Review: Moving from Unity to Godot: An In-Depth Handbook to Godot for Unity Users by Alan Thorn

Alan Thorn is one of my favorite authors for game development, and his latest book does not disappoint. It is somewhat short (I read it in one day), and not super complex, but I don’t think that was the intent. Here Alan has produced a relatively straightforward guide on how to move from using Unity to Godot and the delivery is excellent. I would say the audience here is definitely people with Unity experience (specifically programmers using C#) who might be interested in exploring alternative engines. I have some thoughts on Godot, which I’ll share in a moment, but if you’re a Unity developer and want to give Godot a shot, I can’t imagine a better book than this.

Moving from Unity to Godot clocks in at just under 300 pages, but it is packed with images, so it’s a quicker read than you might expect. Also, the formatting on tablets was great, unlike some other coding books I’ve seen, and the images are full color. I found the explanations to be clear and to the point, and the included code samples were of high quality.

The author provides 7 chapters and covers the basics of using Godot with comparisons to the same functions in Unity. Some of the topics contained inside include downloading the IDE and setting up your environment, navigating the editor, finding nodes, exposing variables to the inspector, creating triggers, importing 2D assets, handling input, collision detection, working with lighting and baking, saving game state, and creating a first person controller. Not an exhaustive list, but quite complete for an introduction.

In terms of my opinion of Godot, I feel like it is a mixed bag. There are some things the engine does really well and some not so well at all. Specifically, getting started in Godot is easier than Unity (and much better than Unreal), but as you get further along you might notice some things can work better. For example, the light baking is not great (though this will be revamped with Godot 4.0), and the general asset pipeline for 3D art needs some work. Performance is, unfortunately, not completely there (especially on mobile) so you might have to scale back the scope a bit to have everything running smooth. Also, in terms of the out-of-box graphics and effects, I would say Godot is the weakest of the three. However, the engine is under active development, and it’s likely these issues will be resolved at some point. So if you want to get in early with an up-and-coming engine, Godot might be worth checking out. Also, if you are developing simple 2D games, Godot actually works quite nice and you might not have any problem. But for high-end PC graphics, you might be better sticking with Unity or seeing what Unreal has to offer.

Overall, though, I thought the book was great and Thorn has done a fine job. I’m still exploring which engine I want to use (or if I want to continue with my own technology) so I like to try everything out there to get a better idea of what works and what does not. Godot, I would say, is a very stable engine and the editor support on Linux is top notch (Windows and macOS are supported as well). It’s definitely worth checking out, it’s free and open-source, the editor is small and lightweight (opens in seconds), and the community is very helpful. So there are definitely things to like, and you might find it works well enough for you. And if you’re currently using Unity, this book is a great way to make the transition. 2 thumbs up.