WARNING THIS IS A LONG ASS POST - IT HAS A POINT I PROMISE
I finally have the qualifications required to apply for a HND, after 2 painful years of doing courses that are honestly terrible, I can finally get somewhere.
I have dreamed of doing Game Development since I first played the Playstation 1 back in 1997 ( I was 6, I still remember saying to my teacher I wanted to make video games when I am older). No doubt that is nothing compared to what you guys were inspired by! If there are any old school guys on here that were motivated by such thing as the Atari or Sega Mega Drive, that is just a whole other class right there!
Anyway why am I posting this? Because I thought it would be cool to let you know what I have been through and how I managed to get where I am today, despite some down falls in my life.
I'll start from school I guess:Secondary School 12-16
I don't really like talking about the school years of my life, it really was terrible. The school itself was "ok" but the people, the whole area that I lived in was ridiculous and riddled with wanna be gangs and what we call "neds". I winged my way through school for 4 years, never doing my homework, being late everyday (thanks BF2 and EVE:Online) and in general just being an asshole. I never had many friends until one day I got sick of people taking the piss out of my blonde hair and leathered the first person to mention it that day. I fell in with a bad crowd for a while before making proper friends, one whom I still spend plenty of time with this day.
Unfortunately at the age of 15, my sister came down with cancer and died a year later, I buckled and never went back to school for months. I left at the age of 16, failing pretty much every exam I sat, having little to no qualifications.16-19
I pretty much sat around and did nothing with my life, between the ages of 17 and 19 I got a job working with an Indian guy called Janu whom worked self employed fitting fireplaces for a company called Firegroup, he under paid me but at least he paid me. He taught me a lot but not all of it good. He was a dodgy character and after a brawl at work with another staff member, he slowly but surely over the course of the next 2 month...found plenty of small and trivial reasons to lay me off.19-21
I am not going to lie, I am only in the situation I am in due to someone very special that cares a whole lot about me. I have been with my fiancé since I was 12. Yes 12. Why did I not mention her above? Well she had no influence over how I got on at school and was happy with me at the time I worked for Janu.
But months had passed, I was unemployed and sitting doing nothing, falling to pieces. Thanks to her, a good boot up the arse and I applied to SCQF Digital Media Level 4 and 5 in hopes to get a place. At the time I done it because I wanted to shut her up, well I think. Not really sure what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Well I did, several times I went onto the various college and university websites and typed up such things as "Game development" or "Games design", looking at the many years it would take me to get there and going "f**k that".
What an idiot.
I got an interview for both courses, I had more chance getting into the level 4 course since it required literally no qualifications and all they asked for is "a good attitude and basic understand of computers", I had no paper work to prove that I the computer I was using to apply to the course, was built by me, that I could describe each part inside a computer and what it does. They didn't care.
When I got my interview for the Level 4 course, I was nearly in tears that I was going to have to spend a year doing this course because I simply didn't have the paperwork to prove that I could do all that was required.
If you want a rough idea, it contained some of the following things:
- Using webblogs - basically how to sign up to word press and post something
- Internet security - How to be safe on the internet
- Numeracy level 4 - how to add and subtract, multiple and divide
Upon attending the interview they pretty much offered me a place after talking to them for 5 minutes, I asked them if I could wait and decide after I have had my level 5 interview. They were fine with that and shook my hand and I left.
The following week, I had my interview for my level 5. I am still not sure if I got lucky or if it was coincidence, I was interview by a tutor called Colin McCourt whom was faculty head, he asked me a few questions such as "why do you want to do this course?". He seems reluctant and hesitant but I put my balls on the table (not literally f**k sake) and said to him, "ask me anything related to the subject of your choice".
Bold move, his subject could have been basic networking and I would have been screwed but no, he was the hardware tutor.
He battered off questions such as "name all the parts required to build a computer", I answered without any hesitation. Every question I could see him getting more and more relaxed and eventually a smile started to break through on his face.
20 minutes later, I became a student. I was told how I could progress after I passed this course and he mentioned HNC and HND course, one which was Games Development. I told him that is what I wanted to do, he warned me like every single other teacher when I mentioned it, "oh that requires high mathematics". I dismissed his comment and told him that is what I am going to do.My Experience through Level 5 : 20-21
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this course, however it did not come with it's downsides. It was terribly underfunded (in-case you did not know, education is free in Scotland) and it lacked any real direction.
We had to learn such things as Flash and Actions Script, a dying platform and practically dead language. The teacher was terrible, he literally gave us a 1000 page book, told us to go to chapter xxx and then he would piss off for 2 hours. If he was ever present in the class, you couldn't even ask him anything because he would not be able to help you. Basically he didn't know what he was doing, either that he was so vet and bitter that he lost all passion for his job.
My struggle mostly came with 1 subject in particular, Mathematics. I had the choice of doing Numeracy level 5, which by the way is basic arithmetic or do Core 4, which was a mix of Intermediate 2 and Higher. I chose Core 4 and grinded every step of the way. The tutor was absolutely fantastic, he loved his job and the passion for what he did rubbed off on you in a positive way. You could never just ask for help and get a simple explanation or the "quickest way" to do it, he sat down and gave you every single possible solution and told you what he would rather see as a marker for the exam board.
Thanks to him, I actually now have a math qualification that is worth something, it's not quite a higher but it's something.
Another class that I thoroughly enjoyed was Communications, basically English. Although from reading this wall of text that has absolutely awful punctuation, grammar and spelling you wouldn't think I learned a lot. My confidence when speaking to a group grew considerably, I actually ENJOY standing up in front of a crown and talking to them or giving them a presentation.
