Becoming Familiar with Unity – Part1

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In this part of the tutorial we learn how to install and run Unity for the first time.

Downloading Unity

Unity is available for download for free from the Unity3D website and the next steps will show you how to download Unity:

  1.   Open the following link: http://unity3d.com/unity/system-requirements. This will help you to check that you computer complies with Unity’s requirements.
  2. Once you have checked the requirements, we can download Unity by opening the following page: http://unity3d.com/get-unity/download?ref=personal
  3. Once the page is opened, a link to the current version of Unity is provided (i.e., the installer). This page will automatically detect whether you computer is running Mac OS X or Windows, and by clicking on the link, the corresponding installer will be downloaded to your computer (i.e., .dmg for MacOSX or .exe for Windows), as described on the next figure. Note that direct links to either version are available in Unity’s archive (http://unity3d.com/get-unity/download/archive).

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Figure 1: Downloading Unity

It is possible to download previous versions of Unity from Unity’s archive (http://unity3d.com/get-unity/download/archive). This may be useful if you work in two different locations for your Unity project and if each of the computers has a different version of Unity installed. If this is the case, you will be able to open projects built with an older version of Unity with a new version of Unity (e.g., project initially created with Unity 4.x can be opened with Unity 5.x); however, after opening a project that was created with an old version of Unity, this project is converted to the new version of Unity and can no more be opened with the previous version (i.e., a project initially created with Unity 4.x, and then opened with Unity 5.x can’t be opened anymore with Unity 4.x). You may also backup you project before any file conversion for safety.

Once we have downloaded Unity, we can launch the installer and follow the onscreen instructions. Once the software is installed, you can progress to the next section.

Launching Unity

Once you have successfully installed Unity, we can now launch it. Upon the first time you open Unity, you may need to provide your email address, so that you can receive regular updates from the Unity team. This should be really useful to keep up-to-date with major announcements for this software. You will also be asked whether you would like to activate the Pro features; however, for the purpose of this tutorial, you don’t only need to use the free version. This being said, you can, if you wish, activate this version, at a later stage and experience with the many additional features offered by Unity Pro.

After having provided your email details as well as choosing the free version of the software, we can start to enjoy Unity.

After launching Unity, the following window appears:

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Figure 2: Launching Unity for the first time

The previous figure shows a window labeled Projects that lists all projects that you have been working on previously. If you click on the label Get Started, you can access a welcome video from the Unity team that briefly describes the new features introduced by this version.  You may also notice three buttons at the bottom of the window, labeled Community, Documentation, and Tutorials, which will take you to the relevant resources on the Unity website  (i.e., unity forums, the official documentation for Unity, or official unity tutorials).

Let’s press the button labeled New Project to create a new project. The following window should appear:

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Figure 3: Creating a new project

In this window, we will specify a name for our project, as well as a location:

  • In the section Project Name: type a name of your choice, for example myFirstProject.
  • In the Location section: click on the three dots located to the right of the label Location and select where on your hard drive you would like to save the project.
  • 2D/3D: for this project, we will be using a three-dimensional environment; therefore we will click on the 3D icon. As we will see later, you can create both 2D and 3D games with Unity, and projects are setup accordingly.
  • Assets/Packages: we will leave this option as default, as we will identify later the assets that will be necessary for our first project.

Once you have entered this information, you can now click on the button labeled Create Projects.

When Unity starts-up, a window labeled Unity Editor Update Check appears. This window, illustrated on the next figure, is there to check whether you have the latest version of Unity and to let you know of any recent updates available. If an update is necessary, you can install the latest version accordingly; if you would prefer not see this message displayed every time you start Unity, you can untick the corresponding box labeled Check for Updates accordingly.

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Figure 4: Automatically Checking for Unity Updates

Unity provides links to official forums and documentation  from the main (i.e., top) menu: Help | Unity Forums or Help | Unity Manual.

>> LET’S PROGRESS TO PART2!

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