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Game Dev School : Full Sail

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I recently came across a thread on this site about this school. I tried to reply there but couldn't as it was closed, and I couldn't find any other recent information. I am currently a student at Full Sail and just wanted to clear a few misconceptions that people have about it. When I first heard about this school, I started doing research and kept coming across all these articles that bash on it and talk about how people should just get a CS degree instead. I chose to go anyway, and I dont regret it the slightest bit. The bottom line is this. If you're sure you want to make video games, its more then worthwhile to come here. Before you decide to go make sure of the following. 1. Make sure you like programming, because you'll be doing a lot of it. 2. If you hate math, and just suck at it, reconsider going into the video game industry as a developer, perhaps you're better off doing computer animation or something else like that. 3. Make sure you don't care about meeting girls in school, because at any given time there are like 3-5 of them in the game development program at Full Sail. 4. Make sure you you're in school to goto school and not to party and get drunk / do drugs, or hang out with your buddies. You do get free time, and you will have a life, but Full Sail is demanding as you're getting a 4 year degree in 21 months. 5. If you want your lectures regurgitated to you out of a text book, go to a traditional college. Full Sail's lectures typically complement the reading, so if you didn't do it last night because you got lazy, you'll fail, because chances are, you have a test on it first thing in the very next lecture. 6. If you want to learn about things without a focus on video games, goto a traditional college. Full Sail has plenty of gen ed courses but they mostly focus on games. 7. Make sure you can work in a team, because if you can't work with other people, you'll not only fail in this school, you'll fail in this industry. The people who drop from this school fall into the above categories. This school is for those who want to learn and get in the industry as quick as possible. I've seen the people who drop from the school and the people who don't. There is a very clear difference between them. That difference is, the people who drop simply dont want their degree bad enough to work harder for it. Here are some facts that keep getting twisted. 1. You can get a Bachelors degree from Full Sail in 21 months. 2. There is an entrance exam, its all math. If you fail, you simply have to take two prerequisite classes. Pre-Calc and Pre-Programming. 3. There are general education classes. You're still going to take English Calculus Physics Psychology Historical Archetypes and Mythology Public Speaking Media and Society Behavioral Science The difference in Full Sail is that nearly every single one of these classes is taught from a game industry angle. For example, in english class, we had to create a tech document which covered every single last detail in a game that we had to design based on some toys that we randomly picked out of a brown paper bag. We had to create, deep levels, characters, a backstory and much more. We studied the structures of story telling through the gaming medium, etc... Its definitely different from your typical english class. In psych we studied freud, jung, watson, about behaviorism, etc.. we got the whole traditional college shpiel, but once again, with a spin. We had to create and document characters, and apply personality disorders to them. We had to do in a such a way so that the character can be believable. We also had to assign an Myerrs Briggs indicator archetype to each character. Additionally, we studied how to create different moods through sound and color, and how to make our characters look like their showing emotion.. etc.. A lot of different stuff that you wouldn't get out of a typical psych class. I could go on and on about these gen ed classes but we would be here all day. The point I am trying to make is that they are still, and you are still getting that education. Not only are you getting that education, but you're learning how it applies to what you're going to be doing. Here is the actual course list in chronological order. I keep seeing these pop up but none of them has been accurate. It's amazing how much people leave out when they're bashing on this school. Behavioral Science Pre Calculus Principles of Programming English Composition (G) Calculus and Trigonometry (Gen) Programming I Programming II Linear Algebra (Gen) Programming III Physics (Gen) Ethics and Psychology (Gen) Data Structures Windows Programming I Historical Archetypes and Mythology Windows Programming II 3D Content Creation Software Architecture DirectX Media and Society Structure of Game Design Structure of Game Production Rules of the Game OpenGL Machine Architecture I Machine Architecture II* Optimization Artificial Intelligence Game Networking Engine Development I Engine Development II Advanced Tools Programming Game Preproduction Public Speaking (G) Communications Asset Production Game Project As far as finding a job, I doubt it makes much of a difference which school you're coming from. It all depends on how good you are at what you do, and whether you're likeable. You can be the best programmer in the world, if you can't work on a team, and you just suck at working with people, you're not going to do well. Actually, the passion and people skills are probably more important then the technical ability. I saw somebody post a whole bunch of comments about people not hiring Full Sail grads, and its basically like this. There are a ton of bad students from every school. I doubt Full Sail stands out in that arena. I can tell you from exerience at Full Sail, that if somebody graduates and they can't get past a phone interview, it has very little to do with the school. Its the student ..

