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View Poll Results: FIEA vs. Guildhall
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Old 07-16-2010, 12:07 AM   #1
IronCOOKARU
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Default FIEA or Guildhall HELP!

I am having an incredibly tough time deciding between the two schools. I was considering Level Design at Guildhall and Production at FIEA. I'll list positives and negatives of each.

FIEA positives:

-Even better facilities, office like work area that emulates industry
-Largest MoCap facility on the east coast, rented out for commercials and commercial games frequently, makes for great networking
-Allows students to take classes that arent in their concentration, I have a strong interest in art
-ZBrush instruction and access to tablets
-8:1 student faculty ratio
-required introductory classes of all concentrations

FIEA Negatives:

-Relatively short, 12-month program 16, including possible intern
-only 30 credits
-Production track doesn't seem to include as much design
-Placement rate is high, but seems to be more limited to the same several studios that are local
-most students aren't able to take advantage of the freedom to attend other classes because they are too busy

Guildhall Positives:
-Longer 22 month program (57 credits)
-All students seem to get some production instruction in addition to whatever their concentration is
-Level design students seem to get more scripting experience than at FIEA
-Required introductory classes of all concentrations
-Seems like more formal instruction overall in addition to team based projects
-Seem to place more students around the country in more game development studios, less students at places like zynga or cartoon network.

Guildhall negatives:

-Smaller but still adequate mocap lab
-no ZBrush or Maya, just 3ds Max
-Seems to be more preoccupied with "modding" most student work is Gears mods
-cannot take courses in other disciplines beyond intro classes unlike FIEA
-slightly larger 12: student faculty ratio
-no tablets

FIEA Curriculum: http://www.fiea.ucf.edu/joomla/index...e-descriptions

Guildhall Curriculum: http://guildhall.smu.edu/Program-Outline.170.0.html

I visited both schools. I was very impressed at each. I preferred the facilities and environment at FIEA a bit more. The students also seemed to be more well rounded and socially apt.

Both programs are accredited Master's Degrees. Both include powerful laptops. Both have outstanding facilities. Both require instructors to have a certain amount of game industry experience. I'd lean towards FIEA if I knew I could handle Production and a minor in Art but some of the production work can be very dry and if I was strictly limited to that discipline I may prefer the Design focus at Guildhall for its relative creative freedom. FIEA seems to be more open and flexible in general. There are producers who are also artists. Programmers who are project leads. Producers who focus more on management and producers who are more creatively involved in game and level design.

I am a bit apprehensive about FIEA because of it's relatively small amount of credit hours. 16 months with little break is a long time and i know the classes are very demanding but when comparing the curriculum it just seems that Guildhall offers a larger spectrum of instruction despite FIEA's flexibility which can't be easily capitalized on. 57 credit hours in 22 months (with more break time) or 30 credits in 16 months (less break time ).

Any thoughts of those of you with experience at either school would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Last edited by IronCOOKARU : 07-16-2010 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 07-16-2010, 01:04 AM   #2
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I think you've already been taking the right steps to make this decision yourself. It's good that you have visited each school. Do you feel that you will fit there?

See http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m70.htm.
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:02 AM   #3
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Do the positives and negatives add up equally on both sides of the decision grid?
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:48 AM   #4
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I say neither. Game degrees are dangerous, limiting, and a huge fiscal mistake.
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Old 07-18-2010, 03:25 PM   #5
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@tsloper
Well the issue is I don't know whether or not some of those positive and negative impressions are entirely accurate. They were just impressions I was given based upon research and visitation. So I guess I was looking for anybody with experience at either of the two schools.

@ndimucci
I'm about to complete an BFA in computer animation.

These two particular schools are very high among the most highly regarded in the industry. They both place over 90% not including positions that aren't directly related to game production or development - Lockheed Martin. All instructors have well over 5 years of experience in the industry and worked on many commercial games and films.

Employers recruit from these places regularly. FIEA has a 6 month internship built into its curriculum. Many students end up in Orlando-based EA Tiburon the studio responsible for EA's football and golf titles.

I have decided this is the industry I'd like to be in and it is a relatively strong and stable one given the economic climate. I have a friend who graduated with top honors from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in architectural engineering who cannot find work which he has searched any places for. So when you say a game degree is limiting i take it with a grain of salt. These are the best graduate schools for what I want. Though I may change my mind in the future, there is no other graduate degree that will better prepare me for this. I understand the limitations of a highly specialized degree but do realize that there are many many other industries that could use digital artists, and the disciplines required for game production are quite similar in other fields of production that don't apply to games.

