Hull has its own de­vel­op­ment stu­dio, and prizes pro­gram­ming skill above all else

EDGE - - TIME EXTEND - WAR­REN VIANT Se­nior lec­turer, Depart­ment of Com­puter Sci­ence


W ar­ren Viant is, he tells us, a big fan of Arma and Eve On­line. That’s no sur­prise, given his back­ground in pro­gram­ming sim­u­la­tion soft­ware and cre­at­ing vir­tual and aug­mented en­vi­ron­ments. He’s been in­volved in the game in­dus­try for nearly 20 years and teach­ing stu­dents to pro­gram even longer. Here, he takes some time to tell us about Hull’s cour­ses and in-house stu­dio.

You of­fer three pro­gram­ming de­grees – what dif­fer­en­ti­ates them? Our BSc Com­puter Sci­ence With Games De­vel­op­ment is a three-year un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gramme that fo­cuses on the soft­ware de­vel­op­ment as­pects of game cre­ation. Stu­dents en­rolled on the MEng Com­puter Sci­ence With Games De­vel­op­ment, mean­while, fol­low the same first three years of study as the BSc, but then com­plete an additional Masters year, where they study more ad­vanced topics in graph­ics, AI, physics and pro­gram­ming. In ad­di­tion, this Masters year pro­vides guar­an­teed in­dus­trial ex­pe­ri­ence. Fi­nally, our MSc Games Pro­gram­ming is a oneyear post­grad­u­ate pro­gramme that al­lows stu­dents to re­ally spe­cialise in games pro­gram­ming. It cov­ers sim­i­lar topics to the MEng, but in­cludes additional pro­gram­ming op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing a con­sole game de­vel­oped as part of a team and a sum­mer project. How have tools such as Unity in­flu­enced your cour­ses?

In our cour­ses, we fo­cus more on the com­plex­i­ties of de­vel­op­ing game en­gines from the ground up. Once you un­der­stand how to build a game en­gine, then not only does the use of such tools as Unity be­come so much eas­ier, but you also know how to get the best out of any en­gine, be­cause you un­der­stand how it works. New tools and bet­ter en­gines are al­ways ap­pear­ing, but lim­it­ing yourself to one tech­nol­ogy means the pace of progress can quickly leave you be­hind. In­stead, we de­sign our cour­ses from the per­spec­tive that we want our stu­dents to un­der­stand the fun­da­men­tals, to be ef­fec­tive de­vel­op­ers who are able to adapt to a rapidly chang­ing in­dus­try, or even drive that change by de­vel­op­ing en­gines them­selves. The univer­sity has an in-house dev stu­dio called SEED – how does it con­trib­ute? Em­ploy­ers love to see a wider skillset than just be­ing able to code – team­work, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, deal­ing with clients, and even just sim­ple pro­fes­sion­al­ism – and SEED is our so­lu­tion to this, al­low­ing us to teach valu­able em­ploy­a­bil­ity skills to both un­der­grad­u­ates and post­grads.

What kind of projects do they work on? SEED has a grow­ing port­fo­lio of suc­cess­ful prod­ucts, from large projects, such as a new Emer­gency Ser­vice Com­mand & Con­trol sys­tem used by many UK fire ser­vices, to smaller apps and iPhone games. The im­por­tance of the SEED ex­pe­ri­ence and the skills it teaches is hard to over­state – stu­dents are ex­posed to the en­tire project life­cy­cle. They meet cus­tomers, gather re­quire­ments, agree the spec­i­fi­ca­tions, de­velop the soft­ware, and fi­nally deliver and in­stall the prod­uct.

“Pretty much any big name UK-de­vel­oped game you can think of has had at least one Hull grad­u­ate on its team,” Viant tells us, “from GTAV to a bunch of top-se­cret up­com­ing projects we can’t even tell you about”

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