Well, it seems I have been less than productive in my domain lately. Since I am still processing game-related content, I’ll just write about some of the things I’ve been doing lately. That processing includes the dragon game.
One of the probably most interesting tidbits is the fact that I graduated just before christmas. I am now Bachelor of Information Technologies, apparently. Let’s reflect on my three-and-half year education and what I gained from it.
I joined Kajaanin Ammattikorkeakoulu in 2008. I did not have any previous programming or graphical experience, so I decided to just absorb everything and see what I was most efficient at. As the line I was studying was still mostly about programming, that was the only subject they really taught. Unfortunately, the teachers were not very good at it.
Most of the programming teachers were old, self-educated programmers. I wager most of them did not have any pedagogic knowledge or experience, as it felt like they had no idea what they were doing. They either rambled about some history and about the age when they used punched cards, or they just showed some projections and told us to google it. Combine this with the fact that the first basic programming lectures were either boring theory or boring small-scale application coding, and morale was quite low. I remember vividly listening to the ramblings of one teacher and thinking ”That’s it. I’m not learning anything this way. Time for self-education.” With information garnered from the Internet I managed to pass our mandatory programming courses. For many other students that was the end of their game development education.
Later on I realized that I was not good at programming. Hunting for obscure bugs or libraries frustrates me to no end, and so I abandoned any coding aspirations. I can’t draw very well, so I’m would also be a useless graphic artist. So my only remaining choice (for the time) was game design. But there were only a few game analysis courses, and it tells something about the quality that I don’t remember anything about them. The best game design information I received by reading a book called Fundamentals of Game Design by Ernest Adams and Andrew Rollings. It taught me to look for harmony and the importance of proper communication. That book was the end of my first year of Kajak.
The next year was quite bitter. The school had learned from our fumblings, and made significant improvements in the education. The new students were grouped from the start and they began by making a game. They had fully different courses for programmers, graphic artists, designers and producers. They could join a cooperative and straight on sell their games. They were immidiately shown what making a game was all about, while we were still stuck going through government-mandated courses that were of no importance.
There were a couple of projects I was in, but forming teams was like pulling teeth. All the graphic artists bailed out after the first year, so they were in short supply. Everyone were busy with their phonebooks and other useless programming practices so no-one had time or energy for an out-of-school project. In the end, I only managed to do some limited game design on a limited game: Eko-Twist, an educational waste recycling game played with a dance mat. Joy.
So for a long time, things looked quite bleak. School was managing to actually get in the way of learning. Yet, the time I spent there was not a waste…