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5. April 2016

 

Officially announced at GDC 2016, Unity has begun a certification program.  In a nutshell, it’s a way to prove to employers and prospective employers that you do in fact know what you are talking about when you say you “know Unity”.  This is a very common practice in the world of IT, especially if you come from a corporate background.

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But... is it useful? 

 

Frankly, that depends.  Mostly it depends if the certification actually means anything, if the certification process is actually vetted, the material certified is sufficiently challenging without being arbitrarily obtuse or impractical in the real world.  Basically, the certification is valuable if people value it.  In the corporate world, sometimes a certification was sufficient to get you hired in a given field, while other certifications literally aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

 

Yeah, that sounds like a complete cop out answer, but it’s also true.  Certifications that are purchased or that can be found as a prize in the bottom of a box of cracker jacks mean absolutely nothing.  On the other hand, certifications are also often used as a cash cow for organizations and for profit colleges to milk the unaware.  Certification and training are very often not the same thing, a point many are confused by.  In the end, the Unity certification value will ultimately be decided by the community.  If it’s respected and used as a hiring benchmark, it will certainly be worth getting.  If it is not, it wont be.  Again, I know that sounds like a cop out answer, but it’s the way these things work.

 

Anyways, that’s talking about IT certifications in general, what about this new Unity one?  Well first off, they have courseware coming soon.  This represents training materials aimed at getting you ready for the certification process.  Generally video tutorials, printed materials, project files and a course syllabus to prepare you to take the certification.  Generally these kinds of things assume you have tertiary knowledge ( ie, C# skills, game programming concepts ) but otherwise start from ground zero and then train you to the point you would be able to pass certification.  In the case of Unity, they describe the courseware as:

Whether you are preparing for certification or simply want to increase your proficiency with Unity, the Unity Certified Developer Courseware provides a structured learning path that starts at square one and leads you through the process of making a working game.

  • Includes 14 hours (~2 days) of instructional videos, developed by Unity Technologies.
  • Teaches key concepts in both coding and game design – develop an end-to-end understanding of game creation with Unity.
  • Focuses on best practices – learn the best and most efficient methods for building a game with Unity.
  • Includes game project files – follow along and learn hands-on through the direct application of skills.
  • Covers 20 topic areas specifically geared toward preparation for Unity Certified Developer Exam.
  • Available in 1, 3, and 6-month Access Passes – learn at your own pace and on your own schedule.

14 hours certainly doesn’t sound like sufficient instruction to go extremely in-depth, especially for a program that “start at square one”.  How much does all of this cost?  No idea.  That’s obviously going to be a pretty big decision point in the end.  The cost for this kind of material can vary massively, from the cost of a book or two, to a couple of grand.

 

Alright, back to the certification process itself.  They are held at major Unity conferences as well as events around the world.  You can locate your closest location using this tool.  In my particular case, I’d need to travel 2-4 hours to find a test.  Somewhat odd that Ottawa has an event but not Toronto, but anyways...

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And the price of the test you say?  I imagine that it varies from location to location, but in my case the Montreal event is shown below:

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Finally you may be asking yourself, what exactly are you going to be tested on?  Well the objectives of the examine are summarized in this PDF.  Looking through the overview to be honest, the exam looks like the kind of thing someone with any game programming experience could breeze through with an hour or two of brush up time with Unity, while someone who has no prior game programming experience has no hope in hell of gleaming this much experience in 14 hours of training.  I also have to say... a few of these topics are a bit...  unexpected.  For example:

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These are topics that have almost NOTHING to do with Unity, are going to be tangental at best to a programmer and downright yawn inducing for an artist.

 

On the other hand, I sound overly negative of this course and I shouldn’t be.  Certifying a minimum level of ability in an industry that is so accessible to amateurs is a noble effort and if done right has some value.  If it is ultimately going to be worth while will in the end be determined by the community.

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