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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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Original post by unexist
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.


Then I guess you have some hard lessons ahead of you.

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If anything I'd rather see a regular CS degree on someone's resume. Games specific degrees are mostly useless - the "gamedev" they claim to teach is almost always completely divorced from the realities of actual games development. I'd rather hire someone whom doesn't have a bunch of bad habits and an ego to match.

As for non-games jobs - most companies look at people who have worked (or been educated) in games as loose cannons. Not the sort of person you want to hire.

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Wow, whats up with the hostility. I dont get it.

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


What does this have to do with Full Sail? If I have a regular degree and 30 years from now, I change my mind. I'm in the same boat no matter what degree I have.

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


There is much much more to being a programmer then programming???? Please explain how going to Full Sail vs. a regular school is going to be better for you in the Game Development field in terms of doing more then just programming for an entry level programming position.

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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.


Before I went to Full Sail, I was running a help desk. I was in charge of a little over 100 people ..My salary was more then decent and I got hired with a GED and worked my way up. If I can do that with no college degree.. I'm sure I can do it better with one whether its game development or not.Dont me what the HR people of every single company in the world are going to be thinking. Right now, you have nothing to back your opinion.

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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.


No, i'm assuming that the average CS student is not as good as trade student and game programming. This is what I have observed. I'm in a trade school right now and I know plenty of CS graduates. I'm not assuming anything about software developers. My point is simple. Somebody who has experience with game programming better to hire then somebody with 0 experience. There is no arguing that. Also, out of school, you're going to get an entry level coding position. Yes, I think at an entry level programming gig, you're just pretty much putting out ccode.. What do you do right now?

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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.


This entirely depends on the person. You can't make a blanket statement like that.

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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.


Its retarded to say, everybody who went to this particular school sucks and is unhirable. You might miss out on an extremely good employee that your competitor might pick up.

Like I said, if some company straight up ignores Full Sail grads, ok, it doesn't matter. There are tons and tons of companies that dont. There are brilliant people at this school and if some companies dont even want to give them the time of day, well, its their loss because these kids are going to get picked up by one company or another, they are just that good.











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Original post by unexist

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.


I don't think this point is fair (or at the very least not as cut and dry as you make it appear). I think theres a notable difference between "pen and paper" maths and programming maths. You'll do ok if you understand matricies and vectors. You may not be "lead physics programmer" any time soon, but i don't think it's fair to say if a student finds double intergration or partial differentiation difficult (or just plain boring) that they will have problems in the industry.

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Original post by jjd
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Original post by unexist
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.


Then I guess you have some hard lessons ahead of you.


I'm sure I do as I'm not the smartest person in the world, however your comment is pointless. If you have nothing to contribute other then just to put me down, please refrain from posting.

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Original post by Winegums
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Original post by unexist

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.


I don't think this point is fair (or at the very least not as cut and dry as you make it appear). I think theres a notable difference between "pen and paper" maths and programming maths. You'll do ok if you understand matricies and vectors. You may not be "lead physics programmer" any time soon, but i don't think it's fair to say if a student finds double intergration or partial differentiation difficult (or just plain boring) that they will have problems in the industry.


Maybe not so cut and dry, you're right. But, for the most part, I would say that its true. I dont see how anybody that hates math could stand to be a game programmer, there just too much of it to ignore.

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Original post by unexist
Wow, whats up with the hostility. I dont get it.


Hostility is a fairly common human response to openly biased and unreasonable debate. Oh, and taking a difference of opinion as a personal slight.

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


What does this have to do with Full Sail? If I have a regular degree and 30 years from now, I change my mind. I'm in the same boat no matter what degree I have.


North America employs about 100,000 game developers. [reference]. This is next to nothing. If you don't like that job, you're SoL. In my (small) company alone I could have the choice of doing webdev work, backend work, middleware stuff, customer facing, internal... All of them distinctly different work styles and challenges. If one doesn't suit me, I've others that a general CS degree would qualify me for with perhaps a few weeks work to pickup a new syntax.

Sure gamedev will have an engine guy, an AI guy perhaps but it's still for the same style of product and will have the same form of work style, environs and (psychological) rewards; the things likely to cause you to change your mind.

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


There is much much more to being a programmer then programming????


Yes, much much much more.

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Please explain how going to Full Sail vs. a regular school is going to be better for you in the Game Development field in terms of doing more then just programming for an entry level programming position.


