Unity Tutorials, BCS talk at Glasgow Caledonian

So I recently gave a talk at the Glasgow Caledonian University, which was more or less built on my world of love talk, but with a few extras and tweaks. if you want slides and my planned text, view this post in full to check that out if you like 🙂

Also I did a couple of Unity3D masterclasses, and some folks asked for some unity tutorials so as promised, here you are you guys 🙂

also worth checking out:

  • Unity Answers (someone has probably had your problem and solved it before)
  • Unify Community wiki (lots of handy stuff)
  • Unity Chat – irc.freenode.net/unity3d (friendly people who are helpful)
  • Unity Forums (kind of a no brainer to check out this place :p)
  • Google (plenty of other people are doing unity stuff, you might find it useful)

Ok, I think I’m all linked out for now, I hope that’s helpful, and of course if you are looking for help and cant find it, email me and I’ll try and point you in the right direction 🙂

next up is the talk, view this post in full to see it 🙂

Whilst the slides are text only, if you like you can download them in Open Office Format, or Microsoft Office format.

So this talk is called ‘how to start making games’ but it will also cover, ‘how to be someone who makes games’, and I will say various things are actually easy, but there are a couple of prerequisite for you:

– You must actually *want* to make games
– You must be determined

a lot of people like games, and like making art, or music, or 3D or code or whatever, and think that means they want to make games.


wanting to make games is just that, you want it, you have an idea for a game and don’t just think ‘wouldn’t that be cool’ you think ‘right, I’m going to DO THIS, people will play it’

you have to want it so bad you will stop at nothing until you are a games-making machine!

which brings me to the second pre-requisite, being determined.

you have to be strong willed, have guts, be obstinate and have never-give-up-ness.

you are going to face challenges, and are going to want to give up, AND YOU PROBABLY WILL GIVE UP, LOTS!

but no one else is going to make you get back on track, you need to make yourself do what you need to do. you have to push yourself. for this talk I’m pushing you but I’ll have vanished from your life this time tomorrow, and I dont want to have to push you to do stuff. don’t be lazy, get stuck in and do stuff yourself.

I guess those two points bleed into each other and if you truley want to make games, you are already someone who is working on becoming a games developer with all you have, but I feel there is a difference.

whether you want to make games or not is something *you* desire, if you dont want to make games you cant make yourself want it.

being determined however is a behaviour and not a desire, it’s something you *can* teach yourself. I used to be one of the most meek, reserved people ever. I’d be scared to even try anything, but I wanted to make games and that attitude wasn’t getting me anywhere.

and to be honest, in a lot of ways I’m still the same, but the difference is when I see myself slacking, I know no-one else is going to kick my ass for it, so I push on.

as such, whilst I say ‘making games is easy’, it will be challenging so long as you don’t have your determination.

so yeah, those are the pre-requisites, you gotta want it, and you gotta be determined to do whatever it takes to get there. (bonus fact, this advice applies to just about everything, not just making games!)

so, making games then, what do I actually mean by that?

first of all, I don’t mean making parts of games. if you go to a big games studio, you will be tasked with making parts of a game, you will make some random props for the game, perhaps you’ll paint some textures, maybe program the save system.

this is not making games, this is ‘helping’ to make games. and there is nothing wrong with that, but you are kidding yourself if you think you have a decent shot at getting your game idea made, let alone having any control over it.

no, when I say making games, I mean just that, you, a computer, some time and then you have a game. maybe you get some friends to help out too.

the difference being you are in control, you decide what you do, and when you are finished, you are the one who gets credit for your work.

(yes, I’m saing it’s better to be indie, even though I’ve never worked on a so-called ‘AAA’ game)

So I’m pretty sure I said making games was easy somewhere along the way (you know, assuming you want to make games and you have some get-up-and-go-ness about you), I suppose I better justify myself there, here are my four reasons why making games is actually easy!

