Summer project round-up

Earlier in the year I talked a little about the special student project that we were running in conjunction with GRAND. The project saw ten students work as a project team in our offices for ten weeks, and they were tasked with learning about project structures and production systems in order to make a first prototype of a game based upon a concept from some of our designers.

The team at GRAND have a summary article up over on their site here.

It was a hectic summer with the launch of TSW and everything else, but it was great to have a fantastic group of young enthusiastic students also working on their project, and learning a little about what it is actually like to work in a team in a studio environment. To be honest everything went smoother than I had expected, and much of that was down to the way in which the students responded to the project. They grabbed the opportunity, came together as a team, despite not really knowing each other in advance, and working together as a team really well, with minimum drama. Which in and of itself is an achievement.

The student team
They were also challenged by the composition of the team, we learned some good lessons for future similar projects about how to structure the team in terms of artists, designers and coders. As a pilot project however I think it demonstrated the potential for this kind of a set-up. All too often when students get to do internships they end up simply doing tasks at the lower ends of the production spectrum. While that kind of internship does have some learning benefits, and is representative of entry level positions, it's a very different type of experience.

The students were given a concept that two of our senior designers had previously put together as a personal project, which they kindly donated to the project in order to give the students a framework to work on. With only ten weeks available, we felt that it was a good basis for the project, so that we could avoid a slow start trying to define what the students would make. That was a key part of having them hit the ground running. It really helped bring things together quickly and allowed them to set goals for themselves quite quickly.

In many ways this was an experiment, and I think, mostly a successful one. It was great to be able to try something different and try to find a way in which we can collaborate with universities to improve the support that students receive before embarking on a professional career. It's one thing to talk about how we can improve these things, it's quite another to be able to actually do something meaningful about it. It was very rewarding to see how much the students seemed to appreciate the opportunity.   

Hopefully this project can act as a template for future initiatives and can continue to see how we assist universities in building the next generation of game designers, artists, animators, and coders.

So a huge thanks to everyone who was involved, GRAND and everyone involved in organizing it, Bart and his team at Concordia University, those here at Funcom who gave up their time and energy to help advise the students, and last, but by no means least, the students themselves for being a fantastic, motivated group. Who knows, you might just hear of some of them in the future ...