Plans for Semester 2

Its been quite a while since I have posted on this blog and a large part of the delay is due to finding my feet with the new semester. I have found collecting my thoughts in a written format during semester one useful however and hope to continue this practice. This post is hopefully the first of many throughout study block 2.

Before I outline my plans for study block two, I think it’s important to reflect on my progress so far and acknowledge some of my successes and also forthcoming challenges. First of all, let’s start with the successes. I achieved a number of expected and even a couple of unexpected goals in study block one. The biggest, and most pleasant surprise was my academic results. I achieved a distinction on both modules, setting me up for a trajectory I had dreamed of, but had thought might be beyond my grasp. I took the time to talk to both of my tutors at the beginning of study block 1. I’ve already outlined in previous posts that I’m considering a step into doctoral studentship and the academic boundary to take this route is a Merit/2:1 in either a BA or post-graduate course. Two distinction sets me up with a giant leapfrog against the curve. Indeed, if I achieve just two passes this semester and at least a distinction in my final project in study block three, I should get a Merit. So as far as this semester is concerned, any grade above a pass only solidifies my chances and I’m quietly confident that my work is usually to a standard of Merit or greater. I hope to bring the level of focus and quality to my work in study block 2 that I brought in study block 1. It is of course only right I emphasize that my result not only reflects the work I put in, but the excellent tuition I received by my module leaders.

One of the principle reasons for my enrollment on my course was not only to seek appropriate qualification for a PhD studentship, but also to improve my technical skills. All three of my academic years during my BA were somewhat fraught (for a variety of different reasons) and I found myself leaning quite hard into theoretical and project management aspects of a game-development skill-set. Whilst this is no bad thing, my technical skills, particularly with regards to programming have been somewhat lacking and I’m pleased to acknowledge, that to a large extent they are coming along in leaps and bounds.

Not only have I gained a reasonable degree of competence with a particular engine (in my case, Unity), I’m now competent at managing teams, source control, my own conception and delivery of projects and I can confidently prototype, demonstrate and communicate ideas in a digital format. Does that mean I’ve reached my technical goals? of course not. I doubt I ever will. Just as there are a wide variety of technical tools available for game development today, technology moves forward at a frightening pace and I now feel competent enough to at least keep my skill-set fresh and up to date. I genuinely relish the idea, rather than dread the delivery of projects for which I am accountable.

I’ve picked up a number of useful skills. I have implemented AI. I have the ability to produce digital prototypes of my games. I’ve even begun rounding out my skills in additional areas, such as animation and implementation of animations in engines, such as my test video here: I have also undertaken game development projects outside of university, including participation in this years Global Game Jam. You can find a link to our submission here: Although missing some animations, it is a complete prototype and I think would be genuinely fun to play after the jam.

One final mention is that I also took on the role of a department rep for students in my cohort. This gave me the opportunity to raise suggestions and issues of concern and help the University drive forward continuing improvement with its course delivery and development.

So where next? I have two modules this study block; firstly, I have a specialist pathway module in experimental game design. Secondly, I have a collaborative module with other students in the form of a group game development project. I will cover my thoughts and processes on these modules in later posts.

For now though, I’m one third of the way through my course and in contrast to my study during my BA, the postgraduate course is a breath of fresh air. I have genuine freedom to explore my professional practice in an academic context and I think it’s fair to say I’m thriving on the autonomous nature of post-graduate study as a result. Onwards and upwards!