC.