Frustrated University Student Wasting money on Undesirable Education

So I’m quite frustrated with my university. About a year ago I pushed for a class in game development. It was around the time when UE4 was announced to be free for education. I emailed my adviser and the dean of the college of Arts and Sciences. They brought it up in the a couple of department meetings (also do note that the CS sub-department was in talks to move to the Physics department from the Math department).

So at the end of last semester, my adviser announced there would be a “Game Design” class. It’s titled CSCI: Problems - Computer Graphics. The class is a little interesting as we are doing everything in OpenGL and WebGL. But all we have done so far is small animations, a line segment painter, layers, and we talked once about camera angles. I get it, sure it’s good to know the foundation of animation and game engines. But the fact is it will wasn’t relevant enough to what we were discussing. We will actually only barely delve into user input and dynamics. In-fact we had quite a bit of trouble even starting the class as it took 3 weeks for everyone to get OpenGL projects to compile on our personal computers. And we have a semester project that we had to come up with a proposal of what we were going to do. It was due two weeks ago and all of us bs’d it and are going with a 2D platformer because we can at least create one level. We’ve barely learned anything yet. And hopefully by then we’ll learn how to use external textures.

So I’m paying for a class that basically is an elective and not getting much out of it. Just basics of OpenGL.
I could rant on and on how dissapointing the CS department is at my school. Most CS students only go to work using their emphasis, mines networking, I’m going for my CCNP.

But it has been my dream for a long time to try and make games. I have so many creative ideas and I don’t get to fuel them into a project because I get stumped on something simple within any game engine. All because I’ve never been taught.


So my question is, what’s the best plan of action in a situation like this? Wait till I graduate and go to school somewhere else to take game design classes? It frustrates me so much that I have to keep asking noob questions on the answers site and wait 12 hours to get an answer back on how to do something so simple.

I want to learn, but I need help with learning.

Hey. Sorry to hear about your situation. I can kind of empathise from my own University experience; in particular I know what it’s like to have disappointing course modules, that are described as one thing and then turn out to be another. Anyway I won’t go into that.

My advice for you if you want to get into making games: start making games now, in earnest. Follow the Unreal video tutorials, even if it’s just a few hours a week in between classes. When you’re starting out it is really frustrating to not have the basic vocabulary to do what you want to do at and given time, but you’ll improve over time. A good way to approach learning is by taking on tiny consecutive projects, like the “Game a Week challenge](”. That way you can focus on a new concept every week without being daunted by the lofty demands associated with making a larger game. It’s also a great way to learn how to finish and ship a project (an undervalued skill for sure). Look for game jams in happening in your local area. Experience is valuable, and any you get at this point is a head start on any formal education you might end up having in the future.

Don’t worry about not being adequately trained. Something to bear in mind is that there are successful people making games who started with less of an academic head start than you seem to have.

I don’t know anything about you really, but from what you’ve written here, you remind me a little of me when I was in Uni (a few years ago). I really wished my course would give me a way into game design, but for the most part it never ended up happening. From there, I just kind of procrastinated and it took me until the year I graduated to start my own projects. Looking back, I wish I had used the time better. I’m self taught, and I’ve learned a whole lot about game design and development that way, but I wish I could have been learning back when I had the free time associated with not having a full time job.

Good luck

Trust them to screw up something that should be really interesting. University / College can be good for learning technical subjects, but making games isn’t necessarily one of them. Change is happening so fast within video game engines like UE4 / U5, colleges just can’t keep up! Also studies in the UK and USA have shown that as prices go up inversely the quality of teaching goes down. This was for MBA programs, which are frequent markers for how well teaching institutions are performing.

So what should you do?

There are so many rich tutorials online, official tutorials tied into these forums, informal tutorials offered in user signatures, Digital Tutors & course catalogs, past libraries of UDK tutorials (YouTube), and classic Eat 3D / 3D Buzz tutorials. Together these are collectively probably the Best University in the world. Learning Video Games is an activity often best undertaken on your own or in an informal team of developers more experienced than yourself. With one notable exception: building video-game engines. College is probably still best for that. But for building games? DIY: Do It Yourself.

But what if you’re not the self-motivated type?

There was a time when institutions were the only place to go to obtain an official stamp that set you up for life. Its taken me a while to get my head around the fact, that University / College is not where its at anymore, not for gaming. Its a hard thing to do because institutions perpetuate the idea that we can’t live without them, that we need their bits of paper to get recognition in the working world. That said, should you have sufficient resources then try for one of Top-100 institutions world-wide (often listed on sites like Bloomberg), or look to a handful of colleges that specifically tailor to video games, by offering super-practical courses. If that’s not possible, them try to think of an idea for a game, something that will keep you motivated while you’re iterating. This idea, game or level will be the push that keeps you learning the various skills you need.

On which site do you mean? -> when you dont get a fast answer on answerhub, you can also post your question into the forum. Then you get really fast answers (of course it depends on your question ^^). But keep in mind, we are always here to help you! :slight_smile:

I actually understand your frustration, especially if you are an undergraduate student. I had the same experience until I found the way the industry I’m interested in looks for engineering candidates.

