I had a hard time in secondary school, and when it came to college I didn’t have a lot of inspiring options, the kids that did well had a pretty bleak outlook most of the students in the area all filtered into Barry College, and well, we all knew that lead to a council house and child benefits.
My parents worked hard for me and I ended up getting funding from the local council to go to Farley Further Education College (FFEC) for young adults with Aspergers Syndrome and higher functioning Autism.
This was a god send, it didn’t seem like it at first because I was fed up of being put through so many ‘special’ programs. FFEC helped me a lot, they got me a position at Trowbridge College on a GNVQ course doing IT. It was a year long course and it was exactly the same mind-numbing crap I was doing for GCSE IT… But it was a stepping stone… I made friends with everyone on the course slowly, I still had to have an in-class assistant or ‘helper’ so I felt different and shy still but all in all, it was a good experience, no one bullied me and although no one else needed a helper, as it where, we where all a little odd anyway..
I feel for my helper because the work I was doing was boring, I didn’t need her help and she really just had to endure the boring mind numb with me the only difference being she was getting paid and I was supposedly getting somewhere new in my life with bits of paper to prove i’m not a complete waste of oxygen and that I could sit at a desk producing documents for some one else who barely passes at mild intelligence via qualifications denoted by letters, numbers and pieces of paper.
I really did find it very depressing at times, thinking, this is all life really had to offer. I was still going no where, my mind is to be wasted.
Towards the end of the GNVQ ICT Course I made friends with some girls, we did some kissing and petting and stuff after hours, did some visits out of hours and stuff like that, lot of phone calls etc, was fun. Even though I still was not allowed a lot of freedom I managed to work things to the best of my ability. My confidence had risen a little since secondary school.
Anyway towards the end of the GNVQ like a gift from god the college started a brand new course called “Games Development” it was a National Diploma and that was enough to get me into University!! It’s exactly what I needed !! and it gave the the kick up the ass to show off my skills on a computer !
I enrolled and spent another two years with the FFEC which was great because they only allowed any student a maximum on 3 years on their program.
Life really started to pickup around this point and I made some tighter friends, the class was larger and had a much more free-range style aspect to it. My tutor Stan Zych was literally defining a curriculum for us on the fly and did a superb job bringing the right tutors in and teaching us the essentials of what we needed to know, he taught us how to make 3D graphics on Autodesk 3D Studio Max 8, he taught us how to use UCAS and apply for universities when the time came. Really need I say more? Stan Zych was your white van man of Tutoring, the perfect launch person for any up-coming creative course. He knew a lot, and was great at executing it all, he was great at picking out what make a person successful and running with it.
It was on this course I built up the confidence to write my first ever 3D game using Ogre 3D in C++, it was a simple tech demo where you played as the legendary 3D Teapot in a randomly generated forest using tree’s from Tree Majik tree generator, you could steal a car and drive it around with realistic steering and fire rockets out of your spout at a simple AI teapot who hid behind the tree’s darting from one to another whenever you got within a certain range of it’s position.
My ultimate creation while at Trowbridge College was Trax, a 2D puzzel game which combined slide puzzle mechanics with pipe puzzle game play. http://trax.coy.cat/
Anyway, ramble, ramble, there came a point on the course where a few of us banded together to visit Teesside University, it boasted to be the best University for games software programming in the UK as it had some of the best staff from the industry (they really did) and all the best equipment and funding (they had that too).
Let’s just say… Everything wen’t a little wrong on the offset, the privately owned B&B we registered closed it’s doors at nine oclock and we finally got there around ten, the old woman who was probably more scared by a bunch of young men late at night more than anything refused to let us in. It was a COLD night, sometime around September.
In total there was five of us:
James, the Gothic looking one of us – right down to the nails. Ended up joining the Army funnily enough and never dressed that way again. Lovely kind hearted person.
PIG, Single parent child, him and his brother where brought up by their mum, had a lot of freedom growing up. (named himself :p)
Max, From viking blood, hippy-esk parents and a dysfunctional family in the sense of organisation. Max was the friendliest most awesome viking around.
Darren, Strict middle class parents, fancied himself as a barman producing cocktails and the likes, played the part well.
and last but not least! Myself. Fletch.
PIG Suggested that we spend the night in a nightclub seeming as it was so cold, and under the assumption they stayed open all night, after having been a student at Teesside i’m glad we didn’t try that option in the end, it wouldn’t have worked out at all.
We had a search around for suitable places to sleep and discovered some people seeming doing the same thing, camping out for the night for whatever reason, when we questioned them they denied it but they where out all night oddly… They had picked a great place in the long grass by a roundabout on the outskirts, in the end I suggested behind a church near the cinema and we settled on that. It was a cold stone floor and we could have died, but we all managed to fall asleep.
Some time around 4-6 am we all woke up shivering cold and PIG suggested we burn some of he pizza boxes discarded outside the Pizza Hut near the cinema. Luckily there where a LOT of pizza boxes and just enough to heat us through the morning.
Needless to say the next day at the Teesside University open day Darren and the rest of us found it hard to stay awake during the lectures, Darren actually physically falling asleep against the wall and snoring.
We all went back on the train later that day and had a good sleep. Rofl.