I started as a game tester and worked my way up to a QA Operations Strategist. I can tell you the weirdest/funniest stories. And/or comment on the video game industry's failure to evolve QA with the rest of the industry.

Proof sent to the Mods.

Edit for missing the word "game" in "video game"

Comments: 226 • Responses: 98  • Date: 

KazPaz15 karma

I've worked in QA for a few months so I'm pretty noob. Couple of things I've been curious about:

1)What's your opinion on quotas? I've been on projects where the publisher has requested a minimum of 10-15 bugs per tester per day and it just seems very unrealistic, especially when you've got a horde of testers on the one project/build for so long.

2) Devs like Bioware are doing great things with QA, embedding testers right next to actual devs, which just seems to make so much more sense than housing them in a completely separate building/country. Why don't devs/publishers do this more? Is it force of habit, financial reasoning, both? Do you see this kind of setup becoming more widespread?

3) What's you're advice for moving up the ranks in QA? I get frustrated with some leads I've worked with as some barely communicate, relay info etc. They all started out as just testers so I'd figure they'd realise the importance of such things and how appreciated it is. If I were given a lead position I'd strive to be much more effective team player/communicator. Or am I under estimating a lead's crazy workload?

Thanks for your time!

Gunnycycle19 karma

  1. Quotas are a necessity, but only in the right context. If you are given a new build/game, then it's expected that 10-15 bugs a day would be a pretty good mark to hit. But as a build/game reaches the end of a dev cycle, then leads/management should, if they are worth their salt, realize that bug counts will drop and take that into account when it comes to work performance. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this ideal and if you're not writing up 20+ bugs a day regardless of bug quality, they're not going to notice or care who you are.

  2. That practice is pretty new in the industry. But as for interaction with Devs, it's been a pretty common environment in a lot of smaller dev houses. It's how a lot of QA advance into dev roles themselves. Because being able to show a dev your bug is a great conversation starter as to how certain systems and code works. If there is anything a dev loves to do, it's to talk about how their code works. This way, it bridges a gap between the two departments. And usually, that communication between someone who is trained to break a game and someone who is trained to fix what's broken will create a more efficient development environment.

  3. First thing, learn to read design documentation. There's the programming docs also, but unless you're technically inclined, I'd start of with design. This way, you'll know exactly what is supposed to happen in a game. From graphics, to game mechanics, to sound. As our job is to find what ISN'T supposed to happen. Having a design doc handy is like gold. Second, learn and be good at QA theory. Anyone can find a bug. QA will find obscure crashes AND know why they happened. Third, volunteer to do things. I moved my way up Disney by creating documentation like stanardized naming conventions and excel sheets that tracked and documented changelists and fixes per build. And last but not least. You don't have to kiss ass, but it's always good to make sure leads and anyone above you know who you are. Preferably for the work you do. But if you're a hot girl, don't worry. You'll get a lead spot in an amount of time dependent on how big your tits are and how low your neckline is. (Sad, but true. sigh)

Illinois_Jones6 karma

Because being able to show a dev your bug is a great conversation starter as to how certain systems and code works. If there is anything a dev loves to do, it's to talk about how their code works.

It's so true. So rarely do we get a captive audience that is interested in the intricacies of what we're working on. Most people only care that it works

Gunnycycle8 karma

How do you think I learned what a "collision seam" was and how to crash a game from recognizing a resource heavy screen?

I love my Dev counterparts. Not only because they're more likely to fix my bugs (first and properly) if I'm nice to them. But because they don't even notice it, but they'll teach you ANYTHING you want to know just by asking "how come it does this when I do this?" hehe

Illinois_Jones3 karma

I like talking to testers too, because it's easier to get the full picture. Most of the time we are working on isolated systems and they are often used in unexpected ways when plugged into the code base. Reading bug reports is never as fast as asking the guy who found the bug directly

Gunnycycle7 karma

Oh man, you're exactly right! Let me ask you if you've come across this scenario before:

You: Let me open up this bug this tester sent me. You: Hmm, easy enough to reproduce. Let me launch my sandbox and check. You: This tester is smoking crack, this is working as intended. How dare they question my code!

You walk over to my desk: You: Hey Gunnycycle, your bug doesn't work on my machine. Can you show it to me? Me: Sure, here you go repro bug with ease. You: WTH, but it doesn't do that on my machine. Me: Are you on a sandbox (branch) build? You: Why, are you on RC? Me: Yes. Ah, that's why. You: Yes indeedy! Me: Well I'm glad we figured that out. Wanna get a beer later w/ the other testers? You: Sure! I'll even bring the hot marketing girls I know. Me: high five

Oh shit, that went longer than I expected. LoL

Illinois_Jones3 karma

Basically. I find myself going to the testers cube more often than not and it's usually something stupid and incites beer drinking

Gunnycycle6 karma

Ah, you're one of the "favorites". BTW, us testers keep track of this. And we have ratings for favorite devs. If you've ever gone drinking w/ QA, you're now a part of our world. Enjoy this as we are usually a very closed and aggressive species. Like wolverines. (The animal, not the Comic Book character. We're too out of shape for that.)

SpoonOnGuitar11 karma

Most buggy game you've tested and seen published?

Gunnycycle23 karma

Holy fuck, I would have to say it was the first WWF Raw for the original XBOX. That game was garbage (bug-wise), but THQ needed it to come out as one of the release (first gen) titles for that console.

This is barring MMORPGs that I've worked on which, technically is a nonstop bug paradise. But that's only due to the fact that MMORPGs are a nonstop work in progress.

SpoonOnGuitar7 karma

Thank you very much for sharing and answering my question.

If you don't mind, I have another:

Did you ever get bored? I mean, you pretty much had a job that most 'gamers' nowadays would kill to have. I don't think it's all fun and games - literally - but I'd like to hear it from a man with some many years of experience in QA.

Again, thanks for doing this. Very interesting read. :-)

Gunnycycle10 karma

You're very welcome. And I don't mind at all!

