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The Complete Guide to Unity 2D : Platformer Development

The Complete Guide to Unity 2D : Platformer Development

Are you ready to jump into world of game development and create your own unique 2D platformer with local multiplayer game?

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Unity is a powerful and versatile game development engine that has become the go-to tool for many developers, both indie and professional. While Unity supports both 2D and 3D game development, this guide will focus on creating a 2D platformer, a popular genre that involves characters jumping between platforms, overcoming obstacles, and collecting items. This guide will take you through the essential steps and best practices for developing a 2D platformer in Unity.

Setting Up Your Project

Installing Unity

First, download and install Unity Hub from the official Unity website. Unity Hub allows you to manage different versions of Unity and your projects. Once installed, use Unity Hub to download the latest stable version of the Unity Editor.

Creating a New Project

Open Unity Hub and click on the "New" button to create a new project. Select the 2D template, as it will configure the project settings specifically for 2D development. Give your project a name, choose a location, and click "Create".

Understanding the Unity Interface

When you first open your project, you will be greeted by the Unity Editor interface. Here are the key components you will interact with:

  • Scene View: The interactive view where you can place and manipulate game objects.
  • Game View: A preview of what your game will look like during play mode.
  • Hierarchy: A list of all game objects in the current scene.
  • Inspector: Displays properties and settings for the selected game object.
  • Project Window: Shows your project’s assets (sprites, scripts, audio, etc.).
  • Console: Displays messages, warnings, and errors.

Basic Game Objects and Components

In Unity, everything in your game is a game object. These can be anything from characters and platforms to lights and cameras. Game objects are controlled and defined by their components, such as transforms, renderers, and colliders.

Adding Sprites

To start, you need some sprites. Sprites are 2D images that represent characters, platforms, and other objects. Import your sprite images into Unity by dragging them into the Project window.

Once imported, create a new game object by right-clicking in the Hierarchy, selecting "Create Empty", and then adding a Sprite Renderer component in the Inspector. Drag your sprite image to the Sprite field in the Sprite Renderer component.

Platformer Development

Creating a Character

  1. Sprite: Import your character sprite and add it to a new game object as described above.
  2. Rigidbody2D: Add a Rigidbody2D component to your character. This component handles the physics of the character, such as gravity and collisions.
  3. Collider2D: Add a Collider2D component, like a Box Collider 2D, to define the physical boundaries of your character.
  4. Animator: To handle animations, add an Animator component. Create an Animator Controller and assign it to your character. This will allow you to create and manage animations for different actions (e.g., walking, jumping).

Creating Platforms

Similar to the character, create platform objects using sprites and add appropriate Collider2D components. You can use Box Collider 2D for rectangular platforms.

Implementing Character Movement

To bring your character to life, you need to write scripts that handle movement and interactions.

Basic Movement Script

Create a new C# script by right-clicking in the Project window and selecting "Create > C# Script". Name it "PlayerController" and attach it to your character game object.

Here’s a basic script for handling horizontal movement and jumping:

using UnityEngine; public class PlayerController : MonoBehaviour { public float moveSpeed = 5f; public float jumpForce = 10f; private Rigidbody2D rb; private bool isGrounded; void Start() { rb = GetComponent<Rigidbody2D>(); } void Update() { float moveInput = Input.GetAxis("Horizontal"); rb.velocity = new Vector2(moveInput * moveSpeed, rb.velocity.y); if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.Space) && isGrounded) { rb.velocity = new Vector2(rb.velocity.x, jumpForce); } } void OnCollisionEnter2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Ground")) { isGrounded = true; } } void OnCollisionExit2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Ground")) { isGrounded = false; } } }

This script allows the player to move left and right using the arrow keys or "A" and "D", and to jump using the spacebar. The isGrounded variable ensures the player can only jump when touching the ground.

Fine-tuning Movement

You can adjust the movement speed and jump force in the Inspector. You might also want to add animations for different states (idle, running, jumping). Use the Animator component to blend between these animations based on player input and state.

Designing Levels

Level design is a crucial part of creating a platformer. You need to arrange platforms, obstacles, and collectibles in a way that is challenging yet enjoyable for players.


