Best Unity Books for 2D and 3D Games Development

by  ramya
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
18 min read

When it comes to working on game engines, Unity is one of the top choices and commands more than 50% market share. In this article, we will cover some of the best unity books available in the market that teach end-to-end game development.

Before we continue, it is worth noting that there are multiple aspects to consider when it comes to game development with Unity or any other game engine for that matter.

Game development requires an understanding of 2D, 3D, scripting, animations, gameplay, game levels design, multiplayer vs single player nuances, UX design, monetization, publishing, marketing, and a lot more.

On top of that, most games in modern times call for intuitive and engaging gameplay along with good performance. With all of this, learning Unity from scratch might seem a bit confusing if you are completely relying on online content.

What you need is to get hold of a good unity book to master the core concepts of game development with Unity.

Some of these books such as Unity from Zero to Proficiency and Learning C# by developing games in Unity cater to absolute beginners, gaming enthusiasts, and hobbyists. You can easily create your very first game by following one of these books.

Few other books like Developing 2D games with Unity focus completely on teaching 2D game development using Unity. There is another set of books that cover only 3D game development in Unity.

To this list, we also have an assortment of books clearly focusing on complex game development, learning advanced Unity, more depth in C#, and working on optimizing your gaming application. Some of these books also contain ready to use snippets.

Unity Books for Beginners

Any beginner’s book should have well-curated content and step by step instructions. This section reviews a hand-picked list of books that are easy to follow for absolute beginners.

Unity From Zero to Proficiency (Beginners)

A step-by-step guide to creating your first game with Unity. You will learn to create a word guessing game, survival game, and, infinite runner game from scratch.

Patrick Felicia ( LPF Publishing, 2019)

Unity from Zero to Proficiency is a very streamlined book. Since the book is clear and concise, learning Unity for beginners gets simpler.

So here is what the book promises. First, it ensures you do not learn Unity features and user interface the hard way. Second, the book assures that you learn Unity faster and this is done by focusing on only the main aspects of the Unity engine.

Third, the book provides guidance on creating games from scratch to publishing on platforms like Play Store, App Store, Xbox Live, and others.

The book is a good read for hobbyists, curious game developers, and students who are planning to enter the world of game development for the first time.

Having said this, let us check how this book is organized. The first chapter introduces programming in C#, and the next is about creating your first script. Gradually increasing the topic complexity, you will learn how to add interactions with C#.

Moving further, you will learn to create and update the user interface from C# code. Further topics include adding and managing simple artificial intelligence, collision detection, loading new levels, adding audio, and a lot more.

Finally, you would come across a section filled with FAQ. Overall, the book is very crisp, engaging, and does exactly what it promises.

To get started, you can quickly grab a Paperback or a Kindle edition of the book.

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Learning C# by Developing Games with Unity 2020

Build, customize, and optimize professional games using Unity 2020 and C#

Harrison Ferrone (Packt Publishing, 2020)

Learning C# by developing Games with Unity 2020, is a book that focuses more on the technical aspects of Unity. The book starts with several ground rules in C# to eventually teach Unity.

The first chapter covers more about the environment setup for development in Unity using C#.

Section one of the book covers many programming fundamentals commonly used in game development. Next, it covers the basic building blocks of scripting in C# for unity.

Through the book you will learn C# basics, writing proper C# code, control flows, collection types, etc.

Further chapters introduce topics such as level building, thinking in 3D, white-boxing, editor tools, animation with Unity, creating clips. Additionally, you would also read recording keyframes, particle system, camera controls, collision, player setup, use of collider triggers.

The book is slow-paced and unveils each new features step by step. Some other topics here are –

  • Scripting game mechanics
  • Shooting projectiles
  • Game Manager
  • Adding UI elements

The next section covers AI and enemy behavior. The final section gives a detailed overview of methods, classes, stacks, queues, generics, and similar concepts. These concepts are explained in relevance to Unity scripting.

While the book does not focus on any specific game creation, the book is detailed enough and covers the basics of unity game engine and C# programming.

The book is available in the Kindle and Paperback format.

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Unity Game Development Cookbook

Essentials for Every Game 1st Edition

Paris Buttfield Addison, Jon Manning, Tim Nugent (O’Reilly Media, April 2019)

Unity Game Development Cookbook covers almost every aspect of 2D and 3D game development. The book covers Unity features along with snippets showcasing commonly used gaming features.

