So how difficult is Unity, really
March 20, 2020 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I have the vaguest of question. But in this time where I'm forbidden from going to work until May. Ever since I read Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose I've had this idea that I want to recreate the library-labyrinth in it in some game engine. And now that I'm mandated to stay home and do nothing, the idea came back. Sorry I don't even know what to ask exactly. Is this a bad project or can it be done? Labyrinth from The Name of the Rose?

However, how much coding does it require? Like, I don't even know what to ask. Maybe: any actual game devs here who use unity and can tell me whether such a project is just clicking the mouse, or does it require coding? I can do scripting etc because I used to work as a software tester some time ago, but I prefer not to go back to it. So... are there Unity users here and can I do my pet project just for fun or do I have to learn coding?
posted by Pyrogenesis to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Did you see this from earlier in the week?

That said, I think there's always coding if you want it to do something, but if all you want to do is make a big building to run around in, that'll be a lot simpler.
posted by rhizome at 11:22 AM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There are two big things (at least) here: art and software. You can make choices about each to get your project done easily, but there will be trade-offs.

Unity has the ability to create and position simple shapes like cubes, cylinders, spheres, easily. You can slap textures onto that. There are also sites like TurboSquid where you can download model files, some of them free, and some of them might even work for real-time 3D..

Unity has a ready-to-go first-person controller that you can drop into a scene if you just want to run around in a building you created. If you want more specific interactions than running around, you’ll have to either write or find assets that enable what you want.

There are things like PlayMaker (or Unreal’s visual blueprints) to design behavior without writing code. I’m a coder so I don’t use them, but I’ve seen fantastic things, including full games, built with them.
posted by Alterscape at 11:31 AM on March 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Way back when, the easiest way to recreate a physical space in virtual form was to create your own Doom/Quake/Half Life level. That way basically all of the hard stuff is done for you and all you have to do is place objects, lights, etc.
posted by wierdo at 3:04 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I don't know if there's anything easier or cheaper, but you could do worse than getting an old copy of Unreal Tournament 2004 and using its map maker. I think you can import your own textures into it, which I'm guessing is at least 80% of the project.
posted by rhizome at 3:26 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Unity is not very hard and you can totally do this. But it will be confusing at times. Fortunately, you can Google for tutorials: whatever problem you're having, someone else had it too and made a video about it.

Making the maze itself can be done with no scripting at all. Start with one block; extend it really far to make a floor. Create more blocks and resize them to make the walls. If you have never used a 3-D modeling program before, watch a tutorial, because they're never as intuitive as 2-D drawing programs.

To make this into a playable game, you need a "player"— basically an object that can move around, dragging the game camera with it. This requires scripting, but it's so basic that other people have already written the scripts and you can follow them.

Making a humanoid figure is a fair bit of work, so maybe just use a vehicle. I don't recall which tutorial I used myself, but I searched for "Unity simple vehicle" on Youtube and quickly found this one and this one. Even those include things you don't need.

It's possible that making the map, and navigating it within the 3-D modeling program, will be satisfying enough for you. If that's the case, you might try Blender instead; I have a tutorial that tells you what you need to know. (And if you then want to turn it into a game, Blender objects can be imported into Unity.)

It's true that a map editor would let you skip the player creation step, but at the cost of making the maze creation much harder. Map editors are made by and for programmers and are far quirkier than Unity itself.

One more option: make your maze in Second Life. No scripting required at all, and a pretty easy creation interface. But to build a big maze you'd need a paid account and some land.
posted by zompist at 3:43 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all. I'll give it a try now.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:31 PM on March 20, 2020

Best answer: You might be able to do it in Blender instead. 3D modelling suite. And animation. And port into Unity. Or Unreal. Unreal has blueprints which is the ability to code without code and use logic blocks instead. As does Godot which is a simpler game engine. So many possibilities.

Also, I think it’s an awesome idea for a project.
posted by my-username at 4:45 AM on March 21, 2020

You should post to Metafilter Projects when you're done! I feel like you'd get a lot of love from this community.
posted by sigmagalator at 1:57 PM on March 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Looking into things it looks like 3D modeling and then import is the best. I'll post to mefi projects if anything comes of this.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:13 AM on March 22, 2020

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