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Well its been a long time coming but we're finally working on a totally new learning section on the official Unity site. Our existing Support section is very out of date, and we made a conscious decision last year to replace it rather than try and update parts of it. With plenty of experience in education within the company, we have a great bed of talent to create learning materials for free so that you can pick up Unity not only as a migration from other systems but also as a way to learn game development from scratch.

My past Unity tutorial project - http://unity3dstudent.com was an experiment I created during my time teaching BA Interactive Media Production at Bournemouth University. Since then, many people have learned Unity with that site and I'm happy to say the approach of smaller modules of content that work independently was proved valuable. We now plan to take this approach and expand upon it for the official site. This means that soon you will see a new section to replace the 'Support' area of the website, that contains an all new tutorial area, as well as the documentation and other support material.

Non-linear learning

In interactive industries, many of us spend time teaching ourselves software from online resources. The games industry is no exception, and we see millions of fantastic online resources created by our community to help each other learn unity. This is one of the factors which has meant we could take time to create our own resource, safe in the knowledge that the community would help itself in the meantime - and for that we applaud you.

Something that I haven't seen too much application of in interactive software training is the use of non-linear approaches. Simply put - most training materials force you to follow a pre-determined route through your learning material. This echoes the traditional classroom approach of presenting steps for students to follow and is tried and tested. However, the problem inherent in this approach is that as students we are then unable to prioritise what we wish to learn, or get directly to what we need to know, if simply using learning materials as a reference. For example - want to know how to use a trigger zone? you don't want to spend 20 minutes fast-forwarding through a long video to find that part out.

For this reason, content you will see in our new learning area will take a modular approach with short videos or articles that you can dive into whenever you need, let's take a look at how this works.

How will it work?

The learning area will be split into a hierarchy of -

  • Levels (eg. Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Artist, Architect, Level Designer)
  • Topics (eg. Graphics, Physics, Scripting, Audio, Characters, Animation)
  • Lessons, Assignments & Projects

Levels of content will be presented with complexity levels or Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, but also show custom arrangements of content for Artists, or Architects for example. Eventually we hope to allow users to create their own custom level of content by picking whatever lessons they wish - this will hopefully benefit tutors teaching Unity who wish to create their own syllabus from our content. Each level will have Projects associated with it.

Topics should be considered as playlists or groups of content on a particular topic, containing lessons and assignments on that topic. A single topic at a particular level should be seen as one Module of content - for example Beginner Physics.

Lessons will be short videos you can watch to understand a concept - kind of like checking the Script Reference in docs works now. They will not require you to follow steps but simply explain. Assignments will take what you can learn from several modules and combine them to make a small part of a game - a mechanic or piecing together an environment for example. Finally, Projects will be the result of several Assignments, that give you the chance to make a small working demo. As you progress through incrementally complex levels of content, you'll create more detailed examples of gameplay - taking you through a variety of game development scenarios.

Overview

Community integration

We're also hoping to integrate this with your Unity developer network sign on - to allow you to track your progress, resume watching content etc. This may not be in the first iteration but is something we know will benefit users and be working to provide. This tracking also allows us to see what you're interested in, and provide targeted new learning content when we create it in the future.

Visual Style

For the style of these tutorials, we wanted to develop a fairly unique and interesting style that will inspire you to learn our software. Having looked at many current art styles of games, we took a few of our own creative influences and have come up with a style that blends Retro-future art, Hi-tech, and the concept of a research resort - think Lost meets Portal, Thunderbirds, and well.. Unity! We hope you like what we're coming up with, in the meantime, there's a sneak peek at the art slice Dave has been working on at the top of this post.

Code

As you're likely aware, Unity supports C#, Javascript (aka Unityscript) and Boo (a derivative of Python, but rarely used). For this system we will support C# and Javascript - and by support I mean we'll primarily show C# in our video content but provide a Javascript conversion in the code listing beneath the video on the page. We had a take a decision on what to do in this regard, and felt that recording with both languages would slow us down - if we find that we have time to add this once we're in production later, we may change tack to having both languages recorded. Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Team Superlearn

As a fan of action movies, I've always secretly wanted to utter the words 'I'm putting a team together' and fully expected this to be followed by a montage of myself and several others constructing some kind of battle tank, A-Team style. However, in the case of the team creating Unity tutorials, we've kept it a little more low key - and we've put together a small team that will be focused over the next few months on getting a set of Unity tutorial content together to help you learn- let's meet the team -

Will Goldstone - Project Manager, Presenter

I am Content manager at Unity, so I create the video material you see on our website, and work with our web team in marketing as they add new cool stuff to the site. I'll be presenting and recording the tutorials for this system.

David Llewelyn - Technical Artist

Dave joins us as artist for the project, from a background in triple-A console titles that include the Lego series of games.

James Bouckley - Programmer

James has been with us for some time in the support department, helping thousands of users with problems in all areas of Unity development - and he also has a degree in maths and theoretical physics - cool!

Emil 'AngryAnt' Johansen - Code Overlord

If you don't know Emil, you haven't used Unity for too long! but never fear, you'll get to know him. Emil is overseeing the quality of the content we produce and knows everything there is to know about Unity dev.

Ethan Vosburgh - Artist extraordinaire

Ethan is another vet of Unity tech, and has been providing art content to demos and other projects we've given you over the past few years, if you've seen it, he's crafted it, and he is joining Emil in overseeing the quality of our content.

Timeline & Current content

We're currently aiming to create the first series of content over the next few months, so watch the blog as well as twitter for more news. In the meantime, the first fruits of Team Superlearn can be seen in the form of the Unity 4.0 Pre-order beta tutorial for Mecanim. Note that this is a very long tutorial (45min) that covers all of the system - we will not be presenting our Learn section tutorials at this length for reasons mentioned in the Non-linear learning section above. Take a look at the video below, and thanks for reading this far!
[UPDATED - 23 November 2012]

As always if you have any comments or requests for features of this project - please let us know in the comments below!

August 29, 2012 in Community | 7 min. read