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Old 10-17-2007, 02:17 AM   #1
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Old 10-17-2007, 05:40 AM   #2
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I'm a sophomore at Iowa State University. I haven't taken 409x yet but what I have done the article is pretty spot on. The core design program is probly the most competitive and challenging academic programs on campus. It will definitely cause you some stress and sleepless nights. Once you make it into your program the sense of accomplishment is fantastic and design quickly becomes your favorite building on campus. The biggest advantage a school like Iowa State has is variety of classes and leadership opportunities. I currently am getting a minor in Computer Science and will declare a Digital Media minor Friday when I meet with my advisor. I have an amazing on campus job working with new student orientation, am on the Design Career Days planning committee, and am a member of a Fraternity. If you want an education with lots of ability to fine tune your education and plenty of leadership experience Iowa State is the school for you.
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:30 AM   #3
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I'm Josh Larson, one of the first generation students Greg mentioned who developed Treefort Wars and one of his partners at Intuition. Just to clarify, our company was called Annex Labs, not Annex Studios. It didn't really dissolve and reform. Rather, it was absorbed into 8monkey Labs when the 4 of us joined the 4 owners of Phantom EFX to start 8monkey Labs together (4 and 4 is 8 monkeys).

Ted Martens and I both worked on Treefort Wars, which means Intuition is actually made up of 3 of those first generation students (Mike B worked on the other game developed during the first 409X class, Grimm) along with Greg, a second generation student.

Greg's article is slightly misleading, as the game development program started with us, then grew quite a bit, then declined back down into 409X again by the time he took it. So at one point, there was an official game development class. However, for whatever reason, the official game development program that was forming regressed slightly back down to an experimental class.

It should be noted that Greg's experience is his own, and for those of us pioneers who started in the first game dev class at ISU, the experience was quite different.

One more thing. Maybe his name was removed in the editing of this article, but Steve Herrnstadt deserves a lot of credit for starting and organizing the game development class at ISU. There wasn't a whole lot of specific teaching going on in the game development class. It was mainly meant as a studio class where students could get credit for working on a game that they would likely also use as a project for their other classes. The work involved in making a game is enough that you could devote a full 12 credits in class work to it, but obviously students have other classes to worry about, too. Steve setting up a game dev class allowed us the freedom to work a little harder than we otherwise would have had time for for our art, comp sci, or engineering projects. Some students seem to abuse this freedom, so maybe that's why the class is just an experimental one again?

Last edited by torncanvas : 10-17-2007 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:29 PM   #4
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I'm currently a masters student at Iowa State University in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). I also received my bachelors from ISU in Computer Science with a minor in Design Studies. I started taking the game development class during the transition period between the first and second generation of students. I worked on Grimm with many of the first generation students and loved every minute of it. It was a really great experience and is what solidified for me that game development is what I really want to do. Unfortunately, as Josh has said, the class has since declined. It can be a great experience for those students who are extremely driven and self motivated and find similar students to work with, but for those students who require more structure and direction, this class does not work for them.

Another clarification that needs to be made is that VRAC does not offer a graduate program. The graduate program I believe Greg is referring to is HCI, which is an interdisciplinary university graduate program with both MS and PhD degrees. VRAC (Virtual Reality Applications Center) is a research center on campus where many HCI students happen to work. The research conducted there covers a broad spectrum from applications in the C6 (a six sided VR room), work with haptics, real-time simulations or "serious" games, but not video games in the traditional or even innovative sense. That's not to say that things learned working on research projects at VRAC can't translate to video game development, just simply that video game development is not as prevalent as Greg makes it sound.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:34 AM   #5
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Very good points, deese.

I think game development as an official program could really take off again at ISU if Steve was able to secure a good faculty member who (1) had experience in the industry, (2) was able to provide more structure to classes, and (3) was able to establish more accountability for students.

It's true that VRAC and HCI are separate. I also think VRAC should get a lot of credit for being an incubator of sorts for game development talent at ISU. The knowledge undergrads gain working and researching at VRAC is so applicable to the game industry, that all of the ISU alumni I know of who are in or were in the game industry either are currently working for VRAC or have at one point worked for VRAC in the past.

Those ISU students set on game development as a career could work hard at their relevant major, take the game dev class, participate in the game dev club, and work at VRAC. And from that collective experience, they would have a pretty good chance at making it in the industry.
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