Hi, everyone, and thanks for joining us! In this Learner Success Story interview, we’ll be speaking with Sune Sorgenfrei, an IT professional exploring educational games.
It’s great to speak with you, Sune! To start things off, we first want to ask what got you into programming and IT?
Many years ago when C# was not even “invented”, I needed to use a computer for another field of study I had started. I quickly found that the computer and everything related to it was more interesting to me than the education I had chosen. Therefore, I changed horses and started to get an education in IT and programming in Java, which was the language of choice back then.
Although you’ve been working in IT for a while, you haven’t done programming for a number of years. What inspired you to jump back into it and learn Unity?
As I have been working in different IT-related jobs for over 20 years now, the first 10 years were all developer/programmer-related positions – both in Java and C#. I have also even programmed ERP systems and the like in between jobs. I started to transition into management positions after this, but my interest in programming has never disappeared.
I had promised my son to create a math game for him. Therefore, when I was made aware of the Unity platform and that it was using C# as its main programming language, things fell into place and I started to learn the platform in my spare time. That way, I would be able to keep my promise. Now, both my son and daughter are playing the “game”.
Given your previous work, how has it changed the experience of learning programming compared to when you first learned it?
The big benefit I think there is in knowing a programming language before coming to a platform/framework like Unity is that you can concentrate on learning the tool (aka. Unity) and its capabilities, instead of needing to learn a “language” on top of that.
Game programming is a big field and there are many things to learn, so in my experience, the learning curve is faster and shallower by being able to concentrate on the platform and the game design-related learnings. Also, being very experienced in using Visual Studio, GitHub, and these tools has helped the learning curve tremendously.
You’ve already gotten your first educational game project up and running as a preview. Could you tell us a bit about this project and your experience making it?
Yes, I have created a game called MathNinja which, from a usability standpoint, is probably more of an app than a game. But, as mentioned before, I had promised my son to create a game for him, and, therefore, I started this project. It is an educational game where the idea is that you earn belts and medals by solving math problems in the four main calculation methods. I have found that, at least in my experience, creating apps in Unity is a little bit clumsy.
You’ve also got another educational game well on the way, so what can you tell us about that one?
I have, in the meantime, another almost finished project that is also a math game – but is a real game and not an app-like experience.
I think that there was a learning curve, especially in the first game, as Unity’s primary force is not creating apps. Therefore, it was quite the learning experience, and I needed to cut some corners.
When I got to the next project, the real game, things flowed much better and were easier because of the experience I got through the first “game”. Also, having access to a learning site like Zenva’s and others did speed up the process exponentially.
We’re glad that the courses at Zenva have helped you reach this point. What would you say drew you to our courses in particular?
I have been a member of other game development related sites, and, in my opinion, Zenva’s strength is both the way the courses have been created, as they are easily understood and divided in a good way, and also (and especially) the number of courses covering almost everything you could wish for in regards to Unity.
In my mind, as an aspiring or intermediate game developer learning Unity, and maybe even C#, you have everything you need at your fingertips in an easily accessible way. You can find what you need if you have a specific problem, but you can also follow along with the courses for a more thorough understanding of all the different elements going into game development in Unity.
Furthermore, I think there is inspiration for many games in the courses. If you do not just copy code from the videos and courses, but take a little time on what you have learned, game development courses like Zenva’s can, in my experience, speed up the process of learning game development exponentially and make you a quite capable game developer in a short time.
It’s been wonderful talking with you, Sune, and we’d like to end this with just one last question. What advice do you have for others out there wanting to learn to code or use Unity?
I would suggest finding a good course on learning the fundamental syntax and understanding of C# before starting Unity. When a basic understanding has been built, I would then include Unity into the learning, as the way the scripts are used in Unity structurally doesn’t really mirror anything that you would learn in a “normal” C# course. But, the syntax and coding rules are the same.
There are some rules and “givens” in Unity’s way of using C# scripts that I think are easier to understand and work with if you have a basic understanding of programming when you start out.
A big thanks to Sune for having this chat with us, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of Sune’s game projects in the future!
Want more info on Sune’s games or tips? Check out Sune’s website eurekagamestudio.com.
You can also try out MathNinja right now by heading over to the Google Play store.