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The Complete Guide to Unity 2D : Platformer Development

The Complete Guide to Unity 2D : Platformer Development

A practical guide to help you get started and gain the most value developing 2D games with Unity. Table of Contents.

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Unity 2D offers a powerful and flexible environment for developing engaging platformer games. This guide will walk you through the key steps and considerations for creating your own 2D platformer in Unity, from initial setup to advanced features.

Getting Started

Installation and Setup

  1. Install Unity: Download and install the Unity Hub from the Unity website. Use the Hub to install the latest stable version of the Unity Editor.
  2. Create a New Project: Open Unity Hub, click on the “New” button, and select the 2D template. Name your project and choose a location to save it.
  3. Project Organization: Proper organization of your project files is crucial. Create folders for your assets, scripts, prefabs, scenes, and other resources.

Basic Unity Concepts

  1. GameObjects and Components: In Unity, everything you see in your game is a GameObject. Each GameObject can have multiple components that define its behavior and appearance.
  2. Scenes: A Scene in Unity is a container for your game objects. You'll typically have different scenes for different levels or game states.
  3. Sprites: 2D graphics in Unity are handled using Sprites. Import your artwork into Unity and set the texture type to Sprite.

Building Your First Platformer

Player Character

  1. Creating the Player: Import your player sprite and drag it into the Scene view. This creates a GameObject with a Sprite Renderer component.
  2. Adding a Rigidbody2D: Add a Rigidbody2D component to your player GameObject. This enables physics interactions.
  3. Adding a Collider2D: Add a Box Collider2D or Capsule Collider2D to define the collision boundaries of your player.

Player Movement

  1. Creating a Movement Script: Create a new C# script named PlayerMovement. Attach this script to your player GameObject.
  2. Script Basics: Open the script and define variables for speed, jump force, and references to Rigidbody2D. Implement basic movement using the Update method for input handling and FixedUpdate for physics calculations.
using UnityEngine; public class PlayerMovement : MonoBehaviour { public float speed = 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 * speed, rb.velocity.y); if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.Space) && isGrounded) { rb.velocity = Vector2.up * jumpForce; } } void OnCollisionEnter2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Ground")) { isGrounded = true; } } void OnCollisionExit2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Ground")) { isGrounded = false; } } }

Level Design

  1. Creating Tilesets: Use a tileset for creating the level layout. Import your tileset image and slice it using the Sprite Editor.
  2. Tilemap: Add a Tilemap and Grid to your scene. Use the Tile Palette to paint your level layout.
  3. Colliders: Ensure your tiles have appropriate colliders. You can add a Tilemap Collider2D to your Tilemap.

Enemies and Hazards

  1. Creating Enemies: Follow similar steps as the player character. Create enemy sprites, add Rigidbody2D, and Collider2D components.
  2. Enemy Behavior: Write scripts to define enemy behavior. For example, an enemy that patrols between two points.
using UnityEngine; public class EnemyPatrol : MonoBehaviour { public Transform pointA; public Transform pointB; public float speed = 2f; private Vector3 target; void Start() { target = pointB.position; } void Update() { transform.position = Vector3.MoveTowards(transform.position, target, speed * Time.deltaTime); if (transform.position == pointB.position) { target = pointA.position; } else if (transform.position == pointA.position) { target = pointB.position; } } }

Collectibles and Scoring

  1. Creating Collectibles: Create collectible items such as coins or power-ups. Add appropriate colliders and scripts to handle collection.
  2. Scoring System: Implement a scoring system to track player progress. Use a UI Text component to display the score.
using UnityEngine; using UnityEngine.UI; public class ScoreManager : MonoBehaviour { public Text scoreText; private int score = 0; void OnTriggerEnter2D(Collider2D collision) { if (collision.CompareTag("Collectible")) { score++; scoreText.text = "Score: " + score; Destroy(collision.gameObject); } } }

Camera Follow

  1. Camera Movement: Implement a script to make the camera follow the player. Attach the script to the Camera GameObject.
using UnityEngine; public class CameraFollow : MonoBehaviour { public Transform player; public float smoothing = 5f; void LateUpdate() { if (player != null) { Vector3 targetPosition = new Vector3(player.position.x, player.position.y, transform.position.z); transform.position = Vector3.Lerp(transform.position, targetPosition, smoothing * Time.deltaTime); } } }

Enhancing Your Game


  1. Animator Component: Use the Animator component to handle player and enemy animations. Create an Animator Controller and define states and transitions.
  2. Animation States: Implement states for idle, running, jumping, and other actions.

Sound and Music

  1. Adding Audio: Import audio clips for background music and sound effects. Use the AudioSource component to play sounds.
  2. Triggering Sounds: Play sounds in response to game events, such as jumping, collecting items, or enemy attacks.

User Interface

  1. Main Menu and UI: Create a main menu with UI elements such as buttons and text. Use the Canvas component for UI elements.
  2. Pause and Game Over Screens: Implement pause functionality and game over screens to enhance the user experience.

Advanced Features

  1. Power-ups: Introduce power-ups that grant the player special abilities, such as increased speed or temporary invincibility.
  2. Level Transitions: Implement smooth transitions between levels or scenes, using animations or fades.
  3. Save and Load: Add functionality to save and load game progress using PlayerPrefs or a more advanced system.

Testing and Optimization


  1. Debugging Tools: Use Unity's built-in debugging tools and the Console window to troubleshoot issues.
  2. Playtesting: Regularly playtest your game to identify and fix bugs, ensure smooth gameplay, and gather feedback.


  1. Performance: Optimize performance by reducing draw calls, optimizing physics calculations, and managing memory usage.
  2. Mobile Optimization: If targeting mobile devices, ensure your game runs smoothly on lower-spec hardware by reducing texture sizes and simplifying physics calculations.


Building Your Game

  1. Build Settings: Configure build settings for your target platform, such as Windows, macOS, or mobile.
  2. Building and Distribution: Build your game and test it on your target platform. Distribute your game through appropriate channels, such as app stores or game distribution platforms.


Developing a 2D platformer in Unity is a rewarding experience that combines creativity with technical skill. By following this guide, you’ve learned the fundamental steps to create a basic platformer. As you gain more experience, you can expand your game with more complex mechanics, polished visuals, and engaging gameplay features. Unity's robust tools and community support make it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced developers. Happy game development!