Boredom is actually the biggest downfall of being a Game Tester. This would explain the prank and nerf wars that ensued at the more fun places I tested at.

I will advise that people only get into game testing as a way to get your foot in the door to become something else in the video game industry. QA is the Redheaded Stepchild of the video game industry, and unless you are a lifer (veteran), or just need to do something to kill time in between what you REALLY want to do. You'll be better off going to school or start testing in another form of software such as Mobile or PC utilities.

Mouldylocks2 karma

That was the first game I ever purchased out of my own money, on PC though. I'm not sure if they were the same bugs or not, but that game was ultra buggy.

Gunnycycle1 karma

Hah, I tested that version too! And yes, it's mostly the same bugs. Unless you encountered hardware conflicts installation issues and anything else that usually happens when games and pcs don't like each other.

And I'm sorry about all the bugs. But tbh, that game was so poorly (and quickly) slapped together that I'm surprised they didn't just scrap it. Although, I hear the subsequent games were pretty good, yeah?

mkdhdh10 karma

how did you get to be a game tester?

Gunnycycle15 karma

A friend of the family was one of the QA supervisors at SEGA (when it was still in Redwood City, CA) at the time. I needed a job, and he had me apply. I was 18.

mkdhdh4 karma

wow, guess you just got lucky

Gunnycycle9 karma

Yeah pretty lucky. Especially since I got into the game industry when QA was actually still lots of fun. A ton of work, but too much fun.

skytracker8 karma

Silliest bug you've encountered?

Gunnycycle44 karma

I wouldn't say "silliest", but bug I was most amused by. I tested WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It.

I was testing all the entrance cutscenes and for Trish Stratus, there was a scene where she was under a waterfall wearing a white T-Shirt. Needless to say, the shirt was completely see-through. My lead made me write it up and it was removed from the game. I hated myself for writing up that bug. I still hate myself for even mentioning it to my lead.

D3s0L6 karma

Pics or GTFO!!! :D

Gunnycycle8 karma

I did a search. This is the closest I found. Which is also the edited version. But you can clearly see the wet t-shirt. "Sans nipples" (probably the saddest two words in the english language).

IAMA_NOT_THE_FBI_AMA7 karma

There is no link.

Gunnycycle9 karma

Damnit, sorry about that. Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-yAgBeF16M

D3s0L2 karma

thanks for the vid man... btw there are plenty of trish stratus photos on the internets but those in-game moments can make your day you know? :)

Gunnycycle3 karma

Those days when I had to test the videos were actually days I coveted. "So you want me to sit here, eat chips and drink redbull, and watch videos for the day? SWEET!"

8 hours later:

"Anyone know where I can find a spork? I'm gonna try to do a self lobotomy."

D3s0L2 karma

once I read one of the guys that used to classify safe/unsafe websites for search engines during the Cretaceous Period of the internet ended with a super strange sex life, if I recall correctly the guy went "offline" if the sex got rougher or smth... but think about it, looking at porn 8hour/day, no touchie touchie = blue balls everynight and inefective porn!

Gunnycycle1 karma

I'm already very desensitized by porn. I don't need any more. LoL

Theotherarcher2 karma

What is the worst game that you've tested.

Gunnycycle2 karma

I mentioned it up above in another question, but it was Ecco Jr. for the SEGA Pico. cringe

HypnotikK5 karma

What was the first game you tested? And what was the biggest game you tested before it was released. Did you ever have to do paperwork or presentations? Aspects of the job one wouldn't expect?

Sorry for so many questions :p

Gunnycycle12 karma

No worries for all the questions. _^ I don't remember the first game I ever tested, but I'll tell you the first one I remember testing. Eternal Champions for the SEGA Genesisl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiAFjXg8bWI)

As for the biggest? Well I tested a few Triple A games, so I'll give you the most recent one. Resistance 3 for the PS3.

As for paperwork, as a tested, you don't have to do anything but write up bugs, so that's not much. Later in my career, I presented test documentation and procedural test manuals.

As for aspects of the job most wouldn't expect. Here's a misconception. You don't actually "play" the games. Most of the time, you're going to be given an assignment as to what to test for most if not all of the day. Such as testing a whole level, to testing the buttons on a controller for 8+ hours. Towards the end of the project, you may have assignments where you need to complete the game. But this is with the understanding that you're making sure that it IS completable.

driftw00d2 karma

Can you tell us some of the more unusual assignments? There are so many combinations of anything that can interact and go wrong. Were there any that stick out as being strangely specific --like walk backwards while looking down over all of the brown grass patch textures, noting if you fall through the earth

Gunnycycle12 karma

Here's one. For a SEGA Pico game. I was once assigned to tap on all four corners of the interaction surface with the pen peripheral for the next 8 hours. I didn't have to do it clockwise/counter-clockwise the whole time. I was allowed to do combinations as long as it was the four corners.

And I was supposed to write down every pattern with number of clicks for tracking purposes.

The reason for this? "To make sure it works every time".

Nightmare Mode: I did that for the next 3 days after that initial day.

driftw00d2 karma

Haha. Thanks. I had to look up what a SEGA Pico is and that looks brutal. I'm curious to know that after your 4 days of button tapping research, did it work everytime?

Gunnycycle6 karma

Oddly, I ended up writing up quite a few bugs. Mostly due to the fact that I tested a different game every day. Still, I wanted to kill baby unicorns with a thresher after that week.

inertiaisbad2 karma

[deleted]

Gunnycycle3 karma

Oh crap, To the Kickstarter!

Ialsoliketurtles5 karma

How can I get a job working with video games?

Gunnycycle7 karma

It depends on what you're trying for. If you already have a degree in whatever field you plan to be in, then of course, applying to the appropriate job, most likely from the websites of game companies, would be your best bet.

