View Full Version : What to study and where?

12 December 2011, 11:56 AM
First, hello to everyone in this awesome community!

I would like to share my ideas with you and receive some feedback. My priority is to study 3d modeling + animation and as second choice comes game design (as in 3D animation with programming, scripting, etc). So, which is better to study for bachelor and which for masters?

Also, I was wondering, if I study both animation and modeling for ~3 years bachelor, won't they both be... somewhat half-assed? Is it a better choice to drop the game design and go study specialization focused on modeling and for masters to focus on animation?

For the bachelor, my only option is to enter an university that wants TOEFL score and portfolio, I think this limits my options to EU. Considering that, can someone suggest universities? For now I have stopped on Bournemouth, Teesside, Hertfordshire, NHTV Breda, Derby and Bolton. What do you think about them and if you have to choose only 5 of them which would you choose?

12 December 2011, 03:07 PM
Well thanks for considering Hertfordshire :) OK a small warning, I work there, so obviously everything I say will have a natural bias towards them :)

Game Design is not so much a programming area (although scripting skills are useful) it's about the game design itself - the way it plays, what makes it fun, designing the levels, the characters etc and is an area that requires a lot of written skills, creative thinking skills and knowledge of game play and player motivations - the way you have written your question makes it sound more like you are interested in game programming which is the role of actually coding the game and making all the technical stuff work. None of the game designers I've worked with have been programmers, but about half had scripting skills for making alterations to things the programmers had created (triggers, entry/exit switches, traps etc) and the other half didn't - they all had to design what happened in the game, that was their main role. They all had to use the level editor to assemble levels and get the assets functioning in game, and their other big role was negotiating new functions from the programmers and new art assets from the artists. So I'd say that negotiation/bribery/blackmailing skills are really useful for a game designer if he wants to see his vision turn out the way it is in his head :)

I'm not sure if there is anywhere that will teach you the above, all the game designers I worked with had been hardcore gamers that had studied wildly disparate subjects - none of them had studied art or coding. Most got into game design by accident - they made levels for MODs, stuck them online, generated interest, and companies got in touch with them and offered them a job! It seems a lot more random than the art / programming route.

If you study animation and modelling for 3 years at a good university you should be very talented when you graduate. Every course is different, but at Hertfordshire we make every student learn modelling and animation (and a hell of a lot else) for the first two years, and then by that point they will know what area they want to specialise in and do so for their final year. This means our graduates can potentially work in any area of 3D, but, having tried all of them can make a decision based on experience about what their future career path should be. I suspect you will find a similar pattern of study at other good courses.

You seem to be making some huge decisions about exactly what it is you are going to be doing many years into the future - it's good to think ahead, but be aware that if you are going to study for three years you will probably be a different person by the end of that course - many of my students start their degrees thinking they will be modellers or animators
by the end, but the wide range of skills they are taught make them often realise that they discover hidden skills about themselves that they have more talent in than the ones they expected to work in - it's quite normal for modelling or animation students to discover that they are actually more skilled at lighting, or particle effects, or rigging or concept art - and in my experience about half the graduates work in an area of 3D that they would not have considered at the start of their first year because they hadn't been taught the skills or forced into dealing with those areas as part of a project.

If you want to study character animation at Master's level you may probably be better off paying for Animation Mentor or a similar course - they aren't a Master's qualification of course, but they might be more of what you would want in terms of training. A Masters (in the UK at least) is quite often research focused and also very academic, whereas the undergraduate courses tend to be much heavier on practical skills - of course each degree course has it's own philosophy, so that's a broad generalisation for you.

I can't answer your last question without extreme bias :) So instead I will add three more possibilities from mainland Europe if that helps - The Animation Workshop Denmark, Gobelins in Paris and Supinfocom (also in France). The last two teach in French though, I'm not sure about the teaching language in Denmark, but all three are amazing schools.

Finally if you want to ask UK students about their experiences in the UK courses, there is an excellent thread on the The Student Rooms forum about this:

12 December 2011, 01:50 PM
Thanks a lot for taking your time to give me a detailed answer :).

About the degrees, I don't really care for them. When it comes down to finding a job, I think my skills (portfolio) are more important than a peace of paper that proves I have finished a program/course. So I'll definitely consider the other options.

Also, what I meant by Game Design was something like the Hertfordshire's 3D Game Arts course. You study how to use existing 3D game engines and make games from scratch, which is why I thought programming will be studied too.

01 January 2012, 11:16 PM
We teach a small amount of scripting so that students can modify the game engine (UDK or Crysis) in order to create new effects/functions etc, but it's not the sort of programming knowledge you'd need to make an entire new game from scratch - that is a degree in its own right. We are primarily an arts course; we train students to become games artists. A few every year do get into the programming side of games art and do become Technical Artists, but the majority become environment/prop/character artists.

02 February 2012, 12:21 AM
Thanks very much, nice of you to say so :)

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