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Hardcore gaming industry studies at DAE Howest

Since I'm starting blogging here in Gamasutra now with exams only left from the first semester, I will do firstly a small recap post about what got me here to Belgium & DAE and what was the initial introduction of first semester.

Firstly a little bit of background 

 

So, on the autumn of 2014 I enrolled to bachelor program of Digital arts & Entertainment in Howest University, in Kortrijk. The study is preparing the students to work on game, animation and VFX industry after intensive studies in preproduction, 3D-modeling, programming etc.

 

In the aftermath of graduating from Haaga-helia and working in my previous regular IT job, it became clear that I wanted to do something else than just what my studies limited me to do. In Haaga-helia I took up a course of 3D-modeling with 3ds Max. The course was incredibly fun and interesting, so when time came to choose my thesis subject it wasn't much of a struggle. After graduation and few extra months of regular job, I started to look for possibilities to get back to school and continue studies of digital arts.

 

 

 

Skipping little bit time ahead..

 

...after applying to DAE. Some regular paper work like language proficiency, previous diplomas and proven certificates, as well as a looong pondering whether to study or stay in Helsinki. Then finally on 18th of september 2014 me & Dimitra landed in Brussels airport, boarded a train to Kortrijk and, for our surprise, we arrived in sunny city with +27C weather. First thing to do was to taste local delights.

 

The house that I am staying is nothing spectacular, but in student standards quite livable. The big minus, which also delayed the start of this blog, is the horrible internet connection here that either doesn't work at all, or works randomly from 10 seconds to a minute.

 

 

First semester!

 

The studies of DAE take place in two different location. Theory lessons in Howest university campus and more practical part, lab sessions, in the brand new building called The level. The level was built for the DAE program and upon entering you can clearly see this. There's lot of pictures of it here: http://howest.be/thelevel/eng/multimedia.html.

 

Two weeks after introduction day the classes started. What to expect? Well.. hectic pace and a lot of homework. On the first semester the schedule consist of average of 25 hours of theory and labs combined plus several extra happenings at the school, like guest lecturers, consultation hours and study nights. On top of that you are expected to work at least a double amount of hours at home. My first semester classes are programming 1, preproduction 13D 1applied math and visual language.

 

 

Programming 1: C++ programming on the schools game engine. Starting from basics with 2 hours of theory and 3 hours of lab work per week. Theory is taught to all groups together, terms, how what works and so on. We also do demos following the teacher and the subject. Lab sessions consists of assignments that are handed out at the start of the session. You code and there's 2 teachers follow and assisting if you need help. There's quite amount of home work from each lab session that must be completed by the next weeks lab session and uploaded in a drop box for evaluation.

 

Preproduction 1: Preproduction 1 consist of theory and lab sessions as well. The semester will cover perspective drawing, digital shading from what we know so far. Theory sessions are so far work with photoshop starting from getting to know the software, hotkeys, some image manipulation and how to work with wacoom tablet. Lab sessions are about drawing with pen and paper. On the first two lab sessions we covered one perspective and two perspective drawing. Homework consist of drawing assignments and finishing the photoshop tasks that are given on theory sessions.

 

Second week preproduction task. Turn the nice lady into stone!

 

3D 1: Thursday is a 3D play-day. First a three hours lab session in the morning, which so far has been mostly about texturing on photoshop. The afternoon 2 hours theory is dedicated to 3ds Max. Covering the program and 3D starting from primitives (week 1) and last week, number two, was about splines. First week homework on 3D was to create a vehicle by using only primitives. Second week home work continues along the lines - create 6 props by using splines. Lab sessions haven't yielded with home for grading yet, but the everyone should be finishing the assignments that are left from lab session.

 

 

Task was to create a rusty texture for a barrel. On the right is the first 3D task, vehicle with using   only primitives

 

 

Applied Math: Well, math is math. Big amount of homework. Lessons divided to theory and lab. So far the lessons have been about numeral and linear systems and the third week trigonometry and entering the 3D world of math. Also introduces a software called Mathematica and how it's being used.

 

Visual language: This is a bit different kind of course. It's been divided into four parts: Art history, visual technologies, DAE Tuesdays and professional self-understanding. DAE tuesdays have guest lecturers from industry telling us what they are doing, many of who graduated from this same program. Art history covers.. well history of art through ages. Visual technologies first lesson covered color theory. Professional self-understanding focuses more on my own learning. Group work, forum activity, quizzes etc. The assignments have have a lot of essay writing and work online, but most of all I'm excited about the Tuesdays and industry speakers.

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