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Game Dev Schools

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The first thing I did was read the article on game dev. schools and searched the forum b/c I know how much people hate when people post about the same thing over and over again, but I couldn't find what I was looking for in any posts. I am currently beginning my senior year in high school and looking for colleges for game programming. I read the Game Dev School Guide, but im still unsure about a couple of things. First, I have already taken AP Comp. Science in school and got college credit for it, I'm not sure that Full Sail or any other Game dev. will accept it though. I am now taking Comp. Science AB, but seeing how these are all about java I am currently teaching myself C++. Should I go to a regular college first then a Game Dev school? Is one really preferred over the other? I read that alot of people quit FullSail after a semester or so b/c it wasn't what they thought it would be, but I love programming games and not just designing them. Or is just going to a Game Dev. school good also? I was recently at their website and I think they now offer a 4-year BS degree in game programming. I live in Texas and I heard the UT at Dallas has a Game Dev. department, I tried going to their website and searching the web but I couldn't find any info it, if any knows about UT at Dallas I would appreciate it. Thanx for your help.

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Overall I would highly recommend getting a traditional BSCS at a respected school in your metropolitan area. I would believe that it allows much more flexibility for landing a first job. After that, a master's program in either computer graphics or computer game development will then move you toward the specialty you're looking for.

Also, many more universities and even community colleges are beginning programs for game development. Depaul in Chicago just started a BS program in it and their MS program is starting up with the next few quarters. Digipen and Full Sail are going to have some competition, and overall I'd say that's a good thing.

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OMG, thank you. I would hjave never found that school in Dallas. thats freakin perfect b/c I was looking to go to the University of Texas at Dallas! Is this school accredit? B/c I have never heard of it before. THANX!

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As i say with alot of people, Full Sail is a good choice simply because they give you the knowledge you need specifically for game develop. Granted you can also take the degree and head over to any programming job, banks, simulation, etc. People tend to leave full sail no because they arent getting the informaion they thought, but because they cant hack it. I attend full sail and alot of the kids I see come through...expect it to be a breeze. Which its not...its 40+ hours a week balls to the wall with no room to be lazy. Which is what turns alot of people off. You need to be wildly dedicated and eyes on the prize when you go to full sail. If you want any more nfo pm me i can tell you all you need to know. Good luck with your search for the school thats right for you.

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Digipen, Full Sail, and Guildhall seem to be the bigger names out there right now. Although most lesser known places are starting to teach game design. You would have to just search a bit to find them. Here is a list to get you started.

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The biggest decision I have to make is whether to go to a regular college first then a Game Dev. specific place like FullSail or just straight into a Game Dev. school. And I do love programming and really want to be able to develop games and I'm ready to do a crap load of work and go through the long haul. A question for the people who go to FullSail: What courses are you taking and what type of work is it? Like writing programs or what? Also, how is the campus there, very "college friendly"? Thanx for all your help I really appreciate it!

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Full Sail is a lot of programming. Like Tang mentioned, its like 40 hours a week of class and labs. If you want to know the specific course selection, I think they'll send you a catalog if you ask them.
They don't really have a campus, they have a bunch of building where you go to class. You have to get your own apartment and stuff.

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For GuildHall it assumes you have advanced knowledge of C++, they do not teach you the basics, but focus purely on getting you into making games.

I'm not sure if FullSail teaches you the basics, but I know DigiPen does.

In all honesty, if I had to choose, I would go with Digipen if you aren't 110% comfortable with C++.

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Thanx for everyones info, now that I know everything about Fullsail and some on Digipen, does anyone know more on Guilhall? Like, is it as good as fullsail? ( and I understand that they assume you already know C++) Also, what degress do they give and is it a 4-year program? THANX!

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Hey,
I am a sophmore in High School Already looking at colleages and I live in Texas Also. I found some stuff on University Of North Texas. Their programing is called LARC. Here is the FAQ on it. this may help you decide.

The home site:http://larc.csci.unt.edu/


FAQ Site:http://larc.csci.unt.edu/faq.html


Chad

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Of the introductory game schools, Digipen is the most competitive to get into, and the highest placement rate of game schools.

Academically, the average applicant to Digipen is of the top-50 school caliber-- SAT average in 1994 was 1320. This puts it just above UC Berkeley, but the SATs don't say everything. The average dP student is also typically more geeky and computer-game oriented, as well as being male-- there are very few women at the 'pen.

Graduates of the 4-year program place into the games industry with more than 85% probability. Some students will leave games when they graduate and go on to work software development at places like Microsoft. Other graduates continue to graduate school in computer science at NYU and others.

Digipen is *not* a Nintendo school, but it was put together by Nintendo people. Student projects are made for the PC, although they have the option of making console games in the more senior years. That being said, this year, more than 10 graduates were picked up by Nintendo before they graduated. Some of those have left NST for jobs at Valve (HalfLife) and Arena.Net (Guildwars).

The workload at Digipen is extreme. 60-hour weeks are often required to pass, and it goes on for four years. Every year, dP students place in both the student *and* professional catagories with their games at the IGF. If you can make it at Digipen, you will know if you can (or want to) make it in the industry.

