DADIU 2019 – My Experience

From September to December this year (2019) I took part of a Danish game production program for students called DADIU.
My goal for this post is to document my experience, mostly for my own sake, but hopefully it will also be interesting to you.
To quickly explain my background, I finished a bachelor in IT & communication, pretty traditional CS education with some electrical engineering & telecommunication thrown in as well.
DADIU was part of my 3rd semester of my master education in Digital media engineering.

Coming from university and a long career in traditional schooling, I was used to things being a certain way, hand-ins, group assignments, lectures etc. I knew things were different outside the school environment, but DADIU actually made me experience some of this, and made me really excited to be done with my education, and move out into the “real world”

So why exactly was DADIU so different from a normal semester?
Well first of all DADIU is a full semester of only that course, which means it can take up all your time, and you don’t have to juggle 3-5 different courses at all times, along with this we also had fixed hours at a fixed location.
This was a game changer for me, over the years I’ve learnt that I’m no good at working on a task at home, there are simply too many distractions that you constantly have to resist.
Having a working location meant that when you were there you would work, and in combination with fixed hours from 9-16 and knowing that you would have time for yourself in the evening without having to think about the game until the day after.
This really worked for me and taught me a lot about how i work best.

These things I already knew to some extent, but there was another thing that DADIU completely changed my view on : working together other people.

I’ve had my fair share of group assignments, and in most of my educations they have been good at promoting teamwork, so I thought I had a good understanding of what to expect when working on a team.
[Disclaimer: This is all personal experience, I know others might have different experiences]
Sometimes you get a functional team, where everyone does their part, you meet up and do the work, and you usually end up handing in some good work. Then there are the less functioning teams, where one, some, or everyone doesn’t really want to put in the time, you don’t all meet up, and you usually end up doing some last minute scrambling to hand in something passable.
Off course the first case is obviously the better case, both cases still have something critical in common though, you are there because of the grade or credit. The product doesn’t really matter as long as it gives the result you want. And when the course is over, you often loose contact with your team members and the product is completely discarded.

Here comes DADIU, a huge group project of 16 people full time for 14 weeks.
I go in expecting the good group described above, we will probably make something good, and also have some good times together since were all into games.
But I was also fully expecting that that would be it. We would finish the game, hand it in, and go our separate ways, but something else happened.

During us working together, it became clear that there was something more than just completing the course and getting a good grade, driving the project, I wanted to put myself into the project, I wanted to make something good, something I would want to show people and be proud of being associated with. The project became less about making something living up to the courses requirements, and became more about living up to our own additional expectations.
And while I can only fairly talk about my own experience, there was still the feeling of the whole team feeling this way to some extent. It became a positive feedback loop, you’d see other people put themselves and their time into “our” game and you wanted to do the same.

Now with the project being over, let’s look at the two things I said previously would always happen. Product is disbanded, and connections are lost.

So in our case has the game been disbanded? No, for the first time in my studies the project was not thrown to the wayside after the final hand-in. That being said it is moving at a much slower pace than while we were working on it, it’s still too early to say what will happen, but the current plan is to polish the rough edges, improve some clear problems, and then give it some time, show it around, and see what happens.
With the final polish I think we have a complete game, it has flaws yes, but it’s not missing something. It is a complete game.
And that might be where it will end, it would require the team, or at least a good chunk of it, to come up with a shared vision of the game becoming something more or something different, to keep working on it.
And even if this is where it ends, I’m still very happy that we created something together that we wanted to put additional work into, even after a final hand-in.

What about the people, was it just another group project ? Just some more necessary communication to complete a course together?
In my case no, and this was probably my biggest lesson from DADIU, and a very pleasant one at that.
The people I’ve been working with are talented, hard working, team players & most important just nice people, and I would love to work together with them in the future again.
I’m excited to see where they end up in the game industry, if they do, and I’m looking forward to being part of the growing game industry together with them.
I think it was ultimately this passion for games that allowed us to work as well together as we did, and creating the friendships that was created, and also probably why this experience was so different for me compared to previous ones.
It makes me very excited for going all in on a game development career.

Final notes:
Check out our game HERE
We were just one of 6 teams, you can see the other teams games HERE

If you are a student in Denmark and are into creating video games, apply for DADIU !
It’s been my best course by far, and taught me so much more than many of my previous semesters together.
It might seem daunting at 30 ECTS points, but you’ll learn things, and have experiences that would be impossible in a standard class setting.

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