My personal opinion, I honestly don’t think college is a good place to learn anything directly about game design. Looking at job openings on game developers’ websites you would see the requirements for engineering positions are highly general, if you are an entry-level applicant (for both full-time or internship) you are required to have general skills like proficiency in C/C++, linear algebra, graphics APIs, and algorithms. Special requirements like AI, networks, database, etc are sometimes included as well. Other positions require some years of relevant experience, a lot of them requiring involvement with some specific number of released games. So if you really think of it, taking a few classes on game programming in college, especially when the instructors are most likely to have zero experience actually working in the game industry, is not that helpful.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that as far as universities are concerned, computer science is networks, artificial intelligence, algorithm analysis, computer architecture, programming languages, computer vision, computer graphics, etc. In my personal opinion, the rest is up to the student. If you want to use that knowledge to start your career at JPL, CERN, Google, Intel, or at Bethesda, Bungie, or Epic Games, it’s up to you to direct your efforts towards the right path.

Personally I’m into the animation industry, I did my bachelor’s in CS and towards the end focused solely on computer graphics, now for my Master’s I’m working on light transport simulation and physically-based rendering. That’s the right way for me to get into that particular industry, while having a plan B if I wasn’t successful or satisfied in the animation industry… at least I have two CS degrees and the required knowledge and the potential to get hired elsewhere.

So my advice would be don’t give up on getting your CS degree, and try not to get disappointed in the program, it will only make your life harder. Without at least a bachelor’s degree in CS or a related field (EE, Math, Physics, etc) you are **almost **guaranteed to have a hard time getting noticed by the game developers unless you are some sort of genius with some sort of proof (a successful game on Steam or App Store, maybe?).

Look at these for instance:
Naughty Dog - Gameplay Programmer
Naughty Dog - Tools Programmer
Bungie - Engine Programmer (Entry Level) About Bungie | |
Bethesda Game Studios - Game Programmer

I’m fully aware, and agree, that this is not the ideal way of finding and hiring talent, but this is what we are dealing with as students.

Thanks everyone for your posts.

To clarify I was referring to the UE answers hub.
I’m not giving up on my CS degree. I love it but the CS program at my university has sucked all the fun and curiosity out of programming because it’s all database or irrelevant stuff that we program all in command line with no experience with GUIs or applying much to graphics even with the graphics class I’m taking.

I plan on learning on the side, when I have time. I should have lots of time over the weekends in the summer during my internship at an Agriculture Coop in the IT department. I do and have realized learning all of this will take plenty of patience. And I’m going to learn one engine at a time.

Your feedback, advice, and insight is extremely helpful. I will use what all of you have told me and tell others at my university looking to do the same as what I hope to do.

Wow… I went to a joke of a University and their curriculum sounds better than what you’re being taught, if your interested I have a small game project I’m working on, I have always loved the Soldier of Fortune series and I’m in the prototyping stage of making a game that has destructible player models and tones of gore(and when I say game I use those terms very loosely right now as its not much it’s mostly just GDD and animation sketches), I have 1 artist with me currently and would be in need of someone that has a more advanced knowledge of C++ as of right now what I know is very basic and I’m making most of the “Code” in Blueprint, there would be no pay up front but if you actually know what your doing I’ll happily share a small % of the profit(If any) and give you credit for your work if you’re building a portfolio.

The job of a CS degree is to be general and expose you to lots of different fields, especially as an undergrad. It will be a pain to try and change curriculum, even with help from people on the inside.

My best advice is that you not wait for the school to do anything. If making games is something you want to do, you’re going to have to just do it on your own time. Learning a 3D game engine can be a daunting task, but its doable. Especially with the amount of great tutorial content both Epic and the Unreal community put out there. Just stick with it and you’ll get the hang of it!

@Chinchy This really isn’t an appropriate part of the forums to be hiring people…

As for @ndlanier, I kind of understand how you feel. I am a high school student taking a Graphics Communications I class. At first, a lot of our time was spent sketching, and we still do in our class. I always questioned this idea because I didn’t think “drawing” on paper was going to help me with learning Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. As time went by, I started to understand why we were doing them in the first place. Of course, the scenario that you are in is mainly different than mine, but I can sort if see how they are similar as well.

I still have three years before going to any college/university, so please forgive me as I don’t quite understand every detail about classes in college. I don’t think I should give any advice either due to my lack of knowledge with this, but hope you manage find a solution to your problem. Remember, there are always tutorials online and documentation to help guide you through. :slight_smile:

I wish you best success.

  • Shadow

I’m 16 and im currently trying to get my college to push for using the UE4 engine for the game development course. everything I know about particle systems has been taught to me though the use of the videos on the Unreal Engine Youtube channel, so if I was in your position I would start there and then go and create small games, eventually leading up in to a big project with multiple people.

Full Sail University (private school, non-accredited) is what I’ve seen, heard, and am, hyped on. I’ve done the campus tour, and to say that I was impressed would be to put it mildly.

edit: It’s not a school, it’s a 6-day a week, 12+ hour day job. Not for the feint of heart, and it is fairly expensive. An investment with a good return I think; although I wouldn’t work in the game industry, but instead look into other industries requiring a game developer / designer (coughreal-time arcvizcough)

As far as your current situation, learn the tools of the trade (3dsMax, Maya, Zbrush, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, UE4) and the general concepts (lighting, modelling, rendering, human/machine interfacing), and read everything you can. Do rapid weekend exercise projects (3+ projects) with what you’ve learned that week and the weeks prior in order to cement them into memory.

The degree is just a piece of paper that will get a recruiter to actually view your portfolio. As far as your chosen field (networking)… I’ve got some advice for that (it’s my field), but it is out-of-scope for this forum.