If not, or you are in the process of getting that degree, you can get your foot in the door through three ways. QA, or game testing, Community management or forum and website communications, or as a GM or in game Customer Service Rep. From there, you can work your way laterally to different departments assuming you either attain said degree or work your way to have enough experience to acquire an entry level position in that specific field.

If you are going the latter route, you can most likely apply to the websites of the game companies for said positions, where they will direct you to the contract companies they deal with. You'll go through a pretty basic interview just to gauge if you're at least going to be a productive employee, then hire you for a contract.

Hopefully this helps, good luck!

Ialsoliketurtles2 karma

Well I'm in high school and I'm thinking working with video games would be great.

Gunnycycle1 karma

I'll admit, if it's really your passion, then go for it! It'll be slow going, but there is success to be had, if you're patient and persistent.

Mind you, other industries have a fast track to success compared to video games. But the satisfaction in working on something you truly love is (almost) worth it. Good luck to you, youngbuck!

MrG4F1 karma

Could you extrapolate a little on forum and website communications? What exactly does that entail and are there generally any qualifications needed for that position?

Gunnycycle2 karma

I pretty much meant that as a short description for Community management. The community managers are the ones in charge of a game/company's website and forums. They are generally a part of the Marketing division and will provide content and present information to Gamers in a more "Gamer Friendly" way. They also manage the game/company's forums and are often there answering questions, moderating threads, and letting people of any day to day information that the company thinks their gamers should know. Think of CMs as translators. They translate company/dev speak into Gamer/Casual language.

MrG4F1 karma

I already do that within my youtube videos for Planetside 2 (same username). How different is that from the job environment.

Gunnycycle2 karma

That's actually a good example to attach to your resume when applying for a community manager position. If you have any guild leader experience where you had an active forum/website, have a pretty popular youtube video, or are a mod for a popular website, then you're way ahead of the pack and could possibly apply for a higher than entry level position.

The main difference in environment is that you have deadlines, projects, and are at the behest of your bosses. As opposed to doing your own thing where you can take days, even weeks off with no real consequence (other than losing subs and views).

MrG4F1 karma

Haven't made a video in a month; Got 100 subs in that time! Mostly because I have to finish off the semester in school. But I will be sure to look around and see what positions are available. Where do you suggest I look around?

Gunnycycle3 karma

I would suggest starting at a development house (Insomniac, Heavy Iron, Riot!) rather than a publisher (SONY, EA, Capcom).

Actually, I think that RIOT is in the process of a mass hiring. Check there first and then look around on craigslist.com, Gamasutra, Gamejobs.

Hope that helps!

MrG4F1 karma

Do you know of any companies in San Diego that I could look into?

Gunnycycle2 karma

I know for a fact that Sony has an office there and that's usually where most people from that area start. I don't know any other publishers there, but I'm sure there are some development houses. You can usually check out Craigslist, Gamasutra, and Gamejobs to see if anyone is hiring.

Sil3694 karma

whats different between tester versus operations strategist? do u miss actual testing?

Gunnycycle10 karma

A tester is more a front lines type of person. They actually get to see the games and do a lot of the grunt work. I still get to do this every once in a while, but mostly for what I do as a strategist.

A strategist is more or less a consultant. I've been testing for so long and have tested for so many different companies using so many different strategies and procedures that I mostly specialize in optimizing procedures and training testers.

My goal would be to create an industry standard when it comes to Video Game testing. And in the process eventually making Video Game QA recognized as a legitimate tech job. Right now, Video Game QA is still recognized as a "child's" job and has not evolved with the rest of the industry. It's sad that when I started in 1995, I got paid 10$ an hour as a tempt. And now, in 2013, when testing is actually exponentially more complicated, testers still start at 10$ an hour.

Hope I didn't ramble too much on that one. hehe

Ilves72 karma

While I don't work on games, QA when it comes to any software application is incredibly important. Game companies would save themselves a lot of money in the long run if they invested in a good QA process

Gunnycycle2 karma

Oh man, if I could only convince the rest of the video game industry of this. I'd love it! Hell, it even came as close to a few lifer friends and I thinking about starting a union. But we're gamers, so we eventually got distracted by a squirrel running across the smoking area. hehe

lukeje4 karma

what are the best and worst games youve done qa on

Gunnycycle13 karma

Are we talking about best game I QA'd or most fun? I'll answer both.

Best game I QA'd was Ultima X, which was supposed to be the next evolution of Ultima Online. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_X:_Odyssey). Too bad it was killed off.

Most fun was being the assistant lead for Rocket Power: Beach Bandits for the Gamecube. Worked graveyard with some fun people.

Worst game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUbHqjaqEX0 This was the worst both in fun and environment. I was alone testing this game. And I became less and less fun with myself after a few 12 hour days of this.

TheCodexx7 karma

Oh wow, you just dredged up a ton of bitter memories of Ultima X being canceled right before launch. They were in the final push, too.

I can't ask you to write a novel or anything, but I'd love it if you gave me a write-up on how the game played and any interesting quirks/mechanics/stuff you liked about it that stood out. I remember them talking about new death mechanics, morality systems, etc, but of course the public never got a chance to toy with this stuff. I'm an old MMO fan (played UO, SWG, and similar games back in the day) and I'm really curious how Ultima X would have turned out.

Gunnycycle17 karma

Honestly, it would have gave WoW a run for its money. Too bad the higher ups thought that moving into China to produce casual games was more of a priority because "we don't see MMORPGs becoming more popular than they are now" (insert facepalm here).

As for the game itself. It was actually great! Graphics was on par with WoW, but it was less cartoony. It used that time's unreal engine which made animation super smooth.Game mechanics was pretty smooth and the last version I tested was on par with WoW's "target, 1,2,3,1,2,3,4" mechanic. The death system just like wow's where you would have to find your body as a spirit. It was going to be the first MMORPG that had instanced dungeons. And it actually had a talent system linked to the morality system. Think wow talents and FF10 ability tree had a baby.

