Assignment Technique

I have a habit of diving head first into assignments trying to amaze and astound people by implementing very advanced techniques or the like into my work.

I’ve had several lengthy discussions with many of my lecturers about my attitude toward my work. Nearly all of them keep telling me to, for lack of a better phrase, take it a little less seriously. Generally they tell me to go for easy marks first, then go for the harder stuff. I generally dislike this approach to education as I don’t feel it really encourages students to push themselves. It’s hard to really push yourself when you already know that you’re going to pass. Also, bare pass marks are usually at a very low standard. I want top marks, all the time in everything.

This semester I’m amalgamating all the advice that I’ve had from my lectures and combining them with my usual approach. So far its serving me well.

For example, I have an assignment for concurrency. I’ve attempted this assignment several times and keep coming up against the exact same problem. Basically I have a resource shortage and I just can’t solve it. I’m reluctant to ask my tutor for any more assistance that he’s already provided me. It’s a huge class and I’m so far ahead of everyone else that it’s not really fair to be taking so much time from those who might be struggling.

I pushed onward and found come up with an implementation that solves the problem except for a very minor, but obvious, cosmetic problem. I’ve spent weeks on this assignment and it’s really starting to get to me.

So I’m taking a break, sort of. The assignment is done bar this single problem and I’ve got a lot of other, more difficult work to attend to. So rather than spending the next 4 weeks pulling out my hair trying to figure out I’ve applied my new approach, all be it, in reverse. I took a look at the marking scheme and have implemented each of the, extra marks, items. These are things like pretty graphics and other things that are might be slightly beyond the scope of the module. So counting up the marks I’m easily into the high 90% despite this little problem. The extra marks gained will more than make up for the marks lost. Now, if I don’t manage to get back to this assignment before the hand I’ll still be looking at an A. My assignment may not be perfect but I’m still getting top marks.

I realize that this might be considered contrary to things I’ve said in the past. But those were intended to be general student advice. This is specific to me.

Scraping a Pass

I received the results from one of my modules from last semester. I’ve already had my results from two other modules and I was looking at a possible first if everything else went well, realistically though I was probably looking to get a solid 2:1.

Then I got this grade back. Wow, it really ruined my day, I did a little better than expected on the assignment but bombed the test. Thankfully my assignment marks put me over the pass mark but just barely. I’m not happy at all with this grade.

Part of me wants to rage at the system. This was a level 6 module and a hard one at that. I’m currently taking the level 5 module that’s supposed to build up to this one. This is the result of years of scheduling and re-scheduling the modules until this was the only fit, it’s a major fault of the school, and one that they’re rectifying next year, but I can’t really blame the school. These things happen with teachers and awards coming and going over the years. However having taken these modules out of order I feel has undermined me, and everyone else on the award. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the basics of the subject while being taught about the much, much more advanced applications and techniques. It was very frustrating.

All in all though I had plenty of help. I plagued my tutors during this module and I was just happy to have a working application to submit for my assignment in the end.

My study technique failed me tremendously for the exam. The module covered a lot of very complicated subjects over a a fairly short period of time. I didn’t understand a lot of the basic stuff so I focused on those for my general study and then looked to the past exam papers for my more focused revision. I revised for two days solid and was fairly confident when I sat down to take the exam. However, the tutors went for a complete re-write on the exam this year and virtually nothing that had been on any of the past papers appeared on this exam. So I basically sat the exam almost completely unprepared.

Worst case scenario this bumps my degree down to a third class, which is horrifying. If I get solid firsts this semester I can maybe scrape a 2:1 which would be fine. So far I’m doing extremely well in two modules and not as well in the other two so I’ll just have to wait and see how it goes but I’m optimistic but this is going to be hanging over my head for for the next two months, especially come exam time.

Being The Boss.

21-01-13

I’ve got a module this semester where in, we’re to work as small games companies. It’s straight forward enough, the class of 30ish students has been split into two teams of ten and we’re using the Cry engine and Scrum to create one prototype game each. The game has to be a FPS zombie killing game, multiplayer optional.

Now, in that we’re supposed be working as a games company we were all to be given roles based on skills and personal preference. These roles were to be given out by the company producer, an elected executive type role, basically the producer is the guy in charge. This role has real power in the module, they manage the team, make all the final decisions about the game and if necessary, discipline team members. The producer can actually have members of his team kicked off the module if it’s deemed necessary.

I’d put my name in for producer. Thinking that, if I got it, it would be good experience relating to my plans after graduation, I also thought it would be nice if I was actually put in charge of a project by my peers instead of just assuming the role.

The campaign was short, we stood in front of the class and presented our fitness for candidacy for 2 minutes each. I’m not well known at the university and I don’t even think I’m well liked, I have a habit of winding up total strangers and openly mocking design students, many of whom were on that module. I screwed up my ‘speech’ delivery pretty royally and made myself look a real idiot. But when the votes came in I (having snuck a peek at the count) was on top… oh… goodie.

So now, here I am leading one of three teams in making a game from the ground up. We’re using a commercial grade engine so it’s not nearly as much work as it sounds, but there’s still an awful lot to do, especially for me. I’ve got 10 other students relying on me to get a good grade in this module, I’ve got to manage their time, their tasks and the quality of their work. I’ve got to organise and lead regular meetings, orchestrate documentation and be held accountable for any and all the problems. I’ve also got to track it all and report on it. I have a lead artist, designer, tools developer, scripter and 6 team members assigned to various areas. In all I have 2 game designers and 8+ programmers, I’m still waiting for a couple a stragglers to be assigned to my team. All looking to me for decisive guidance and support…

What have I gotten myself in to?