Day in the Life: John Molloy, Games Design & Development Student, Ballyfermot College of Further Education

This Day in the Life follows Game Design and Development student John Molloy as he takes us through a typical day of learning how to make games at the Ballyfermot College of Further Education in Dublin, Ireland.

February 3rd, 2006


The first of my 6 alarms goes off, projecting the time onto the ceiling in a large green digital display. In an hour's time I'm going to wish I woke up at this point, instead right now I'm dreaming about someone firing a green ray gun at my bedroom. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, a travel clock, a radio clock, a 2nd travel clock, my phone, and finally my Nintendo DS are going to do their best to wake me. In the end, it will be my neighbor's diesel hatchback coughing to life that will get me up.


I've learned in the past that it pays to stuff all my college gear into my bag the night before, and to leave out a towel, boxers, and socks on a chair. It certainly paid off this morning; I leave the house just about on time, but having had to skip breakfast, again. There's no train to catch, and the bus actually takes longer than my walking/jogging pace. Such are the trials of both living and studying in the suburbs.

09:00 - Cultural Appreciation with Sergio Calabria.

Fascinating as this class is, it's no way to start a Friday morning. From my point of view this class is an introduction to the academic analysis of video games; the college puts a lot of effort into informing and preparing its students for any further education they might pursue. The class certainly sparks discussion, we've been on the subject of Semiotics for a while now, and today we're discussing the value of knowing our medium in such an academic way. A debate ensues over the reported attitude of Keita Takahashi towards other games which runs over time which resulted in us having to scurry to our next class.

10:00 - Small Business development with Patrick Slattery.

This is one of three classes that concentrates on the business side of games development, rather than the technical (the other classes are marketing and professional practice). Small business itself deals with the planning and running of a business, funnily enough, and recently we've been doing projected financing. I quite like this stuff myself, but I notice that one or two of the others somehow didn't make it here from the last class. Mercifully, Pat gets through the material with a few minutes to spare, and I can grab a coffee and danish to keep my innards running.

11:00 - Games Production with Shane Whelan.

This is the big one. Games production is the class where we tie everything else together. The rest of the week is taken up with classes on 3D modelling, programming, sound production and the other business classes. The class has divided itself into three teams in order to prepare submissions for the "Dare to be Digital" competition in a couple of months. While everyone has his or her area of speciality, our team Durable Haggis is very much a collaborative effort. My stated role is AI programmer, but I also do a lot of the business side of things, mostly because of the amount of time the others need to develop the art assets.

The class has only just submitted a glut of assignments and our fifth member isn't in, so the team are taking it easy today and attending to the fun parts of developing our demo. Brian “the Dave” Lelas and Jonathan “Johan” Lynch are tweaking the first level. Tara Hanratty and myself are pseudo-coding some camera behavior.

Shane himself was a founding member of Ireland 's own Kapooki games studio, but has since joined Ballyfermot as our course coordinator, and teacher of all classes that he could get his hands on. Today, he moves about the class helping with visual effects in each teams' game. Johan and Dave have dropped a few bots into our level to take a look at Johan's animations. Tara's cat is also running around and an amusing glitch is making Shane flinch. Because the cat is being dropped in and out of context, a couple of animations are being cued that it doesn't have. To compensate the engine uses a default humanoid skeleton, which is stretching the cat texture. The look on Shane's face is priceless, as is his enthusiasm for each of our projects.

The pseudo-code for the camera gets finished off, we can't really begin implementing it until we've sorted out a few other bits and pieces, but its good to know that the structure for it is ready to go when we are.

One o'clock rolls around and we all say our farewells, I say a last reminder to everyone about the shindig (a regular social event for the Irish game developing community) that evening, and head home.

14:00 to 18:00

The less said, the better, even students have to eat, and I provide myself with that luxury by doing my stint in a corner store. And trust me, unless you had to wear a chicken suit with your face showing, you did not have a worse uniform than me. Afterwards, I race home and jot down a few ideas I had for the game while at work, and add their development to my to-do list.


Just finished dinner, and now I'm charging about the place to get to the shindig. The Irish game developing community hangs out at, and fairly regularly (at least once every 2 months, often more frequently) we meet up for drinks. JamieMc and myself (“nifty” on the forums) are the first to show up, followed shortly after by “catbert”. I can't stress enough the value of these evenings to me; everyone is always interested in what everyone is up to and is happy to give advice. I've been pointed to so many resources I might never have found had it not been for a question or two at a shindig.


The gangs all here at this stage and the drink is flowing. The group is a mix of professionals, lecturers and students, with a bias towards the pros. Sergio, one of my lecturers has shown up and has sparked a lively debate over emergence. I'm talking handhelds with a few others, and a lot of people are simply catching up.


“Why certainly, a nightclub sounds like a great idea”, says someone to someone else, at a stage where all shop talk has died off. At some point later I'm going to get soaked with water, which seemed like a good idea at the time.


At home at last, and 11 hours before my next shift at work. The to-do list is barely fitting on the whiteboard and I have a load of messages on my phone. Ok sleep first, and then, we'll see...


If you are a student studying a video game related vocation and would like to be featured in our Student "Day in the Life," please send your submission or inquiries to [email protected].

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