Anytime your assignments involve maths or physics or similar knowledge beyond your experience? Not uncommon for games to involve semi-complex rigid body dynamics or sums of vectors through 3D surfaces (amongst others).

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No, they're going to look at a game dev degree and worry (rightfully so) that *snip* look for CS degrees.


Before I went to Full Sail, I was running a help desk. I was in charge of a little over 100 people ..My salary was more then decent and I got hired with a GED and worked my way up. If I can do that with no college degree.. I'm sure I can do it better with one whether its game development or not.Dont me what the HR people of every single company in the world are going to be thinking. Right now, you have nothing to back your opinion.


Except about 8 more years of experience in actual business than your similarly unsupported opinion. Yes, any bachelors will do better than none. That was never up for debate. After 7 years of fighting through unemployment, sysadmin and QA work to get into my current dev position without a degree, I think I might have *some* insight as to how HR people respond to development applicants without a CS degree.

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Because you're assuming *snip* - laughable.


No, i'm assuming that the average CS student is not as good as trade student and game programming. This is what I have observed. I'm in a trade school right now and I know plenty of CS graduates. I'm not assuming anything about software developers. My point is simple. Somebody who has experience with game programming better to hire then somebody with 0 experience. There is no arguing that.


Oh, I'd argue that day and night.

If the person with 0 gamedev experience is say... Donald Knuth, he will be an exceptionally better hire than say... you. Even without such extremes, the "training" time for a CS generalist to learn game terminology and industry specifics will sometimes, *sometimes* be far shorter than someone with gamedev experience but lacking in business or formal CS; making them the better hire for the gamedev job.

And then the general CS guy will have the advantage at every other single development position open.

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Also, out of school, you're going to get an entry level coding position. Yes, I think at an entry level programming gig, you're just pretty much putting out ccode.. What do you do right now?


I am oddly enough at an entry level coding position (okay, that's perhaps a slight under-exaggeration). I have checked in about... a thousand lines of code in 9 months. Indeed, about next to nothing compared to what I can do for hobby projects. The vast majority of the time is learning the existing systems, manipulating data, debugging existing programs, explaining programs to business people, assisting in the design of future products, documenting existing systems of developers no longer with the company, reading through source for programs made by developers who are no longer with the company so someone knows what the hell is going on; oh and I got to learn 3 new programming languages.

While this is perhaps the low end of the scale, but certainly not isolated... ref ref2

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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.


This entirely depends on the person. You can't make a blanket statement like that.


Yes; though I would submit that the generality is so universal as to be considered universal for this discussion. Do you know many people who're able (and motivated) to self-learn differential equations?

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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.


Its retarded to say, everybody who went to this particular school sucks and is unhirable. You might miss out on an extremely good employee that your competitor might pick up.


And that risk is not worth the developer time [read: salary] to interview them to find out. Welcome to business.


And once again I'd like to re-iterate that I think Full Sail is a fine school if you remember the first 7 items in the OP and if you're dead sure you're going to want to do gamedev for your working life.

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Theory is far more important than knowing some specific subset skill. Someone who knows DirectX but doesn't really understand the "internals" is far less valuable than someone who really understands the mechanics of 3d graphics. The world of software development is fast changing, particularly game development. Someone with the theoretical background should be able to pick up say, a new API or language with relative ease vs someone who has been exclusively trained in some now obsolete implementation.

Programming is not about banging out code, as others have tried to tell you. If it was simply a matter of typing out for loops and if statements, anyone could do it.

And to repeat others, the discussion here is not meant to be some kind of personal attack, although I understand the impulse to defend your institution.

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...sigh.

About once a month someone from Full Sail comes onto the GameDev.net forums, excited to tell the world about their upcoming future in game development, only to discover that the majority of GameDev.net regulars, as well as the industry as a whole, already knows about Full Sail and aren't overly impressed with the school's curriculum and/or general quality of graduate.

At this point they are bombarded with feelings of either pride or regret, as they run through in their mind the decisions they've made, the time they've spent down their current path, and the money they've spent getting where they are today.

And whether they end up feeling pride or regret, they often turn into something resembling a Full Sail Nazi as they apparently pass through the well known 5 Stages of Grief. Kubler-Ross identified the 5 stages as "Denial", "Anger", "Bargaining", "Depression", and "Acceptance".

So far in this thread we've seen denial, anger, probably a bit of bargaining as well if you read into things...so lets try and skip past depression now and move directly to acceptance.