And to be honest, it wasn't anywhere near to complete before it got axed. At the time we tested it before its demise, it only had one dungeon, and a few outside maps that you had to load as a separate instance each time you had to test it. Besides EA's focus on casual games. One of the reasons it was scrapped was because it was so behind schedule, it would have been embarrassing if people found out.

I know this is pretty general, but if you have more questions, please feel free to ask.

ilovetpb2 karma

Testing that Ecco game has got to be the video game equivalent of toilet paper recycler.

Gunnycycle14 karma

If said toilet paper was made of a cheese grater soaked in salt and lemon juice. Yes, yes it was. Thank god for Mary J, Coca Cola, and Newports.

ilovetpb2 karma

God, I love this comment.

Gunnycycle4 karma

If I told you that this comment loved you right the fuck back. Would you be aroused, or afraid? Or better yet, both?

BrisbaneRoarFC3 karma

Why are the ea servers so crummy?

Gunnycycle1 karma

LoL I haven't worked there in years. But I wouldn't say they're crummy. I would probably say they need to work on testing server loads better and selling a set number of skus according to they're projected server threshold. hehe

BrisbaneRoarFC3 karma

Have you ever played fifa ultimate team? The past 3 years have had horrible server uptime. They should know how many people are going to play.

Gunnycycle1 karma

This is the last soccer (football) game I tested, and incidentally played: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worldwide_Soccer:_Sega_International_Victory_Goal_Edition

But I'm assuming that the reason for their (and a lot of game company's) problems with servers is trying to balance budget vs. projected server load. They can either buy less servers and adjust accordingly by buying servers and not losing money. Or they can buy a shitton of servers and potentially lose money if their estimates are grossly overestimated.

Wish I could be more help. hehe

CBD_3 karma

how much chance do i have to find a game programming job in cali as a european (i have a gamedevelloping degree)?

Gunnycycle10 karma

As a european, you have just as much chance as everyone else. You do have to realize that you might have to pay for your own relocation. There is also the process of getting a work visa if you're not a citizen. In extreme cases, some game companies will take care of everything for you. Electronic Arts (at the time I was there) was very big into importing developers with full relocation and visa compensation. But that was for very rare and important roles.

If you ARE thinking about having a better chance at being hired, start off applying at a small development studio. Assuming you're taking care of your own relocation and paperwork. Southern California is pretty booming right now for the game industry. Hope this helps!

CBD_2 karma

as i understand it visas can only be aquired (in my situation) by lottery or a sponsor in america. So i'd have to find a job and they'd have to sponsor me or how does it work? oh and thanks for the quick reply =)

Gunnycycle5 karma

This is correct. As far as I know, companies only have a certain number of visas to give out per year. I don't know the exact process, but I would google for the information on how to get sponsored by a company. Some companies will even give out that information directly on their website or they'll give out information on who to contact within their HR departments.

I wish I could give you more information on this, but admittedly, I only know as much as a very long conversation I had with the Director of Technology I worked under when I was still at Electronic Arts (a long long time ago. LoL)

CBD_2 karma

oh just a quick question how cool are most people with smoking dope in cali, I know its legal and all but still

Gunnycycle6 karma

Well, to stay on topic. There is NO drug testing in the video game industry. Specifically in Video Game QA, no one talks about it, but lunchtime and breaks during overtime days, it's almost a necessity to get blazed up. Like I stated above, there is A LOT of boredom. And tbh, testing doesn't require too much in the way of technicality. Just have a good eye for what's NOT supposed to happen and be able to describe what you see well enough that a Dev can understand what you're talking about. If you can do that for 8+ hours a day while still being drugged up like a Racehorse on Glue Factory day. You're good to go!

CBD_2 karma

i actually code better when stoned so YAAAAAAAY

Gunnycycle3 karma

What a coincidence! A majority of testers test better when stoned too! Honestly, I don't think any development/testing would happen effectively unless some kind of chemical enhancement is involved. The suits would publicly deny that. But it's the backbone of the Video Game industry.

Pthompson11874 karma

This makes me wanna watch Grandmas Boy now

Gunnycycle2 karma

Whenever people ask me if Video Game testing is like Grandma's boy. I always tell them that in the late 90s and early 2000s. It was! I miss those days.

CBD_3 karma

you've only made me more eager to come work in cali

Gunnycycle7 karma

Hey bud. If you don't mind being underpaid and working longer hours than a hooker in the South Pole. Have at it! Hope I didn't kill it for you, but if you can survive having a permanent career in the Video Game industry, you're a stronger man/woman than most.

Take my upvote, good sir!

tonyvee2 karma

At the moment I live in Los Angeles and now I'm curious. What exactly do you mean it's booming? Also, if I am looking to apply to work at one of these companies, what do they look for if I don't have any prior experience working in the industry?

Gunnycycle2 karma

I mean that Southern California is where a lot of publishers and developers are making their home right now. There is a plethora of companies in the El Segundo area that might be hiring.

And if you're starting out as a tester, you don't need any prior experience except a high school diploma and in some cases a G.E.D. Good luck!

rpclaw3 karma

As a game tester did you get to choose the games they sent you or did you just get random games in the mail and it was your job to test and review them?

Gunnycycle8 karma

I actually (mostly) worked in house. So was in the office 99% of the time. As for game choice, you typically get assigned to a game depending on the deadline and QA needs for whatever is about to be released. This means, most projects, you're not working on something you necessarily want to test.

As for reviewing, testers don't generally do this as most game companies have focus groups and professional reviewers who do this for them. But every once in a while, they'll ask QA what they think of the game they're testing. But most times, they don't listen to QA's opinion. I always thought this was a mistake on their part because these days, the only people who work in the industry who actually still play video games are the testers.

dariushro7 karma

these days, the only people who work in the industry who actually still play video games are the testers.

That is really sad. Designers and developers who were never gamers are all over the place.