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This isn't meant to "bash" fullsail.

I think the argument between getting a CS degree and going to fullsail is that sometimes its difficult to find a job in the Game Development area of computers, and If you have a CS degree it would be easier to get in at other companies to make regular software. IMO a game degree wont get you anywhere if your stuck in that situation and you try to apply at other software companies to make a living until theres an opening at a game dev company you want to work at.

Sure, a CS degree on your resume doesnt necessarily mean you have a better chance at getting into a game company than If you had a degree from full sail (which is arguable). But it does definately make a difference when trying to get into another type of software company.

A CS degree just opens oppertunities to other careers if the one you want isnt avaliable.

Just my 2 cents.

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2 Q's, do you do any general software development subjects that cover a whole project from initial design docs to implementation and review. I found with my degree I didn't really learn anything majorly useful until my final year project doing a year long subject that had us produce a full product (+ all the documentation). I would assume the "game project" subject would be something similar, but do you cover all the managerial side of dev in that as well? I found the business side of dev to be just as, or more important, as learning to program. And secondly your psych subjects, do you cover any of the cognitive pathways (vision, memory, hearing), or information interpretation and integration, as the stuff you listed previously covers only the very airy side of psych and sounds like it's pretty iffy as to it's relevance to game design.

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I had considered going to FS at one point but have settled on going for a regular CS degree (maybe masters? Who knows...). I figured it would be better for me to have a regular CS and have the option of <game careers here> AND <regular CS field careers here>.

M.

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.. If you have a CS degree it would be easier to get in at other companies to make regular software. IMO a game degree wont get you anywhere if your stuck in that situation and you try to apply at other software companies to make a living until theres an opening at a game dev company you want to work at.


Why do people think that? I would say that Full Sail programmers have more programming experience then a regular CS graduate. I doubt employers are going to look at a game dev degree and go, oh, well this guy knows how to write games and not software. I would imagine that game programming is harder, more involved and complex then regular application development.

I think this has some truth to it because a CS degree will provide more knowledge as to how the PC works which opens up the IT field a bit more then a Full Sail degree, but thats about it. To someone like me who has a few years of experience working in IT and a networking degree from another school, it makes no difference, this is why for me and other people like me Full Sail is obviously the better choice.

Look at it this way. A Full Sail graduate leaves with a degree in 21 months. Some of them get hired before they even graduate by companies like Sony, EA, Epic, Rockstar, etc.. If you want a job in the gaming industry and you're determined .. You'll get one no matter which path you take. The Full Sail path is just faster.


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Sure, a CS degree on your resume doesnt necessarily mean you have a better chance at getting into a game company than If you had a degree from full sail (which is arguable).


Why would developer hire somebody with absolutely no experience with coding A.I., particle systems, pathfinding, collision, experience with DirectX and OpenGL, C# experience, tools programming experience, a fully developed game demo with their name on it, etc.. vs. somebody who just knows how to write a little bit of code? Seems like the game programming schools give you an edge in that industry in that particular.

You may lose a little bit of edge when going for jobs outside of the industry, but why does that matter when what you want to do is clear? There are plenty of decent paying jobs that you can get without any degree in anything to support yourself while you're looking for a job in the industry.

