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Videogame Uni Courses/degrees

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That's like saying 'I'm assuming you already know how to use a pencil, congratulations you can draw'. The technique in designing a game isn't using a word processor, anyone can do that, it's what you do with that word processor. Just like the technique in art isn't the use of a pencil or paintbrush, anyone can use that, it's what you do with it that's taught.

An artist may be able to draw with a pencil but that doesn't mean they can use Maya or 3D Studio Max, this is where the University course comes in to train the artist to use their existing talent in a new medium.

Game design will also come down to a person's existing creativity and technical knowledge of the process of games development (something best learnt by being part of a game's development team for a few years).

A short course maybe teaching the content and structure of a technical document is probably worthwhile however I really can't see that required any more than one months training, assuming of course you can use Word in the first place. :blink: In my opinion there is no way in hell that this should be dragged out for 3 or 4 years for a degree. To me it seems more like the Univeristies that run such courses are cashing in on people's unrealistic dreams of immediately starting work as a "Games Designer" rather than providing valuable training for the work place.

You think they teach you how to write properly with a pen in english classes?

Yes, of course they do or you wouldn't be able to use one. I remember way back in school when learning to write being taught how to hold a pen and to use it to form characters and things surely you did that too?

Anyway it appears we have a difference of opinion, wonderful isn't it I'm assuming you're on one of the games design courses?

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Hey! I too am from Handle and Jawad's legendary Abertay Game Tech Graduates 04, Hooooo!

I think a games course such as Abertay's is a great introduction to the industry, you get what you give and will come out with a portfolio.

Will it help you get a job? I asked Peter Molyneux what industry people thought of courses like ours (I should point out Abertay was the first and only one I knew of when I was applying, apparently there are 72 such courses throughout the UK now) and he said that because they were so new no one was really aware of what level people from the courses were at. Getting a job is really about the portfolio and the passion I guess.

And here you all are. Molyneux's bitches. Some SERIOUS shit went down THAT night, hooo boy!

Molyneux%20Masterclass.jpg

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Yes, of course they do or you wouldn't be able to use one. I remember way back in school when learning to write being taught how to hold a pen and to use it to form characters and things surely you did that too?

Anyway it appears we have a difference of opinion, wonderful isn't it I'm assuming you're on one of the games design courses?

You assume wrong.

I just believe game design courses are just as relevant to game design as english classes are to writing books. Sure, you can write a book without taking an english degree, just like you can write music without knowing any music theory, but it helps to have a good critical understanding of the medium.

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And here you all are. Molyneux's bitches. Some SERIOUS shit went down THAT night, hooo boy!

Molyneux%20Masterclass.jpg

And two of us in that photo now work at Lionhead, not including Peter.

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I'm not sure you can validate that argument unless you've been through both courses.

And isn't teeside stabcentral? after croydon of course.

To be fair, Dundee is a great place to live because it's one of the few places in the uk where you can get away with living on a student's budget, ie you have more money than the locals.

Well, clearly I've not been on both courses, but I've heard quite a few people complaining about the Abertay courses, and meanwhile Teesside's are improving all the time. Next year, Teesside will have four seperate courses for games - Games Programming, Games Science, Games Art, and Games Design. Which makes the games design course (as far as I know) the first course in the UK with the intention of specifically teaching full-blown game design (though I'd admit it's not quite there yet).

And I would say that while Middlesbrough is indeed a shit hole, it would only be fractionally worse than Dundee. And as for your comment about having more money than the locals in Dundee - you DO know that Middlesbrough have the lowest house prices in the entire country, yeah?

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Will be interesting to see what the game design course covers - it's such a broad subject. Who will they get to teach design? I guess the perfect world would be actual game designers coming in to do classes. One to keep an eye on.

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Guest JamesLee

I'm at Teesside doing games prog, and I do believe this is probably the best place to be on this course in the UK.

The lecturers and the uni in general are very keyed in with the industry and have designed their courses around what the developers want. Apparently they interviewed a whole bunch of developers and got an idea of what they thought was most important. Course looks great to me anyway.

Shame middlesbrough is the fucking pits, like. And my neighbours are noisy cunts. <_<

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I'm at Teesside doing games prog, and I do believe this is probably the best place to be on this course in the UK.

The lecturers and the uni in general are very keyed in with the industry and have designed their courses around what the developers want. Apparently they interviewed a whole bunch of developers and got an idea of what they thought was most important. Course looks great to me anyway.

Shame middlesbrough is the fucking pits, like. And my neighbours are noisy cunts. :)

The course at Abertay was designed in the same way - some of the lecturers are ex-industry. There's also a load of games companies in the Dundee area so there are guest lectures from these people as well.

