Essential Skills to Master as a Unity 3D Programmer

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

If you have any interest or you are currently in the field of game development, you have probably dreamed of creating a vast 3D open world. Unity allows you to do just that as it is a very powerful cross-platform game development engine. 

Aside from the usual programming and basic game development skills, in order to become a Unity 3D Programmer, you need to get the hang of or master these following skills:

Vector Math

If you are a developer who has created 2d games, a player’s position can only be determined by a simple x,y coordinate positioning system. Jumping to 3d game development will require a good grasp of vector mathematics and 3d geometry. This all matters in a 3d game as you need to do complex calculations.

A simple example of vector math in games would be the character’s movement in a sandbox world or enemy pathing. For more information on vector math in video games, click here.

Basic 3D Modeling

It is common practice for programmers to learn a bit of 3D Modeling for Unity, as not every company will have a designated art team for their game. It also cannot be forgotten or overlooked that you need to have a good understanding of 3d geometry in order to learn about 3d modeling.

To get started with 3D modeling, you need to choose from one of these modeling tools:

  • Blender – free to use, primarily used for game development. Complex for beginners.
  • 3ds max – paid application, purely used for 3d modeling
  • Maya – paid application, for 3d modeling and animation software

The process of creating 3d models for all game engines is the same but the application is different, as Unity uses  a standard 3d modeling pipeline in order to render the 3d objects in a game. For more information on 3d models in Unity, click here for Unity’s Documentation Manual. 

Unity Physics System

Games aren’t as simple as Pong anymore, they usually mimic or simulate real world physics in objects. As a Unity 3D programmer, you need to be knowledgeable about the various physics engines which are all implemented in different ways. The aforementioned game engines are the following:

  • 3D Physics – Nvidia PhysX
  • Unity Physics Package – DOTS physics 
  • Havok Physics for Unity – licenced physics engine

A physics-based puzzle game has proven to sell amazingly in the video game industry, such examples are Portal, Grand Theft Auto, and Half-Life 2. For more information on the role of physics in video games, click here.

Unity UI Knowledge

A painter has a canvas and a paintbrush while us developers have our IDE. In this case for game development, that pertains to the Unity Game Engine. You should already know the basics from an Intro to Unity course or a Game Development 101 class, which in this case all you need is more practice. 

If you are coming from other game engines or have been programming for years, you may master a program’s user interface faster than others would. For more information on Unity’s user interface, click here.