5 reasons why Unity is better for learning game development than Unreal Engine
I’ve been using and teaching Unreal (UDK) for several years now and when I decided to switch and learn it, it made me realize that if I learned Unity back in school my vision of making games would be different by now. This article is in no means a way to bring down Unreal, as a matter of fact, I’m still teaching Unreal Engine 4 and Unity at the same time as I am a video game teacher here in Montreal. Both engines are very powerful in their own way and as you know, this article talks about learning game development. That means I’m not talking as an artist point of view. You need to understand that this article could be called “5 reasons why Unreal is better than Unity for graphics” and I’m pretty sure nobody would complain. But again, my point of view here is what engine would be better if you want to learn the steps to create a game. That being said, here are some of my reasons broken down in 5:
The first reason is what comes in the box when you launch the engine. In my opinion Unity really helps learning how games are made and how a game engine works because it completely gives you nothing. What I mean is that when you start a project in Unity, there is no template, no mesh, no pre-made objects or annoying codes... In fact, starting a project from an empty canvas forces you to know what is needed, how to make it and where to get the help or the tools to make it. In Unreal, when you launch the engine, the amount of stuff already in the box is just insane and overwhelming. There are so many properties and setting that for some students and even professionals could be confusing. Of course you understand again that on a level designer point of view, starting with a first person or a side-scroller system could save me some time to design and prototype a level or a game, but again I’m targeting the game development field here. In short, you will spend more time learning how Unreal is made before learning how to make games.
Here is a very simple cube in Unity and its properties on the right:
Here is the same cube in Unreal Engine 4:
For something as simple as a cube there are many settings that might be irrelevant to your project in Unreal and it could become quickly overhelming.
2: Easy to script
It is simple; Unity has a huge community including a lot of plugins and add-ons that you can get online on their Asset Store. The Unity forum is also filled with people talking and exchanging codes and script examples. It is also very active. With Unreal Engine 4, the community is growing for sure but it is not yet at the same level as Unity. It is still very new and small. One thing that I noticed, working with Unreal also, is that whenever you are stuck somewhere in your project with an issue or just a lack of information, finding help is really tedious compared to Unity.
Keeping the same arguments as before, the API of Unity is just so much better. Whenever you work on something inside the engine and you don’t quite know its use, there is always a blue book icon that you can click in the editor.
This usually opens a web page containing the information on what you were working on. This is so helpful when you use something new or when you code whether in C# or Java and you don’t quite know what functions, components or properties you are dealing with. When in MonoDevelop, there is also auto-filler when you call a function that is from Unity’s API. This is just great in my opinion. Again, I am not a coder so I don’t know if this is something typical but it is just some small details that makes it easy to learn.
I found this link (below) the other day showing Mono for Unreal and again, this is just a great example of why Unity is good at first.
Well, the title is pretty straightforward here. If you are looking to learn how to create video games, you probably don’t want to waste your money. Unity offers a free version that you can download, install and use without further fees. If you wish, you could even publish a game using that free version. I would say that I find those Basic Licenses pretty crappy but hey; it does the job if you are looking to learn. Now that Unreal Engine 4 is free to everyone to download too, you might want to consider it but remember that there are all sort of fees and royalties when you go with Unreal for a project. Just be careful to read and understand what you go into.
To sum up, I love both engine but for learning game dev., I feel Unity is a better choice because it is free, because it has a lot of support from the community, because nothing is hidden deep inside the codes and because you will not waste your time unchecking properties that you don’t seem to need. Don’t get me wrong though, Unreal has a lot of pros and Unity a lot of cons but my article is about choosing the proper engine to learn to be a game developer. I would definitely recommend Unreal for 3D artists and for teams that have some experience in making games.
Thank you for reading. Hope this helps some of you!
Creative Director, Pixelz Games
Teacher, LaSalle College