The NextGen Futures Bootcamp in games-tech programming was built in response to the growth in this sector in the West of England, and related skills shortages reported by these employers. The ability to programme in platforms including Unity and Unreal Engine, are increasingly in-demand across games, VR, AR, animation, VFX, architecture, manufacturing, and automation companies worldwide.

To tackle this problem, TechSPARK worked in conjunction with NextGen Skills Academy and Opposable Games to deliver dedicated learning to a cohort keen to learn games-tech programming, funded by the West of England Combined Authority’s Digital Skills Investment Programme.

As the course finished earlier this year, we caught up with a handful of the students to see how they got on.

Up next sharing his thoughts on the training is Martin Coombe.

Could you introduce yourself and give us a brief background on your career or education so far?

My name is Martin Coombe, I recently studied for a Masters degree with Merit in Sound Design for Games and Apps. This involves creating and implementing multimedia, so the title is slightly deceptive as I spend 95% of my time working on nothing to do with sound design.

I am currently creating a VR Martinverse, in essence building my own metaverse containing mini-games; in the Unity game engine.

Familiarity with similar software such a Unreal Engine and ancillary software such as Blender or WWISE for implementing procedural audio.

Learning plays a large role in my life, with current focus being on a Next Gen Futures boot camp, to improve my game and app making skill sets.

How did you find out about the NextGen Futures gaming bootcamp and what made you want to sign up?

Next Gen Futures bootcamp was a lucky find. I was browsing for training opportunities and how to keep progressing with momentum after getting the degree. 

As the course was essentially accredited by WECA (West of England Combined Authority) it made me think it would be authentic, so more likely to offer genuine opportunities than some offerings on the open market.

What were your aspirations to get out of the course when you started? Did these change throughout the programme at all?

My aspirations to get out of the course at the beginning were to network with people currently active in the Bristol games making world, so I can be a part of it.

The other main aspiration has been to prepare myself for the guaranteed job interview we get to partake in.  It has helped with other anxieties too such as public speaking, as I’ve been getting familiar with speaking on camera to explain things or ask for help.

Do you feel as if you accomplished these outcomes?

I don’t feel I have fully accomplished the aforementioned aspirations. I look forward to when we get to spend more time networking. When we have all had a chance to absorb more of the skills we are learning. It will be great to be skill sharing efficiently so we all get a chance to prosper.

I now also aspire to keep building my Martinverse, improving and showcasing more and more skills in there, getting great juice, adding sound design and having a working, accessible product I can easily update as and when.

Was there anything on the bootcamp that you were surprised to learn?

I was surprised to learn how close I was to being able to carry out other skills, if I only knew they existed! 

A huge time saver for me was learning that instead of just pressing shift and using a mouse to make a selection of text, ready to copy or paste or whatever, it was also possible to press alt, then you can just alter the beginning of each line of text (eg when programming to comment out code (using //).

What was your favourite part about the bootcamp?

My favourite part of the course has been listening to the Northern accents of the teachers. As a Northerner, it’s put me at ease and helped me engage.  When I asked for a VR headset to use and they supplied everyone with one to use, that made me feel good, especially as it’s the environment I’m most comfortable working in, so I’ve been able to pick up where I left off at Uni. With one major bonus; the Oculus Touch headsets we’ve been lent doesn’t need to be wired into a computer to work. No sensors to set up too. Double win.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage people to learn new skills in VR, AR, animation etc?

I think it’s important for people to learn new skills in VR and associated industries as it helps with human evolution and improving your crossover skills. Whatever you may take an interest in, you are able to take your experimentation and curiosity to levels we’ve not been able to reach previously due to technology not being up to scratch. If people learn these things in their infancy, it can help them keep an interest as the technologies evolve.

What would you say to someone who wants to learn more about games-tech programming?

If somebody wanted to learn more about games-tech programming, I would suggest checking out websites such as Game Developer for articles and links for further information. Also, be sure to visit the Unity and Unreal websites for tutorials and documentation. Reading Unity documentation can help you to understand confusing things.

I would definitely recommend finding tutorials for free online and active learning websites such as Udemy. You can also join me on the start of my game and app design journey here.

What do you want to do next?

Next I want to improve my Twitch professionalism and get people watching who are interested in games development, make my game more complex, help others achieve their multimedia goals and have a full time job in a company who create media for VR.