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Hey all,
I’ve just finished the PgDip section of the MSc in Computer Game Technology course in Abertay, heading back home to Ireland to start the MSc part on Friday yay! Just thought I’d add my two cent to this topic and give ye all my opinions of the course!
To say the course hasn’t reached my expectations is a major understatement. It could be just that we(two other lads that did the Computer Science degree in UCC did the course) came along at a bad year because it seems to be sort of a little lost at the moment or to use a football managers phrase ‘in transition’. Coming from the computer science degree in UCC I had certain expectations on the quality of lectures(whenever there was any) and unfortunately too many at Abertay didn’t live up to these, maybe we were spoilt in UCC :P

Out of the six modules we did, two weren’t up to scratch whatsoever and another module was sorta cobbled together as a last ditch due to a staff member leaving. That said the guy who came in did have a lot of industry experience (very bitter man from it!!) and opened our eyes as to some of the harsh realities of the industry. I won’t go into the details of the two very bad courses but there has been a few public arguments about the courses and think the college are left in little doubt as to the classes impression of them.
The other three courses were fine, the DirectX and PS2 lecturers entertaining, motivated and good teachers. The Maths teacher was a bit grumpy but it was a very important module, would have rathered if it went on over the whole year due to the importance of maths in games but the college say they can’t afford it so thats fair enough.

If anyone is interested here are some of the skills I’ve picked up through the year:

Writing – oh yes there is a hell of a lot of it for the course, your game gets you to 40%, the writeups get you the rest of the marks

DirectX – didn’t know a bit of it before and now am very comfortable with it

C++ – only knew C and Java before Abertay but leave far more confident in C++.

PS2 – know the structure and how to program VCL. I’ve mostly learnt I don’t wanna work with the Playstations in the future, although the VCL is meant to be closer to C in the PS3 which would make life a whole lot easier.

Maths – Matrices, world-view-screen transformations etc, vector maths(dot and cross products), collision detection theory, rigid body physics, frustum culling and a whole bunch more.

AI – Not enough IMO. However did a project using Fuzzy logic, Genetic algorithms for the AI course to land a spaceship. Made a racing game for DirectX where opposition AI follow racing lines and fire rockets at the player. Implemented a three tiered AI system for a Lego-based RTS game using Ogre3d.Low level FSM for individual units, group AI to control, update and move around groups of units(obviously) and then a master AI to direct unit groups, decide overall strategy and control the building manager. Am planning on doing my Masters modding UT2004 and putting in goal oriented action planning as a means of controlling AI bots in domination game-mode.

Group work – did a group project using Ogre3d so got used to using that. Used SourceSafe as a CVS which could be useful in the future I suppose.

Industry – Learnt quite a bit about the industry from lecturers and some talks put on by the college which proved to be pretty handy.

One of the major problems I have with the course is that we didn’t get an insight into real-life game programming. Even though there are several games companies around Dundee we didn’t get to talk with a single programmer, see a single industry standard design document or see a designed game (the classes and structure that is). That disappointed me when there is so many ex-students who could have done that. We did a design document for our group project but that was handed in back in October, hasn’t been corrected as of yet and got no feedback from it. We had to go and make that game so we’ve no idea if we did a good, bad or indifferent job.

Overall I feel slightly let down by the course as it has such a massive reputation and I know that several others in the class feel the same. We passed on our feelings and it did seem to hit home with a few of the lecturers. They have promised some big changes in some of the courses for next year so will have to check back in a years time to see if they have happened or not. They are leaving one course as it was this year however and it was the one that we all had the biggest problem with which is quite worrying.

All that said I’ve come out of the course with four games which quadruples my previous amount and have another on the way with the MSc so thats major plus. Feel free to PM me if any of ye want to know any more about Dundee or are thinking about doing the course,its not all bad!!!

PS. over twenty started the course this year and only 13 are finishing it, out of that 5 are Irish!