Brian R. Smith

Writing stories about færies and demons 

Brian R. Smith

Mastery Journal

 

Full Sail University mobile gaming master's

Computer Science for Engineers Mastery Journal

Brian R. Smith

Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida

2020 November 19

 

Computer Science for Engineers Mastery Journal

 

This shall review my experiences with the Computer Science for Engineers class as part of Full Sail Uni’s Master’s program. It will cover time management, new skills gained, impact on future assignments, and the capstone project.

Time management

 

I worked for a Large Multinational Corporation (LMC) for 31 years, nine months, and two days, until I was laid off. You don’t last that long at a soul-less LMC unless you are good at managing your time. There, like anywhere, I focused on the bigger and more important projects, first. Get those done to a high degree of quality – then move on.

 

Not a surprise, but the weights (expressed as a percentage of the overall grade) assigned for the Android programs in the Computer Science for Engineers class were the highest. Other research, forum work, and papers, less. And, not a surprise, I attacked each of the programming assignments early to get them done and submitted before I started on the smaller weighted items. This also had a side benefit, as I could interact with Professor Chu on some of the finer points of Android application development I had not mastered before.

 

On a personal level, I had two things going for me. I am a full time student (luckily, for me, an LMC laid me off). Unlucky for me, my Father passed away during the first week the first time I started this offering. I dropped this first offering only to pick it up again for weeks later. But, for this second time, I was a week ahead of my peers.

 

Going forward, I will use the same time-management strategy for my Capstone project – attack the big hard things first. One of the things I perfected while working at the LMC was a paper To-Do list with due dates and priorities. As elements (tasks) for my Capstone project become apparent, I will add them into my To-Do list. Even if they seem far off – having them on my list will remind me of those future goals.

 

New skills, new confidence

I have to admit, I was surprised the Computer Science for Engineers class demanded we program for Android. I thought Full Sail was engine/platform agnostic. I had created a few simple applications and a small 2D game for Android over the years, but I was not confident in my Android programming. Here, I reached out to Professor Chu, who helped me with some of the bigger issues I did not fully understand nor appreciate. Thank you.

 

Specifically, I learned:

 

  • The Android program lifecycle
  • A bit more about Object Orientated Programming (OOP), specifically Java.
  • Important algorithms, such as the A* pathing and minimax, that I can use and re-use as I write games for any platform.
  • How to tie together a series of Android activities through the intent

 

And, with these new skills, comes new confidence. I’ve never lacked in confidence in my raw abilities. But, it strengthens oneself to attack a challenging environment and to come out on top. Hard, work, sure, but important work as I strive to create a Capstone project in the mobile gaming ecosystem.

 

Future assignments

 

This Full Sail Uni Computer Science for Engineers class was, for me, at the right level of complexity and challenge. It forced me to learn many new skills in a rather short period. Like a hungry person, this class taught me how to fish. For future projects and my Capstone project, I shall continue to fish, and apply what I have learned.

 

Capstone project

 

I am a, “kill as many birds as you can with one stone,” person.

 

When the assignment was to create a simple treasure hunter game, I added features like sound, graphics scaling, dynamic debug (Easter egg-like) initiation routine, and an efficient algorithm for both searching for onClick() buried treasure and sorting the inventory list.

 

When the assignment was to create an A* pather program, the assumption was the student would code for a square grid. Many of my future games are based upon a hexagonal grid. So, I worked harder, and created a pather program that works for hexagons with weighted cost for entry.

 

When the assignment was to create a minimax algorithm (computer AI), I kept the minimax algorithm concise and generic. In this way, all I need to do is rewrite the heuristic and helper methods and my Capstone AI will be something to be reckoned with.

All these programming snippets have the opportunity of finding their way into my Capstone project.

 

Conclusion

 

The Computer Science for Engineers class at Full Sail Uni was, for me, at the perfect intersection of challenge, future Capstone value, and fun. I learn more when I am having fun and challenged. A clear win.

 

Works Cited

 

There are no sources in the current document.