What Makes Game Programming Courses Great? Developers Tell Us.

What Makes Game Programming Courses Great? Developers Tell Us.
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Game Design and Game Programming are fast-changing fields in a relatively young industry, and the struggle to stay relevant is real. We talked to three seasoned programmers about how they built our new Game Programming Course.

"I'm sorry. What is this?" A perplexed Tony Coculuzzi points at his flat white, to the amusement of the Australians at the table. "You'd be surprised how many things are different here compared to Canada."

Tony, former Lead Programmer at Studio MDHR and now Mountains, is one of many talented video game professionals flocking to Melbourne lately, a testament to the state of the local industry. "Melbourne is definitely on the up and up. There are so many opportunities to be original and make something new here."

Tony is also one of the three programming industry professionals we enlisted to build our newest course from the ground up: The Advanced Diploma of Game Programming

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Michelle Osborne, Department Head, chats with prospective students at the course launch.

He joined Gameplay Programmer Matt Rowland from League of Geeks, who had two things in mind when putting the course together: relevance and fun. "I wanted students to learn stuff they'll actually need to get a job. And enjoy themselves while learning it."

He drew on his own experience with game programming courses in university - good and bad. 

"A lot of courses are set up as, "Tell now. Do later." I know I don't learn well that way," he admitted. "I always felt that my programming skills didn't truly improve until I graduated and could actually work with the programs. I wanted this course to be as hands-on as possible."

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The course launched with an industry panel & party at CG Spectrum's Melbourne HQ for prospective students to meet and ask questions of the course designers.

Self-education to fill in the gaps left by traditional programming and game design courses seems to be a pattern in the fast-changing game design landscape. It was one Tony worked to avoid with the course they built, making sure students would be given the right tools and pushed to become the best programmers they could possibly be. 

"When I was at school, I found myself having to make decisions about what I thought would be the best things to get better," he said. "I had to take the initiative."

Michelle Osborne, a MCV Pacific Women in Games nominee and coding extraordinaire for Blush Box Games, leaped at the opportunity to be the coordinator and head teacher of the course.

"I said, 'Build and teach my dream course? Umm, absolutely!'" Michelle told the audience at the industry panel that launched the game programming course in August. 

Michelle, who has built several games and taught game design extensively, described her time working on the course structure as "heavenly".

"I've finally been able to create my dream course, based on what students have been asking for my whole career."

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Tony Coculuzzi, co-curriculum designer for the course.

The 2-year online course is part of the Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media, and covers everything from the fundamentals of coding and modding games to building a game engine from scratch using Visual Studio and Unity.

Freedom to make whatever you want was extremely important to Michelle when making the choice to teach both Unity and Visual Studio rather than Unreal and MonoDevelop.

"I just really want students to be able to make any program they wish, any game they wish, build the tools they want to exist and even the shaders they want." 

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The Melbourne game scene turned out in force at the launch. From right, Tony Reed of GDAA, Ken Wong of Mountains, Ty Carey of League of Geeks and Katie Steggs of Lumi Consulting.

There'll be a major focus on the practical learning of relevant and up to date information and software in the hopes that all students graduate career ready.

"Programming is such a powerful tool that so often is pushed to the back," she said. "But it's fun and it's intensely creative. It's like being able to use magic to will the things you've always wanted into existence."

Are you interested in finding out how you can harness that magic and start getting intensely creative yourself? Check out information for our Game Programming Course here or subscribe below to stay updated with upcoming game industry events, articles & resources!  

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