Unity's Tilemap feature allows you to create grid-based levels efficiently. To use Tilemaps, go to the Hierarchy, right-click, and select "2D Object > Tilemap". This creates a Grid and a Tilemap. You can then create a Tile Palette from your sprites and paint tiles onto the Tilemap.

Placing Objects

In addition to Tilemaps, you can place individual objects like enemies, traps, and collectibles directly in the Scene view. Make sure each object has the appropriate components (e.g., colliders, scripts) to interact with the player.

Adding Enemies and Hazards

Enemies and hazards add challenge and excitement to your game. Here’s how to implement a basic enemy:

Enemy Movement

Create an enemy sprite and add it to a game object. Attach a Rigidbody2D and a Collider2D. Write a script to handle the enemy's movement:

using UnityEngine; public class EnemyController : MonoBehaviour { public float moveSpeed = 2f; public Transform leftPoint; public Transform rightPoint; private bool movingRight = true; private Rigidbody2D rb; void Start() { rb = GetComponent<Rigidbody2D>(); } void Update() { if (movingRight) { rb.velocity = new Vector2(moveSpeed, rb.velocity.y); if (transform.position.x >= rightPoint.position.x) { movingRight = false; } } else { rb.velocity = new Vector2(-moveSpeed, rb.velocity.y); if (transform.position.x <= leftPoint.position.x) { movingRight = true; } } } }

This script makes the enemy patrol between two points. Adjust the moveSpeed and positions of leftPoint and rightPoint to control the patrol behavior.

Enemy-Player Interaction

Detect collisions between the player and enemies to handle damage or defeat. Add a script to the player:

void OnCollisionEnter2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Enemy")) { // Handle player damage or death } }

Collectibles and Power-ups

Collectibles like coins or power-ups can enhance gameplay and add depth. Here's a simple collectible script:

using UnityEngine; public class Collectible : MonoBehaviour { void OnTriggerEnter2D(Collider2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Player")) { // Add to score or inventory Destroy(gameObject); } } }

Attach this script to collectible objects and add a Collider2D with "Is Trigger" enabled.

User Interface

A good platformer needs a user interface (UI) to display information like score, health, and lives. Unity's UI system allows you to create and manage these elements.

Adding UI Elements

  1. Canvas: Create a new Canvas in the Hierarchy for your UI elements.
  2. Text: Add Text objects to display information. Customize font, size, and color in the Inspector.
  3. Health Bar: Use UI images and scripts to create dynamic health bars.

Updating UI

Update the UI elements in your scripts. For example, to update the score:

using UnityEngine.UI; public class GameController : MonoBehaviour { public Text scoreText; private int score = 0; void UpdateScore() { scoreText.text = "Score: " + score.ToString(); } public void AddScore(int value) { score += value; UpdateScore(); } }

Polishing and Optimization

Sound Effects and Music

Adding sound effects and music greatly enhances the gaming experience. Import audio files and use the AudioSource component to play them. Manage sounds in scripts using the AudioSource.Play() method.

Lighting and Post-processing

For better visuals, use Unity’s lighting and post-processing features. Although these are more common in 3D games, subtle effects can enhance a 2D platformer too.

Performance Optimization

Optimize your game for better performance:

  • Sprite Atlases: Combine multiple sprites into one texture to reduce draw calls.
  • Pooling: Use object pooling for frequently instantiated objects like bullets or enemies.
  • Physics: Minimize the use of complex colliders and physics calculations.

Testing and Debugging

Thoroughly test your game on different devices and resolutions. Use Unity’s Profiler to monitor performance and identify bottlenecks. Debugging tools in the Console help identify and fix issues in your scripts.

Publishing Your Game

Once your game is complete, you can build and publish it. Unity supports multiple platforms, including PC, consoles, and mobile devices. Go to "File > Build Settings", select your target platform, configure settings, and click "Build".


Creating a 2D platformer in Unity involves understanding the basics of the Unity interface, working with sprites and game objects, scripting character movements and interactions, designing levels, and adding UI elements. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating an engaging and polished 2D platformer. Happy developing!