Free Game Development with Unity and Visual Studio

In recent years, a dramatic change in the gaming industry can be observed: in addition to the well-established, large development studios and publishers there are more and more small, independent studios, who develop their games in-house and do marketing themselves. This development is driven by free game engines such as Unity and, since March 2nd 2015, the Unreal Engine 4, in combination with marketing platforms such as app stores and Steam. With its marketing model, a free version for indie developers and a Pro version for larger Studios, Unity however was the forerunner of this trend. A complete toolchain for development is easy to install and shall be described briefly below.

Currently, I am using Unity 5.0 with Visual Studio Community 2013. Remarkably, Microsoft has realized not too long ago that the free distribution of its products to small companies and private developers can be a successful business model. Accordingly, this edition of Visual Studio has a similar pricing as Unity, being free of charge for private developers and small studios. Previously, amateur game developers such as I depended on the Mono development environment or Visual Studio Express which take a lot of fun out if it.

Import assets into unity
Import new packages in Unity

In order to get started with developing your own games you need Unity, Visual Studio, and the Visual Studio Tools for Unity (UnityVS), the bridge between the two. The three programs include an installer each and are usually easy to install. There may be one hurdle for the integration of UnityVS. According to the documentation the package can be easily selected from the standard assets. However, UnityVS writes the package to the wrong directory. Rather than in
Unity-5.0.0\Editor\Standard Assets
it can be found in
Unity-5.0.0\Editor\Standard Packages
There are two simple ways to solve this problem. Either choose the entry Custom Package under Assets/Import package… (cf. Image) and search the appropriate package in the directory selection, or move the package to the correct directory where it is now available for all further projects as a standard package.

This completes the integration of Unity and Visual Studio. A double click on any script in Unity will automatically open it in Visual Studio, where it can be processed with all comforts of a modern development environment. Debugging is now easy: click the button Attach to Unity, automatically connecting Visual Studio to the Unity editor and off you go.

However, this may not be the end of the integration of Visual Studio and .NET with Unity. At its developers conference Build 2015, Microsoft announced versions of .NET Core for Linux and OS X, as well as the free development environment Visual Studio Code, also for Linux and OS X. Thus it may be that Unity eventually replaces its outdated version of Mono by the latest .NET version. There are, of cource, no official statements yet.

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