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Guest JamesLee

<_<

Sounds like teesside and abertay or very similar, then. What are the devs around dundee and where are they based exactly? Come graduation when I'm looking for a job, scotland would be a nice place to live again :unsure:

I only know of reflections as the nearest dev to borough, though I've heard there are more.

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<_<

Sounds like teesside and abertay or very similar, then. What are the devs around dundee and where are they based exactly? Come graduation when I'm looking for a job, scotland would be a nice place to live again :unsure:

I only know of reflections as the nearest dev to borough, though I've heard there are more.

Devs in Dundee include Real Time Worlds, Visual Sciences, Vis & Denki though theres a few more. Further afield theres also Rockstar North in Edinburgh and I believe Vis have another studio further North somewhere.

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;)

Sounds like teesside and abertay or very similar, then. What are the devs around dundee and where are they based exactly? Come graduation when I'm looking for a job, scotland would be a nice place to live again :lol:

I only know of reflections as the nearest dev to borough, though I've heard there are more.

"Atmoic Planet" is actually in middlesbrough

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Well I'm doing an MA in Computer Games Studies over at Northumbria in Newcastle. Some may laugh but who here can truly explain our pastime without being derided by those who remain ignorant, even by those who partake in the activity?

Toops

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Well I actually found most people think it's cool, or just don't understand it. In fact when you say you want to be in games, a lot of older folk say to you "Ah, going for the big money eh?".

Little do they realise the money is rarely in development...

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Just a heads up that there's an article about Games degrees in this months Games TM (Zelda Minnish Cap issue) which you may find useful or informative.

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The course at Abertay was designed in the same way - some of the lecturers are ex-industry. There's also a load of games companies in the Dundee area so there are guest lectures from these people as well.

Hhhmmm, I did that four year games tech degree at Abertay too.

When you say ‘some are lecturers as ex-industry’ I assume you mean Al Huston, who quit.

Also, there is Kenny McAlpine, who did some outsourced sound work for a games company once.

And finally there is Matt Bett, who I have heard is currently teaching ‘games design’. I worked with Matt at Vis for 6 months before we both lost our jobs (we were on temp contracts). He now lectures after a massive 6 months experience!

Wozers, ex-industry indeed.

I can tell you I met nice people there and I learnt to program. It covered computer graphics and some maths (although most of the maths lectures were a joke, apart from Kenny’s actually) I met a lot of peeps who are now in the industry. (I won’t drop any names because I’m not trying to have a pissing contest)

It is not some quick way into the industry. Write yourself a good tech demo using all the new shader stuff and I’m sure you can land yourself a job.

Taking a degree is more about learning to ‘learn’ by yourself. Doing your own research and standing on your own two feet. Any degree can offer this….

I am currently a games designer working at a big uk company. I do think that me learning to program helps in a big way when designing because I can better understand the limits of the technology and also detect when a programmer is lying to me 

If you want to learn about design, read this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0...8410110-3183651

MIT games design book which is pretty exhaustive and a tough read, but if anyone is really interested it gives a real fundamental understanding of what makes good design. It doesn’t patronise by showing you how to design an uncluttered interface or great audio effects, all that shite that most design books cover. It cuts right to the bones of what defines a game and how we play them.

That’s my two cense.

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I can tell you I met nice people there and I learnt to program. It covered computer graphics and some maths (although most of the maths lectures were a joke, apart from Kenny’s actually) I met a lot of peeps who are now in the industry. (I won’t drop any names because I’m not trying to have a pissing contest)

It is not some quick way into the industry. Write yourself a good tech demo using all the new shader stuff and I’m sure you can land yourself a job.

Taking a degree is more about learning to ‘learn’ by yourself. Doing your own research and standing on your own two feet. Any degree can offer this….

Agree with most of what you said though I'm not sure what you mean by the maths lectures being a joke. Easy? Cos I don't think they were. Badly taught? Debatable, Allan Grady could put anyone to sleep but Richard Paris was fairly good, if scary.

As to your comment about degree's merely teaching you to learn, I would still put more value in the games courses than standard comp sci if you're going specifically for games. It's just more likely that by the end of it you'll have some good demo's etc. that have come through the course rather than stuff you've done in your spare time. If you truly know nothing about games then you would have to learn about what goes into making them on top of whatever you're learning at uni. But yeah, it ain't some quick way into the industry, it's as hard work as any degree and if you don't pass it you're not gonna get much attention...