Gunnycycle13 karma

Yeah, it's pretty common, especially within the larger publishers (EA, Activision, Disney). I once had a producer ask me how to sync an XBOX controller because she had never played with one before. She was overall in charge of the game we were releasing. Which was an XBOX game. But she did just graduate with a fancy business degree from UCLA. Which I guess made her qualified (/end sarcasm).

If you want to find gamers who aren't QA in the industry, work at an unknown, small, new development house. You work your ass off more than in a large publisher. But at least you'll be surrounded by your own "kind".

SurvivalOfTheBravest-1 karma

EA is hit[le]r, amirite?

Gunnycycle11 karma

I'm not in any way a business minded person, but as a company, I think they're doing what they need to do to make as much of a profit as possible. Sadly, this is partly due to the general public showing that they supported this by buying their games. It also means that they can justify treating their employees like expendable fodder and killing off creativity for the next iteration of a popular franchise. It's sickening to us as "regular" people. But their finance team would kill off a petstore full of kittens if it meant more profits. And they wouldn't think twice about it if they knew they could get away with it.

I will say that I am glad to see that their missteps are starting to garner more and more criticism. But at the end of the day. The direction they take is dependent upon us, as consumers to not buy their crap if we think it's crap.

Now from a gamer perspective: Yes. I think that EA is one of the companies that killed the purity of gaming. But what can I say. Casuals gonna casual.

Oliplaysgames3 karma

What is your opinion on how EA is handling their current DLC/game strategy?

Gunnycycle7 karma

Honestly, as a gamer, I am against the current iteration of the DLC. I think a game should be released complete as a standalone. And any DLCs should be released as something extra rather than something to "complete" the experience.

JAnderton3 karma

1) What's the biggest "high" profile game you've done, one which was commercially or critically acclaimed?

2) As a developer myself, I admit, there are tons of bugs in most pieces of work that goes through (due to multiple reasons that I believe everyone knows about and I don't wish to waste time on). But every once in a while, you come across a release which stands out because of it's rather amazing quality. Can you tell us about some games which fall in this category for you?

3) As a guy who also spends some time testing code, some times there are issues you find which are quite 'crazy'.. cases which are insane to reproduce but there in the game anyway. Got any stories like that for us? :)

Gunnycycle2 karma

  1. I tested a few high profile games, but I think one of the biggest games was SPORE. I didn't test it through it's whole dev cycle, but I was there in the beginning. I had such high hopes for that game. sigh

  2. Hmmm... I'd say FFXI for the PS2. Mind you that game was already released in Japan at the time. But it was CLEAN! Aside from localization and server/shard testing. I honestly just played that game. Even my managers realized it and didn't mind us just doing "ad hoc" testing. Virtua Figher for the SEGA Saturn was also amazingly clean. There are a few others, but those two stand out the most.

  3. I've found some pretty crazy bugs before, but to be honest, it's usually the general public that find the craziest bugs. When I was in UO, we constantly had bugs submitted to us that involved changing their local machine's settings along with re-writing certain (not to be mentioned what type of) files. And then with certain combinations of these changes they would be able to "hack" their characters and environment. What got even crazier is the fact that whatever they changed on their local machine would save onto our servers and universally persist. As QA, this was a nightmare for us due to having to rollback servers or install quick fixes. But as a QA Gamer, I had to tip my hats to them. Even I don't have that kind of patience/foresight. And I get paid to do this. LoL

Ammypendent3 karma

If you were to create a QA department at a new studio, what would be the best current examples in the industry you would try to copy? Or if there isn't one, how would you design one yourself?

I'm wondering since I've helped start an indie studio and been reading all sorts of articles and I realized there is nearly a void of information on how to properly organize testing (apart from playtesting).

Gunnycycle4 karma

First off, I would start with tools:

Team Collaboration Software: Atlassian Confluene or Microsoft Sharepoint

Bug/Task Database and tracking software JIRA or DevTrack (I prefer DevTrack, and it's pretty much the industry standard)

From there, I would set up a Dev/QA communications foundation. This will involve naming conventions and an agreed upon QA process involving System/Feature release, bug reporting, Dev Fix/Feature change or addition, regression, and then bug/feature complete reporting. This will all be tracked with build control in mind.

Once that's set up, it's training QA Management on procedures and operations standards. Anything and everything we do that will be seen by anyone outside of QA (Bug writing, database management, bug tracking, QA scheduling) must be standardized and consistent. Then training QA Testers on procedures when it comes to Bug identification, troubleshooting for reproducibility and finding specific steps for reproduction, bug writing standards, regression procedures (according to aforementioned DEV/QA QA processes), and communication requirements (Agile Scrum).

From there, it's hiring the right people, getting them trained or acclimated to your QA Environment, and adjusting to the specific needs of your Dev and QA teams in order to optimize what you've set up.

I could expand and write whole manuals (which I've done) on this. But this is the quick and dirty version. Hope it answered your question!

WannabeNywriter3 karma

Any ideas on how to get into the industry as a writer? I want to write games

Gunnycycle9 karma

Ah, a writer. Well, I don't know much, but I'll tell you what I've been told. First, be published. It doesn't matter if it's a short story or a novel. Being published shows you are experienced and if someone spent money to get you out there, you must be worth something. Second, have writing samples (if not your published work) that is geared towards video games. Whether its sci-fi or fantasy. If it can be used to make a game. Have at it. Third game experience/knowledge. As with all writing, you have to know the environment, path, and tempo of the story you're writing. Video games have the same thing, but work in very different ways. Learn that and you're golden. I suggest reading a couple of books on game design. Designers and writers are thick as thieves and you will usually interact with a designer more than anyone else on the team. It's always good to learn what your counterpart does in order to prepare yourself.

And as to actually getting into the industry as a writer. Get in as QA or better yet, a community manager. Being a community manager will show that you know how to write, you know how to convey ideas to the public, and have knowledge of video games. Then from there, try to get hired internally if/when the position opens.

Hope this helps!

Lynkx05012 karma

I'm a game production student, and I want to get my foot in the door via QA testing. Are there any companies that you know of that are a good way to get said foot in the door?

