Monday, April 20, 2015

My review of "Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook"

Packt Publishing latest book on Unity is “Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook” by Claudio Scolastici.   Since it is a cookbook that means there are recipes on how to do many things with Unity 2D on 3D objects.  Packt Publishing also provides asset files as well as the code to download.  There is also a downloadable PDF that shows the colored images from the book.
    The book begins with techniques for importing models and scenes from Maya.  Maya is used for this demonstration because of its popularity and its ability to export FBX models.  Most 3D software can export FBX and this chapter explains how to import these models into Unity with little hassle. Importing of animation for the 3D models is also discussed.
    The next chapter discusses importing textures from Photoshop or other 2D programs and then turning them into materials that you can place on objects. One of the recipes also discusses how to set up a texture atlas from a group of images.  Another recipe covers animating 2D UV maps on a 3D object.
    The third chapter is all about creating and animating a game character.  The recipes cover everything from setting up an animation tree to creating a blend tree.  This is a nice overview of the Mecanim animation system.  I really enjoyed this chapter because almost every game is going to have some sort of character in it and being able to animate your character and have it move in a variety of different ways makes your games more realistic.
    The next two chapters take the character that was created in chapter three and give it a scene to move around in and provide physics to let the character react to objects.  First Unity’s standard assets are imported from the Unity store.  These assets contain a character controller package which includes prefabs, textures and scripts that are modified and used in our game.  Later on collision detection and scrolling backgrounds are discussed.  Lastly, a recipe for creating a camera that keeps our character at the center of the screen is created.
    Chapter six has us code a game manager that is a state machine that gives us better control over the game.  Recipes are provided for setting up the games UI as well as displaying “GAME OVER” and “GAME WIN” conditions. Chapter seven is focused on adding audio and video clips to the game.
    Finally, in chapter eight setting up a 2D game with sprites and spritesheets is briefly talked about.  Recipes are provided for animating the sprites and using keyframe animation with sprites.
    Overall the “Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook” was a very interesting book on using 2D objects in a 3D game.  I learned a lot from the different recipes and plan to keep this book on my reference shelf.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My next review will be for the book "Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook."

On April 20th I will post my review of "Unity 2D Game Development Cookbook" by
Claudio Scolastici and published by Packt Publishing. I am looking forward to reading this book as it covers creating a complete 2D game in Unity and that includes importing models from Maya. I'm always interested in learning something new about Unity so I will let you know how that goes in my review.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My review of "Learning C++ by Creating Games with UE4"

    “Learning C++ by Creating Games with UE4” is one of the few books available for the Unreal 4 (UE4) gaming engine.  It was written by William Sherif and published by Packt Publishing.  Files that contain the code and assets for this book are available on Packt’s website as well as a PDF that contains the colored images from the book. 
    I have always wanted to learn C++ because it has been the computer language used by most professional game programmers.  With all the casual and mobile games now available I don’t know if this statement is true anymore but nonetheless C++ is still a great language to learn. 
    The book starts out gently guiding you through the basics of C++.  By chapter 3 you begin working with Unreal which is great since that is presumably why you bought this particular book.  This chapter’s project involves changing the colors in the puzzle game that comes with the Unreal engine.  I have to admit that I was quite thrilled with having this work when I hit the play button in the engine.
    The middle chapters build on what you have learned previously.  I have tried to teach myself C++ in the past and I usually end up stopping when I get to pointers.  This book helped me understand what pointers are and how to use them. It accomplishes this using the Unreal engine.  In addition, I enjoyed learning about classes and object-oriented programming.
    Starting with chapter 8 you get to create a scene and build an example game that includes NPCs that will talk to your player character.  You also learn how to cast spells, give the character an inventory and fight enemies. It is wonderful to see how all of this is done.
    I really enjoyed this book but I also found it very frustrating.  The code that is provided doesn’t always work and it is difficult to know where to exactly put each additional portion of code as it is introduced.  This is not the author’s fault.  The Unreal engine updates quite frequently and I discovered some issues with trying to use the code in the current version of Unreal.  I think that any book written on Unreal 4 would almost have to be a living document that updates as the game engine does.
    In summary I recommend the book’s first seven chapters as a fun way to learn C++.  After that, you can use the book to learn C++ and UE4; but be prepared to use the Unreal engine’s own website to help you understand how to update the code so that your game works correctly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My next review is the book "Learn C++ by Creating Games with UE4"

On April 8th I will post my review of "Learn C++ by Creating Games with UE4" by William Sherif and published by Packt Publishing.  Unreal Engine 4 has been out for a year now and other than the books by Ryan Shah their haven't been any complete written work for the engine.  This book hopes to rectify that.