Also, is making a good tech demo really all you need to land yourself a job? As has been mentioned here a few times, it would seem that companies are more interested in seeing a fully fledged game of some sort, rather than just a shiny thing that doesn't really do anything. But what do I know, I haven't got a job yet - fingers crossed very hard for one at Criterion right now though.

Just out of interest, what class were you in? I was in the class of 2004, along with Handle & everyone, guessing you were in an earlier year?

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Yeah, I was in the first year thorugh and graduated in 2002.

OK, I was a bit reactionary to the whole 'Abertay is best forum posting earlier'. The course taught me a lot about games, especially from a technical point of view.

Also, I'd agreee with you that it is very hard to get into the industry and it seems to be who you know, not what you know most of the time.

I have not much of an idea how technical demos stand when employing programmers, especially considering I'm a designer, so I'm guessing when I say they are useful. Although I have seen our lead try out a few demos etc.

Good luck with you're application. :P

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Hhhmmm, I did that four year games tech degree at Abertay too.

I did the MSc there - I wouldn't touch the 4 year degree from what I've seen & what I've heard from peple that did it.

I am currently a games designer working at a big uk company.

who you working for?

Taking a degree is more about learning to ‘learn’ by yourself. Doing your own research and standing on your own two feet. Any degree can offer this….

exactly - using any course just as it comes is stupid - use the/any opportunity you're given to build yourself a good portfolio.

'Abertay is best forum posting earlier'

if that's a reference to what me, that's not what I was saying - I was just pointing out that Abertay had links to industry, like the others being touted around here.

As to your comment about degree's merely teaching you to learn, I would still put more value in the games courses than standard comp sci if you're going specifically for games

that's debatable as well, most people who come through standard comp sci courses have a wider knowledge base than those from a games degree - but again this is only from personal experience.

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I did the MSc there - I wouldn't touch the 4 year degree from what I've seen & what I've heard from peple that did it.

O.o

that's debatable as well, most people who come through standard comp sci courses have a wider knowledge base than those from a games degree - but again this is only from personal experience.

Wider knowledge base, perhaps but is that necessarily better if you're likely to spread yourself more thinly? I'd rather we never learned Java as well :D I did say it was valuable if you are aiming specifically at games, because you learn the stuff important to games to a very good standard. At that Criterion interview, I was chatting with people who'd done CS degrees and they thought that the C stuff in Criterions test was really hard as they'd mostly done C++. And this was stuff that you'd probably still make use of when writing C++ code, it wasn't some old archaic ways of doing things to my mind.

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O.o

Most people I talked to there didn't have a very good opinion of the course.

Wider knowledge base, perhaps but is that necessarily better if you're likely to spread yourself more thinly?

not really no - I did my BSc at Glasogw, you can specialise to an extent, but it's always better to have a broader knowledge base to draw upon, to see how all the pieces fit together.

One thing I was really surprised about with the undergrad course is they don't teach a networks course.

I'd rather we never learned Java as well

why? Just out of interest.

I did notice a few undergrads at Abertay deciding they didn't need to know things... which did confuse me slightly.

Anyway a heads up for anyone that is applying to Sony - they do test your Java skills as well as C++.

I did say it was valuable if you are aiming specifically at games, because you learn the stuff important to games to a very good standard.

do you though? What do are the modules for the undergrad course - I've an idea what they teach in 4th year, but not the earlier years.

At that Criterion interview, I was chatting with people who'd done CS degrees and they thought that the C stuff in Criterions test was really hard as they'd mostly done C++. And this was stuff that you'd probably still make use of when writing C++ code, it wasn't some old archaic ways of doing things to my mind.

Which means what? They were crap at C - that's a failing on their computing education or self-learning at some point. It doesn't mean that Abertay's course was better because you did C, most undergrad courses do C.

The thing is, as I've mentioned before in this thread, that games specific courses are still largely an unknown within the industry that's hiring the graduates. One problem I can see with games courses it they are designed around what the industry says it wants - which will be completely different 4, 5 years down the line. Maybe the larger UK companies ought to setup their own training/uni facilities like the large Japanese companies have.

Really when it comes down to it, it's your skills more that where you got your education that matters.

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One thing I was really surprised about with the undergrad course is they don't teach a networks course.

Hold on to your bag man, the Honours course had 2 networking modules (WinSock and Java).

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Most people I talked to there didn't have a very good opinion of the course.

What year did you actually do your MSc? I ask because I'll be the first to admit that Abertay's CGT course wasn't great to start off with, I'll put it down to teething problems with it being a new course. Our first few years had their problems (2000/2001 & 2001/2002) but the course involved on a yearly basis and was really very good from third year on. Sharing labs with some of the younger years also highlighted a vast improvement in the course's structure, you could see that their tuition had vastly improved and the quality of their output had really increased.