#1 You don’t have to be good at making games.

in fact, you will almost certainly suck at making games, you will make utter crap, lots of it if you are trying hard, but that’s ok.

because you only need to be good enough to make a game, not a good game, just a game. you are just starting out right? and the first step is always the lowest, you will get better at stuff as you go.

but your suckiness is something you must embrace, if you care deeply abou every single thing you work on it will break your heart. if you have a grand idea in your head and you have neve made a game before, nothing will kill your idea faster than trying to make it. you simply don’t realise all the things you need to learn before you can bring your idea to life.

if you can work on stuff and not care about it though, you can care about what is important for learning, experimentation and making mistakes. mistakesare good things so make as many as you can, aim to be good but dont ever assume you are.

#2 Making games is like a j-rpg

that doesn’t mean game developers get to carry massive swords around and have impossible hair (though we totally do), it means to get better, all you have to do is grind!

by that I mean get stuck in, the more time you spend working on games the better you get at making games. it sounds prtty obvious when I say it, but so many people cant escape the notion that they just need to see the right series of tutorials, find the right book, the right tutor, and then they can start making games. these people are being idiots. yes all those things can help, but you are wasting your time looking for them when you could just be getting stuck in making games. (and good tutorials are easy to find, you know how to use google right?)

so yeah, put in the time, you’ll see yourself getting better as you go and that will help make mot#3ivation easier to find.

#3 It doesn’t take as much time as you think

so, indie or not, you will piss people off if you say “I want to do X, but never really had the time”, this will ESPECIALLY piss off people interviewing you for a job. if you say you want to do something, you will have found the time, and if you don’t have it in your portfolio when interview tim comes, you are going to lose out to someone that has.

learning stuff is actually not that time consuming, people often think ‘ooh,this looks like a good tutorial, I’ll put aside a few hours some time and then follow it’ but you don’t need a few hours, just read it when you have a few minutes to spare, its just words. if you ever browse facebook when you are bored, spend ages looking up lolcats or reading tvtropes, thats time you could have read a tutorial, and probably understood it.

if you read a tutorial, and come back to it later, you will find you understand it better the second time anyway, thats just how your brain works afterall, even if not you will be more familiar with it and that helps.

I guess what I’m saying is not so much ‘it takes less time than you think’ than ‘if you think it takes more time than you can make, you are an idiot’ if it’s what you wan to do, make time for it, take time for it, and if necessary invent some kind of time machine for it.

#4 making games is really cool.

when people ask what you do, you get to say you make games. thats cool, it’s not as cool sounding as rocket scientist, brain surgeon or trampoline tester, but its pretty damn cool right?

and its not just the image (thankfully), its a really cool thing to do, I hardly play games anymore because making them is waaaaay more fun.

what’s more, when you are having so much fun, it’s really great for motivation, the first time you have a character running about in a game, the first time you procedurally generate something, even the first bit of tiy interation will make you super proud, and rightly so.

so there you have it, making games is easy, and all you need is to want it and not give up.

ok, enough about pre-requisites and motivational stuff, lets learn ome game making basics shall we?

so what sort of software do you need to make games?

generally, you will need:
– stuff to make the game itself (programming)
– stuff tomake the visual stuff (art)
– stuff to make the sounds (audio)

some software can do more than one of these things, but these are generally the three ‘areas’ required for making a game.

Game Engines:
– Klik ‘n’ Play
– Game Maker
– Flash (Flixel/FlashPunk)
– Unity

these are some examples of middleware (software to save you lots of the heavy lifting) for making games, there are plenty of other exaples that may suit you better so shop around, these are just the ones that I am moderately knowlegable about.

you can of course skip middleware altogether and make your own game engine, whilst this is totally hardcore, it’s most often totally stupid too. if middleware does what you need, then you are wasting your time making a game engine (unless you want a job working on game engines, in which ase knock yourself out) but if you are wanting to make a game, it’s silly to needlessly put extra work between you and completing your game.