There are less than 5% women in the RTIS (programming) degree program. You're not going to get the social excercise with the opposite sex that most people experience in college. The school does not have a nice gym facility. It does not have much asthetic qualities, nor many of the amenities that other schools offer.

You should try visiting the campuses. Digipen's austere look and hollow-looking students should scare you off if you can be. Fullsail looks quite nice with neon lights and well-designed areas. More important than the look are the students. When you're visiting, talk to the students. Ask them about the program and about the graduates. Get some email addresses and ask them frank questions.

You're about to make a life decision here, and you should consider all factors before you decide-- do not do this on a whim.

If you have any doubt about being a game programmer, do NOT go to a game school. You can go from Digipen to general coding, but you cannot switch to anthropology, english, psychology, or any of a large number of fields that a standard university offers.

I wish you the best of luck!

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Wow, Digipen has a more extreme workload than Fullsail, Dam! Ok, now i know alot about Fullsail and alot about Digipen, but still not alot about Guildhall. I went to their website and sent for an info packet and everything, but does anyone know anything about it?

Also, programming is my passion. I relly love game prgramming but just programming in general is my true love......and english my true hate :)

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Go for the regular 4 year CS degree. It'll give you broader job options in case you find something else that interests you. You can teach yourself game programming on the side, and apply what you learn at college to your game programming. You can't beat that.

When you're done with college, if you still want to go to a game development school, you will already have a strong foothold in programming so you won't have to waste time learning the basics of programming and learn how to program games.

Just my opinion.

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To the AP:
I am interested in knowing who you are? I graduated from DigiPen recently and am the only one going to NYU (or anywhere outside of DigiPen itself, afaik) for graduate school. Since you mentioned NYU specifically, we must know eachother... So who are you? ;)

To add something to the actual discussion:
When I last checked the website for the Guildhall, they wanted you to register to get any kind of information on their classes, et cetera. I don't know if they've changed that policy, but it was kind of annoying.

I will second the AP's assertion that DigiPen is pretty tough. They have a lot of courses that turn people off because they don't think they are game development related (and certainly are not game DESIGN related) -- the early graphics courses in particular, because they focus on writing software 3D engines, and everybody always says "I'll just use DirectX/OpenGL!" But those courses are very useful, probably some of the most useful I ever took at DigiPen.

Just last week I was at a job interview where the interviewer expressed interest in my ability to write a software 3D engine, because they needed to do some simple 3D stuff but couldn't afford to require their customer base to have any kind of modern graphics hardware at all (casual games market). SO you never know.

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I am working towards a MSc in computer science. My concentration and research will be in the field of real-time non-photorealistic rendering.

I forgot, before, to weigh in with my opinion on regular-vs-game computer science programs. I think, personally, that a "regular" CS degree is better as an undergraduate degree. If nothing else you should start there and transfer to someplace like Full Sail or DigiPen (which is what I did; I started college at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I think that kind of focus at the undergraduate level might be limiting and is better suited to graduate work.

I don't know too much about the graduate programs available in game development -- I know Penn has one that I looked at, and so does Carnegie-Mellon. But I'm not sure how technical those programs are (e.g., computer science verus 3D modelling, et cetera). Might be worth looking into. I know I felt DigiPen's master's program was "more of the same," but then again, it is a fledgling program so maybe it will evolve by the time you are ready to go there.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Hey Josh-- they do have a TAship or RAship for you, right? I would usually recomment applying in the PhD program (so long as you can get the MS on the way) because they're more likely to give you better money deals.

There was a 2001? grad who did game dev for a while and since has gone on to grad school. The other in 2004 that wanted to go to grad school got accepted and then the game company that he was working at kept raising their offer until it was enough to convince him *not* to go.

Going to a 'standard' college for year or two (as in your case with Drexel) is a fine move; it does allow you to change your mind on majors.

To your point, skittleo, you're absolutely right. Everyone could do a fine job in preparing for game development by:
1) going to a good school and getting a CS degree.
2) creating and completing impressive game projects.

Most schools are set up to make you complete (1) but not necessarily (2). Heck, if you were really self-motivated, you wouldn't even need to go to school-- just get the right textbooks, study, and teach yourself. Unfortunately, most of us have to be 'lead' along with a cadre of cohorts through the material.

Where Digipen does well is by forcing (2) to happen. Not only are you forced to take the standard CS courses, but also you are forced to make interesting and impressive games. You have teammates who work with you on it, and will not give up on the project (if they want to pass the class). Without that structure, it is exceedingly difficult, but not impossible, to create a team game project.

So, Skittleo, the students are indeed the most important part of Digipen. Even after graduation, knowing other members of the game community (previous Digipenners) proves invaluable in getting jobs.

Take Snowblind Studios in Bellevue (a few miles from campus, like 60 other game companies)-- they hired a guy as an intern a few months before he graduated. Four months later, they're getting him to bring in his friends from the 'Pen.

In any case, best of luck out there!


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