Tech Talk – Entering the Scary World of Coding

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When students first come to VFS one of their major worries is often: will they be able to handle the coding?  The answer to me is obvious – and it’s almost always a resounding yes!  That is because the curriculum at VFS has been designed to teach everything you need without prior knowledge of coding.

People also ask me a lot – don’t you get bored teaching introductory programming in term 1?  The answer is definitely not.  The more advanced classes are great fun too, but for me my favorite class is week 7 of Programming 1.  Seven weeks earlier, twenty or so students start my class; most with no experience coding.  And seven weeks later they are producing group projects with thousands of lines of code.  Seeing that transformation and their confidence developing never gets old.

Coding is not for everyone though and some students decide in the end it is not a career they want to pursue – so does that mean they can’t make games?  Absolutely not – there are so many different disciplines that go into making games, from art to design, audio to production.  However even if you choose one of these other great avenues, you will benefit from the knowledge you gained about what programmers do and how they work.  That is why it’s a core part of the curriculum that everyone learns in their first term.  If you want to learn more then you can choose to go deeper in later stream choices.

But I’m biased – don’t take my word for it!  Here are the thoughts of three students from last term that have just finished Programming 1:

Juan Carlos Perezcruz Pintos

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Tech Talk : Xbox One Thoughts

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Microsoft finally revealed its much anticipated new console to the world on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 and decided to go with the interesting name of Xbox One. The name is pretty apt as Microsoft made clear they are not just creating a gaming device but are attempting to replace every entertainment unit in your living room with one device to rule them all. In fact, it seemed that Microsoft’s event was not really aimed at Sony as the main competition – but rather at Apple.

For me, the presentation was very good and a welcome return to reality after Sony’s PR event for the PlayStation 4, which was widely panned for not actually having any hardware to show. As a software engineer, I worked on both the Playstation 2 and 3 and the original Xbox 1 and 360 on engine development. Without a doubt, Microsoft products were always much easier to develop for. The tools worked perfectly, the development environment between PC and console was seamless, and the documentation and support were superb. Playstation hardware however was often exceptionally difficult to work with – particularly the Cell architecture in the PS3. This frequently led to PS3 games having less features and a lesser performance than 360 games – simply because they were so difficult to fully exploit.

Xbox One Console

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Tech Talk : Zero to Hero – Getting Your First Technical Games Developer Job

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As Senior Technical Instructor here at VFS, the question I get asked the most by students nearing graduation is how to ace an interview for becoming a technical designer, technical artist, or programmer. I’ve hired many people in my time in the industry, so I’m happy to help! Students want to know what to expect, how to handle the tough questions, and what to say when the dreaded negotiations about money start. This first Tech Talk is a guide through the steps most students will take from leaving VFS to when they land their first dream job.

Getting that Phone Call

Before you get to the interview you need to get asked to attend one! This is where a polished professional resume is key. Don’t try to stand out too much with fancy graphics and stylised text. Since it’s now normal for everyone to try to stand out with something funky, you will actually fare better with a clean looking page. Make sure to get it reviewed by at least two professionals working in industry before submitting it. Keep it under four pages, and even if you have no professional experience, cover your accomplishments. Employers want to see that you have both skills and are a real human that can interact and have fun with other people. When it’s ready – get ready to apply – everywhere. Getting that first call can take a long time and you need to apply to a lot of employers. Once you have your foot in the door and some experience behind you, future searches will take a lot less time.

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