Second Semester at ITU

The first semester at ITU has quickly come and gone, and I’ve settled down fairly easily and gotten used to the Danish way of thinking. The IT University has kept me really busy, and I will explain why in a moment, hence the sudden lack of blog posts from my end.

Among all the parties and celebrations that inevitably occur along the way during the semester, there were some interesting and exciting events that occured, as well as lots of work to do.

Game Design

Sun Valve

As well as all the reading we had to do for Games Design, we also had to form groups and work on a small game. Although I had the initial idea of leading my own team, I quickly scrapped that idea since there was another team that was lacking programmers, and I joined them.

This meant that I had the opportunity to work with Thomas and others to work on Sun Valve, a narrative game where you play the role of a lighthouse keeper living on an island. I was the lead programmer on the team and I worked with the Unreal Development Kit, using several languages at once.

On top of that, us Games Technology students also had to write a review for Jesper Juul’s book Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, with references to the literature we discussed in class. (This may be found in the Academic Writing section of my website if you are interested in reading it.)

Something else that I had to get used to is the fact that the examinations here are mainly oral exams. In the case of Games design, I had 2 oral exams, where the first one was a 5 minute oral exam where I was asked a question about one of the many academic papers we read over the course. The second oral exam was a 1 minute presentation of yourself and your role in the development of the group game.

Game Engines

PIE EengineThis course involved getting together as a group of 5 people (which later dropped to 4) and programming a game engine together in C++ and OpenGL. We decided to create a 3D platformer game engine, in the style of Crash Bandicoot or Spyro, and the oral exam involved 20 minutes of preparation where one could gather one’s thoughts about the questions presented to him, and then another 20 minutes explaining the chosen question, as well as answering questions about the game engine and your role in development.

Demo Night at PROSA, and other events

Something I love about living in Copenhagen as a student games designer and development is the fact that there is a very vibrant indie scene here (whereas Malta’s game development scene is non-existent, let alone its indie scene). Thanks to the Special Interest Group meetings held by the Danish chapter of IGDA, as well as the extra-curricular Game Lectures held by the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University, students like myself are able to get a glimpse on the inner workings of the local games industry, as well as consider interesting topics that are connected to games, however loosely. Such topics include sound design in games, the portrayal of avatars in games and other media, as well as algorithms used in Korean robots.

Sun Valve at demo night

One particular example is the Indie Demo Night held at PROSA. The intention of this event is to get indie developers together in order to network, as well as to show off current works-in-progress.

Another event that has occurred here that is of interest to game developers is SpilBar. This consists of short talks by developers (both indie and established) who talk about their experiences when releasing games, among other topics. There is also time allocates to ask questions, as well as the opportunity to mingle with the rest of the attendees.

Other events include the game jams. The biggest game jam in Copenhagen is undoubtedly the Nordic Game Jam, but there are other, smaller jams such as the Exile Game Jam which takes place at the Vallekilde Højskole in Hørve. Developers are also encouraged to take part in small, global jams; examples include the 0-hour game jam, as well as the Stop SOPA game jam.

Living in Denmark

One thing I’ve noticed is that unless you have a CPR number, you won’t be able to open a bank account and get a mobile phone number, amongst other things. (I know that Lebara allow you to obtain a Danish mobile phone number for quite a low price, but due to mixed reviews from my friends, I didn’t consider them.)

My experience with obtaining this number is that it is a lengthy process, partly due to the fact that September is particularly busy due to all the new students that arrive in Copenhagen. Before applying for a CPR number however, one must first obtain a residence permit. This took around a week for me. The CPR number took around 2 weeks to arrive for me, but on arrival, I noticed that they had made a mistake with my birthdate, rendering the number invalid, and so had to wait another 2 weeks for them to correct it. It finally arrived however, and I could go about applying for a Danish mobile number and a Danish bank account. Online only mobile providers (such as Oister), help keep expenses down, and I consulted with my home bank to see which bank they recommended I deal with while in Denmark.

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