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/digipen/ - DigiPenitentiary

talking mess about the best worst school around
Winner of the 39th Attention-Hungry Games
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File: 4c2e344bb910a9f⋯.gif (857.69 KB, 240x228, 20:19, 1485579178961.gif)

ee8535 No.3973

the professors don't make video games and haven't in years. everything they teach about game design is based on the experiences they had years ago, often decades ago. they haven't made games since. video games have changed a lot since the original Xbox days (or earlier!!), both in terms of design and production.

before you enroll at DigiPen, it seems like video game Hogwarts; this magical place where the thing you've always wanted to do—express yourself creatively by creating interesting and engaging interactive entertainment—is not only taught, but is lived and breathed by everyone in the building, constantly, 24/7. well, that's not entirely untrue, but it would be like if the professors at Hogwarts taught you to cast spells and make potions and shit, not by demonstrating how to do it in front of you and the rest of the class, but by proselytizing these theories they've formed about just exactly how one really casts a spell, man, based on their experience casting spells ten years ago, when in reality they haven't picked up a wand since.

Zero is a fantastic product, and honestly one of the best things DigiPen has to offer. it is very easy to make simple games in Zero, and quickly iterate on ideas. imagine how much better DigiPen would be if the professors actually used Zero to make simple games every semester:

- they could keep a journal of what they worked on each session, and then briefly relate to the class interesting challenges they overcame and problems they solved

- they could improve Zero even further by being able to give allegedly-professional feedback to the Zero team, based on any frustrations they had using Zero, etc.

- they would be forced to realize that most of the shit they espouse as being "what game design is really about" is pretty much useless in a practical setting

- they would be forced to re-evaluate their rubrics based on personal experience, instead of tweaking things here and there over the years and judging their efforts based on metrics like how many people fail, how many people complain, how many people drop out, etc. if something in a rubric is unreasonable, they would immediately realize it is unreasonable, because they would have to do it themselves.

in my opinion, the biggest problem DigiPen has is, many students enroll with a creative passion for making interactive entertainment. they get inspired by their favorite video games, and by the concept of making something even better. the professors push these students to tryhard and do their very best work, to go above and beyond, to make something truly worthy of… uh, being put on the monitors around school, so that prospective students and parents will be impressed by it. yet, they grade you based on none of these things, and they don't teach you how to do any of these things; the very best DigiPen games are made by teams of extremely bright tryhards who go WAY above and beyond, teaching themselves tons of extracurricular skills, solely in order to impress the professors.

ee8535 No.3974

File: e65d2d977c0c139⋯.jpg (51.56 KB, 600x339, 200:113, Naked-Raiden-Cartwheel-MGS….jpg)

which brings me to my advice for incoming students, especially (but not exclusively) game design students:

(0.) study some form of programming or game development before you enroll. if you haven't already, teach yourself some basic Unity or GameMaker. it's not hard to make very simple games with those tools, and there's plenty of resources on the internet to help you. don't worry about making something good or interesting or unique or whatever, just have fun and make something dumb. if you've always wanted to dick around with making a violent video game, well, have all the fun you want with maroon particle emitters while you can, get that shit all out of your system before you start at DigiPen. trust me: having any experience at all making games is better than having zero experience before enrolling. when you have absolutely zero experience with game development, you don't know what you don't know, and you won't have any clue about how hard it is to make what you want to make. having any concept of what goes into making games, even if it's just with using ultra-high-level software like Unity or GameMaker, will go a long way with helping you set your expectations for your creations accordingly.

(1.) turn your creative brain off as soon as you enroll. this is going to be very difficult, because you are young, bursting at the seams with creative energy, and you really really want to make a cool video game with your friends. your professors will do everything they can to encourage this behavior; ignore it. make very simple and functional video games and focus on getting good grades in all of your classes. if you have any spare time after you've done all your homework and studying, THEN go back to your game projects and have fun adding extra polish and bells and whistles. yes, this will cut into your video game time, but this will only improve you as an individual; if you remain disciplined, you will look forward to adding cool shit to your games, and work hard in order to make time to do that.

(2.) this bears repeating: only do the bare minimum necessary for your game projects. constantly repeat this to yourself, and if you catch yourself spending way too much time to make a certain thing in your game look or feel JUST right, when you haven't yet started on the rest of your coursework: STOP, get that other shit done FIRST, and THEN come back to working on your game. your professors will tell you that your portfolio is extremely important, and they're not entirely wrong, but seriously, don't let the rest of your schoolwork suffer because you're stuck falling down a hyper-creative rabbit-hole. I know this sounds shitty, and it is, because honestly DigiPen SHOULD encourage you to pursue these Dwarf Fortress-style "strange moods" that creative-types are prone to getting into—especially when surrounded by hundreds of other creative-types—but the fact of the matter is, they don't, they don't grade you on how hard you think about what makes your video game fun, or what makes your video game "feel good", or what makes your video game something that you'd want to play over and over for the rest of your life. look at your rubrics: they give you like, a few percentage bonus points for making a game that emotionally affects the professor at a deep level. NOT WORTH! 100% not worth.

