Learn Unity 2D: Best Tutorials & Courses For Beginners (Free + Premium)
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For those looking to learn game development there’s no better place to start than Unity. It’s the game engine of choice for indie developers and a popular tool among major studios.
Whether you’re making a sidescroller or a top-down shooter, there are huge benefits in starting with 2D work since it’s so much simpler. And with websites like opengameart.org you can find plenty of 2D assets to use in your projects.
Unity 3D doesn’t have a dedicated 2D engine like GameMaker or Godot, but it’s perfectly capable of handling all your 2D needs.
Unity’s physics engine ships with rigidbodies and collision components designed specifically for 2D games, meaning you can get 2D behavior right out of the box.
So let’s dive into these tutorials and start learning!
One of the best things about Unity is the large community it has attracted over the years.
Lots of talented artists and game designers have shared their expertise with the engine in the form of online tutorials. With these tutorials you can learn game development free of charge.
The best part of these tutorials is that many of them are in real-time. This makes it not only easier to follow along, but you also get a real sense of how long it takes to make a game.
This brief introduction to Unity by Daniel Wood is everything you need to get started with the game engine. He’ll walk you through downloading and installing Unity to get you moving from square one.
Unity comes with everything necessary for making games and it can be intimidating when you first open the program.
After installing Unity, Wood will walk you through the complex GUI.
Before you can start making games you need to know what you’re looking at. Once you learn, for instance, the difference between the hierarchy and the scene view, you can safely move onto practicing your own 2D projects.
If you’re just starting out with Unity then you’re probably itching to make your dream game. Maybe it’s a 2D platformer like Sonic the Hedgehog or even the ultimate Metroidvania.
Unfortunately before you can run around the screen collecting golden rings, you’ll need to build a player controller.
Building a good character controller can be a challenge even for seasoned developers.
Lucky for you this tutorial by expert game instructor Brackeys will show you how to get a 2D character up and running in a matter of minutes.
Using Brackeys’ character controller will allow you to get started quickly so that you can focus on building the rest of your game. Later after you’ve spent more time in Unity you can try making your own character controller.
One of my favorites parts of game development is seeing animated characters come to life in the game world. And with Unity it’s easy to animate 2D characters.
But how do we get frames for our animations?
That’s where Sprite Sheets come in. Arranging the frames of an animation on a single image will make it far easier to animate.
Making a Sprite Sheet in Photoshop is a somewhat tricky procedure. You’ll need to create a new image with the necessary dimensions depending on the size of your sprite and then manually lay out the frames. That’s where this video comes in to help.
Once you’re done you’ll have a file that’s easy for Unity to slice and turn into animations that you can call from script. With some practice you can quickly build pixel art games without a struggle.
In this Unity tutorial by Blackthronprod you’ll learn a good method for adding melee combat to your game.
With just a few scripts you can design your character to slash enemies with a weapon.
By the end of this video you’ll have a working attack and enemy health.
Blackthronprod shows you how to easily add particle effects when the enemy is hit to create visual feedback. This technique will work for almost any weapon you can think of. With some simple tweaks you can quickly create a spear or a dagger for your player to use, or really anything you want.
After you’ve created the scripts Blackthronprod will teach you how to customize the hit box, damage, range, and attack speed from inside the Unity editor.
This freebie comes directly from the Unity team as guest host Aurore Dimopoulos explores the 2D Game Kit provided by Unity Technologies.
With the 2D Game Kit users can make games without having to write a single line of code.
The kit includes a working demo of a 2D game as well as reusable assets that beginners can use to construct their own games.
Complete with art, sound, and premade behaviors, the 2D Game Kit assets are a great way to learn level design and familiarize yourself with the Unity editor.
With these premium courses you’re able to learn Unity a bit faster and with far more detail than the free stuff on YouTube. These also give you a chance to learn from some of the best instructors in the business.
They say good habits make good work.
With the following courses you’ll be building a strong foundation of habits that will help you quickly progress in your Unity game design practice.
This course on Unity Development is everything you need to get started with C# and Unity.
You’ll learn C# and scripting while making video games in a fun and engaging environment.
Available on Udemy, this course focuses on building a strong foundation for game design and game development. You’ll learn by creating playable games that would be good enough to include in a portfolio.
You’ll start with the basics of coding in C# before moving on to making your own Brick Breaker clone. As you progress you’ll eventually learn how to make a 2D platformer using Unity’s Tilemap tool.
So here’s a very detailed 2D Unity course designed to take you from beginner to advanced as quickly as possible.
Funded by a wildly successful Kickstarter, this course teaches crucial concepts for coding in C# as they relate to game designers.
After learning about Unity and creating a simple 2D game you’ll move onto building your own path-finding algorithm. Know as A* (pronounced “A star”), this path-finding algorithm is widely used within the games industry.
You’ll get access to all the source files needed for the projects as well as some instructions on using Photoshop for game development.
Unity’s physics engine makes it easier than ever to make your own games. This tutorial focuses on using this engine to get the most out of your 2D work.
You’ll learn all about Rigidbodies and Colliders as you build your own 2D projects. The series is long but first you’ll work with the physics tools provided by the editor. Eventually you’ll move onto scripting unique physics behaviors of your own.
When you’ve complete this course you’ll have an advanced understanding of Unity’s physics engine and how to use it to make your own 2D games.
Note this course does come from Pluralsight which offers everyone a free 7-day trial with access to all courses during that period. So if you have time in a given week you can sign up to Pluralsight for free, dig through their Unity content, then cancel before being billed.
Granted their courses are so detailed and useful and it may be worth subscribing for a few months just to go through everything!
Author: Josh Petty
Josh is an artist and game developer who specializes in sci-fi, fantasy, and abstract art. His work employs vibrant colors and combines elements of glitch art, outrun, retro-gamming, neo-geo, and conceptual art. He trained as an oil painter before picking up 3D modeling, animation, and programming. He now runs Brain Jar, a small game development studio that focuses on experimental, narrative-driven content. You can learn more on the website or on Twitter @brainjargames.