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batchprogram

Proper Education

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batchprogram    100
I've been attending DeVry University for a Bachelor's in Game & Simulation Programming(GSP) for almost 6 months now. I'm skeptical on the credibility of DeVry and similar colleges to game companies. I've spoken to several graduates that claim most game companies consider the degree a waste of time and money.

This is a list of a few strange facts regarding DeVry, it's affiliates, and students:
->Just under half the instructors have accents that make understanding them quite difficult.
->After you're enrolled they tell you that you'll be playing games frequently(though I didn't really believe this).
->Most of the students play games during class and don't really care that much about programming.
->The first GSP course requires students to create a game using Game Maker... using the drag and drop icons instead of scripting.
->The first "actual" programming course (CIS) requires students to use the program Visual Logic(which in my opinion is a horribly designed program that teaches you very little about programming).
->The second GSP course requires students to begin learning C++ via the infamous Dark GDK API, with no prior programming class.

I have studied game programming and taken multiple courses in software engineering for 5 years prior to attending DeVry, so I know (for the most part) what should be taught. I have no big problem with my college, but many combined factors convinces me to question the integrity of some for-profit colleges and their practices. I've heard many good details about DigiPen and I'm considering transferring.

Please advise.

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Ravyne    14300
Devry and other institutions like it such as University of Phoenix and others are just about worthless, IMO. They also often engage in sketchy practices, such as not revealing the full cost of their programs up front -- in fact, University of Phoenix and some of the other schools are currently being investigated by the feds, and are at risk of losing what little tuition help their students can currently get from the government -- in other words, the feds may stop loaning money to students to go towards these types of colleges, even if that student was otherwise qualified.

From you brief description, and what I've already gathered of their program, you're not going to teach you anything that would make you even an entry-level candidate at any game studio, and about the closest its likely to get you is QA (which a high school diploma will also get you).

Personally, I wouldn't take a Devry program even if it were offered to me for free because its not even worth my time. I sure as hell wouldn't want to come out the other end 10s of thousands of dollars lighter or 10s of thousands of dollars in debt.

If you're interested in a game-centric program that's worth your while, there are several media-focused CS programs at reputable schools, such as the Guildhall at SMU and others. If a traditional university is not an option, Digipen is quite reputable and, while you may not receive the breadth of education of a University setting, they do teach in great depth and have a high standard for its graduates (probably fully half of the CS students or more don't make it through -- this may sound harsh, but do you really want to go to another school in which everyone can pass, no matter how bad they are?). FullSail is another option -- their educational offerings are not as broad or as deep as Digipen's, but they are still head and shoulders above Devry and its ilk.

Also, don't discount traditional CS programs from decent universities -- A 4 year degree in CS or a related program plus some independent study into gaming topics (and the portfolio to prove it) is often as good as the best gaming-specific degree -- and may be better at some studios, depending on their past experiences with game-degree-holders and their hiring culture).

Only you can decide, but I've given you some good options to look into. If it were my money I wouldn't spend another dime on Devry -- and in fact I'd drop my current classes if it would get me even a partial refund.

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batchprogram    100
Thank you for your informative response.

I should have listed some of the "good" things I've heard from senior students to provide alternative perspective.
As quoted from a senior GSP student, "I'm not going to lie to you. The beginning classes are easy, but this course isn't. The later classes such as AI, Engine Architecture, and Advanced Systems Programming are difficult. Overall it teaches you to understand what it takes to be a efficient game programmer. Half of the junior/senior classes are group based. Sometimes I would have to spend 100+ hours a week working on class projects in order to meet the 8-16 week deadline. I lost sleep to my projects, but I know C++ like the back of my hand."

Allow me to further put this into perspective...
I understand how to program and know several languages: GML, Java, C/C++, and C#. I'm very familiar with 2D game programming including but not limited to engine design, file i/o, physics, ai, and networking.

With this in mind, would staying at DeVry be reasonable?

[Edited by - batchprogram on November 10, 2010 3:59:40 AM]

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Ravyne    14300
I wouldn't waste *my* time with it, but what you do with yours is up to you. If you're counting on the degree at the end of the program being your golden ticket, though, I think you're going to be disappointed.

If you know all those languages (and have a degree or certification to back it up) then you might do just as well to buy some good books and self-study where you are lacking. Pick a topic, investigate, then put your nose to the grindstone and implement. Do that a few times, put it all together and viola, you've got your first portfolio piece.

As for your positive friend, well, results and the willingness to go beyond what's provided varies from person to person -- one thing that *all* degree programs hold in common is that you get out what you put in. As for his knowing C++ like the back of his hand, well, most people aren't able to judge their own competencies accurately. The only guy I know who's come out of a Devry-like program will swear up and down that he's a great coder and knows C++ extremely well, along with linear algebra (3D mathematics) and other things, but listening to him talk about any technical subject makes my head hurt -- the guy is equal parts shit and hot air. Frankly, anyone who says they know C++ like the back of their hand either a) has written a book about it, or b) doesn't know enough about it to understand the depths of their own hubris. C++ especially, moreso than almost any other language, is full of oddities and other thorniness that will bite you in the ass if you're not aware that its there.

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Ravyne    14300
See, that's kind of the point I was driving at... pointers, references and recursion tend to be known as the great (CS100) weeder-outers, but they are really the least of your problems.

Things like proper use of Structured Exception Handling (which many experts argue has fundamental flaws in C++) or understanding when and how Sequence Points come into play (and thus, when seemingly valid, compilable code actually produces undefined results). If you haven't read and understood Meyers' "Exceptional C++" through-and-through, then you can't even begin to say you really know it at all, and that's just for starters. To say that C++ is a minefield of undefined behavior might be a little dramatic, but there certainly is a good amount of unexploded ordinance lying about.

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frob    44908
Quote:
Original post by batchprogram
I've been attending DeVry University for a Bachelor's in Game & Simulation Programming(GSP) for almost 6 months now. I'm skeptical on the credibility of DeVry and similar colleges to game companies. I've spoken to several graduates that claim most game companies consider the degree a waste of time and money.

You are going to a trade school. You are getting a trade degree. There are very few standard requirements, if any.

The degree most employers are looking for is Computer Science. They are mainly looking for the mainstreem degree that has standardized requirements from a traditional school.


Sure you can get a job, but you need to be aware that your degree is not standard, and usually considered less rigorous than the standard CS degree.

That is why various trade schools are often considered inferior to the more traditional CS degree.

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