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2 Q's, do you do any general software development subjects that cover a whole project from initial design docs to implementation and review. I found with my degree I didn't really learn anything majorly useful until my final year project doing a year long subject that had us produce a full product (+ all the documentation). I would assume the "game project" subject would be something similar, but do you cover all the managerial side of dev in that as well? I found the business side of dev to be just as, or more important, as learning to program. And secondly your psych subjects, do you cover any of the cognitive pathways (vision, memory, hearing), or information interpretation and integration, as the stuff you listed previously covers only the very airy side of psych and sounds like it's pretty iffy as to it's relevance to game design.


I'm not sure what you mean by general software development. We do learn to make general applications that aren't games if that's what you're asking.

As far a whole software project, that is what the game project is. We start by planning, documenting everything. The groups decides on a titles, project lead, tech lead, design lead, etc.. We do have to write all the docs before we can start programming. We are also responsible for scheduling who and when everybody will be working on what. The entire schedule for our project has to be written and documented. We also have to pitch (formal presentation)two seperate titles to a panel of instructors. They decide which project we're going to work on based on what we pitched. If they didn't like either idea, they give us an idea and we have to work off of that.

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And secondly your psych subjects, do you cover any of the cognitive pathways (vision, memory, hearing), or information interpretation and integration, as the stuff you listed previously covers only the very airy side of psych and sounds like it's pretty iffy as to it's relevance to game design.


We do cover that in psych, however more so in the behavioral science class. Its one of our first classes. Full Sail also offers an optional free cognitive development class for any student that wants to take it. It sounds "iffy" because of my brief description here.

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Original post by unexistI saw somebody post a whole bunch of comments about people not hiring Full Sail grads, and its basically like this. There are a ton of bad students from every school. I doubt Full Sail stands out in that arena. I can tell you from exerience at Full Sail, that if somebody graduates and they can't get past a phone interview, it has very little to do with the school. Its the student ..

Unfortunately, when you get a trend of applicants not making the cut coming from the same school, it is much easier to cull the herd by ignoring all CVs/resumes that have graduated from that school. Extremely harsh but that is the way it 'works' when you have hundreds of applicants.

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Unfortunately, when you get a trend of applicants not making the cut coming from the same school, it is much easier to cull the herd by ignoring all CVs/resumes that have graduated from that school. Extremely harsh but that is the way it 'works' when you have hundreds of applicants.


First off, plenty of people from Full Sail. "Make the cut".

Second, no employer with half a brain would do that unless they are just plain retarded. Think about it. Full Sail students are going to apply for jobs in the game industry where not all computer science graduates will. Take the amount of schools that have a cs major and then consider how many students have a game dev major like at Full Sail. Obviously, chances are computer science applicants are going to come from all kinds of different schools, where as game dev graduates are probably coming from either Full Sail or Digipen.

It makes no sense to all to ignore all Full Sail and Digipen applicants. I know of many companies that hire students from this school and if a company straight up ignores the degree from this school, I really couldn't care less about working for somebody that retarded anyway, and I'll find a job elsewhere.

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If you're sure you want to make video games


And you're sure you'll want to make video games in 30 years... This is really the stickler.

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I would say that Full Sail programmers have more programming experience then a regular CS graduate.


There is (much, much) more to being a software developer than programming.

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I doubt employers are going to look at a game dev degree and go, oh, well this guy knows how to write games and not software.


No, they're going to look at a game dev degree and worry (rightfully so) that you don't have a well rounded education or a good CS (not programming) background. They'll also worry that you're going to leave as soon as you get a gamedev job offer. And HR people won't care because they're programmed to look for CS degrees.

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Why would developer hire somebody with absolutely no experience with coding A.I., particle systems, pathfinding, collision, experience with DirectX and OpenGL, C# experience, tools programming experience, a fully developed game demo with their name on it, etc.. vs. somebody who just knows how to write a little bit of code?


Because you're assuming that general CS students don't know how to write code, or that formal CS education is somehow inapplicable to practical programming. You're also assuming that general CS students don't work on hobby projects in their spare time (hello, welcome to gamedev.net!). You're also assuming that real life software developers need to do nothing in their lives but knock out code, which is in a word - laughable.

