• My MSc Goals: Part 1/3

    He abandons his blog and then comes back with a three-parter?! Like poetry, I once again neglected my online presence as I went about bringing my Bachelor’s degree to a close, thankfully netting first class honours – something that meant a great deal to me, and then moving back home and taking an extended break to finally enjoy some video games and to sleep (a lot of sleep), in preparation for the next big challenge.1

    What’s next then? Well that challenge of course would be my Master’s degree. I was sadly unsuccessful in my attempts to secure scholarship funding for the Advanced Software Engineering and Game Development graduate courses I was eyeing up, that I would otherwise be unable to afford with just the Postgraduate Loan alone, so ultimately I opted to return to my alma mater, Aberystwyth, to do a Computer Science Master’s degree. Admittedly, I’m a lot more excited about this than I was originally – the thought of spending another year on the pleasant Welsh coast, this time fully dedicating myself to software engineering, and not being shredded by the difficulties of a joint-honours degree. No more hours spent slaving over German grammar drills. Nevertheless, the heightened difficulty and intensity of assessed coursework and strong emphasis on structured, independent learning will pose challenging, all whilst attempting to survive on my part-time job earnings – a prospect familiar to the majority of postgraduates in the UK.

    Finished Bachelor's dissertation. The title is 'The Collation and Graphical Representation of Magnetometer Data to Track Solar Activity Using a Web-Based Application.'
    The big book of space that got me over the 70% mark!

    I mentioned at the start of the year that I wanted to write more – well, I certainly did, twenty thousand words in fact, if you’re counting my dissertation. I have set concrete aims for this academic year, and what it is that I want to set my mind to and I want to achieve. I have broken this down into three long-term aims that I’ll be exploring over this blogpost trilogy. My first aim that is the primary focus of this post is as follows:

    By the end of the academic year, have prepared an impressive portfolio of projects ready to impress employers in the web and/or game development industries.

    If you think this sounds a bit vague, or a bit overambitious you’re right. It’s just a high-level aim intended to be broken down into smaller objectives. But first let’s think about what I mean by this.

    First, it’s no secret that I’m enticed by video game development as a career path, and that I continue to be fulfilled by web development also. My programming background from a young age came from web-based technologies and languages, so it makes sense to continue learning and developing as such. Game development is more of a new attraction, having previously vowed not to ever investigate out of fear of spoiling the enjoyment of video games for myself, but after playing with Unity and Unreal Engine 4, I had a change of heart because they are just so much fun.

    Aside from university coursework, my repositories and overall portfolio are looking malnourished. My aim is to expand them with personal projects worked on over the duration of the upcoming academic year, and to revitalise and refactor existing projects (and coursework) to an acceptable standard. Overall, it should look something like this by the time I approach graduation:

    1. My MSc work and dissertation to the best possible standard. Obviously.
    2. A substantial project written in Laravel and Vue.js to demonstrate a substantial understanding of those frameworks. It should also include thorough testing and documentation. I am already working hard to learn them.
    3. A 2D platforming game built in Unity. I have ideas in mind for these already, but ultimately the game should demonstrate working knowledge of the SDK, the C# programming language, and some practical use of sprite artwork and image editing. I’m still yet to figure this all out.
    4. A more basic game written in SFML and C++. This is to show that I can produce something more low-level without the use of an advanced high-level SDK.
    5. A substantial refactoring of my undergraduate dissertation project, written in PHP. This program has academic usage, so touching it up would be beneficial to all.
    6. Optional: Any other refactored coursework, projects, and video games.

    Phew! That’s it for this part! I’m mildly surprised with how therapeutic and helpful it is just to jot your plans down on ‘paper’. I’m really looking forward to learning as much as I can in the course of this year and developing a Swiss army knife of skills and expertise that should hopefully land me in a comfortable career.

    The second part will most probably be a lot more emotional and will discuss aspects of my past and present before proposing what my plans are for the future. Think of it as your typical New Years’ Resolution except I’m aiming to commence it, little-by-little, until I see results, throughout the academic year. You might’ve guessed what it is already. Regardless, I’m sure it will be an interesting insight into my life and I hope you come back to give it your perusal.

    For now, I gotta get back to Laracasts. I’ll catch you again later in the week, and as always, I’d love to read any of your comments below!

    EDIT: Part 2 is now out. Go and give it a read.

    (1) Well, this doesn’t mean I do literally nothing. Whilst home, I continue my volunteer work for the Nightline Association, and for Florida Friends of Hostelling. Something like an internship would’ve been nice, but you know what? I appreciated the downtime.