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Old 07-09-2008, 10:20 AM   #1
Designingtothe_Max
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Default VFS sound good?

Ok, so I'm 13 years old, going into grade 8, live in Canada, am currently making games with my neighbor using Game Maker (will soon switch to flash after we somehow can buy flash with actionscript 3.0, so we can learn to code), and want your guys opinions on VFS's (Vancouver Film School's) one-year Game Design program.

When I first saw that their program was ONLY one year I said to myself "Would this truly be a good choice or would it be better to go to a four year program somewhere else?" After I looked into it, it seems as if it IS a good choice. The teachers are industry veterans who when not teaching students are making games for a company. The programs are also made so that you have hands on work for all aspects of being a game designer (sorry, don't think I mentioned it, but I want to be a game designer), instead of just theory.
Here's a list of what it says that you (I) will learn:
Game Art and 3D Modeling
Scripting
Level Design
Game Audio
Visual Storytelling and Machinima
Flash Game Development
Analog Game Design
Motion Capture Shoot
Final Game Development
Industry Presentation

And now for your thoughts
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:31 AM   #2
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Just like to point out, you can learn to code in Game Maker.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:33 AM   #3
Designingtothe_Max
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Yea I know, but I would rather learn to code in flash.
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Old 07-09-2008, 01:40 PM   #4
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Personally I think the one year degree for games design won't help at all in getting a job in the industry for two reasons:

1. Most (if not all) jobs ask for applicants to have full Bachelors degrees.
2. It is next to impossible to get a design role straight out of college with no industry experience.

If you already have a degree, then the decision is a little more grey as it might be useful to have some supplement education although it is arguable that you could learn most of the course yourself without the fees.

Read: http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html

Last edited by yaustar : 07-09-2008 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:04 AM   #5
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I have friends who went to VFS -- animation, game design, etc -- and from their experience, the ones who excel and are able to get industry jobs immediately are the ones who went there with a solid base of fundamental knowledge of the skills required to be in the career they want. (Most of them had some sort of post secondary education prior to VFS.)

Those who went to Game Design with the ambition to become a Narrative Designer have been to the University to study creative writing and other liberal arts field. Those who went to Animation already had a strong drawing and drafting skills. Those who wanted to be level designers had went to the program with knowledge of industry standard programs such as Photoshop CS3; some experience with 3D modeling; even (at the very least) knowledge of either C++, Java, or a module-based scripting knowledge like NWNScript or UnReal Script.

In all of this, what I am trying to say is that private technical colleges that offer these one-two year programs should be seen as a finishing school and not where you get your primary fundamental knowledge of industry standard programs (especially with their tuition price!).

If you're interested in the game industry, find your niche, go to post-secondary to expand on that niche, build a simple portfolio and then go to VFS for a more focused study (if that's what you want). Even when you are in VFS, specifically talking about their Game Design program, you could cater your one year studies to exactly what you want to be. If you're not interested in narration, you could gear your courses to be more art-based or code-based.

That being said, I'm still a strong advocate of post secondary education like universities. If coding is what you're interested in, obtain a Computer Science degree and look at internships and scholarships related to the game industry. If you're interested in writing, focus on writing and, similarly, look at internships and scholarships. Art? Invest in schools like ACAD or Emily Carr or Sheridan or Capilano College. Not many people go straight into the industry in their first try. Heck, most of them went through unconventional means. Most of these skills can be acquired without having to pay ridiculous amounts of money. Like anything worth doing, it takes time.

Basically, I'm just expanding on what yaustar has said.
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yaustar View Post
If you already have a degree, then the decision is a little more grey as it might be useful to have some supplement education although it is arguable that you could learn most of the course yourself without the fees.
Or getting a first degree and spending the money on attending small-medium conferences instead
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:30 AM   #7
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Make sure you never quit searching. You're 13 years old - the game industry (and naturally, the education that comes with it) is constantly evolving and what's good now might not be that great 5 years from now when it's time to enroll.

My advice is to select a 4-year degree over a 1-year degree. During your 1 year of college, you won't have much time to build a portfolio outside of class, or work with a mod team at all. A 4 year degree will give you more time to find that extra experience that all the companies are requiring.

Also, if you complete a 4-year degree then at some point later in life decide making games doesn't hold your interest, you'll be able to post that you have a bachelor's degree. A 4-year degree, no matter the field, is MUCH more viable than a 1-year, very specialized degree.

But that's just my opinion. I'm trying to break into the business right now and I'm a year from finishing my degree in Economics. If one of the local gurus says I'm full of dung, pick their comments over mine (and maybe I'll learn something).
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:26 PM   #8
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Hi, I'm a VFS grad.

You will _not_ learn all that during your 1 year - you will get introduced to it. With no serious previous experience, you will not emerge an industry standard junior modeller or scripter. If you work hard however, you can emerge a competent designer with a solid understanding of all elements of game development. The school gives you a little freedom to specialize in whichever disciplines you like, but I wouldn't recommend going through the Game DESIGN course unless you intend to specialize in design. If you want to code or model or whatever, do a computer science or art course instead. The school will still make you complete all art assignments if you're a coder or vice versa.

Based on what you said it sounds like it, but make sure it's a designer you really want to be - you will mainly be writing a lot lot lot of documentation. 40+ pages sometimes. The systems working in the background of games are more complicated than they seem and as a designer you'll have to define in detail how to transform 'pushing buttons' into 'fun', all while within a million constraints. Look at some of the posts at http://vancouvergamedesign.com/ to see what designers consider fun and interesting, its run by VFS grads.

A fair amount of people from each graduating years land good design jobs at Relic, EA, Propaganda, Radical, BioWare, etc. Those that don't are quite honestly doing something wrong - degree or not companies will not hire you if you're lazy, arrogant or your work sucks.

The best thing about the course are the final projects. You're given a lot of freedom to do what you want, and the tools used by the students (last graduating class 3/4 games were already ut3) and encouraged by the staff are cutting edge compared to other institutios. Check out their website, the student work section should speak for itself.

What you do on that project will be your main portfolio piece, so make sure you do what you want to find a job in. Every year many groups decide to divide it up by art / code / level / etc. but I think this is a mistake. Going back to what I said earlier about specializing, I saw some people really screw themselves over because they come out as a designer with nothing to show for it that is also a substandard artist, and what companies want is just a good designer so guess who gets hired.

The instructors are hit and miss... but I think you'll find that no matter where you go. However VFS does have some really exceptional ones with a lot of smart stuff to say and excellent connections. They will bring presidents and CEOs of major companies by to judge your work.

Doing a long degree before VFS definitely helps. I hate to sound elitist, but if you look at who does really well during the program, like someone else already said you'll notice its more often that not those with previous degrees. VFS will not teach you the basic academic skills like or work ethic you will develop at a real university. Ideally of course since you're planning ahead also study something relevant.

In short... like some already said I recommend VFS to people with degrees that want to specialize in game design or people already really good at something that want to learn about game development.

Last edited by stray : 07-18-2008 at 10:30 PM.
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