You've made the decisions you've made, for better or for worse, and now it's time to move on. Regardless of people's opinions of your school, my school, or any other school, it's ultimately your life, and the choices you make are your own. But here's the facts...

Previously I worked as the founding programmer of the NextGen Tools department at Pandemic Studios.

While working in that role I had the opportunity to fill my department with other programmers, both Junior and Senior. Part of this job included interviewing the individuals, as well as grading their programming tests, etc...This is what I know from my interviews. These are not subjective. They are just facts.

1. All of the CS Majors I interviewed from a 4-year university passed the programming test, but not necessarily their interview.

2. The majority of candidates from Full Sail failed their programming test, and frequently their interview. (though in general, they were discarded due to their programming test)

3. Candidates from DigiPen, did, on average, better on programming tests and interviews than people from Full Sail. They also tended to do better in interviews that CS graduates, but not as well on their programming tests.

This is what I experienced first-hand from Full Sail graduates. Does this mean that ALL Full Sail graduates are flops? No. But it DOES mean that after 10 Full Sail people failed the programming test in a row, I started round-filing them as soon as I received them. Whether it's fair or not, when you're in need of a programmer, it's a waste of time to exchange emails back and forth, send a programming test, grade the programming test, and then bring the person in for an interview if they're ultimately going to be unprepared for the job.

This is the current state of the industry for many, but not all Full Sail people. And it's important to note that this isnt anyone's fault except for Full Sail, for ultimately passing people who should have been failed.

Also, in a previous LONG thread I decided to break down the curriculum of Full Sail vs. my own University, so that people from both sides could see the real comparison, and not some hypothetical college graduate. I've duplicated it here in case you missed that thread...

You will see that there are 32 courses taken at Full Sail over the course of 2 Years - including a 5 month project. At "my university" there are 41 courses taken over 4 years, in addition to a 1 year project (which is contracted with an actual company to develop a REAL product), and a 6 month required internship at an approved partner company. The additional internship, as well as the fact that classes are taken around 15-20 hours per semester, rather than 40 accounts for the difference in the two years. So while Full Sail people like to tout themselves as having gained 4 years of college education in 2 years, the truth of the matter is you're a) getting less work experience b) taking fewer elective courses which can be tailored to your personal interests and c) work in classrooms a heck of a lot longer, leaving less free time to do your own personal exploration of your talents - as well as just absorb the material you cover IN class.

Additionally, You'll see from the configuration of coursework that I made (largely based on my own interests) that those "extra" classes aren't all fluff classes as some Full Sail people like to claim. I'll post some more analysis afterwards...but here ya go...

Full Sail 2 Years (Which includes 5 months of Working on a Final Project)

3D Content Creation
Advanced Tools Programming
Artificial Intelligence
Asset Production
Behavioral Science
Calculus & Trig
Communications
Data Structures
DirectX
Engine Development 1
Engine Development 2
Ethics & Psychology
Game Networking
Game Preproduction
Gaming Project
Historical Achetypes & Mythology
Linear Algebra
Machine Architecture 1
Machine Architecture 2
Media & Society
OpenGL
Optimization
Physics
Programming I
Programming II
Programming III
Rules of the Game
Software Architecture
Structure of Game Production
Structures of Game Design
Windows Programming I
Windows Programming II

My University 4 Years( which includes a 6 month internship & a 2 semester project)
Introduction to Computer Science
Introduction to Computer Engineering
Introduction to Programming
Data Structures I
Data Structures II
Programming Languages & Translators
Efficient File Processing & IO
Operating Systems
Software Engineering I
Computer Networking
Multimedia Systems
Artificial Intelligence I
Introduction to Neural Networks & Applications
Bioinformatics
Real-Time Interactive Computer Graphics
Software Systems Development I (This is part of the 1 year project)
Software Systems Development II (This is the other part of the 1 year project)
Digital Systems Design
Discrete Math for Computer Science
Numerical Methods
Calculus & Analytic Geometry I
Calculus & Analytic Geometry II
Calculus & Analytic Geometry III
Linear Algebra
Statistics for Software Engineers
Exposition and Argumentation
Writing and Research
Speech & Presentations
College Physics I
College Physics II
Adaptation of Literature to Film
Technical Writing
Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature
Layout and Design for Print & Electronic Media
Essentials of Business Accounting
Business Law
Marketing I
Strategic Management
Computational Physics in Simulations
Chaos Fractals & Nonlinear Dynamics
Classical Optics

Analysis
The folks at Full Sail spend a lot more time focusing on things which are immediately, and somewhat limitedly, focused in game development. In Specific, DirectX, OpenGL, Engine Development, Rules of The Game, Structure of Game Production, Structures of Game Design, etc...