To begin with, you will learn to work with components, game objects, prefabs, scenes, managing assets, building Unity projects. Moving on next, you will learn in detail about scripting with loads of sample snippets.

From the next chapter topics such as working with keyboard input, mouse input, gamepads, and other input formats are covered. From here on, the focus moves to concepts used in Unity. Topics such as rotation in 3D space, working with angels., finding the distance of target, etc is covered. The next topic is all about 2D graphics followed by 3D graphics in detail.

Post this, the book covers character controls, animation, movement of characters, working on game-play, more about AI and behavior. Finally, you will learn how to use sound effects and working with user interfaces.

In summary, this book starts with basics around Unity and covers the complete spectrum of game development. You can access this book in Kindle or Paperback format.

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Unity in Action: Multiplatform game development in C# 2nd Edition

Joe Hocking (Manning Publications, April 2018)

Unity in Action is yet another classic book from the “in Action” series of Manning publications. The book teaches ground-level basics of Unity coding.

The book covers fundamentals of 2D and 3D game development, connecting games to the internet, creating interactive characters, adding audio, and a lot more. Additionally, the book assumes that readers know basic C# or any other programming language.

To begin with, the book starts by introducing Unity. Following this, you will learn to build a demo in 3D, adding enemies to the 3D game, and developing graphics for the game. Post this you will learn more hard-core gaming skills by building 3 games, and adding features, as below –

  • Building a 2D memory game using Unity features and minimal coding.
  • Making a 2D platform game from scratch
  • Adding GUI on the game for user interaction for menus, shop, level selection, etc.
  • Building a third-person 3D game including animations and player movement.

Next getting to the finish, you will learn skills such as connecting your game to the internet, playing sound effects, putting parts of the game together to complete the game. Finally, you will learn to deploy your game to the player’s device.

This book is available as an eBook in Kindle, PDF, and ePub format from Manning publication. If you buy the print version, you get all of the above for free.

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Unity Game Development in 24 Hours

Sams Teach Yourself, 4th Edition

Mike Geig (Sams Publishing, 2018)

Unity Game Development in 24 hours is a very straight forward book. The book starts from absolute basics and goes on to explain sophisticated gaming features. Over here you will see a lot of practical examples and hands-on exercises.

Interestingly the book classifies each section hour wise comprising of a total of 24 hours. The first hour is all about an introduction to Unity, getting to the basic learning. The next hour is dedicated to Game objects and then more about models, materials, and textures.

Following this, you will learn terrain generation, generating trees, more about the light effect. By the time you are at the fifth hour, you would have learned substantial basics. In the later parts, you will work on the first game – Amazing Racer. Next, there are sections towards scripting, and collision, followed by developing the second game – Chaos Ball.

Further to this, you will learn Prefabs, 2D Game tools, 2D Tilemap, User interfaces. Next is creating the third game – Captain Blaster. Post this you will learn more interactive features, animation, timeline, animators. With these features, you will develop the fourth game – Gauntlet Runner.

Finally, you will learn more about audio, mobile development, deployment, and take away features. The book focuses on bare basics and is available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

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Unity Books for Intermediate to Advanced Learning

As an advanced Unity user, you would have a different learning requirement. The below books in this section cover the complete spectrum of Unity.

Some of these include advance topics in AI and performance optimization. These are classic books to refer if you are a seasoned gaming developer using Unity. Also, with this you will be able to conceptualize enterprise level development.

Hands-On Unity 2020 Game Development

Build, customize, and optimize professional games using Unity 2020 and C#

Nicolas Alejandro Borromeo (Packt Publishing, July 2020)

The book Hand-On Unity 2020 Game Development is a practical guide to Unity 2020. Through the book, you will explore tools such as Shader Graph, VFX graph, Universal Render Pipeline. Adding on, the book nicely blends C# scripting to create graphics, UI, and the Game AI agents.

The book starts with an introduction to designing games from scratch. The first topic covers more about a game concept, game characters, gameplay, etc. Next, you will learn to setup Unity. This includes installing and creating projects. Post this the book speaks about working with scenes and game objects.

