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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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Creating a 2D platformer game in Unity is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. Unity provides a robust set of tools and features that make it possible to bring your creative visions to life. This guide will take you through the essential steps of developing a 2D platformer, from setting up your project to adding the final polish to your game.

Setting Up Your Unity Project

1. Install Unity and Create a New Project

First, download and install the latest version of Unity from the official Unity website. Once installed, open Unity Hub, click on the "New" button, select the "2D" template, and give your project a name.

2. Configure the Project Settings

Before diving into development, it's crucial to configure your project settings. Go to Edit > Project Settings and adjust the following:

  • Resolution and Presentation: Set the aspect ratio that fits your target platform.
  • Quality: Adjust the quality settings to optimize performance.
  • Physics 2D: Configure the gravity and other physics-related settings that will affect your game world.

3. Import Assets

Assets are the building blocks of your game. You can create your own assets or download free and paid assets from the Unity Asset Store. Import your sprites, backgrounds, sound effects, and music into the project by dragging them into the "Assets" folder in the Unity Editor.

Building the Game World

1. Creating the Environment

Start by creating the game world. This includes the ground, platforms, and any other objects your player can interact with.

  • Sprites and Tilemaps: Use the Sprite Editor to slice your sprite sheets and create individual sprites. For larger levels, consider using the Tilemap feature, which allows you to paint your level with tiles efficiently.
  • Colliders: Add 2D colliders to your platforms and objects to enable physical interactions. For static platforms, use BoxCollider2D or PolygonCollider2D.

2. Designing Levels

Designing levels is a creative process. Ensure that each level provides a balance of challenge and fun.

  • Platform Layout: Design the layout of your platforms, ensuring that they are spaced appropriately for the player to navigate.
  • Obstacles and Hazards: Introduce obstacles and hazards such as spikes, moving platforms, and enemies to increase the difficulty and excitement.
  • Checkpoints: Place checkpoints in your levels to allow players to respawn at certain points rather than starting over.

Player Character

1. Creating the Player Character

Create a player character sprite and import it into Unity. Add a Rigidbody2D and a Collider2D component to your player GameObject to enable physics interactions.

2. Player Movement

Write scripts to handle player movement. A basic player movement script might look like this:

using UnityEngine; public class PlayerMovement : 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.GetButtonDown("Jump") && isGrounded) { rb.AddForce(new Vector2(0f, jumpForce), ForceMode2D.Impulse); } } private void OnCollisionEnter2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Ground")) { isGrounded = true; } } private void OnCollisionExit2D(Collision2D collision) { if (collision.gameObject.CompareTag("Ground")) { isGrounded = false; } } }

This script allows the player to move left and right and jump when the jump button is pressed.

Enemies and Obstacles

1. Creating Enemies

Create enemy sprites and import them into Unity. Add colliders and rigidbodies to the enemy GameObjects, and write scripts to define their behavior.

2. Enemy AI

Basic enemy AI can include patrolling between points, chasing the player, and attacking. Here’s an example of a simple enemy patrol script:

using UnityEngine; public class EnemyPatrol : MonoBehaviour { public Transform pointA; public Transform pointB; public float speed = 2f; private Transform target; void Start() { target = pointB; } void Update() { transform.position = Vector2.MoveTowards(transform.position, target.position, speed * Time.deltaTime); if (transform.position == pointA.position) { target = pointB; } else if (transform.position == pointB.position) { target = pointA; } } }

This script makes the enemy move between two points.

User Interface

1. Creating UI Elements

Unity’s UI system allows you to create various user interface elements like health bars, score counters, and menus.

  • Health Bar: Use Unity’s Image component to create a health bar. Update the health bar’s fill amount based on the player’s health.
  • Score Counter: Use a Text component to display the player’s score. Update the text value as the player collects items or defeats enemies.

2. Menus and HUD

Design menus and heads-up displays (HUD) to enhance the player experience. Unity’s Canvas system is perfect for this.

  • Main Menu: Create a simple main menu with buttons to start the game, access options, and quit.
  • Pause Menu: Implement a pause menu that allows the player to resume, restart, or quit the game.

Sound and Music

1. Adding Audio

Sound effects and music are essential for an immersive game experience. Import your audio files into Unity and add AudioSource components to play sounds.

2. Triggering Sounds

Trigger sounds through scripts. For example, play a jump sound when the player jumps:

public AudioClip jumpSound; private AudioSource audioSource; void Start() { audioSource = GetComponent<AudioSource>(); } void Update() { if (Input.GetButtonDown("Jump") && isGrounded) { audioSource.PlayOneShot(jumpSound); rb.AddForce(new Vector2(0f, jumpForce), ForceMode2D.Impulse); } }

Polishing the Game

1. Particle Effects

Add particle effects for visual flair. Unity’s Particle System allows you to create effects like dust clouds when the player lands or explosions when enemies are defeated.

2. Animations

Use Unity’s Animation system to create smooth animations for your characters and objects. Create an Animator Controller to manage different animation states and transitions.

3. Camera Follow

Ensure the camera follows the player smoothly. Attach a simple camera follow script to your camera:

public Transform player; public Vector3 offset; public float smoothSpeed = 0.125f; void LateUpdate() { Vector3 desiredPosition = player.position + offset; Vector3 smoothedPosition = Vector3.Lerp(transform.position, desiredPosition, smoothSpeed); transform.position = smoothedPosition; }

This script makes the camera follow the player with a slight delay, creating a smooth motion.

Testing and Optimization

1. Testing

Regularly test your game to find and fix bugs. Playtest with others to get feedback on gameplay, difficulty, and overall enjoyment.

2. Optimization

Optimize your game for performance. Reduce the number of polygons in your sprites, optimize physics calculations, and manage memory usage.

3. Building and Deployment

Finally, build your game for your target platform. Unity supports multiple platforms, including PC, mobile, and consoles. Go to File > Build Settings, select your platform, and configure the build options. Test the build on your target device to ensure everything works as expected.


Developing a 2D platformer in Unity is a complex but rewarding process. By following this guide, you'll cover the essential steps to create a polished and enjoyable game. Remember, the key to successful game development is iteration—create, test, and refine your game continuously. Happy developing!