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Direction for Education

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I know this question has probably been asked to death, and I thank you for bearing with me. I'm a 21 year old (almost 22) and I'm still in high school (had some bad problems with my parents moving me around schools before I was 18). I did a good job for awhile in my 18-19 with a local online school (they let you use their computers to do work from their facilities locally). But then I got a job offer at late 19 to work at a computer store that didn't require a high school diploma. I couldn't turn down an opportunity to work with computers and get paid. The job I do is web development and lots of other misc. products like here pretty soon I'll be working on a Java label printer for asset tagging. Anyway my question is, now that I've spent so much time away from school should I try to get that diploma again or will a GED suffice (from a college and possibly employers stand point in game development). Also assuming I can get into a college what should I go for, I like doing coding, but also I like doing 3d modeling. I know the game industry has so much money nowadays that they want highly specialized individuals, like no longer is 3d model maker a job, you would have to be either an animator or rigging specialist. I know in other parts of the forums here you all have mentioned a bachelors in CS, is this also acceptable if I decide to do 3d design? Thanks alot for your help, this forum and it's members have all been great help for me, --Alex (http://www.axpen.com/)

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It's been my experience that once you get to the 'some college' level of education, nobody much cares about your high school results.

As for the education for art positions and specifics within the industry... I'll let others more knowledgeable answer.

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Alex asked:
>should I try to get that diploma again or will a GED suffice

FAQ 49: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson49.htm

>assuming I can get into a college what should I go for, I like doing coding, but also I like doing 3d modeling.

So study both.

>I know the game industry has so much money nowadays that they want highly specialized individuals, like no longer is 3d model maker a job, you would have to be either an animator or rigging specialist.

That degree of specialization assumes a very large company. Smaller companies have opportunities for their personnel to wear multiple hats. Rather than tell you to go to my bulletin board and read what I wrote to someone who asked a similar question yesterday, I'll just paste it here:
[Paste]Maybe I haven't written enough about the difference between working at a small company versus a big company. At a small company you might have level design duties for a while, then have to do some programming, then even have to write some game story text. At a big company, you might get stuck as doing nothing but creating 3D models of grass. Specialization applies to big companies. Small companies, though, have use for Renaissance men.
I wrote about small companies vs. large ones in my January 2008 IGDA column - http://www.igda.org/columns/gamesgame/
And I wrote about having multiple skills in one of the older columns. On the Games Game page, click Archive and scroll down to the May 2005 column.
But don't worry if you see conflicting advice, either from me or from other people. That's normal - and each person being a unique case, he has to make his own decisions about how to go through life. FAQ 47 has some poignant insights about that.[/paste]

>you all have mentioned a bachelors in CS, is this also acceptable if I decide to do 3d design?

I don't get what you're asking. Get whatever degree you want, then build the best portfolio you can, then apply for jobs that make sense with your portfolio.

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Thanks Telastyn for summing up whether or not high school even matters.

Also thanks for the reply Tom Sloper, your insight has been very helpful. I shall do some reading from sloperama.com as that site seems to have great reads on much of what I want to know about.

One other question I have, (tries to avoid an is it enough style phrasing) is a place like Devry going to stack against you when an employer sees it. They have a new game design class that according to their website has you making 3d engines in C++ and games built upon those engines.

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(imo)(to be kind)

Trade schools are always an inferior option compared to even a poor general education, especially in this sort of area where the tools of the trade will change a half dozen times during your career.

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Quote:
Original post by axpen
is a place like Devry going to stack against you when an employer sees it.

Read FAQ 44 on my site and read http://www.igda.org/columns/gamesgame/gamesgame_Sep07.php

[Edit] And especially read FAQ 34 on my site too.[/edit]

[Edited by - Tom Sloper on February 14, 2008 12:36:16 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
(imo)(to be kind)

Trade schools are always an inferior option compared to even a poor general education, especially in this sort of area where the tools of the trade will change a half dozen times during your career.


