Unity for Beginners… From a Beginner

Part 2: The Unity Editor

If you read through Part 1 of this series, and now you’re continuing with Part 2, then it is apparent you have a fairly strong interest in Unity from a beginner’s perspective. After spending some extended time with Unity and online courses, I noticed that one resource missing for beginners is a tour of the editor itself. I’ve looked far and wide but I haven’t found one that doesn’t overwhelm new creators. So, with the aim of addressing this need, here is my walkthrough of the Unity editor.

Unity does a great job of organizing various windows that are essential for game development. The layout of these windows is completely customizable. Feel free to organize the windows to your desired layout by moving them or adding them to existing windows as tabs (like you would have in an internet browser). Here is the layout I have been using for a while:

This layout has served me well for designing, editing, and updating live. For now, follow along to learn the purpose of these windows and then create a layout that works best for you. I’ve adapted this layout from a great Udemy course that was created by Jonathan Weinberger; check the link at the end of this post for more details.

Project/Assets

Assets are your collection of game entities. If you’re organized, you can use the Assets View (shown here at the bottom right) to quickly identify your scenes, materials, prefabs, scripts, sprites, and so on. These assets become game objects in your scene or components to add functionality to your objects. Word of advice: Make use of subdirectories to organize your assets.

Scene

The Scene window (shown in this layout across the top) is probably going to be the first thing you notice when you begin a project (whether 2D or 3D) because it is very large and hard to miss. You can drag and drop elements from the Asset window into your Scene window to place players and enemies, design your levels, and create a user interface (UI) for your game. You can edit the size of anything within the scene directly… or you can use the Inspector window to be more precise.

Inspector

The Inspector window (highlighted here on the right) helps you manage the properties of game objects, components, materials, prefabs, etc. Precisely altering the size, position, and rotation of game objects is easier to do with this window. Once you’ve gained experience with game design, the Inspector window helps in creating complex game objects. Components such as RigidBody, Physics, and Scripts add functionality to your game objects. My favorite feature of the Inspector is the availability to make changes and view object values at run-time (when your game is running after clicking the play button).

Hierarchy

When you’ve begun adding elements to your Scene, they will become visible within the Hierarchy window (shown here in the upper right). If you’re wondering why it is called a “Hierarchy” window, it is because you have the ability to create child game objects. These child objects are linked to their parents, such that the parent higher-level object is broken down into objects making it less complex and easier to maintain. Selecting any item in this window will highlight it within the Scene and pull up its properties and components within the Inspector.

Game

Once you’ve managed to put together a functional game, it is time to see it in action. The Game window gives you the ability to play within the Unity editor. This capability supports quality assurance testing as well as debugging. From the Hierarchy window, select a game object to pull up its properties within the Inspector. You can monitor and make changes to the object while playing, but these are not permanent so if you are happy with the changes be sure to update them when the game is no longer running.

Conclusion

There you have it! Unity provides you with complete control over your project through a set of dedicated windows that can be positioned in any layout you choose. There are many more windows that you can use but these are the most common of the bunch. You can start by using just these windows to build something great, and then explore further to get even more out of Unity.

Find more resources here:

Unity Manual

Credit — Unity Partnered Course: The Ultimate Guide to Game Development with Unity by Jonathan Weinberger

Developer Advocate @ Google. Gamer. Maker. Trying to make things easier for others by doing the hard stuff myself. Opinions are my own.