I'm assuming QA is a great way to network with people.

Gunnycycle1 karma

QA is a very good way to network. You'll be able to interact with not only fellow QA professionals, but developers, designers, artists, and in-keeping with what you're studying, producers.

As I've stated, you'll have a better chance to interact, communicate directly, and learn from all of these people if you're in a development house rather than a publisher. People will be more receptive to actually talk to you due to a more laid back environment as opposed to a corporate one with publishers.

Good luck to you and see you in the industry!

Lynkx05012 karma

Thanks for the response!

Follow up question if you'd be so kind:

Where would one find one of these start up dev houses? Is there some sort of hub or central area they tend to be in?

Gunnycycle1 karma

You can usually find game jobs on www.gamasutra.com, gamejobs.com, craigslist, or just go to publisher websites and find out the development houses that they use to make their games since it's very rare that a Publisher such as Activision or Electronic Arts will actually develop a game in house.

(Hooray for run on sentences!)

Edit: You're very welcome! Glad I could be of some help.

Wyattbenson2 karma

What are some of the games you tested that were never published

Gunnycycle3 karma

Hmm, Ultima X, Overstrike for Insomniac (now called Fuse, but it's so different from what I worked on that it is a different game), a couple of Sony titles that I can't talk about due to NDA, quite a few games for the SEGA Saturn, which again, NDA. Sorry I couldn't tell you more, but very few times will the general public know when a game is canned. Most of the time, those are highly anticipated games. All the rest, no one outside of the industry ever finds out about. And unfortunately we are NDA bound to not talk about them. Also, I can't remember half of their names. Unless you want me to tell you, unannounced shooter from EA, unnanounced racing game from sony, announced shooter from THQ, etc.

Wow, this is the lamest answer I've given so far. But it's not my fault. Stupid corporate laws!

Nik001171 karma

What if you just broke an NDA and said fuck you company?

Gunnycycle1 karma

I would have a lawsuit on my hands where I would have to pay fines and possibly serve jailtime. And I'm not built for jail. hehe

Prodigal_Ink2 karma

[deleted]

Gunnycycle6 karma

Hey, you gotta prioritize! I need something to keep me awake during those long 20 hour shifts jumping at walls in every level of a 20+ hour game, right? In between the Street Fighter tournaments and Nerf Battles. I gotta squeeze Reddit in there some time!

But to answer your question: Considering how big games are nowadays, even if most of it is created with the same assets and code in every level. Any programmer in here will tell you that code will find a way. And even with some of the biggest test teams I've worked with (100+ testers on one game), we will never find every bug in a typical Triple A game. (And if we did, we'd be godlike, and incidentally, out of a job quickly.)

The other side of the coin are the producers. At the end of a Dev Cycle, when a deadline is coming at you faster than Peter North on Jenna Jameson's face. The producers and QA will go through all the known open bugs. In that closed room, we scream, fight, throw things, and eat junk food until we finally, we determine what won't be fixed, or will be fixed later.

Then you guys find even more heinous bugs that we didn't see (because you're essentially millions of game testers vs. my 100 man team). And all hell breaks loose. By then, I'm hopefully working on another game, or comatose from 20+ hour days for weeks before the release of your game. And it's someone else's problem.

All that or I'm watching porn. I have an addiction to porn. A debilitating addiction to porn.

prodigal272 karma

Have you ever tested a game that started off going in a great direction, then by release was shit? What happened? Any game in particular?

Gunnycycle2 karma

Yeah, quite a few actually. Very often, a game that is presented to the producers to create looks very solid, but by the middle/end of the development cycle, it's a very different game.

This can be due to a number of things. Budget constraints, Deadlines, higher ups making changes (for whatever reason). But you'd be surprised how many games out there didn't start out the way they're initially presented to be.

A game I worked on was Overstrike from Insomniac. It was an awesome 3rd person shooter platformer. It is now called Fuse and looks nothing like what I worked on.

prodigal272 karma

I'm sorry to hear that. Thank you for the response!

Gunnycycle1 karma

It's okay. You get used to it after a while. At the end of the day, it's a job. And at least you know that when you get home, you don't necessarily have to play the games you test.

Thank you for the kind words though!

TheBakedPotato2 karma

Would you ever want to hop the fence and make games rather than test them?

Gunnycycle1 karma

Oh man, I would absolutely love that! I've been in the game industry for so long, and have been so entrenched in the game development cycle that I generally know how everything works.

Now I'm not a programmer by any means, but I have submitted some games I've designed while I was at the larger publishers. Full Design Documentation and business plans and everything. Nothing ever came of them, which is the equivalent of them saying "Don't call us, we'll call you".

But I'd love to be a designer! The problem is, at this stage in my career, if I was to move laterally, I'd have to start at the very bottom. And as much as I would not mind that at all. As a married father of 4, I wouldn't be able to afford it.

therealmol2 karma

Have you read The Trenches - http://trenchescomic.com/ ?

If so, have you submit any stories to this site for viewers like me to read and be glad that I'm not in the QA and/or the video game industry (of today)?

Gunnycycle1 karma

Yeah I've actually read that comic. I haven't kept up lately, but I think it's awesome and scarily spot on. And no, I haven't submitted anything. But now that you mention it, I think I might. And the game industry isn't all that bad. There are good times too. For instance, the most fun and fulfilling times I had were when I worked at dev houses and didn't sleep or go home for weeks at a time.

Sometimes you gotta step back and put blinders on to the corporate bullshit and just realize. "Oh shit, I make video games for a living!"

bunk3rk1ng2 karma

[deleted]

Gunnycycle1 karma

I worked up north at 919. And I tested a long long time ago. I was part of the first generation online team testing Socom I and II, auto modellista, Everquest for PS2, and one of the first americans to actually play FFXI on PS2. Yeah, I'm old. LoL

Mechanics2 karma

Aside from some bugs that ruined the online experience for Socom II, that game was probably one of the best console games to ever grace PS2 and the online world.

