Interview with Matt Smith and Shaun Ferns

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Matt Smith and Shaun Ferns are the authors of Unity 2021 Cookbook, we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What are your specialist tech area(s)?

Matt: Game programming / Web programming / Interactive multimedia

Shaun: Multimedia development

Q: How did you both become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was the motivation for writing this book?

Matt: I approached Packt with the idea for a Unity game cookbook about 10 years ago …

Shaun: My co-author, Matt Smith invited me to collaborate with him on the cookbook, he has been an author of this book for several editions so it was a great honour to be invited.

Q: What kind of research did you both do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Matt: I’d found other programming cookbooks useful, and there was no existing one for Unity, so I wrote the book I wish I’d had when learning all about the different features of Unity.

Shaun: This has been a continual learning process, I have been working with and teaching using Unity for several years, though Unity continues to develop.

Q: Did you both face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Matt: No – but I’ve been writing for some years now – it’s important to make time to learn new things and write/re-write new concepts several times to get a good final sequence for the reader – it won’t be best the first time you write it …

Shaun: There have been a variety of technical challenges while developing this book, having a co-author to collaborate with has been life-saving!

Q: What’s the take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Matt: Perhaps the most challenging thing about Unity is that there are so many features and directions – it can be used for console games. mobile games, WebXR, anime, and so on – so it’s a tool for many different communities – so you will not need ALL features for a specific project -but knowing the range of features will allow you to choose how best to approach a given project

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Matt: With each new version of Unity there are new features, and some older features are changed, so there are new things to learn every year to keep the cookbook up to date

Shaun: This book explains with simple instructions how to complete fundamental elements for the development of interactive projects making full use of Unity’s features.

Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?

Matt: There are often different ways to achieve an outcome – learn about the full range of features so you can choose the methods that make achieving your goals most straightforward

Shaun: That Unity is for everyone, if you are a beginner game developer, this book will provide you with the tools to create your first game. In addition, it provides the fundamental building blocks for those who are more interested in game design, just enough technical elements to bring their creations to life!

Q. What advice would you both give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Matt: Put in the hours, and keep on trying until you get it to work

Shaun: Not to fear failure!, While learning a new technology there will be challenges, times where you follow all the instructions and it still won’t work, the key element is to ask for help and to keep trying!

Q. How would you describe your Author’s journey with Packt? Will you both recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Matt: I think for a first book, if you are confident in the quality of your writing and willing to argue why one way is better than another for your target audience, then Packt is a good place for an author

Shaun: It is a worthwhile experience and has provided a focused learning activity for me while also consolidating my knowledge in this domain. The opportunity to work collaboratively with a Co-Author, editors and technical reviewers has to provide a greater understanding of not only the technical content but also the process for developing a technical publication.

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Matt: Software engineering radio podcast from IEEE

Shaun: My primary tool for keeping up to date is Twitter where I follow a large number of game development experts.

Q. What is the one writing tip that you both found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Matt: I identified new features I wanted to include, old features to remove, and then reviewed all existing material to update anything that is now done/looks differently in 2021

Shaun: Myself and Matt divided the book up early on but both of us were supportive in the development of each other’s chapters. We met online monthly and mostly discussed processes with conversations around product happening async

You can find Matt’s and Shaun’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here

Unity 2021 Cookbook is Available on Amazon.com