One of the biggest advantages to using Unity for 3D and mobile development is the huge stockpile of third party assets that are available for it. Many of these are free, and more have both a free and a paid version to use.
When I create a new Unity project, there are a bunch of these assets that I import right away because I know that no matter what kind of game I’m working on they will come in handy.
iTween is one of the most comprehensive tweening solutions I have seen and that includes within applications like 3DS Max, Adobe Premiere or other apps where keyframing is used.
Tweening is the process of interpolating between values over time and iTween offers many different kinds of interpolation curves. It also offers unparalleled ease of use for some things. It has simple commands called “Stab, Punch and Shake” that produce extremely convincing physical simulations that can be used for shaking cameras or objects.
iTween is basically ‘just a script’ but it is free, and it has become so popular that many other extensions rely on and extend it in useful ways. For example, some packages will add their own special functions as being ‘iTweenable’ and other packages will allow iTween functions to be used in their own user interfaces.
There is a visual editor extension available that allows most iTween operations to be set up and used without writing any actual scripts. Another extension called Playmaker offers similar integration.
Bitmap2Material is a procedural material generating utility that allows you to generate bumpmaps, specularity maps, gloss maps, and other sorts of map channels for advanced shaders automatically, but with many sliders for control over how they are produced.
Unity supports a procedural material system called “Substances” created by a company called Allegorithmic, and they produce both a free and a paid version of this utility. It allows you to turn a simple bitmap into a procedural substance basically.
Unity allows you to create what many would call ‘prims’ but it’s not a modeling package. You import models that you created somewhere else, but it’s a bit of a pain to boot up Maya or 3DS Max just to make a tessellated plane or a sphere with the normals facing inward for a skybox.
Enter Gamedraw. The free version works just fine and it lets you do vertex level operations on meshes right in the Unity editor. The paid version has a lot more features, but either way just being able to do basic edits on a mesh is extremely handy.
If you’re not a programmer, you might want to build a shrine to the people who made Playmaker and sacrifice your virginity to them or something.
Playmaker lets you visually construct your game logic using a flow chart like visual diagramming interface with boxes and arrows and such.
It has a lot of very lengthy menus that essentially comprise a giant cheat sheet for all of the programming functions there are in Unity allowing you to basically build programs without having to read any actual code.
Even if you know how to program, Playmaker can save a lot of time over making state machines the hard way, and if you’re just starting with Unity it is really handy to be able to browse the menus for neat things you can trigger when a state transition occurs.
5. Build Report Tool
The build report tool isn’t very exciting, but it provides a really excellent summary of the output of your builds. It’s kind of like the toilet plunger of Unity programming. I don’t really want to discuss it much, other than to strongly advise you to get one.