Insider's Guide: Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia

Insider's Guide: Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia

Game Development student, Nathan King, gives us an insider's guide to studying online at Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia.

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We talk to Nathan King who shares his tips for getting the most out of your experience studying online.

The Rookies - Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia
Billy Blue College of Design is known for its engagement with industry and employability focus. We have courses developed in collaboration with industry including game design and development, digital media, communication design, software engineering, branded fashion design and interior design. Billy…

What’s the name of your school?

Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia

Tell us a bit about how you came to be studying at your school.

After studying at Tafe (College) I wanted to advance my qualifications in video game development. Casually searching through google, I came across an advertisement by Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia on Game development and Animation. It piqued my interest since a fully online degree sounded like a great opportunity compared to other Universities in my area.

Why did you choose to study at Billy Blue?

Billy Blue offered an entire degree online, with competitive pricing compared to local universities in my state. Given how I can study the entire degree online without having the need to go into campus at all, meant I never had to travel to complete the degree.

Being an online student, what does a week at Billy Blue look like for you?

Open discord up and check my class announcements. Thankfully most lecturers in my classes prefer to link up blackboard and discord together so it incorporates everything, hence no one misses out on important updates to assessments and class time changes that might be posted elsewhere.

You’re learning a wide range of skills and software, what subjects or tools are you enjoying the most so far?

I like procedural tools the most out of my classes. Programs like Houdini and Adobe Substance 3D Designer are my favourites. Creating procedural solutions for your work saves so much time. Why bother spending hours creating different building types when you can go into Houdini and create them randomly within parameters that takes no time at all? The ability to go back and update things in real time and not worry about breaking or doing it all over again gives the artist more time to focus on other things that are important.

Dog Cafe Rio - Takeshita Street Tokyo by Nathan King.

What advice do you have for students thinking of studying online?

You need to be focused; treat taking a degree online as seriously as if you were going on campus. Create a routine for study time, assessments, and other things you need to do for the day. Communicate with your lectures often! Most of my lecturers are on discord and constantly chat with us there.

Another big piece of advice is to stay motivated! When studying, take regular breaks and try to ‘reward’ your brain for doing something difficult. I strongly recommend the Pomodoro technique, which states for every 25min focus period, have a 5 min break, then after 4 periods, take a longer break instead, then just repeat. This also applies to my personal work actually and works extremely well!

How would you describe the school community?

Friendly and easy to connect with. Given how it’s much easier these days from the comfort of your computer to chat, lecturers and students have this online environment where everyone can easily get in touch with each other. I can see who’s online in the class and give them a direct message to see if they want to form a group to do the assessment. In class, this might be difficult for some, to essentially ‘break the ice’ and introduce yourself, but behind a screen it’s entirely different as it gives everyone equal and mutual respect.

What have you learned as a result of participating in activities above and beyond your coursework?

I’ve taken part in Rookie challenges, like the Rookie Awards 2022, plus other challenges on other platforms such as ArtStation.

Participating in online contests is an excellent way to advance your skills and see how you operate under pressure; just like how it is working in a studio, you are under time constraints, and the best way to ‘emulate’ that is to join a challenge. I’ve learnt quite a lot doing these different challenges and it’s made me a better artist. I couldn’t imagine getting more proficient in 3D if I didn’t push myself.
Tokyo Alleyway by Nathan King

One thing you’d never change about your school is:

Our official discord that we use for everything. It’s a much better platform to communicate and to collaborate on than anything else out there. Before, we had to use blackboard and Skype, but now that everything is set up automatically by the lecturers including picking classes with the ease of a button, it’s much easier now to get in touch with my lecturers and classmates to get work done. The next step is getting rid of blackboard altogether, at least for games/animation students, as discord offers better usability and responsiveness. I think anyone who has used it can agree with me on a level.

What personal projects are you working on at the moment? How do you stay motivated?

I’m currently working very hard on a Word of Warcraft Westfall stylised environment done in Unreal Engine. I also have plans to finish another Japanese photorealistic environment and might use unreal engine for that too, given how much it has changed over the past year. When it comes to realistic environments, I aim for photorealism since it’s the hardest to achieve, but the most rewarding since it’s fun tricking people into getting them to think it’s an actual photo and not 3D.

The key to motivation is having a strong passion. If you’re extremely passionate about something (like I am) then having that motivation comes naturally. Find what you love doing (your niche) and get good at it.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

Hopefully overseas somewhere like Japan. I’d love to work abroad in another country. Australia is a nice place but if I truly want to advance my career I need to branch out into other studios across the world and to do that I need to travel. Whether that takes me to Japan or somewhere in Europe or America, I don’t really mind. I will go wherever there are opportunities, I’ve never been one to give one up and don’t plan to in the future.

You can find more of Nathan's work on The Rookies, ArtStation and Instagram.