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The search for a Unity 3D GUI system to fit my needs

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Up until now, I had not yet shown off any GUI work, and for a good reason too! The game had been using the built-in GUI that Unity 3D version 4.3 offers, which as many of you know has not been the greatest, or easiest to to use. A few months back I invested in Daikon Forge GUI for Unity 3D whilst it was on special on the asset store. This is the only third-party asset/plugin I have actually invested in and plugged into the game.

There was a small bit of a learning curve at first, but there are a bunch of tutorials over at the Daikon Forge UI site that get you going on the basics.

I used the template game menu UI that comes with the examples to get me going on my own menu UI, so much of it is heavily pillaged from the examples, however there is a lot of customisation and extra coding I have thrown in myself to customise the menu system to the way I want it. The in-game UI you see in the screenshot above is all my own work based on what I learnt from fiddling with the menu template examples. I am also in the process of slowly replacing all of the sprites in the menu UI to those of my own creation, as I don’t want to be using any example assets when the game is finally ready.

Progress visuals

Here are some screenshots of some of the menu and game UI for now. These are all very rough cut versions at the moment, so do note that there is still much more refinement to go in.

Title screen

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Main menu

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Campaign level selection screen

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Custom game selection screen

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In game UI elements for a two player local co-op game

PS if you’re wondering, player2 died before taking these screenshots 🙁

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Daikon Forge UI vs Others

In my opinion, Daikon Forge UI seems to offer the best value for money in terms of custom GUI systems for Unity. We have not yet had Unity 3D 4.5 release (which seems to be holding back a fairly impressive looking GUI system with it), so for now DF is in my opinion the best for my use case. Even after watching the Unity 4.6 GUI release videos, I actually can’t see a feature set there that beats Daikon Forge’s. I have found DF to offer some excellent built in features like property binding, various tween and animation curve options, sprite atlas options and much more. I’ll have to wait and see, but I’m skeptical of Unity 4.6’s GUI feature set scope at this moment in time.

I have already been using the handy tween and tween group features on the menu screens that slide in/out when navigating around, as well as for hover effects on select-able menu items.

Other valuable tools to fit into your game dev toolbelt

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I have been using the excellent TexturePacker from Codeandweb for all my game and UI sprite editing needs, as well as for use in editing my sprite atlases used with Daikon Forge. Daikon Forge UI offers good integration with TexturePacker – its as simple as exporting your spritesheet in TexturePacker, and using the DF UI option to import a TexturePacker spritesheet. No more than 5 clicks and you’re pretty much done. The workflow I have been using with TexturePacker has been invaluable to me when working on my menu and game UI elements – so if you are looking for a decent spritesheet editor with tons of features, I haven’t been able to find anything else that beats TexturePacker. One other very useful feature I almost forgot to mention is it’s command line utility for controlling your texture/sprite workflows – very useful when you are constantly changing and testing new graphics!

 

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