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2D Platformer - Is that even an achievement?


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#1 Silgen   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:09 AM

At present the most advanced game I have created is the basis for a simple 2d platformer. I have learned a lot of new skills and techniques in the process, and would regard it as a step forward. I taught myself C++ and SFML from online tutorials and forums.

I am writing my university application at the moment (I am 17, and applying for computer science), and I'm not sure if this even qualifies as enough of an achievement to mention on my personal statement. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Edited by Silgen, 10 October 2012 - 11:13 AM.


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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22693

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:24 AM

What country?

Some places --- like schools in the US --- don't really need much of a personal statement in order to get into the school. Other places require much more.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#3 Silgen   Members   -  Reputation: 178

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:54 AM

The UK - We have to write a 4000 character personal statement to supplement our grades/reference from school. We need to include evidence of our suitability for the course - commonly things we have done or read about etc. I want to mention that I have taught myself to program in C++ in my spare time, but I feel that something concrete (something that I have programmed) would be nice to mention.

Knowledge of programming is not actually a requirement to apply for computer science, only a strong mathematical background and a keen interest.

Edited by Silgen, 10 October 2012 - 11:55 AM.


#4 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 12:06 PM

I'm not an admissions officer or familiar with the UK process, but if I was looking at two identical applications and one had taken the initiative to learn on their own and found a way to apply that, I might give it the edge. Particularly if you can elaborate on what you learned from it, and how you handled the challenges.

Completing projects can be key, compared to someone that has a lot of knowledge but no drive to continue when they run into a problem.

Edited by Haps, 10 October 2012 - 12:07 PM.


#5 Goran Milovanovic   Members   -  Reputation: 1104

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 03:09 PM

2D Platformer - Is that even an achievement?


Yes.

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#6 Lightness1024   Members   -  Reputation: 739

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 03:38 PM

well I sure hope it is, because I did one as well, when I was 14 in basic, and at the time i was damn proud. still am actually, about some aspects (the editor :) ).
But don´t go do projects for a purpose that is not centered on the project itself. you make a game for the sake of the game, not for the sake of being accepted in some classes.
if they don´t deem you worthy, maybe they are not worthy of your time.
remember :
bill gates = drop out
steve jobs = drop out
Zukerberg = drop out
etc
who needs university
no lol, forget that, bad examples :)

#7 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 19326

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:50 PM

I'd say it's probably at least worth mentioning -- it shows initiative and dedication, and demonstrates an applied interest to the subject matter.

Here in Australia you don't really need a personal statement or letter of application unless you're going for a scholarship or trying to get into some private institutions -- but, when such things are required there are normally some resources available to help -- a list of points to include, examples of past essays/letters, people you can talk to, etc. If there are any such resources available to you you might benefit from finding out how much focus to put on your personal project and what else might be included.

If there are no formally available resources you might see if you can get in contact with one or more students at the university to briefly ask what they included in their successful applications.


Hope that's helpful! Posted Image

#8 Dan Mayor   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1714

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:34 AM

From my experiences as a freelance programmer which has lead into me actually starting up my own company that offers outsourcing, contracting and support work I find that THE MOST important thing to employers is that you can show portfolio value of completed material. What that material actually is happens to be of very little consequence. More so we have markets that are flooded with coders that really can't code. Potential buyers at least care to see that you can finish something and have it work the way you intended.

Although this doesn't speak much for what the college or university may require it's more realistic. Customers, employers, clients... They are the ones that put money into your pocket and the simplest way to get on their good side is to show your not all talk with any and all demo's or examples that you can show them.

On a side note, add me to the list of high school drop outs turned technology master. Although I do have college degrees to backup my work I will tell you that the true knowledge of programming, development, marketing and everything that actually makes money in this technical world comes from you doing research on your own and learning new things.

Edited by Dan Mayor, 11 October 2012 - 12:34 AM.

Digivance Game Studios Founder:

Dan Mayor - Dan@Digivance.com
 www.Digivance.com


#9 Pointer2APointer   Members   -  Reputation: 283

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 02:18 PM

You could maybe elaborate a little more in-depth about the game - maybe even show us.

I'll let you know instantly if I find the game good, average, or below average, in my opinion.