Further in the book, you will read more about creating a landscape with Terrain. This is followed by creating shapes with ProBuilder. The next chapter explains the assets. Here you will read about importing assets, integrating, and configuring assets. The next sections of the book give a walkthrough on UI topics such as:

  • Material and effects with URP and shader graphs
  • Using textures
  • Visual effects with a Particle system and VFX graph
  • Creating fluid simulation
  • Lighting using URP
  • Optimizing lighting
  • Full-screen effects using post-processing
  • Advanced effects

Next, the book covers details about music integration and audio mixing. More focus is given on UI designing. This includes topics such as Canvas, RectTransform, creating responsive UI, creating animations. Here you will learn more about Animator, Cinemachine, and Timeline. Till here you will learn more about Unity features. Moving on next you will read Unity scripting with C#.

Topics covered here are – implementing movement and spawning, Physics collision, creating game modes. This covers topics such as win-lose conditions, scripting UI, scripting sound, and graphics. The next section of the book focuses on Game AI for building enemies. Here you will learn how to gather information using sensors and decision-making using FSMs.

Further sections of the book discuss more on optimizing graphics, memory, and processing for games. The last few sections join all the dots together and focus on the larger picture. This covers building the project, releasing your game. Finally, you will learn AR in Unity and building a simple AR game.

As can be seen, the book is suitable for developers with prior Unity background and want to explore new features. Moreover, the book is extremely detailed and gradually covers each topic. The book is available in Kindle and Paperback format.

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Book on Unity 2020 By Example

A project-based guide to building 2D, 3D, augmented reality, and virtual reality games from scratch, 3rd Edition

Robert Wells (Packt Publishing, 2020)

Unity 2020 by examples, is a step by step guide to building practical projects. While you get a high-level overview of Unity, you also get enough practical exposure. Also covers best practices for game creation.

The book begins by giving a brief about the fundamentals of Unity. This covers technical requirements and new features in Unity 2020.

Here you will also discover your first gaming project. You will learn how to start a level, more about testing the game and improving the scene. The next chapter creates a simple collection game. Over here you will learn scripting in Unity, prefabs, working with materials. Finally, you will be able to create a timer and test the game.

The subsequent chapter covers creating a space shooter game. The game opens to explain more Unity features. Here you will see creating a player object, configuring cameras, spawning enemies, etc. Continuing further on this game, the book covers the projectile systems, customizing controls, creating a scoring system.

Further, the book works on a new game – a 2D adventure game. Here you will learn post-processing effects, creating a 2D player, optimizing using sprite packing. With the same gave being built. Over the next few sections, you will learn constructing additional scenes, implementing player kill zones. Next, you will read about adding gun turrets, creating NPC, and implementing the quest system.

Going to more advanced topics, the book covers creating Artificial Intelligence. Also covered are – generating navigation mesh, implementing NPC, animating NPC. Few other topics to learn here are – implementing FSM, patrolling the environment, chasing the player, attacking the player. The book also covers evolving AI using ML-Agents.

The final few sections of the book introduce VR and AR. Here you will create a VR game. Also, the book covers AR in URP and creating the AR game. With this book, you can gain a stronghold on Unity basics. As well you can learn to create your own games using Unity. These examples give you hands-on knowledge about Unity. The book is available in Kindle and Paperback format.

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Unity Certified Programmer: Exam Guide

Expert tips and techniques to pass the Unity certification exam at the first attempt

Philip Walker (Packt Publishing, June 2020)

Unity Certified Programmer gives a good background to Unity scripting using C#. A good book in case you want to master Unity. The book contains several practical examples, exercises, tips, and common hacks.

The first chapter covers core exam skills, technical requirements, and core objectives. This covers programming core interactions, working in the art pipeline, developing application systems. Further, you will learn scene programming, developing an environment, optimizing performance.

The book includes an introduction to common design patterns. With this, you learn the Liskov substitution principle as well as the dependency inversion principle. Here the book covers developing the Killer Wave game. Through the initial chapter, you will also see more about Unity setup and use of Unity hub.

Next, the book covers working with objects. This covers setting up Unity project, prefabs, and creating the player’s bullet prefab. Through the next sections, you will read more about managing script, modifying scenes, GameManager scripts.

Subsequent topics include – use of animation, particles, manipulating particle system, working on the player’s ship prefab. Further, the book covers adding a shop scene for the game. Making changes to this game, you will learn more about setting up buying options for the player’s ship. Also included are other events and setting up advertisements.

Through the book, you will learn game loop, custom fonts, UI. Working with Canvas, animating UI, and similar Unity UI features are covered. Next, you will learn to create a 2D shop interface and In-Game HUD. Also, the book explains sound effects, audio mixer, NavMesh, Timeline, and other game effects. The book also includes performance and visual improvements.