I also noticed from sharing labs with MSc students that they currently seem to do a variation on the 3rd year of the BSc course.

One thing I was really surprised about with the undergrad course is they don't teach a networks course.

They teach network programming as part of the sylabus now

not really no - I did my BSc at Glasogw, you can specialise to an extent, but it's always better to have a broader knowledge base to draw upon, to see how all the pieces fit together.

Not quite sure of your logic behind that, everyone I've spoken to and asked for advice from who work in 'the industry' have told me that it is best to specialise in one field. The days of one or two programmers knocking out a game are long gone and there's not really any chance that at a large modern day developer you'll be coding most of the game by yourself. Sure you'll need an understanding of how the whole comes together but different components that make up games are now such large fields in their own right that if you try to generalise in everything you'll barly scratch the surface of what is possible in any of them.

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Hold on to your bag man, the Honours course had 2 networking modules (WinSock and Java).

fair enough - we were told that it wasn't taught. Did you do theory stuff to go with it?

What year did you actually do your MSc? I ask because I'll be the first to admit that Abertay's CGT course wasn't great to start off with, I'll put it down to teething problems with it being a new course. Our first few years had their problems (2000/2001 & 2001/2002) but the course involved on a yearly basis and was really very good from third year on. Sharing labs with some of the younger years also highlighted a vast improvement in the course's structure, you could see that their tuition had vastly improved and the quality of their output had really increased.

I also noticed from sharing labs with MSc students that they currently seem to do a variation on the 3rd year of the BSc course.

me - I'm a 2004 grad as well

Not quite sure of your logic behind that, everyone I've spoken to and asked for advice from who work in 'the industry' have told me that it is best to specialise in one field. The days of one or two programmers knocking out a game are long gone and there's not really any chance that at a large modern day developer you'll be coding most of the game by yourself. Sure you'll need an understanding of how the whole comes together but different components that make up games are now such large fields in their own right that if you try to generalise in everything you'll barly scratch the surface of what is possible in any of them.

you can specialise in a normal comp sci course - it really depends where you work. Some places put you in one roll, others look for people to be as flexible as possible - eg I work at Lionhead where we look for games coders to be as flexible as possible.

I also noticed from sharing labs with MSc students that they currently seem to do a variation on the 3rd year of the BSc course.

The MSc was an odd combination - the part I think I got most out of was the project, we aquired a copy of Renderware & wrote it using that.

Also they don't need to take time to teach us standard comp sci stuff.

Really, again, I would say it's more what you do around your course, what demos you have etc then where you specifically did your course that counts. Eg I think experience like Dare to be Digital was more 'attention grabbing' than the MSc to potential employers.

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Most people I talked to there didn't have a very good opinion of the course.

Students like to moan. Some people from our year even talked about suing the Uni at one point, despite the fact that they never turned up to lectures. It's just one of those things that will always get a lot of flak but having finished it you can look back and see that it wasn't perfect but it wasn't a pile of shit either.

why?  Just out of interest.

I did notice a few undergrads at Abertay deciding they didn't need to know things... which did confuse me slightly.

Anyway a heads up for anyone that is applying to Sony - they do test your Java skills as well as C++.

Why do Sony test your Java skills? I don't understand why they would want you to use it in practice, unless you got put on web/phone games or something.

I just personally didn't like Java, it seemed like a more anal C++. Plus, we only had two modules of it, neither using it in relation to games at all and we never needed it outside of those two modules so it kinda made it look a bit pointless. It also felt like such a huge step back as we were starting to learn it in third year.

Which means what?  They were crap at C - that's a failing on their computing education or self-learning at some point.  It doesn't mean that Abertay's course was better because you did C, most undergrad courses do C.

A little unfair to just say they were crap at C, well maybe they were but if their uni told them it was old, outdated and not much use anymore then you can't really blame them for not learning it. One guy was from Kings, London, somewhere I'd have thought the standard of teaching was pretty good but their course must have to be general enough to be helpful to the average student, whatever they believe they might want to do as a job at the end of it.

Really when it comes down to it, it's your skills more that where you got your education that matters.

I'm not in any way saying that people will go <posh voice>"Ah ha ha, you did CGT at Abertay, veeery nice"</posh voice> because I don't think that would ever happen. I'm just saying that a CGT course might be a good way to get those skills. Heck, you can do it on your own at home but I dunno whether you'd manage it in 3-4 years.

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