Gunnycycle5 karma

Nothing like being able to prone a collision seam in order to go through a wall and kill enemies without them knowing where you are to make peope ragequit. Yes, we wrote that up. Yes, the higher ups didn't think it was worth fixing according to our deadline. Welcome to QA. hehe

bunk3rk1ng1 karma

[deleted]

Gunnycycle1 karma

Oh yeah, I left way before then. I worked there round about 2002. I got recruited out of SCEA to work for EA because I had network and server experience. I was hired to work on Sims Online, Earth and Beyond, and eventually Ultima Online.

jagarr2 karma

Wouldn't mind hearing more about your work on UO. 15 year off and on vet here, and corruption/bug abuse/staff abuse of power has always been an issue in that game. I was a volunteer too before the lawsuits and I saw some stuff happen that I thought only took place in politics. From GMs and Devs eBaying their own gold to favoritism with rares events that still occurs to this day...UO was on of the few I ever played that was SO incredibly complex that developers would burn out and turn over very quickly. Felt like there were new lead designers every 6 weeks... what a mess. Fantastic game but the staff always seemed pretty awful, after the original bunch (DD and others) left when EA stepped in. What iteration of UO were you testing and how'd that go?

also PS: Earth&Beyond was tons of fun for the short time it was around!

Gunnycycle2 karma

I worked on the Samurai Empire expac. And as QA I didn't really get to touch any of the pub shards. But we did spend a lot of time in the QA shards. I would usually go in just to test something in a "real time" environment as opposed to our test sandboxes/shards.

And yes, during that time, we had a high turnover, especially designers. It was good for some of us because some of the testers were recruited to be designers. And the only requirement? Do you know how to use Photoshop. It was glorious! hehe

And yeah, I got in after Origin was absorbed into the main office, so it was pretty downhill from there. BUT I will say there was an initiative to turn it into a Ragnarok type MMO. It was just going to be an art overlay, but it's sad they didn't follow through with it. I miss testing that game. Mostly because the community was so awesome.

And yeah, E&B was awesome! I was part of the sunset event the day we finally closed it down. So many feels!!!

RiouG2 karma

What is the typical game tester salary?

Gunnycycle5 karma

Entry Level: Contract 10$/hr (Per project or set time) Regular/Senior Level: 15$-18$/hr Asst. Lead: 18$-20$/hr (this position is becoming more and more rare) Lead: 40k-50k/yr Supervisor: high 40s to mid 50s/yr Manager: Upwards to 80k DOE Director: 6 figures

These salaries are rough estimates as I said above, there is no current market standard in the game industry for QA at this time.

RiouG1 karma

Thank you! I'm from Europe, but I googled average american hourly pay and from what i can tell, that isn't even that bad.

Gunnycycle4 karma

It depends on where you're living. California, New York, or pretty much any of the coastal states cost of living is highly bloated. And unfortunately, most video game jobs are there... For instance, I can buy a 4 bedroom house in Southern California for 700k. The same house in the south would cost 200k or less.

aveneyer1 karma

[deleted]

Gunnycycle2 karma

It is sad, but very very true. That's why no one really stays in one company for very long unless you're director level and above.

usrevenge2 karma

have you ever just said " fuck it this game is shit no amount of bug fixing will make this game worth buying"

Gunnycycle5 karma

Almost every single game I've ever tested. But we never tell anyone outside of our little QA circle that. I gotta pay bills. Hookers and blow don't come cheap you know.

usrevenge1 karma

ouch, I couldn't force myself to play a shitty game tbh.

Gunnycycle2 karma

Well, as a QA Tester, all the games you test are crap, or will eventually become crap in your eyes. There have only been less than 5 games that I truly enjoyed testing from beginning to end. All the others, even ones I found to an actual fun game when I played it outside of a QA environment, was work. Nothing more.

Nik001172 karma

What are those 5 games?

Gunnycycle2 karma

Batman and Robin for SEGA Genesis, Socom for PS2, WWF Smackdown: Just bring it for PS2, Earth and Beyond for PC, and most recently Resistance 3 for PS3.

I said less than 5, but I squeezed in Smackdown and R3. They were just fun games to play and test. The others, I had more fun testing those three games than every game I tested in the industry put together. Not necessarily because they were awesome games, but because of the environment and people I tested with.

mattahorn2 karma

Can I ask what you mean in your initial post when you say:

And/or comment on the video industry's failure to evolve QA with the rest of the industry

Do you mean video game industry failing to evolve QA with the rest of the entertainment industry? Or do you mean certain segments of the video game industry failing to evolve alongside others?

Either way, can you elaborate on what has evolved and what you feel hasn't?

From reading through this so far, I gather that you work for a company that publishers (maybe developers?) contract with to do QA? Is the process the same from company to company? And if not, who has the most stringent process?

Gunnycycle7 karma

Well, as an example I gave earlier. When I started in 1995, I got paid 10$ an hour as a temp at SEGA. And it was oh so true. I literally played video games for a living. If something broke, I typed it on a piece of paper, showed it to my lead, who then faxed it to the devs. Other than that, there wasn't really much to it.

Nowadays, there is actual training, code logging, networking, server load tracking, build control, database training and management, basic to mid level tech knowledge, all added to the basics. And new kids will be paid... 10$ an hour.

Which isn't as bad except for the fact that for senior experienced QA, experience means almost nothing if you were unlucky enough to be laid off and have to start at another company. I know managers who were laid off by a company I worked at who were laid off, then rehired as temps a year later, and went from 60k+ a year to 15$/hr. And that 15$/hr was top pay for contract.

Finally, they are behind when it comes to the rest of the software industry. Working in the video game industry as a QA strategist/consultant I was getting paid 60k+ a year. I moved into mobile apps outside of the video game industry taking a huge drop in position (as a regular tester) and I get paid much more. And sadly, I do less work and the job I work at now requires the same amount of knowledge/training as any regular tester in the game industry. It's sad to come to this realization considering how much I love working with video game.

