Since 1999, Full Sail’s Game Development degree program has grown in size – upgrading from an Associate’s Degree program to a Bachelor’s degree one – but the goal has always been the same: to produce game programmers who are able to develop the source code engines required to create best-selling games.
While all aspects of the gaming industry are touched upon during the 21-month, on-campus program (including design, animation, and game architecture), programming is the main focus, beginning with three months of basic C++ Programming courses.
“We start off at the basic foundation level, assuming they don’t have prior experience, then rapidly move along with that,” says Arthur Johnson Jr., the Programming Department Chair, who has been with Full Sail since Game Development’s initial launch.
Rapidly is accurate: By the second month, students are already creating games. In Programming II (Month 2), students make a text graphic card game, and in Programming III (Month 3) they program a 2D shooting game. “For a good 7 or 8 months students are working on their own,” says Arthur. “It’s about getting their personal skills up to snuff, and when we’re satisfied they’re ready to program, that’s when they start contributing to teams.”
During the last several months of the program, Game Development students team up with Game Design and Game Art students to conceptualize, create, and program an entire game from start to finish. “The students have one month to work on their design, making sure everything is planned for,” says Liam Hislop, the Game Project Department Chair/Producer. “Then they will work for four months, going through a [typical] game production cycle.”
When complete, the development teams present their final project during the Game Project Final Presentations in the Full Sail Live Venue, usually held the day before Graduation. And while the gaming industry is the most sought after profession for students after graduation, they’re not limited to just that.
“Students can enter as a programmer in any number of specialties for a game company, including game programming, audio programming, engine programming, or as a general software engineer,” says Liam. “Students have entered the private sector, becoming programmers or engineers with different simulation or government companies. What the students due upon graduation is only limited by their own passion and desire.”