The last section of the book provides a mock test. The book focuses on exam preparation. Hence is structured in a way to ease learning. Gives you pro tips for the Unity certification exam. The book is available in Kindle and Paperback format.

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Unity Books for 2D Game Development

A lot of books often contain both 2D as well as 3D game development. Such books become overwhelmingly complex if you want to learn only 2D game development.

Here is a section that is dedicated to only 2D game development with Unity. These books allow you to segregate Unity learning into smaller chunks.

Developing 2D Games with Unity: Independent Game Programming with C# 1st Edition

Jared Halpern (Apress, November 2018)

The book Developing 2D games with Unity is completely 2D-centric. Creating 2D games is much simpler than 3D. And this is exactly what the book focuses on. It provides a holistic view of 2D game development.

To begin with, the book first gives an elaborate explanation about games and game engine. Following this, you will learn about Unity Game Engine accompanied by a detailed introduction to Unity.

In the subsequent chapter you will learn more fundamental features such as animations, colliders etc. Next the book covers topics such as tilemaps, tile palettes, graphic settings, scriptable object, UI elements, more about characters, coroutines, spawn points.

Also covered in the book are game distribution channels. Moreover, book explains how these channels have made buying, selling and game distribution easier. Some of these explained are:

  • Nintendo eShop
  • XBox Live Marketplace
  • The Playstation Store,
  • The App Store
  • Google Play
  • itch.io
  • Steam
  • GOG.com

There is also a section that covers artificial intelligence and slingshots. Each of these chapters is in extreme depth. This is a good book to kick start your gaming development journey. Since it focuses only on 2D games, the book is simple to read. The book is available in Kindle and Paperback formats.

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Mastering Unity 2D Game Development – Second Edition

Ashley Godbold, Simon Jackson (Packt Publishing, October 2016)

Mastering Unity 2D Game Development focuses on 2D RPG games developed using Unity 5. Since this is all about the only 2D, the book is a good starting point to master mini-game development.

The book starts by introducing Unity 5, Unity’s 2D features, 2D v/s 3D, sprites. Next up, the book gives a walkthrough on how to build projects and characters. This follows animation, working on creating Town View, working with a camera. Also, the book speaks in detail about the Unity Ui system, NPCs, coroutines, communicating game objects, working on creating a World map.

The next section covers Artificial intelligence basics, sensors, setting up a battle scene, RPG UI Overlays, created a battlefield in action. Following this you will learn a sound and music effects in-game, building in-game menu structure, Gizmos.

The final chapter covers deployment. Each chapter here is extremely elaborate and insightful. The book is available in Kindle and Paperback format.

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Unity Books for 3D Game Development

Its difficult to imagine building a game without 3D effects. Undoubtedly, 3D Unity plays a key role in today’s game development.

3D Unity gets more complex. In such cases, learning only 3D Unity features helps. This lets you focus on ground level concepts. Here we will discuss in detail some of the best Unity books for 3D game development.

Unity 3D Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide

Ryan Henson Creighton (Packt Publishing, September 2010)

Unity 3D Game Development by Example follows a simple teaching strategy. That is, it teaches by providing gaming example. Instead of bombarding with complex gaming jargons, the book simply solutionists various gaming use cases.

The first chapter introduces Unity 3D. Following this, topics such as browser-based 3D, installing Unity web player, building Fusion fall, building off-road velociraptor safari, racing, diceworks exists. These games cover details and simultaneously introduce a new feature with every example.

The second chapter walks through several commonly used gaming features. While the third chapter uses a ball game to introduce gaming light effects, dark mode, explaining object dimensions, bounce effect and similar such features.

Till here you would learn various gaming concepts via examples. Next you will learn more about coding, animating using code, memory game creation, adding timer to game, score counter addition. Finally, there is a complete game – the break-up game and shoot the moon created.  

Overall, the book provides a step by step guide for each gaming concept. Moreover, the book is structured well to start with basic gaming application to introducing more complex features. The book is available as a Kindle and Paperback format.

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Final Thoughts

So, with this we have seen some of the best Unity books. Unity is a great framework to create gaming applications. A lot of complex features are simplified here.

Especially, if you are looking to explore the gaming arena around 2D or 3D games, then grab one of these Unity books.

You may also like to check out Best Unity Tutorial and Courses

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