With nothing but a BFA in computer animation from a relatively weak program what do you suggest I do? Get an MFA and teach? Not something I have the desire for.

Last edited by IronCOOKARU : 07-18-2010 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 07-18-2010, 08:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrir View Post
I think you've already been taking the right steps to make this decision yourself. It's good that you have visited each school. Do you feel that you will fit there?

See http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m70.htm.
I feel like I'd fit in at both places. But the people at FIEA seem a bit more well rounded and are more likely to have broader interests that extend beyond games and comic books.

Last edited by IronCOOKARU : 07-18-2010 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 07-20-2010, 06:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
@tsloper
it is a relatively strong and stable one given the economic climate.
Sorry, but I think you need to look into this more. The game industry is extremely volatile and the fact you have chosen this industry for economic reasons already is an indication you've maybe made the wrong decision. This isn't an industry to offer personal economic stability, or even job stability for that matter. See crunches, poor management of 90% of studios, constant layoffs, low salaries, etc.

I say game degrees are limiting because 95% chance you will burn out and want to leave after about 3-5 years (that's about the average). Just consider what else you can do, career wise, when that happens.

I've looked into both schools myself, I was even accepted into Guildhall for level design. However, I decided against it, for the better in my case. And be weary of promises of employment after graduating. I know a few students of Guildhall that still had a hard time finding a job after graduating.

Have you designed any levels (or games in genreal)?

You do whatever you feel is best though. It's your life, I just hope to inform. If you decide to go with Guildhall and would like advice preparing your portfolio for admission, please let me know.
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Last edited by ndimucci : 07-20-2010 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndimucci View Post
And be weary of promises of employment after graduating.
LEARY. The word is "leary." Look it up.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndimucci View Post
Sorry, but I think you need to look into this more. The game industry is extremely volatile and the fact you have chosen this industry for economic reasons already is an indication you've maybe made the wrong decision. This isn't an industry to offer personal economic stability, or even job stability for that matter. See crunches, poor management of 90% of studios, constant layoffs, low salaries, etc.
Economic reasons are far from high on the list of those that have influenced my career decision. It was just a response to your comment about the limitations of a degree. I am aware of the volatility involved and long work hours. When you say I should consider what my other options are though it looks pretty weak to me. I am not a bad animator by any stretch of the imagination but I don't have too many options besides a managerial position at Target with just a BFA in computer animation unless I took a ton of time off after school to build a portfolio, all of this for a still very difficult position outside of the game industry I wouldn't be as passionate about. Speaking of low salaries the few jobs I may qualify would have a very poor work to pay ratio. Of course in many instances the game industry would as well, the difference is I'm extremely passionate about it. Also, I understand that starting salaries are nothing stellar, but in some areas, the increase based on years of experience seems to happen much faster.

I don't really wish to teach and anything else I have a strong interest in would probably require me to get another Bachelor's degree before even thinking about a Master's.

So I'm not really saying you're wrong. I have considered my other options. What was your undergraduate degree in and what did you ultimately decide to do over Guildhall?

The two other schools I was considering are Savannah College of Art and Design, and the ETC at Carnegie Mellon. Both programs are more traditional and less industry driven. Any thoughts?

In any case, I welcome any portfolio advice you can give me :-P.

Last edited by IronCOOKARU : 07-20-2010 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:26 PM   #10
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I go to CMU as an undergrad. I can say the ETC is pretty awesome from the time I visited. However they did tell us on the tour the students spend 16 hours a day working on their projects, so if you apply prepare to be challenged like you've never been in your life. And the ETC is very industry driven, they have contracts with companies like EA that guarantee jobs for some of their students, many go off to start companies of their own and some of the professors like Jesse Schell are heads of their own companies.

Also, I have no idea what you mean by traditional, because the ETC certainly doesn't my description of "traditional".

As for portfolio--I understand classes do take away from portfolio time, but that's something you'll have to spend a lot of time into if you expect to get good. Set aside a day on the weekend or a time period where regardless of your other responsibilities (unless they're really urgent) to dedicate solely for the portfolio. You'll need a stellar portfolio regardless of degree anyway.
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