Meanwhile, the folks at my university are learning things which are immediately relevant to the "science of computers," but which are not immediately tailored to games. In specific: Operating Systems, Software Engineering, Programming Languages & Translators, Efficient File IO, etc...

The other thing I noticed is the 4-year curriculum has much better hardware-based classes: Introduction to Computer Engineering, Multimedia Systems, and Digital Systems Design.

But the HUGEST difference...is in the math. The Folks at Full Sail take 1 Calc & Trig class, 1 Physics class, and 1 Linear Algebra class. Meanwhile the the folks at my engineering school took 3 Calculus classes, 2 physics classes (using differential equations & calculus), Linear Algebra, Statistics, Numerical Methods, and Discrete Mathematics. The final two having to do almost exclusively with boolean logic and mathematics as it exists on a machine with limited precision.

As for the elective classes I configured, there were: Adaptation of Literature to Film (I read that adaptation to video games), Technical writing, Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature (I'm big into High Fantasy), Layout and Design for Print & Electronic Media (I'm a tools programmer, so UI is very important to me), Essentials of Business Accounting (I now own my own company and this is VERY useful - you dont learn this in highschool), Business Law (see last item), Strategic Management (in case you ever want to run a company), Computational Physics in Simulations (yeah, that's right, our physics department runs a VR lab), and classic optics, which talks about reflection, refraction, etc...which we used to implement raytracing, fresnel effects, sub-surface scattering, and other nifty algorithms.

So, the one thing I wanted to point out when this was all said and done is that I was in control of my education. I was able to pick and choose my electives to be as useful or as useless as I liked. As well, I went to an engineering school in the midwest, which offers very limited coursework in subject matter that might be related to "Games." 'course, I graduated with two bachelor's degrees for about $25k. But, there are many coastal colleges such as USC, etc...which have partnered with publishers, etc... to create degrees in Game Development. This gives you the benefit of both worlds. A 4-year accredited degree from a major institution, which you can use anywhere, as well as coursework and training in game development.

The last thing I wanted to point is while those at Full Sail were in classes for 40 hours a week, learning how to make games, I was in class about 18 hours a week, learning how to solve problems, and come to understand the science of computing - which is a far broader subject than just programming, and ESPECIALLY just game programming. Then, in the remaining 22 hours a week of "work time" I spent my time making game demos, reading books on Windows Programming (Yay Petzold!), Artificial Intelligence, the DirectX documentation, the OpenGL Handbook, etc...

My point is, it's easier to learn the information on your own that's taught in a trade school such as Full Sail, as they mostly just regurgitate the documentation, much like every "Programming RPG's with DirectX 9.0" style book out there on the market. In contrast, learning Digital Systems Design and Bioinformatics, along with Efficient File IO are not things you typically want to trudge through on your own.

So when it all comes down to the end, Full Sail is essentially the opportunity for you to:

* Pay more for your education (which must be paid back in 6 months, rather than 10 years)

* Get less freedom in your education (no electives)

* Go to a school which isn't very highly regarded in the industry

* Go to school for 40 hours a week instead of working on the things you enjoy in your free time

* Earn a degree which isn't accredited at most schools and cannot be transfered to most other universities for either partial credit or the pursuit of a Master's or PhD (without having to take prerequisite courses)

* Enter the game industry 2 years earlier with less work experience

* Make less money (on average) than people from a 4-year degree (yes, you get paid less)

* Where you're now trapped even though you may get tired of video games in 4 years...

Now that we've explored that YES, Full Sail people DO perform poorly compared to CS majors and DigiPen graduates, and ALSO dont have the l33t curriculum they thought they did, I hope you can accept that while people dont have any negative feelings towards you, there is a general hostility in the industry (perhaps rightly so) towards Full Sail, and as a result some of its graduates.

Me personally, however, I wish you the best of luck. But please dont start any more "Why Full Sail is better than CS programs or DigiPen" threads.

Cheers!

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Ok, this thread is going in a completely different direction from what I expected. I did not start this thread to make any claims that Full Sail is better then any other school or that you a trade degree is better then a Full Sail degree.

My point is simple. If you're reading this thread and trying to decide whether or not to go to Full Sail, dont be discouraged because of what everybody here is saying. It all depends on the person and if you feel that Full Sail is after doing your research you decide that Full Sail is right for you, go for it.