I have to disagree with this. It all depends on your school. I went to Penn State for 2 years with a focus in computer programming/computer science and I got nowhere close to the knowledge I got when I switched to DeVry (I was very skeptical at first but that skepticism went away fast). I just started the programming section of my degree so I only had 1 C++ class so far but in that one class it taught me more then my programming classes at Penn State. (I'm not bashing schools here I am just saying regular schools tend to inflate your schedule and take too long one one concept.) Now with that said trade schools are not for everyone, they usually move at a lot faster pace then what normal colleges do. I prefer trade schools myself cause there is less emphasis on the bs classes and more emphasis on the real stuff you signed up to learn in the first place.

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Quote:
Original post by Chrono1081
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
(imo)(to be kind)

Trade schools are always an inferior option compared to even a poor general education, especially in this sort of area where the tools of the trade will change a half dozen times during your career.


I have to disagree with this. It all depends on your school. I went to Penn State for 2 years with a focus in computer programming/computer science and I got nowhere close to the knowledge I got when I switched to DeVry (I was very skeptical at first but that skepticism went away fast). I just started the programming section of my degree so I only had 1 C++ class so far but in that one class it taught me more then my programming classes at Penn State. (I'm not bashing schools here I am just saying regular schools tend to inflate your schedule and take too long one one concept.) Now with that said trade schools are not for everyone, they usually move at a lot faster pace then what normal colleges do. I prefer trade schools myself cause there is less emphasis on the bs classes and more emphasis on the real stuff you signed up to learn in the first place.



Will you have the same opinion in 5,10,25... 40 years from now, when all that 'real stuff' goes the way of COBOL? Or in 2-3 years when you realize those bullshit classes are integral to the 75+% of being a programmer that doesn't involve writing code?

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From personal experience:

I can identify with you bro. I dropped out of High school due to family reasons, I needed to work to support myself.

I got my GED in the Army. Throughout my career employment interviewers asked questions regarding the GED and how I got it but it was always a positive interest. don't be discouraged if you have to go the GED route.

College, was much later in life for me. Encouraged by my girlfriend, who is now my wife, I investigated attending Steven's Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Steven's is a small but well-known engineering school.
The College Admissions advisor was concerned by the large time gap of when I last attended school.

It was advised to take a commmunity college physics course to gauge my interest and academic ability. I took the community class, excelled at it and was immediately accepted to Steven's. I was provided with a decent financial aid package (token grant plus a ton of loans ;).I graduated and throughout my career, my hiring employers shared that my skills were an important factor, however being a Steven's graduate/alumni sealed the deal for them.

My suggestion for college pursuits. Take one or two college level courses at a community college that are appropriate to you career goals. ie an entry level computer science or digital arts course. I'm sure a local college in your area has the courses avaailable on a non-matriculating basis or even as evening adult continuing education courses, which are usually reasonably priced. This will allow you to determine your interst and get a feel for the school and program. And as some others said, try to get in the best college you can but you can always compensate with drive and excellent skills.

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Thanks everyone, I think I'll go ahead and get my GED and try one of my local community colleges for awhile and then thing about DeVry or a better college in the mean time.

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
Quote:
Original post by Chrono1081
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
(imo)(to be kind)

Trade schools are always an inferior option compared to even a poor general education, especially in this sort of area where the tools of the trade will change a half dozen times during your career.


I have to disagree with this. It all depends on your school. I went to Penn State for 2 years with a focus in computer programming/computer science and I got nowhere close to the knowledge I got when I switched to DeVry (I was very skeptical at first but that skepticism went away fast). I just started the programming section of my degree so I only had 1 C++ class so far but in that one class it taught me more then my programming classes at Penn State. (I'm not bashing schools here I am just saying regular schools tend to inflate your schedule and take too long one one concept.) Now with that said trade schools are not for everyone, they usually move at a lot faster pace then what normal colleges do. I prefer trade schools myself cause there is less emphasis on the bs classes and more emphasis on the real stuff you signed up to learn in the first place.