However, any decent, somewhat playable game programmed entirely by one's self is always an achievement.
Yes, this is red text.

#10 prexen   Members   -  Reputation: 121

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 11:40 PM

Imo (overly simplified) a platformer is no diferent than any other game. Is just the way you present your game that changes. More specifically, you are dealing with colision detection, you are dealing with rendering and probably some sort of AI plus a lot of other systems that in one way or another are present in any game (not including text adventures). If you stop to think about many of the games that are out today the basics for doing them is the same. The way the gameloop is structured wont change much for any real time simulation applications. (either be a platformer, an rts, a top down shooter or w.e.), of course not considering multiplayer. Even turn based games can be included here, since the "simulation" is running real time on your computer.

The point im trying to make is, you need to understand that games are structured in a similar way. (of course im focusing on the programming part of it since you said about computer science). Im leaving the whole artistic side of things away from this discussion. My 2 cents

#11 stitchs   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1309

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 04:57 AM

From my personal experience, as a successful UK Graduate, I can assure you that something like is worth writing about. The main thing I learned from my time at University was that, for the majority, the final product plays roughly 40-50% in what you should talk about for these sorts of things. The remaining comes from the ability for said demo's to convey the new skills you learned along the way.

These include, but are by no means limited to:
  • Identifying and overcoming programming hurdles; seeing there is a problem, searching books and the internet (making brief notes of references like forum posts, text passages), and applying the information from these to your own product. This is extremely important as it shows self-motivation in problem solving, two things which my lecturers instilled within us.
  • Time-management; a DEFINITE skill to demonstrate as it shows you won't be the student that lets the course, along with its numerous module assignments, get the better of them.
  • Self-motivation; I realise I have already mentioned this, but it deserves its own sub-heading. When lecturers are in the process of reading hundreds upon hundreds of statements, to determine the best students for interview/their courses, the ones that show this skill with an accompanying demo will make them go "hang-on, let's get this guy in for an interview, I would really enjoy seeing this demo that he has written about". This gives them an opportunity to see visually what you are capable of whilst also allowing them to identify your programming experience. A student that shows this is better than one with near no experience that loses motivation after they realise the introductory 'Hello World' lesson might be all they can achieve, which in turn slows the learning experience of the entire class.
  • Identifying faults; this can apply to two areas, the first being faults in the software with the second being faults in your demo-making process. Software could be linked to things such as inefficient code solutions to certain problems that could be improved upon next time. The second is identifying where in your project length you could have done things more efficiently, such as slowing down on parts with limited knowledge. This could lead to you saying "next time I will make a list of what needs to be done, I will order this list based on things I know can be completed from easiest to hardest." This gives you the opportunity to complete things you know can be done quickly and where you excel, whilst allowing more time for the things that require research. This means you don't get bogged down going "I've spent so much time researching, that I missed out on [insert easy objective here]'s 1-5 and now they haven't turned out as great.

These are only a few that you will discover along your journey, I also think it will be a little difficult what with the 4,000 character limit to be able to talk about any of them in any real detail. The best thing I can say is dedicate a paragraph to your project, saying what you achieved and how it bettered your understanding along the way. Then link it into your application in a way that shows your passion for the course/wanting to be involved in this educational experience by showing you have some of the basic skills required to be able to take on the challenge.

One thing that is different from College to University is that tutors won't chase you up if your close to missing deadlines. They won't be on your backs asking the assignment is coming along, if it's late, it will have its marking reduced/mean you might miss out on full marks and have to take a resit. Showing that you have skills pre-university is a great way of showing that you have the commitment, and that the lecturer is not wasting their time, as well as yours by accepting you.

One final thing, if in the time between submitting your statement to the point of interview that you decide to add features/improve your demo, take two versions. Take the one you had at the time of submission as well as the updated one, to show to willingness to improve on past performances, as well as printouts of your code. This is so you can guide your interviewer through the underlying mechanics as they appear on-screen. And remember to test it on as many different computers before you go, to ensure it will run successfully as there is nothing worse than realising you forgot to include a library with your exe.

I hope this helps in writing your statement and I do apologise for the novel.. :P

Regards,

Stitchs.




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