SWANSEA COLLEGE OF ART: UWTSD
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