C# is one of the most popular programming languages which is used to create games in the Unity game engine. Experiences (games, AR/VR apps, etc) built with Unity have reached nearly 3 billion devices worldwide and were installed 24 billion times in the last 12 months. We spoke to Harrison Ferrone, software engineer, game developer, creative technologist and author of the book, “Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019”. We talked about why C# is used for game designing, the recent Unity 2019.2 release, and some tips and tricks tips for those developing games with Unity.
On C# and Game development
Why is C# is widely-used to create games? How does it compare to C++? How is C# being used in other areas such as mobile and web development?
In my experience, C# is easier to learn than languages like C++, and that accessibility is a huge draw for game designers and programmers in general. With Xamarin mobile development and ASP.NET web applications in the mix, there’s really no stopping the C# language any time soon.
What are C# scripts? How are they useful for creating games with Unity?
C# scripts are the code files that store behaviors in Unity, powering everything the engine does. While there are a lot of new tools that will allow a developer to make a game without them, scripts are still the best way to create custom actions and interactions within a game space.
On why Harrison wrote his book, Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019
Tell us the motivation behind writing your book Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2019. Why is developing Unity games a good way to learn the C# programming language? Why do you prefer Unity over other game engines?
My main motivation for writing the book was two-fold. First, I always wanted to be a writer, so marrying my love for technology with a lifelong dream was a no-brainer. Second, I wanted to write a beginner’s book that would stay true to a beginner audience, always keeping them in mind.
In terms of choosing games as a medium for learning, I’ve found that making something interesting and novel while learning a new skill-set leads to greater absorption of the material and more overall enjoyment. Unity has always been my go-to engine because its interface is highly intuitive and easy to get started with.
You have 3 years of experience building iOS applications in Swift. You also have a number of articles and tutorials on the same on the Ray Wenderlich website. Recently, you started branching out into C++ and Unreal Engine 4. How did you get into game design and Unity development? What made you interested in building games?
I actually got into Game design and Unity development first, before all the iOS and Swift experience. It was my major in university, and even though I couldn’t find a job in the game industry right after I graduated, I still held onto it as a passion.
On developing games
The latest release of Unity, Unity 2019.2 has a number of interesting features such as ProBuilder, Shader Graph, and effects, 2D Animation, Burst Compiler, etc. What are some of your favorite features in this release? What are your expectations from Unity 2019.3?
I’m really excited about ProBuilder in this release, as it’s a huge time saver for someone as artistically challenged as I am. I think tools like this will level the playing field for independent developers who may not have access to the environment or level builders.
What are some essential tips and tricks that a game developer must keep in mind when working in Unity? What are the do’s and don’ts?
I’d say the biggest thing to keep in mind when working with Unity is the component architecture that it’s built on. When you’re writing your own scripts, think about how they can be separated into their individual functions and structure them like that – with purpose. There’s nothing worse than having a huge, bloated C# script that does everything under the sun and attaching it to a single game object in your project, then realizing it really needs to be separated into its component parts.
What are the biggest challenges today in the field of game development? What is your advice for those developing games using C#?
Reaching the right audience is always challenge number one in any industry, and game development is no different. This is especially true for indie game developers as they have to always be mindful of who they are making their game for and purposefully design and program their games accordingly. As far as advice goes, I always say the same thing – learn design patterns and agile development methodologies, they will open up new avenues for professional programming and project management.
Rust has been touted as one of the successors of the C family of languages. The present state of game development in Rust is also quite encouraging. What are your thoughts on Rust for game dev? Do you think major game engines like Unity and Unreal will support Rust for game development in the future?
I don’t have any experience with Rust, but major engines like Unity and Unreal are unlikely to adopt a new language because of the huge cost associated with a changeover of that magnitude. However, that also leaves the possibility open for another engine to be developed around Rust in the future that targets games, mobile, and/or web development.
About the Author
Harrison Ferrone was born in Chicago, IL, and raised all over. Most days, you can find him creating instructional content for LinkedIn Learning and Pluralsight, or tech editing for the Ray Wenderlich website. After a few years as an iOS developer at small start-ups, and one Fortune 500 company, he fell into a teaching career and never looked back. Throughout all this, he’s bought many books, acquired a few cats, worked abroad, and continually wondered why Neuromancer isn’t on more course syllabi. You can follow him on Linkedin, and GitHub.