Interview: Liam E. Hislop (Full Sail)

August 24, 2005

[author]Snowcone[/author][i]Editor’s Note[/i]: As games become more mainstream there will always be people asking how they can get into the industry. Most of the time these people are interested in creating games. Since that seems to be a constantly hot topic I would like to present you with an interview with a gentleman from Full Sail. Full Sail is the premier technical college that has an actual degree program in Game Design and Development. Hopefully this will steer many of you in the right direction and give you some insight to what it is like on the inside. I would also like to take this time to welcome Ben to the staff of Snackbar Games.

[i]- Starting off, please introduce yourself and describe your position at Full Sail.[/i]
My name is Liam E. Hislop, and I am the Senior Associate Course Director for Game Project. Game Project is the final class in the Game Design and Development Program, and the students are charged with making a game.

[i]- What is Full Sail?[/i]
Full Sail is a technical college focused on the entertainment industry. Full Sail has been in existence for over 25 years.

[i]- How many students are in your program?[/i]
There are roughly 600 active gaming students.

[i]- How long has the Game Design program at Full Sail been running?[/i]
The Game Design & Development Program has been running for around six years now.

[i]- How much convincing did it take to convince the higher-ups that video games are valid media? Or was it an initiative from the start?[/i]
Obviously, it wasn’t an initiative when Full Sail started 25 years ago. However, over the last 10 to 15 years, Full Sail has been focused on offering Digital Art programs, such as Computer Animation, and Game Development was and is an important part of the entertainment industry.

[i]- Your Web site touts much of your staff as people who have experience “in the industry.” What companies has your staff worked for and are there any popular games that they have been connected with?[/i]
Many of our staff have been involved in the industry and connected with games. We have staff members formerly from THQ and EA, to name a couple. We even have one of the co-creators of the original [i]Dungeons & Dragons[/i] game, Dave Arnesson.

[i]- There are many aspects to a video game, from the 2-D and 3-D art, to the graphics libraries, to compilers. What sort of tools do your students generally use?[/i]
Our students are focused mainly on the programming side of gaming. As such, they are usually programming in C++ using Visual Studio .NET as their interface. As for APIs, our students are exposed to a wide variety of C++ and 3-D APIs, such as OpenGL and DirectX.

[i]- How much of your program is dedicated to the Computer Science aspect of game design?[/i]
Percentage-wise, I would say around 85 to 90% is focused on the Computer Science aspectA