Diaries from Alacrity Falmouth: Blending industry and academia

In the first in a series of diaries from Falmouth University, technical manager Rob Perren reveals how he’s giving students an early taste of life in the games industry
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“The Times They are a-changin’,” said Bob Dylan of the 1960s. And in 2014, the games industry is going through big and exciting changes. 

Small creative teams are pushing what the medium can offer and delivering software over an
ever-expanding array of platforms. My life has also been changing: earlier this year I left my job at a top developer to try something different. Little did I realise that the industry had beaten me out here.

As you may have read in Develop, Falmouth University has been investing heavily in its Alacrity Falmouth Programme, part-funded by the ERDF. The idea is to take 20 graduates and put them into a ‘hothouse’ environment to work on market-led projects in the digital games industry. 

These projects are a mix of indie games on PS4 and the use of gamification for other sectors such as telehealth and the space industry. They are supported by industry experts to ensure that not only do they make exciting and innovative software now, but that they can continue to innovate within their own companies for years to come.

 So where do I come in? After eight years with EA and Criterion, my role is to distill my industry experience down and offer it to the teams to support the technical development of their projects. In practice, this is a combination of providing the infrastructure that goes hand-in-hand with high quality development – source control, project management tools and so on. 

While the former of these is common among any number of jobs across the development industry the latter is where I am experiencing the biggest change. Recently, I’ve been helping the teams prototype ambitious new AI systems and combat mechanics. Next week promises to be even more interesting, as some of the other teams start looking at new advances in mo-cap technology.

It has been really exciting so far to see the teams’ talent and enthusiasm infuse into their projects and, as they get more and more familiar with the technology and platforms they have at their disposal, I can see lots of big and exciting changes to come as the Alacrity Falmouth Programme quickly grows a globally facing digital games industry in Cornwall.

You can find out more at falmouth.ac.uk/alacrity-falmouth

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