Not to say such experience isn't valuable; it certainly is. But just like general CS students need to perhaps do some hobby projects in their spare time, trade school students perhaps need to beef up on the 2 semesters of physics, 3 semesters of maths, most of the formal CS, and all of the social skills you miss out on. The general CS student will get those things quickly on the job. The trade student will not, and those things are a lot harder to learn outside of an academic environment.

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Second, no employer with half a brain would do that unless they are just plain retarded.


Why? If the students invariably get laughed out of the interview, why should the employer waste their time with people who're so obviously unhirable. Not that Full Sail's students are like this (everything I've seen from Full Sail's students on these forums show that they are good programmers even if their other skills vary widely) but I know of one school at least which was on a blacklist at one of my employers because of just this scenario.


Anyways, I don't want to bash on Full Sail too much. From everything I hear it is a fine alternative if you are the sort who can learn various topics on your own, and are socially adjusted, and are fairly deadset on working in gamedev for 30 odd years. It's just discouraging as an adult because it's so difficult to communicate how one's desires, priorities and even the things you "know" change as your life goes on.

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Original post by unexist
Second, no employer with half a brain would do that unless they are just plain retarded.


I know of at least one who does, and I certainly wouldn't qualify him as retarded. The bottom line is when you get a dozen applicants in a row from a school who fail the programming test, you have to say enough is enough. Sure, if you interview a dozen more people from that school you may get one who is qualified, but at that point, it's just not worth the time and effort.

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As a graduate of Digipen, I don't want to bash fullsail too much, but I think that, frankly, the curriculum fails in a few areas.

Firstly, the math (I include physics as math) background at fullsail is not terribly developed compared to a traditional University or even DigiPen. Back when Digipen offered the Associate's degree for Real-Time Interactive Simulation even it had a mathematical focus that exceeds FullSail's Bachelor's Program, both in breadth and depth.

Two graphics courses for two different APIs is a joke. The different syntax is irrelevant, and teaching a specific API is suspect behavior at best, let alone two that accomplish the same task. The students would be much better off learning computer graphics in two semesters: 2D rasterization, followed by 3D transformation and rendering. If they really want to turn out API footsoldiers, they should offer an optional, third course entitled "3D graphics using DirectX and OpenGL" which would serve as an instructional introduction to the prodominant hardware-accelerated APIs as well as patterns to use that hardware more optimally, such as material batching.

The classes are packed too tight, IMO. Its generally difficult to absorb the material the more closely packed it is. If I recall correctly from an earlier thread, Fullsail students spend 45 hours or so a week on class-time alone. Then there's homework, personal study if you need to improve in some area, having a social life, sleeping, and for some, probably a part-time job. You can make it through, but you'll suffer for it both in what you manage to retain and mental/physical exhaustion. Digipen was less dense in terms of class-time, around 35-30 hrs/wk, but covers more material overall in the 4 years. Even so, it wasn't uncommon for myself to be putting in 50 hours of classtime/homework/personal study plus devoting several hours to developing the game project. Even under this ammount of work, I was able to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, have a social life and even a girlfriend.

Lastly, comparing FullSail's curriculum to a traditional university or to Digipen's Bachelor program, and accounting for the fact that the course only runs a total of 21 months, I cannot help but get the feeling that FullSail's program is a Bachelors Degree in name only; designed simply to look better on paper.

I don't mean any of this to be an attack on FullSail students only on the curriculum of FullSail itself. They do what they do, and it is what it is, but, IMHO, there are places that do it better.

One of the things that Digipen and FullSail have in common, however, is that those who thrive there are typically pretty brilliant. They're simply excelent students who would have thrived anywhere. They're usually the same folks who spend a great deal of time learning and coding on their own. To some extent, I think the real success of any school is not in turning out the greatest number of these geniouses, but in weeding out the slackers and forming those that are left standing.

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