Let's pretend to be smart and use some Latin. The word university comes from the Latin words universitas magistrorum et scholarium (and here I was thinking universitas said it all), which pretty much means 'community of teachers and scholars.' Which, well for me personally helped me understand the word a lot. Pretty obvious when you think about it but that's what a university is: a place where people with massive heads come to commune with their kind.
Originally, universities were created so smart people could come together and later on a certain agreement was brought in that they were open to all scholars, allowing them full access to all archives. Essentially, this hasn't changed. Apart from the fact that universities are now more business orientated and require heaps of money. Quite sad really, money is spent only when they'll see it again. Still, due to programs like 'Aim Higher' the prospect of higher education has opened up to pretty much everyone, the sad part is that everyone will have a degree and that this is actually the case now causing degrees to lose their worth. Where once a BA was required, now an MA is; and a PhD from there.
What do you expect from your University education?
Personally, I don't think education is the right word. I see university as a three year space for me to practice my craft without the burden of a job. That said however, the tutoring allows me to focus more on what's important. I expect these three years will be where I learn the most as I doubt I'll have time to make a lot of mistakes within the industry. That's it, actually; University is a controlled environment where I can try to make as many mistakes as possible so that I don't make them when I get a job. Get it all out of my system. As the saying goes, you have one thousand bad paintings in you before you get to the good ones, best take this time to get 'em out.
What am I going to get out of three years at University?
A good idea of what's expected of me, heaps of practice, learning skills that matter and not bogging myself down with those that don't. Being up to date on current software as well.
On the whole I hope to feel vastly enlightened to not just drawing (which was the reason I joined) but to the entire process of creating a game. I never realised how interesting the actual design part of the game would be, whereby you write the characters, environments the whys and hows. It's also made me far more critical and aware of various media; films, games and even books. What I thought was a bad film before uni I can now see merit in, as well as what I may have thought to be good I now can see as tack.
As for my thoughts on the past year:
It really was a massive shock to me, and quite stressful at times because in the first year I worked enough, or so I thought at the time, and then at the start of this year I decreed I would work much harder... and I did. Twice as hard if not three times and yet I found myself getting behind in the work. I realise this is because I took on more for my projects as oppose to the standard twelve thumbnails and one final for VD or the one and only attempt for GP I would instead do pages upon pages of sketches and idea generation finally coming to a digital painting and for 3D I'd try new things instead of sticking to the basics – which didn't work out so well on the projects themselves but I feel I brought myself up to a satisfactory standard whereas before it was piss poor.
Whereas at the start of the second year I wasn't confident in VD or GP I now feel quite confident and comfortable in where I'm at for my paintings and drawings, realising that when I put my mind and passion into it I can produce something relatively good and as for 3D I'm still one of the weakest in the year but I'm learning. I got behind massively in the first year and in the second semester, certain that I really didn’t like 3D so that wasn't helping my motivation with the program however now I feel I can approach a project with confidence; especially after the group project.
Whenever I heard someone talk about the group project it was often negative. Several people fell out with one another and in a previous year a few had to be split up because it was getting ridiculous. So when it came to the second semester I was dreading it, luckily however I was grouped with some pretty chilled out people, and aside from one group member going AWOL we had a smooth run. What struck me the most during this project was the feeling that our group was one of the weakest, and I hate to think of it as a competition but I guess I'm just competitive. Yet at the end when it had all come together after three months of gruelling and drudging on we had something that was ours; and that felt good. The level as a whole blew me away when I saw it with lighting and sound along with scripted events with the manikins and some such. Having only seen it static up to that point made me wonder if it was going to be that good, I should never have doubted the people in Sneaky Milkshake.
All in all I feel this year has been a kick up the arse (first years have it easy) and I fully realise the amount of work and time I'm to commit to projects. Aside from massive time management issues in the first semester leading to me getting so far behind I was working my ass off right up until we got the group project (and so didn't get a breather) I felt fatigued throughout the year, never getting a moment to just step away and breath. It's not that I worked all day every day but that I couldn't just chill out and play a game because my mind was always stressing with the need to do finish work, because I was behind. So next year I'd like to be able to just take a day off here and there, and the only way I'll achieve that is if I get ahead on work which will require roughly eight hours a day throughout the week. I'd love to be able to say I have time to kill.