Hull has its own development studio, and prizes programming skill above all else
“THE IMPORTANCE OF SEED IS HARD TO OVERSTATE: STUDENTS ARE EXPOSED TO THE ENTIRE PROJECT LIFECYCLE”
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”