Anyway less about those subjects, lets talk about the software development part of the course, you can probably guess the language the tutor used.
It was a rocky start, the first thing I seen in terms of Java was this API called Learning with Robots, you might have heard of it. I am not saying it was terrible but the tutors approach was horrible, he basically threw us into that, he never explained anything Java related. I was in that class for around 2-3 month and still didn't know what a constructor was, wtf was scope and why can't I use these variables without putting static in front of them?!
It gets even better, eventually as it got closer to the end of the year, we moved away from Karl the robot and started focusing on this required to pass the unit, one which was how to create an array of numbers and search through it for a specific value. That went well, I think everyone failed it but he happily passed everyone, gg.
Regardless I was getting all these qualifications that I required to get 1 step closer to my goal, however like all things...shit hit the fan.
Nearing the end of the last semester, we got told that there was going to be "budget cuts" and that all of the colleges in Edinburgh would be joined together as one and be under one label "Edinburgh College", this was grim news for us. Why? Well with budget cuts comes problems, one which was less tutors and less classes being run. Lots of the courses got moved around between different campuses.
For us, the worse thing that could have happened was the introduction of a new course, Digital Media Level 6. Remember I said that Level 5 would progress onto HNC or HND, not anymore.
We had the option to apply to HND and our tutor had our back with recommendations. But it was not enough.
I attended the HND interview just to be looked down at because of my qualifications, I done my year of study in order to get into that course and apparently now it is not enough. I would have to spend another year doing stuff I already know. Great....My Experience Through Level 6 : 20-present
It could have not been a worse start, more than half of the classes were duplicates of the year before but with a 6 instead of 5 in the name. It took us 3 weeks into the first semester to get our time tables and rooms allocated, we had several classes that had no tutors, we sat there for 2 hours doing nothing.
That was not the worse of it, remember that Flash/Actionscript class? They attempted to give it to us again with the exact same teacher, whom never turned up to the class for 4 weeks or so, they eventually moved us onto a new unit. Can't even remember what.
The first semester was basically a duplicate of the year before, I actually used the work from the year before for most of the classes. So far, 5 months past and I have learned nothing except that the person running this joint was completely incompetent and over paid.
It was around this time I started to get interest in Java again, why? Because we had the exact same Java class as before, doing the exact same Learning with Robots shit, I sat on my own and never done the work and any time he came around, I would open something from the year before. I sat and read Head First Java in digital form, as well as Cengage Java 7th Edition before I discovered the LibGDX Library and the Beginning Android Games for Beginners books.
I took out a £1500 loan and bought myself a nailer of an Asus laptop a month later and started investing all my free time into studying mathematics on Khan Academy and practising Java and learning the LibGDX Library, all while annoying poor dermetfan on Skype and neglecting my poor missus.
I passed first semester without doing any work, I learned more from reading 3 books and this forum than I did the past year and a half at this so called institute of learning.
Semester two was a complete disaster, wait it still is because I am still doing it. Start of the year was a joke, first off they changed our days around with ONE DAYS NOTICE, resulting in me having to quit my f**king job. Thanks, now I have to ask my partner that is working 40 hours a week at minimum wage to pay £120 a month for my laptop and £80 in living expenses, just great.
Don't worry, I got part of it back few weeks ago, I get paid less than before but my employer compromised with me, great guy and owe him a lot (he even never fired me when I went into work at 2am completely inebriated after a fall out with the missus, resulting in me throwing up in the kitchen sink and passing out on the floor).
So far we only have half of the classes we are supposed to have due to lack of teachers, guess what? On a Monday we get Audio with a cracking teacher that is very knowledgeable on the subject but unfortunately, yet again they have tried to slap us with the Flash/Actionscript unit just to fill the empty hole in the time table, now when the teacher showed up I just put my hand up and ask him "I have this qualification, may I leave?", then I ask whomever else that has the grade to come with me for a few pints until next class. This never landed well with him and I got into trouble for it, mainly because I shouted out "who's coming for a pint" at 11 in the morning on a Monday.
We no longer have that class, now we have 4 hours of Audio, much better.
The course has taken a turn for the best now, we have tutors for every class and I am actually learning something. We have a networking class with a fantastic tutor that clearly loves the subject, like I think this guy builds mini networks in his house for fun. We also have a GAMES DEVELOPMENT class on the Friday with a NEW Java teacher!!!
I sat and picked his brain the entire time, while the class tried to get a Hello World program to work. Then we have the Flash/Actionscrip class after it, this time we can't get out of due to students having to spend xxx amount of hours per week at college in order for the course to get funded, so we just sit and play Fluxx at the back while the teacher sits and struggles to explain anything. Ignorance at it's best.WHY THE HELL AM I WRITING THIS MASSIVE WALL OF TEXT?!
I messed up school, I never listened, I made bad friends and I became an asshole. Always late, never done homework. I never came to grips with the loss of my sister and used it as an excuse to sit and fall apart over the course of a few month and let it ruin my grades, I am stronger now, I don't let anything get me down and I no longer tolerate any ones shit and stand up for myself and what I think is right.
I got a place in college with no qualifications, I got a part time job, I finally got engaged to the girl I love and we are now saving for a mortgage. I am on the fast track to getting into a HND course and then eventually university.
I know not every country has free eduction but no matter how much you f**ked up when you were younger, things can be fixed. Never give up, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something.
I appreciate if you read the entire thing, sorry about the terrible structure and grammar.