A his­toric in­sti­tu­tion with a team-led ap­proach to learn­ing


“We as­sess in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tion within teams rather than projects”

Swansea Col­lege Of Art is part of the Art & De­sign fac­ulty within the Uni­ver­sity Of Wales Trin­ity Saint David, and spread across three cam­puses in south west Wales: Car­marthen, Lam­peter and Swansea. It’s the lat­ter campus in which se­nior lec­turer and Creative Com­puter Games De­sign MArts pro­gramme di­rec­tor

John Car­roll pre­pares stu­dents for the videogame in­dus­try by group­ing them into pro­duc­tion teams from the very be­gin­ning of their study pro­grammes.

What sets your course apart from other UK of­fer­ings?

We as­sess in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tion within game pro­duc­tion teams, rather than in­di­vid­ual projects. Stu­dents spend the first two years of the course work­ing on an agreed-upon game idea. The first se­mes­ter of the first year is spent en­tirely on pre-pro­duc­tion and con­cepts, while the sec­ond se­mes­ter has the stu­dents work­ing in their teams to de­velop and model the en­vi­ron­ment as­sets char­ac­ters and other game con­tent. In the sec­ond year these stu­dent pro­duc­tion teams im­ple­ment the game­play el­e­ments, char­ac­ters, an­i­ma­tion and en­vi­ron­ments us­ing Un­real 4, and stu­dents are then in­di­vid­u­ally as­sessed dur­ing a team pre­sen­ta­tion of their game demo at the end of the sec­ond year. The third-year ma­jor project de­vel­ops these skills fur­ther as they cre­ate their own stu­dent lead game demo again as part of a small pro­duc­tion team.

What form do these stu­dent pro­duc­tion teams take?

Each stu­dent is part of a bal­anced de­sign team deal­ing with the core struc­ture of art, de­sign, an­i­ma­tion and tech­ni­cal. The col­lab­o­ra­tion is fur­ther de­vel­oped through our School Creative Prac­tice com­mon mod­ules, which al­low our stu­dents to mix with the other dis­ci­plines from the School Of Film & Dig­i­tal me­dia to de­velop small projects. For ex­am­ple, if a small team of game stu­dents want to pro­duce a lit­tle game idea and they need mu­sic and sound ef­fects, they can bring in mu­sic stu­dents to de­velop that con­tent.

Which tools do you fo­cus on through­out the course?

As this is an art and de­sign course, we use Un­real 4 as the core game en­gine be­cause the vis­ual script­ing as­pect of Blue­prints is more ac­ces­si­ble for the type of stu­dents we have on the course. We also use soft­ware such as Au­todesk Maya LT, ZBrush, Pho­to­shop, Af­ter Ef­fects, Premier Pro and Sub­stance Painter when de­vel­op­ing char­ac­ters and en­vi­ron­ments for Un­real 4. Sketch­ing and draw­ing are a big part of the course as well.

What do you hope your stu­dents take away from their time with UWTSD?

I would say that the col­lab­o­ra­tive na­ture of all the work our stu­dents do gives them a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what it’s like to work pro­duc­tively and ap­ply their core strengths to any in­dus­try project. While the soft­ware and equip­ment have their place on a game de­sign course, I think that the core prin­ci­ples of de­sign, game the­ory and good pro­duc­tion prac­tice pre­pare the stu­dents more ef­fec­tively.

Swansea Col­lege Of Art: UWTSD was formed through the merger of the old­est uni­ver­si­ties in Wales

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