What You Need To Know About Modular Programming & How It Being Used

If you’re not quite sure what that term means, have no fear. We’ll explain it in an easy-to-digest way, and talk about the benefits it brings to your code.

Let’s get into it.

What Is Modular Programming?

You may have heard the term “modular” in reference to Unity code and are wondering what it means. The main idea of modular programming lies in separation of functionalities. In Unity, this looks like many different specialized scripts, as opposed to a few jack-of-all-trades scripts.

Say you have a GameObject that you wish to add movement capabilities to called “Player”. You want to move the Player based on keyboard input, controller input, and mouse input.

It may be tempting to create a single script that houses all three movement types called something along the lines of “PlayerMovement”, but that script will soon become tough to read as it grows in size. This approach also comes with a few cons that we’ll discuss later in the article.

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Instead, using the principles of modular programming, you can create three different scripts that each control exactly one type of movement. Names such as “PlayerMovementKeyboard”, “PlayerMovementController”, and “PlayerMovementMouse” are smart choices to easily identify what each file controls.

This is the essence of modular programming—divvying up specific individual behaviors throughout a variety of scripts.

Now that you know the basis of modular programming, why should you use it when developing your own games in Unity?

Why Is Modular Programming Important to Game Devs?

So, why is modular code necessary? There are a fair few benefits to writing modular code. Take a look at this list:

  • Organization: It’s much easier to keep track of which script affects what when each file provides only one functionality.
  • Recycle Code: If you create a script that controls enemy movement, you can apply it (with only a few tweaks) to a variety of enemies in your game.
  • Debugging: Debugging becomes a whole lot easier when you know exactly which file is causing problems.
  • Routine: Falling into a modular programming routine can save you endless time by writing clean code from the beginning.
  • Reduce Dependencies: If you have too many behaviors housed under one script, it may lead to conflicting code as you tweak other objects the initial script is dependent on.
  • Open-Source Contribution: Modular code is easy to share. If you create a player controller that another developer would love to use in their game, it’s easy to send on your end and simple to read on their end.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; the pros to writing modular code are many.

Organization and debugging are massive; the faster you can get a minimum viable product game up and running, the quicker you can begin the fun bits of game development. And if you’re aiming to snag some résumé experience, don’t overlook the importance of contributing to open-source projects.

When Shouldn’t You Focus on Modular Programming?

With all the upsides, it may seem clear that modular programming in Unity is the way to go. With that said, we do think there’s a key time when you should avoid writing modular code altogether: when you’re first starting out in game development.

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If it’s your first time writing code, or even if you have some coding experience but are just getting into Unity, we believe it’s far more important to build projects from start to finish, regardless of how neat and tidy they are.

When you’re just getting started, it’s extremely easy to fall into a tutorial trap wherein you follow tutorials step by step, only to realize when it’s time to create something of your own that you’re not even sure where to begin. Rather than focus on how modular your code is, you ought to focus on building something that you take joy in, be it from playing or simply creating it.

When you have a few beginner projects under your belt and you’ve noticed your scripts begin to overflow with functionality, it’s time to take a look at modularity.

Keep Coding and Growing in Unity

Modular programming in Unity is important to game developers for a multitude of reasons. Instilling these principles in your development workflow will undoubtedly yield noticeable results.

One of the things we love most about creating games in Unity is that there’s always something new to learn. If modular programming isn’t your thing, check out another topic in Unity Learn.

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