Back in Autumn 2022, we welcomed our first cohort onboard the FastTrackers C++ Summer of Code course. We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the course and the graduates!
What is FastTrackers?
FastTrackers was created to make the games industry - and pathways into it - more accessible.
FastTrackers consist of free training programmes where participants learn discipline-specific skills, industry working practices, and employability skills. We also aim to arrange interviews for real-world games apprenticeships or junior roles.
FastTrackers training programmes are free to access, designed specifically for those who have faced barriers to accessing opportunities to work in the games industry.
"Although I graduated with a first in BSc Games Design I found that being a generalist made it difficult to get into the games industry, and my ADHD made it challenging to focus on self-learning.
The C++ Fast Trackers course by Into Games provided me with a neurodivergent-friendly, guided learning opportunity that allowed me to hone in on my passion for programming and develop my skills greatly in a short amount of time.
The course and the support following enabled me to secure an offer for one of the new programming apprenticeships, and a junior role at a major UK studio.
I'll be starting my new role as Junior Content Developer in January. I'm very grateful for Into Games and the team for all their help in achieving my dream job." - Rhydian Carter, Graduate.
Meet the graduates!
At the heart of all our initiatives are the amazingly talented people from our community, who hope to land a job in the games industry. Meet some of our alumni from the course!
Currently looking for work:
“Through my own experience living with autism, I have developed a passion for accessibility and inclusion. My next adventure sees me wanting to make a difference through gaming; in roles such as UX and UI design using my transferable skills in strategy, innovation and communication.” - Ben Simmonds, Graduate.
“I love coding and it comes second only to my love for creating soundscapes. I want to create SFX, write scores and programme both. So combining these leads me inexorably to wanting a technical audio position.” - Cormac Porter, Graduate.
“I am a creative and passionate individual, working hard to break into the games industry.
My dream role is to become a narrative designer, I love role-playing games and I hope to help create stories that bring people together. I am eager to enter the industry, so I have been broadening my skills by learning C++ with Into Games.”- Max Tittle, Graduate.
We also want to congratulate Ben Jenner, Jamie Carnell, Lewis Moholt and Rhydian Carter from the cohort for landing their first industry roles!
What did the FastTrackers C++ Course involve?
The FastTrackers C++ ‘Summer of Code’ course was a full-time Monday-Friday course spanning two weeks.
During these introductions to C++ within lessons, students were taken through the basics like data types, loops, conditionals, functions and pointers. The students then advanced to more complex topics such as object-oriented programming, polymorphism, encapsulation, inheritance, and more.
Students were provided with maths lessons for relevant subjects, such as seeing how vector maths is required for calculating better interactions with enemies and obstacles in games.
Students were also given an introduction tour and exploration session to Unreal Engine, Blueprints, and how they can use their C++ basics to delve deeper into making games with Unreal.
All this learning was put into practice with the creation of their own games, coded from scratch in C++ (without any additional engine support!) These games were demonstrated on the last day of the course, and the students have lots to be proud of.
"The C++ FastTrackers cohort rapidly adapted to the material, from varied and diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of programming ability. The remarkable thing that we, as tutors, were able to witness was the unrelenting passion for learning, personal development and growth.
In just two short weeks we covered a vast array of complex programming paradigms with each course graduate successfully producing a 2D game of their own technical design that utilised all modern object-oriented principles.
The technical underpinning of this achievement is not to be underestimated and the cohort have my commendation for their achievements." - Carlo Harvey, Director of Future Games and Graphics at BCU and lecturer on the FastTrackers C++ course.
Alongside coding lessons, students also participated in morning social sessions to build cohort belonging, and identify what people had in common, and what made them unique in terms of goals & skills
Above is a screenshot of the session where students explored what they had in common. In other sessions, they explored their values, deepest passions and career goals, or polished their collaboration & communication skills in fun group games.
Course Content: Industry Q&As
During the evenings of the course, there were Q&A sessions with industry experts. These talks were designed to help the cohort explore the many different pathways and roles someone with a knack for programming can follow down in the games industry. We’ve now uploaded these onto our YouTube, and they can be found in this handy playlist.
Here’s a breakdown of the panels:
- Fireside Chat with Tiffany Wild - Senior Programmer at Lightforge Games Tiffany Wild talks about her journey into her role, and gives advice for budding programmers.
- Fireside Chat with Aardvark Swift - Joe and Shani - Joe and Shani from the Aardvark Swift team teach us how to make your CV and portfolio really pop, some tips and tricks, and what to look out for when applying for jobs.
- Fireside Chat with Sam Gage - Sam Gage, Director at Engage Software, has been designing and developing games professionally for 14 years. In this talk, Sam helped us explore what it's like to run your own Indie VR company and how he got there.
- Fireside Chat with Diana Flindt - Diana Flindt, Narrative Designer at Splash Damage, talks with us about her previous role as Content Developer at Jagex, working on fantasy MMO RPG RuneScape 3.
- Fireside Chat with Jacob Habgood - In this panel, Jacob Habgood , Director of Education Partnerships at Sumo Group, joined us to talk about Sumo Digital's 'Sumo Academy' and routes into the games industry.
- Fireside Chat with Christopher Knowles - Christopher Knowles, founder of indie studio Sidequest Ninja, talks about his journey to where he is today.
- Fireside Chat with Alex Darby - In this panel, we chat with Alex Darby; the founder & sole director of indie micro-studio darbotron ltd.
We want to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors, Epic Games, for making this programme possible. With their funding, we were able to not only ensure we could bring onboard lecturers and create course materials, but also that we can make the course entirely FREE for participants.
Additionally, thanks to the help of Sherpa by Escape Technology, we were able to supply all students with virtual machines, eliminating the need for a high-end computer and allowing all students to work with Unreal.
Finally, a huge thank you to our fantastic teachers:
- Carlo Harvey, Director of Future Games and Graphics at Birmingham City University
- Mattia Colombo, PhD candidate
- Pinar Satilmis Research Fellow in Computer Graphics and Vision
If you want to be a Game Programmer or love C++, check out the videos to get an idea of the different career paths, and sign up to be notified about future courses like this one. To bridge the gap, you can also delve into these 15 free online courses to teach yourself Unreal.
If you are a studio on the hunt for talented programmers or other specialists with solid C++ foundations, check out everyone from the cohort still looking for roles.
Would you love to help us run training programmes for the same or other professions in the future – with support from your studio? Speak to us! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.