(3.) keep a journal or something for any cool ideas you have, but don't have time to make or implement in your game projects. since pretty much everyone uses Windows 10, OneNote is a fantastic built-in piece of note-keeping software that is perfect for this. it's free, it stores your shit in the cloud, and it even has a web interface so you can access it anywhere. just, whatever you do, DON'T implement every single cool idea into every game project you make, as the ideas come to you. save them for later! you're young, you have your whole life ahead of you, and you have summers to work on making unique, interesting, and original ideas with your friends.

ee8535 No.3975

File: 5062ddb0979f016⋯.png (241.99 KB, 391x373, 391:373, smugness.png)

(4.) keep in mind that the point of college these days is not to learn new information from your professors nearly as much as it is to have a unique and privileged social experience with like-minded individuals over the course of four or more years, and then to get a piece of paper at the end that proves to prospective employers that you are worth of hiring. yes, you will learn things from professors—especially the few amazing and badass professors DigiPen has, like Mead—but, as soon as possible, accept that you will NOT be learning any sort of hidden secrets to game design from the sage and wise industry veterans that get paid a lot of money to sit back, smoke weed, think about all of the things they've learned about videos games over the years, including that one time they made a game ten years ago or more, generalize their experiences into shitty curriculum, and pretend like any of it is still relevant in 2017. most of it is not, but these professors are so out-of-touch with reality, so stuck inside their own heads, so entrenched in the Extra Credits-centric school of game design thought, that they're really not that useful of a resource to you in the long run. this is not to say that they are COMPLETELY useless; you will pick up some interesting nuggets of game design insight here and there from them, and you might even see a few aspects of game design from a different perspective after speaking with them about specific topics. but seriously, keep in mind that you can get just about everything out of DigiPen's game design curriculum by simply getting drunk and/or high (trust me, you'll need it) and watching all of Extra Credits on 1.5 speed on YouTube, and then reading some articles on the internet about the mathematical design of games like Magic: The Gathering. if you just play video games and board games while consciously thinking about making them (which, after you've made games yourself, you will instinctively find yourself doing more and more if you're not completely retarded), you will learn SO MUCH MORE actual, practical, applicable knowledge than anything from zen fucking rhino. which reminds me:

(5.) socialize with your fellow students. most of you are socially retarded, and that's fine and nothing to be ashamed of: nearly everyone else at the school is, too. break out of your mold and talk to other students and see what they think about games and game design. make friends with people, especially people who are capable of original thought; once you know to look for it, it's very easy to tell when someone is simply autistically regurgitating an opinion they read or heard somewhere on the internet, verbatim. these people hear key phrases of insight from others—often Extra Credits—take it as gospel, and commit that specific phrase, in its original wording, to memory, without passing it through their own logical processing faculties and rewording it in their own words. be wary of people who have strong opinions about video games they've never played before, because their favorite YouTuber or internet video game personality felt strongly about it and stated as much on a video or podcast.

(6.) don't put all of your creative self-worth into your creations and/or your knowledge about games and game design and what makes a video game fun and good or whatever. if you listened to everything else I've said so far, you already know that you shouldn't spend too much time on your games, so this shouldn't be an issue, but nevertheless it bears repeating. when you eventually go to GDC or other meetings of devs and stuff, realize that, yes, people will potentially find you interesting if they know you've made something cool and interesting and unique and original or whatever, but since there's a good chance you lack basic social skills (by virtue of enrolling at DigiPen), seriously, keep in mind that nobody cares about that nearly as much as you probably think they do. people will like you or not based on how you carry yourself and how you treat them, not because you have this really cool idea for a game that you've been slowly working on in your spare time for years but haven't made much progress on. which leads me to:

ee8535 No.3976

File: c7b1a7ededed88c⋯.gif (558 KB, 500x375, 4:3, 1486343261772.gif)

(7.) get a hobby unrelated to video games, tabletop games, programming, and computers. by enrolling in DigiPen, you're probably obsessed with video games to some extent, and you've spent a lot of your life playing them and thinking about them. if you want to hang out with other game devs, well, guess what, they're all just like you in that respect. that's not very interesting, and like I said above, your ideas about what, like, makes a video game really and truly good and cool, man, are probably just as impressive as the next game dev's. find something interesting to do aside from all that shit, like cooking, playing an instrument, gardening, creative writing (be careful with this one), hiking, biking, etc. also:

(8.) stay the fuck away from politics, at least in public. there's been this push in recent years, especially from self-proclaimed "progressives", to be very vocal about their political beliefs at all times. you will have classmates and professors who will espouse their political views at the most awkward of times, in the most uncomfortable ways, especially if you disagree with them. you will have classmates who, lacking self-worth and a sense of identity, will double- and triple-down on their political views and lambast and ostracize you for believing anything differently from what they believe. if anything starts to get political with your non-close friends, game teams, or classmates, simply tap out, plead the fifth, and move on with life. if your professors or very vocal classmates say something you vehemently disagree with, don't let it get to you, don't force the issue, and for God's sake, don't submit any assignments that try to make political statements that you know your professors will disagree with; these are not hills worth dying for.