I am an extremely determined person and I know exactly what I want to do. I can get the education myself, all I really want is a degree to get my foot in the door. Full Sail is going to do just that for me, and in half the time, and it is all I expect. A regular college will do that, and a lot more, but I can take care of the rest myself. I'm concerned about getting the degree as quick as possible. If I get passed up for some positions because I'm from Full Sail, that is fine, I'll find a job elsewhere and then through gaining experience will wind up where I want anyway.

So without making this into a Full Sail vs. CS degree thread any more then it already. Lets all just agree that it depends on the person.

For example,

Quote:

The folks at Full Sail spend a lot more time focusing on things which are immediately, and somewhat limitedly, focused in game development. In Specific, DirectX, OpenGL, Engine Development, Rules of The Game, Structure of Game Production, Structures of Game Design, etc...

Meanwhile, the folks at my university are learning things which are immediately relevant to the "science of computers," but which are not immediately tailored to games. In specific: Operating Systems, Software Engineering, Programming Languages & Translators, Efficient File IO, etc...


To be fair, you're misinformed, take another look at the curriculum. We have

Programming 1
Programming 2
Programming 3
Software Architecture
Windows Programming I
Windows Programming II
Machine Architecture I
Machine Architecture II
Optimization class
Data Structures.

These aren't focused on gaming. Yes, we talk about gaming in those classes, but that is not their focus. We do get a great deal of what you mentioned above. Yes, it gets covered better in a traditional school and if you can't learn that fast, and you are starting from stratch then Full Sail may be a bad option.

However, if you're already familiar with the computers science aspect to a certain degree, and you're learning a lot on your own outside of school, you will get your degree quicker with Full Sail. This is why it's a good option for some people.

Quote:

But the HUGEST difference...is in the math.


Yes, this is true, Full Sail's math courses aren't great. The reason for this is because they dont allow much time for you to absorb the information, not because the content is missing. However, they provide you with all the resources you need to learn on your own. All the information is there and there are plenty of people that are willing to help you with anything.

Second, what if you already know all of that stuff from a prior school that you went to?

Also, its very easy to go take a few math classes at a local community college while you're looking for a job.

Your points are all valid, but the bottom line is they simply don't apply to everybody. For some people, Full Sail may be the better route to take. That is all I'm trying to say. Not that it's better then a CS degree, or that its the best school ever, or whatever else.


Quote:

* Pay more for your education (which must be paid back in 6 months, rather than 10 years)


This statement is false. Your loan comes from the same financial institutions that provide loans to all the other colleges. I dont know where you got your information from, but this is just flat out wrong.

I'm not going to even touch the rest of your statements which were obviously written to try to make Full Sail look as bad as possible.

There are benefits to attending this school, despite what your opinion may be, and it bothers me that people spread all this false information and try to discourage people from going there, when the truth is, the school could probably use those people. I know Full Sail doesn't have the best rep, but the quality of their program is increasing fast to make up for this. Don't be quick to judge an ever adapting program.

Besides, the curriculum is designed by industry professionals. Full Sail is providing the classes and education that game dev companies have specifically asked for.

Quote:

2. The majority of candidates from Full Sail failed their programming test, and frequently their interview. (though in general, they were discarded due to their programming test)


This is odd to me. Can you give me an example of I might expect to see on a programming test so that I can go back to our program director and let him know? I'm sick of this school having such a bad rep.

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Quote:

And once again I'd like to re-iterate that I think Full Sail is a fine school if you remember the first 7 items in the OP and if you're dead sure you're going to want to do gamedev for your working life.


If your in the game dev field and you change your mind theres nothing to stop you from going back to school. Yes, you wouldn't have to do that if you already had a CS degree, but you also would probably still be in school getting it instead of working.

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Quote:
Original post by unexist
If your in the game dev field and you change your mind theres nothing to stop you from going back to school.



Only your mortgage, car payments, family...

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wow jwalsh, no automata or computation theory required at your school, yet you took languages and translators? you missed out on all the fun!

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The problem with the Full Sail program is that the students graduate without understanding the inner-workings of operating systems and system software (scheduling algorithms, compilers, etc, etc), the different schools of programming language design, etc... in other words, they don't learn the "computer sciency" stuff.

When you're developing (planning, coding, testing, etc... not merely "programming") a large system that must perform well--be it a game or otherwise--that computer science background in absolutely invaluable.

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