Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bringing it all together...A Year 1 Review

So the last day has been spent collecting and preparing all my work for hand-in tomorrow and its been an 'interesting' experience.
I say interesting because it has been quite stressful, but also positive. While sifting through all my files and folders I've realised just how much work I've produced over the last few months. This is were the stress comes in. I have masses of files, all over the place, spread between 3 different hardrives and memory sticks with inconsistent folders between them. My memory isn't great so trying to remember everything I've done and should have for hand-in just wasn't happening. Thankfully Chris had posted a list on Facebook and with that I could collect all my 2D work together.

The positive effect of having to do this however was being able to compare my early work to some of my latest and seeing just how much I have improved, in pretty much all areas. I've never been that great at the 2D aspect of the course and have often worried about it but it's nice to see I've made improvements!

With all my work sorted I then decided to try and present it a bit better than just a lazy scan. I went through my work, sorted into their projects and picked out the best of what I had done and sorted them into a sort of portfolio thing. I haven't really done anything like it before so wasn't really sure what I was doing or how to make it look good but I wanted to do something with my work.

It ended up to be 73 A3 pages of 'presented work' with a hell of alot being left out....mainly because it was sh*t.  So here's a few examples...

So here I am...almost at the end of the 1st year and Jesus has it flown by. The course has been a shock to the system if I'm honest, with a host of ups and downs along the way. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started last September but I don't think I was at all prepared for what was coming. The quantity of work we were meant to produce and the pace of the course was a punch in the face to the ideas of 'sit around drawing for a few hours and then play some games'. These were never my thoughts to begin with but the level of hard work required was still a stunning new experience.

I feel unfortunate to be in such a large year group that we have needed to be split in half, meaning we only get half the time with lecturers but I'm not sure this has had much of a negative effect other than a mental one. What I've come to realise over the course so far is its all on me...if I want to get better, if I want to make prettier pictures or learn to understand lighting or use colour I have to go do it. I can't sit around just doing what I'm told and expect to magically learn these things just from being on the course. I have to make the most of the time I'm in University and take advice where it is available and fully commit myself and my time to what I'm doing or I'm never going to get anywhere!

I have tried to get better myself in the past but with such a wealth of influence out there I've never known where to start or even how to start. I think in this area the course structure has helped me massively. Everything we've done has been for a purpose of improving some fundamental skill. We haven't been told ' go learn 1 point perspective this week! Off you go!' and then left to try make sense of it ourselves. We've been shown what we are trying to grasp, how to make sense of it and then take to place and given a subject to practise with. This method has told and shown me what I need to do to develop the fundamental skills I need to get anywhere, where I have failed was thinking that was ever going to be enough. I didn't take on board  what I was beening told and practising and running with it, I was just doing what I was told and then stopping. Which I've found out just isn't enough.

Through the 2nd term I have tried to put alot more effort into my work and take it abit further but found the work load after the Christmas break a real struggle. I continued to work over the break but I found the slower pace of not being at Uni took abit of a toll and I started to feel very tired and lazy. This meant when I came back I was all over the place, out of tune with the work and horribly slow! The projects just kept piling up and I didn't know what to do first which meant I really fell behind in 2D during the 2nd term. Thankfully working hard over the Easter break gave me the chance to catch up but there are projects I'm not happy with and I never even wanted to fall behind in the first place.

What I want now is a clean slate. I want to hand in all the work we've done so far and be done with it! It sounds negative but its because I have improved so much through tout the year I feel hindered by my earlier work. Looking back I can't help but want to redo everything I did in the first 2 terms because I know I could do so much better now and get a better mark, but there just isn't enough time. I want the chance to redo things to be gone, so that I can move forward and not worry about redoing anything.

Despite knowing I have improved massively throughout the year I can't help but think I could of done more. You can always do more of course and I find knowing where to stop and sometimes start difficult. I could work myself 24/7 striving to improve but I think I would just burn out, I need some breaks or I just become too tired. On the other hand taking a too relaxed approach to work and improving means I won't get any better. This is a balance I haven't yet managed to find and hopefully will do a better job of in the future. With the summer break fast approaching I want sort myself out and get into a routine that will help me use my time more productively.

Another thing that has become apparent over the last few months is competition. Up till this point in my life I haven't really thought about competition and what it means to me and everyone else. However being on the course with 100 + other students, being able to see their previous and recent work I can't help but compare myself to each and everyone of them. I know we aren't meant to compare ourselves to each other and instead help each other via criticisms and help but its unavoidable. If people on the course upload stunning digi paints or master full traditional pieces I can't help but feel disappointed that I'm not capable of the same. I have thought in the past, 'Ahwell I have the time to improve and become that good', but now, with the 1st year almost gone, I release I dont have forever and time is running out. These people that can produce a much nicer picture than me also aren't just going to sit still and wait for me to get better than them, they will be pushing forward as well, constantly improving and I relise this isn't just going to be for the duration of the course. This is going to be the same forever. The competition in University is soft, friendly and helpful, but once we are done we are stepping into a world were everyone else has been trying just as hard, if not harder, than us to become the best they can. This competition is only going to get harder, faster, worse, with people always aiming to be better than each other to get that job.

So the course so far has brought some stark realisations for me. The world isn't rosy and cushy and I've reached that point in my life when if I don't try hard I'm going to miss out. I've gotten this far and I now have a shot at doing something I enjoy with my life IF I put the hard graft in now. The gaming industry is a rough place, with the economic times not helping and companies aren't going to hire everyone who wants a job. By the time I finish Uni there might not be a job out there for any of us doing exactly what we want to do but its impossible tell and the skills we are learning now are universally applicable to a variety of areas. I have really appreciated this area of the 1st year, the chance to learn and practise fundamental skills which can be applied in different ways and not to the one subject ' Game Design' that we are studying.

With everything in mind, an area I think the course could be improved would be personal interest and encouraging us to do things outside of the curriculum. I'm not sure that's a fair comment though, given it is art and its very much on our backs to do more. If we enjoy art we should want to be doing it all the time anyway, and shouldn't need to be told to do more, but with the pace and work load of the course it is often difficult or impossible to fit in some personal stuff. I couldn't help but feel any time doing personal stuff would be wasted as I could be spending it on coursework that will be marked. So some encouragement or inclusion of personal art interests could increase the enjoyment and effort towards work.

Installing a 'crying corner' might also be a good idea.

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