Will you have the same opinion in 5,10,25... 40 years from now, when all that 'real stuff' goes the way of COBOL? Or in 2-3 years when you realize those bullshit classes are integral to the 75+% of being a programmer that doesn't involve writing code?


I am just saying that I don't feel like traditional campuses give enough of a focus to what the major is (this is not the case for every 4 year college mind you). In two years I had four computer science classes, two were programming (both C++, and after both of them I still never learned arrays), the other two were learning Microsoft office. Two programming classes in a comp sci major was pretty pathetic to me (and not many more were listed in the future). The tech school I went to before psu I had 4 programming classes in a year, which were good. Long story why I left that school for PSU but thats what made me decide I wanted to go back to a tech school. Not many people can say they've done both a 4 year college and a tech school. I have done both and I choose tech schools. But like I said, they are not for everyone.

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Quote:
Original post by Chrono1081
In two years I had four computer science classes, two were programming (both C++, and after both of them I still never learned arrays), the other two were learning Microsoft office.


The PSU BA in CS program schedule lists 7 courses for the first two years in the comp sci department. General programming, data structures, Discrete math, a low level circuits course, a slightly higher computer design course, java based webapp course, and systems programming in C. No office, and arrays are listed specifically in the first semester intro to programming course.

So umm, wtf?

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It all depends when you went. I went a few years ago when the courses were different. Not to mention just cause its in the syllabus does not mean that it will be covered. Also there are a lot of branch campuses and criteria may differ from main campus.

All I am saying is that when I went we never made it to arrays, never talked about pointers, never did classes, all of the stuff that is considered fundamental knowledge. We went through only a few chapters of the book and they are roughly 16 week semesters. It moved very slow and for as much money as I was paying I didn't feel like I was getting the quality of education I should be.

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Quote:
Original post by Chrono1081
It all depends when you went. I went a few years ago when the courses were different. Not to mention just cause its in the syllabus does not mean that it will be covered. Also there are a lot of branch campuses and criteria may differ from main campus.

All I am saying is that when I went we never made it to arrays, never talked about pointers, never did classes, all of the stuff that is considered fundamental knowledge. We went through only a few chapters of the book and they are roughly 16 week semesters. It moved very slow and for as much money as I was paying I didn't feel like I was getting the quality of education I should be.


Fair enough. What you described was pretty atypical for... pretty much any CS degree, and a far cry from the education shown by the half-dozen PSU graduates I'm familiar with. That sucks.

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Original post by axpen
Thanks everyone, I think I'll go ahead and get my GED and try one of my local community colleges for awhile and then thing about DeVry or a better college in the mean time.


To figure out what you may want to focus on, i suggest pick up a beginning java book, or download a tutorial, and start developing simple console programs. See if you like doing that kind of coding and so forth.

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Quote:
Fair enough. What you described was pretty atypical for... pretty much any CS degree, and a far cry from the education shown by the half-dozen PSU graduates I'm familiar with. That sucks.


Tell me about it. I was talking to a friend of mine today who started around the same time I did and he had a lot better classes (he went to main campus, I went to a branch campus). Guess the lesson learned is to go to the campus all the money is spent on :D

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To agm_ultimatex:
I'm sorry I didn't make it clear sooner up, but I already do coding professionally, though not game development. I do websites for a small company and am looking into doing them independently too here pretty soon. I find coding in PHP and AJAX (DXHTML (XHTML/CSS/javascript)) to be very fun, I like messing with the libs that PHP has and adding my own stuff to them. I am just now recently getting into C# (XNA) and getting back into C(GTK)/C++(All Others). I also have long harbored a love for 3d modeling, I just never had the materials to get into it, well now I do and want to get started with it. I have always had a good eye for detail and really understand the books on 3d I read, so I guess i'll see if I can do it.

Another development in my choice of college is, I'm sincerely thinking about online classes from Westwood College that Gamedev.net advertises.

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