(9.) when junior or senior year rolls around, if you've listened to everything I've said so far, you will have cultivated an interesting and awesome group of friends, learned a lot from making a bunch of shitty yet functional games, and you'll generally be a better person; THIS is when you get to go all-out and try and make A Really Cool Video Game. if you've done well, you'll have a group of close-ish friends on a game team with a wide array of skills and abilities that complement each other, and you'll have some neat engine tech that you're probably very familiar with using. THIS is when you should focus on making a cool and interesting video game, the kind of thing that you can put on your portfolio, that will get you up on the monitors in the lobby and at the DigiPen PAX booth, that you can show to prospective employers and use to land a job, and to show people at GDC or whatever and impress them. when you've finally made it to your junior or senior year and heeded all of the advice I've written here, you and your team of friends will make something badass and awesome that will make everything else you've made up to this point look like shitty crayon drawings, possibly not even worth mentioning on your website or portfolio at all. THIS is where you get to bust out all of those cool ideas you've been keeping track of over the years, possibly even prototyping in Zero or Unity in your spare time, and truly create something interesting, unique, maybe even original, and maybe even emotionally-moving. but you have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to walk before you can run, and trying to run a marathon when you're just learning to stand upright won't get you anywhere.

ee8535 No.3977

File: 3ea65bd2d6b74f1⋯.jpg (35.04 KB, 341x600, 341:600, let that sink in.jpg)

TL;DR learn a tiny bit of game dev before you enroll, keep your head down, focus on passing your classes instead of making The Best Games Ever, don't expect the professors to impart too much actually insightful knowledge, realize that your degree and your social experiences are more important than anything any professor here will teach you, enjoy life, branch out, have fun. life's too short to spend two or more years of it in anguish at DigiPen, unable to reconcile your preconceptions about the school with the harsh reality of it, torturing yourself by following your creative passion at the expense of everything else. DigiPen is far from the worst school of all time, but what it pretends to be and how it encourages you to do are very different from how it really is and what you really should do while you're there.

hopefully this helps even one other person on the internet, maybe even outside of DigiPen; these are all things I wish somebody would've told me when I first enrolled. I would be much happier, I would have a degree, and I would be making games professionally right now if that were the case.

ee8535 No.3979


You articulated a LOT of shit that I've been stewing on since leaving DP. I'm never going back and am much happier now, but this is the sort of advice I wish I'd received as a freshman rather than the "kill your baby" and "say goodbye to your gaming time" nuggets everyone recited.

ee8535 No.3983


if I had a ton of money lying around, waiting to burn, AND DigiPen let me keep the credits I've already done (dropped out years ago), I would definitely be down to try again with my newfound perspective on the whole thing. it really is one of the best ways to get a job in the video game industry. despite plenty of programming and game development experience (mostly outside of DigiPen), I can't land a gamedev job to save my life due to lacking a degree and/or prior professional gamedev experience.

I almost landed a job at a local studio but I fucked up. my resume truthfully says I attended DigiPen for two years. in the interview (which otherwise went amazingly), the interviewer said I'd be working with other DigiPen alumni—and I had to be autistic enough to correct him instead of just rolling with it. never heard back after that, ggwp

ee8535 No.3986

I like this thread a lot. My biggest problem is that I have a hard time passing my GAT classes. So far I have gotten excellent grades in all of my CS and other classes, but I only ever barely pass (or fail) GAT. Despite this, I think I am a much better designer than I am programmer, and am having a massive success as the only designer on my current gam project. Any tips?

ee8535 No.3987


part if the GAT classes is learning how to please someone higher up even if you know what you're doing is bullshit.

Go in with that attitude and you'll pass.

80f14a No.3996

Thank you so much OP. I'm not a gamedev (doing the BSCSDAT) so I think I won't have to slog through as much BS, but I'll remember that the only thing that matters is my degree and my connections.

92075d No.4058

Time to Necro…

90% agree with you; super-solid advice.

The bits I would contest are that it can certainly be before Junior year that you make your portfolio-worthy game; you need to just understand you have limited time, and ask yourself where you need to devote it. Failing other classes? Probably best to devote the time to pass them. Passing them with low grades? Time to decide whether high grades in the class or a better game are more important.

That's not a rhetorical statement, by the way. There are many roads to success–some very successful grads were completely unnoticed at DigiPen. How you stand out is up to you; it can be because of a kick-ass game, but it could also be because you're a great programmer, or you focused on a unique project.

Speaking of projects, that's the other bit that I disagree with, though maybe I'm misunderstanding. You should absolutely share your passion with people. The important detail here is that sharing is a 2-way street. Being eager to learn about way to make things better, being excited to help others learn, these are all symptoms of passion. If all you want to talk about is how great your thing is, you're not passionate about some subject–you're passionate about your thing, and that's far less appealing for anyone but you to participate in.

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