From Seattle to Pärnu! Florian’s story

Feb 14, 2023

Our student Florian is sharing his story on how he found his way to Full Cycle Game Academy.

Let’s get to know our students! They have come together from different parts of the world and their stories are always so interesting. How did they find Full Cycle Game Academy and why they decided to become a game industry specialist?

Here’s Florian’s story

This is my second time relocating. In my late twenties, I left my native France and moved from Paris to Seattle, in the United States. I expected to just visit for a few months, but eventually, I made Seattle my new home.

At the time my career goal was to be a game developer. I first got into the industry as a game tester for games localized into French. But instead of going deeper into the technical side of things, I was asked to use my linguistic skills and attention to detail for the text of the games and specialized in Editing. At the time, I figured that if I wanted to go into game development, I would have to always study the latest technologies, and I thought I’d rather “have a life” instead.

After a few years as a Senior Localization Editor for Big Fish Games and The Pokémon Company International, I took a break from the corporate world to study Earthships (self-sufficient architecture), Permaculture, and other topics dear to my heart like community living, personal growth and peace work.

What I want to do when I grow up

In late 2021, at age 43, when it was time to choose again “what I want to do when I grow up”, I decided to try learning Unreal Engine. I wanted to learn it when UE4 came out, and after a couple of hours I gave up due to its complexity. So when UE5 was available, I decided to try again, and this time I knew I would have to put in the effort.

I quickly started to have a lot of fun learning it, using free or cheap online courses and tutorials. I got two part-time jobs, one as a baker, and one selling candy at a tourist market, to make ends meet while keeping as much free time as possible to study Unreal. Even after 6 months, it seemed like I was only scratching the surface towards proficiency with Unreal.

Full Cycle Game Academy

Then in June, I accidentally found an ad for the Full Cycle Game Academy “Become an Unreal Developer through a 9-month course”. That seemed perfect! But wait, Estonia, where is that? And who is that company, is it legit?

I scheduled a zoom call with them to discuss the course. What convinced me, is that Gamecan expected to hire several students at the end of the course, which means they would train us well. I still had to think for a while about leaving home for 9 months. But something in me knew this was a great opportunity that I would regret passing.

Moving to Estonia was quite easy. Most people speak some English, and my phone with Google Lens could quickly translate any signs, or products at the store. Pärnu is a pretty and peaceful city. I found an apartment in the city center, and it was less than a 5 minute walk from the classroom or from the grocery stores. Estonia is a small country and it’s easy to travel between its major cities on the bus in a couple of hours for about 10 euros.

Maret (the Head of Education and Marketing) from Gamecan was always available to answer questions via email as I was planning my move from Seattle. I chose to get here almost a week early, to have some time to “settle in” before the course, but it wasn’t necessary. It was even a little lonely and boring, as I didn’t know anyone here. After a few weeks into the course, I started to make friends with other students. There is also an active group of expats living in Pärnu, another great way to make new connections and exchange tips about living here. Now I just wish to connect with more native Estonians as well.

The course at Full Cycle Game Academy has been perfect for me. Having been exposed to many aspects of Unreal, the classes here have helped me go deeper in my understanding and ask questions to the teachers. Being here in person, I am less distracted by my daily life in Seattle, me and other students can help each other, and we have direct and regular contact with the teachers. We also have everyday access to the classroom, so I can put in many hours to study and practice, which is just what I wanted. Having a team project in the Basic course was also invaluable. We got to practice not only coding, but also teamwork, project management, game design, source control, and having other people play-test our game and give us critical feedback.

Unreal Engine developer

If anyone is serious about wanting to become a game developer with Unreal Engine, I highly recommend getting some exposure to it by following some free online tutorials for a few dozen hours, and then to really learn to become an Unreal Developer, come to the Full Cycle Game Academy.

I can’t wait to complete the Pro course and become ready to work as a professional Unreal Developer. Polishing my skills will not only let me participate in making great new games but also create new kinds of virtual experiences related to my other interests. I think Unreal Engine is one of the best tools to convey new ideas, and to borrow from Charles Eisenstein, to showcase “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible”.