After messing around with it for some time, it seems like Unity is a pretty cool program! They provide the skeleton of a platformer game to help you learn the interface, so I've been using that as a tutorial. Here's what Unity looks like when you open up the platformer demo:
|Unity... IN SPACE.|
This is the "Scene" view, which shows the entire map. When you hit the play button at the top, you switch to "Game" mode. In my project, the Game mode will actually look kind of similar to the Scene mode, because the user will be able to fly around the map wherever they want, trigger events, and play with their smart cameras.
Speaking of cameras, see that "Camera Preview" window in the bottom right? That shows what the camera (which is currently selected) is seeing. I'm going to start working on getting something similar to work when the project is actually running: while the user is doing their thing, smaller windows should show the views of the smart cameras. The user should also be able to select a camera and get a little window of options, so they can give the camera specific commands.
Programming in Unity involves programming lots and lots of scripts in C#. When I first tried to edit a script, it opened up in this awful editor called Unitron.
Thanks a lot to Nathan for showing me how to open scripts in Unity's MonoDevelop instead. Turns out that in Unity, you can go to Assets->Sync MonoDevelop Project. That way, edits made in MonoDevelop automatically synchronize in Unity.
|Too bad "Unitron" sounds like an awesome robot, while "MonoDevelop" is boring.|
Now that I've figured out how to edit scripts and apply them to objects in Unity, it's time to make a test environment and set up some simple tests that a user can trigger. It's really simple to import Maya files into Unity—I tested it with a model of a penguin wearing a top hat and monocle, of course.
|Penguin... IN SPACE.|
Once I build an environment in Maya, I'll work on simple scripts for things like making boxes move when a user either clicks on them or presses a keyboard button. Meanwhile, I'll be trying to make a Camera Preview window actually appear in-game. Exciting stuff!