– Blender
– 3D studio Max
– Maya
– others I forget

– Photoshop
– easy paint tool SAI
– the Gimp
– paint.net
– graphics gale
– mspaint

I should point out, blender, the gimp, and paint.net are free, I know as students you’ll likely have no trouble getting a hold of the other software, but with free stuff you wont feel guilty when/if you start aking money from your games.

also, much like many artists say ‘I can’t do programming’, plenty of programmers say ‘I can’t do art’ I feel the need to stress the point I made before: the more you work on something, the better you get, yes it can take years before you are confident or evenremotely comfortable. but you can do art, saying you can’t is an insult to everyone who has worked really hard to get good at it, so if you must say ‘I can’t do it’ be careful to who 😉


sound effects:
– sfxr
– microphone
– audaciy

– milkytracker
– pxtone
– renoise
– fruityloops

so, sound effects first of all, sfxr is free and totally awesome, but will make your game sound like it’s beig played on a NES, if that isn’t what you are aiming for, it’s still great for temporary sounds. otherwise, record your wn foley using a microphone, its super fun, I promise!

as for music, this is the area I suck at most I’m afraid, and I only have eperience using milkytracker, so my advice is don’t take any advice I give about music, ask someone with know-how. they aren’t hard to find though, google is yor friend and all;)

and that’s the talk, I think the best part of the talk was the questions afterward, but since they weren’t recorded I can’t share them sorry, but obviously if there is anything you want to know, you can still ask questions yourself, email me or comment or whatever 🙂

I just want to thank everyone who helped me out from Glasgow Caledonian, the University of the west of Scotland’s Paisley campus, the BCS, the students at both masterclasses for being decent folk and especially Daniel Livingstone for inviting me along, organising stuff and making sure I could travel and had somewhere to stay. so thanks all, I really had fun 🙂

anyhoo, ima get back to making my game now, cya 🙂

6 Comments on “Unity Tutorials, BCS talk at Glasgow Caledonian”

  1. Bri says:

    Thank you sooo much for this post, and the links, Sophie! I’m trying to get my ideas organized for my game, and your talk has really tripped me up for some basic mistakes I’m making right now, like thinking too grand for my first project. Baby steps!

    Another tool which may be useful, which was mentioned in one of the Unite ’08 presentations (Bringing your Concept to Life http://unity3d.com/support/resources/unite-presentations/bringing-your-concept-to-life ) is Celtx http://celtx.com/ . It’s a media pre-production tool that looks like it could be quite useful for getting your ideas organized into something workable, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  2. Frimkron says:

    Really inspirational stuff – especially the part about determination. Making games really does take so much more effort and willpower than most people think. I’m totally guilty of the “I can’t do art” line of thinking – but you’re so right, it just takes practice like everything else. I wish I could have been there for the talk itself!

  3. Sophie says:

    @Bri: with regard to project scale, Derek Yu’s ‘finishing a game’ post has some good advice for that (and other stuff) http://makegames.tumblr.com/post/1136623767/finishing-a-game

    thanks for the celtx link, not heard of it before so I’ll look into it later, though I have to admit I rarely ever do any pre-production, that’s time that could be spent on production! (yeah, I’m not good at planning stuff)

  4. Codexus says:

    “[…] if you dont want to make games you cant make yourself want it.”

    Yeah but I’ll keep trying anyway 😉

  5. Elie says:

    Great post Sophie,

    Thanks for compiling all those resources into one big list,
    I also listened to the interview you had on indiegames.com. It was hilarious :).

    Best Regards

  6. Oy Sophie pack it in…

    Can you just give it a rest please!

    What about the older generation of wanabe game developers who are hitting a mid life crisis about now and decide they want to go for the oppertunity they missed in their childhood!

    That’s right your recruiting all these young smart bright people into being game developers who have youth vitality and spare neurons to learn new stuff!

    Think of us older stuggling mid life crisis types trying to re-gain their dreams and stop recruiting these young ones to an already extremly competitive and crowded marketplace!

    Now where did I put that MSDOS manual and best close this brwser to allow MSPaint to run at full speed! ;0)

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