A Flash Developer in Unity’s Court

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If Adobe had rebuilt Flash ground-up to support all the features and platforms we want today, they probably would have wished it turned out as Unity. A single workflow to realize fluid experiences on all reasonable platforms.

First impressions

The Unity IDE is understated, responsive, and deceptively spare. Menus and panels are few, but deep. No timeline, playback in separate window from stage. The stage is called the Scene, views are locked down to your basic cardinal and 45 angles. Scripts get attached to game objects – Flash AS2 throwback to MovieClip scripts. The hierarchy view is actually very useful, compared to the one nobody remembers even existing in Flash.

Where are all the complicated panels, arcane keypress macros and command-line inputs that must be required by a tool capable of so many output formats? Where is the script editor? This is my first clue that Unity is going to present me with a density of information challenge.

But this is not Flash, and it doesn’t import or output Flash content. To play Unity games in a browser, you have to download and install the Unity plugin. In the world of corporate eLearning this is a show-stopper, and has effectively kept me in (an admittedly jealous) spectator mode. I have been wondering if Adobe or Autodesk would buy Unity, or if Unity would support Flash assets, swf output or some combination.

My first quest has been to find a series of tutorials covering Unity for a beginner with programming or Flash background. I found a lot of tutorials, but few in a series and format that fit my criteria. Unity tutorials aimed at Flash developers is too basic until this one and stops too soon, many are too complex or require existing knowledge. One that hits my sweet spot is 2DGameplayTutorial. I will post more about it later.

So far Unity announced forthcoming support for Flash Player. They will also support ActionScript 3 internally. They haven’t put this support in a specific release in their roadmap for 2011 as of writing, which is disappointing if you were thinking of release something with it in 2011. Meanwhile Adobe’s moves to release molehill (the spark that got Unity to commit to Flash Player) and game-worthy mobile workflows are lacking – IOS packager in particular.

Unity tutorials aimed at Flash developers have surfaced

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