I worked for both publishers and dev houses over my career. My last gig was actually for a dev house. And if you're starting out, you're going to work contract. And the only requirement is a high school diploma (or G.E.D. in some cases). So not really much to it.

If you're specialized, you can look around for a permanent spot. But they're few and far between, and the competition is crazy. It's like trying to win the Hunger Games and the only thing you picked up is a plastic spork and a can of chili. Good luck on that.

All in all, people wonder why you would even work QA in video games? Well, for us lifers, it's really fun. I grew up trying to figure out how things work and learned most of the things I'm good at by breaking things. But at the end of the day, it's like the movie industry. Where it's filled with unknown people behind the scenes, but if you're lucky. You might become Brad Pitt.

Hope this wasn't too long. I tend to ramble. lol

Typical_Stranger2 karma

I am going into the industry without a degree in comp-sci. I am getting a 4 Year Diploma in game design and development. Here are the courses: Development , and Design I hope to become a dev or level designer in the future. What are my chances of landing a successful job? Please Answer - Thank You :)

Gunnycycle2 karma

Your chances are actually really really good! Game Design is an awesome branch of the industry and has the best chance of showing you off as a rockstar!

What I suggest you do is create a kind of "Design" portfolio. Since you're learning how to do it in school, take everything you learn per semester and create your own thing out of it.

Then when you're close to graduation, put everything you've created into something you can present as examples of your work to potential employers. That way, not only will you have a resume (which is what the rest of your competition will have), but you'll also have something they can see will prove you know what you're doing.

And then once you're hired, stand out in the crowd. That's my main advice to everyone. You don't necessarily have to do more work than everyone else. But make sure your work is good and make sure the "right" people see it.

Hope this helps!

Typical_Stranger2 karma

This is great advice. Very helpful. Thank you

Gunnycycle1 karma

You're very welcome! Always glad to help.

MaximBardin2 karma

Why the older console games (PS2 games for example) had much less bugs (and some even bugless) then the current or older PC games?

Only because once released, you couldn't patch it?

Gunnycycle1 karma

It's mostly the complexity of the games. If you look even further back to 8 and 16 bit games, they were practically bug free.

As the games became longer and more complicated. Along with the evolution of the consoles to become powerful computing machines. There are a lot more that can either be missed or even left due to time delays/executive decision.

Think of it as looking for a needle in a haystack. Back in the NES days, that haystack probably fit in a box the size of a suitcase. And there only 100 needles to look for. Now, imagine a haystack the size of a semi truck. And there are thousands of needles. And you only had a day to find ALL of those needles. And those needles hate you...

Hope this helps!

Verizian2 karma

Cracked did this video about how dream jobs aren't all they're cracked up to be and they made QA testing seem really awful and boring. Are there moments where it can feel that way?

Gunnycycle1 karma

It can be. It's really dependant on the company you work for. If you work for a publisher, it's very corporate. So there are going to be a lot of rules and guidelines that have to be followed. And yes, this does make it boring and at times awful.

But if you work for a smaller or even a startup dev house, it could be a lot of fun, and a great learning experience. You'll have a lot of resources to pull from when it comes to how a dev cycle works and if you're with a good team, you'll make some really good friends in the industry.

So to answer your question. It can be, but what job isn't awful and boring (once you realize it's just a job)? Well, except being a wombat wrestler. That sounds like so much fun! And deadly! O_O

Bonesnapcall2 karma

Is what you test limited to bugs only? Or are you able to write up reports that point out unintuitive and/or frustrating gameplay elements. Also when the story is poorly written are you allowed to point out huge plot-holes and/or bad dialogue?

Gunnycycle1 karma

We have different types of and levels of bugs we can write. And one of those types is a "Suggestion". Most of the time, this is design or art based as it's much harder for devs to change game engines and mechanics than it is to change the path of a hallway or change an art asset. But there are times where testers influence the way the game looks/plays. Not often, but it does happen.

As for writing. I've personally never seen it happen. But I'm assuming if a tester is close enough (professionally) to a writer/designer, that they'll be more susceptible to input.

Bonesnapcall2 karma

There should be two QA departments. One purely for bugs, and the other to actually check if the game is good.

Gunnycycle1 karma

There are some game companies that have that second half. And yes, they are part of QA. I've met a couple of these guys and tbh, I don't know how much power they had when it came to what changes had to be made. But I wouldn't have minded having their jobs.

Most of the time, these types of "testers" are called "Comparative Review Specialists" or something like that. Pretty much an in house game reviewer. Awesome job if you can get into it.

MyNameIsNotBarney2 karma

Did you ever discover an Easter egg or other "secret" that a dev had snuck in? What happened?

Gunnycycle2 karma

A few times actually. Once we find it, we have to report it and then it's up to the producers/designers to decide to keep it in or remove it. But most devs will do this. Either in their actual code or outwardly. This happens more often than not with artists.

MyNameIsNotBarney1 karma

Any good stories you can share about one you found that got nixed?

Gunnycycle2 karma

I have 3 words for you:

"Penises, penises everywhere!"

Ozy_Flame2 karma

For games that are released to the public and are considered pieces of crap by all the critics and gamers because of the bugs / crappy design / bad gameplay, do executives actually take into consideration this criticism? And if a buggy game is released, is it common where company executives are aware of it's crapiness before it goes live?

Gunnycycle2 karma

It depends on the sales. At the end of the day, regardless if a game is crappy/buggy, if it sells, then it's justified. That's the nature of the business. But they do take into account the problems that occur and try to mitigate it if there is a sequel in the works. But again, it's all about the sales.

For the second question. I don't know tbh. QA will usually know if it's crappy right off the bat due to us being gamers and knowing a good game from a bad one. The producers, I think are usually in denial. And as for anyone higher than that. Well we HAVE to tell them it's a good game regardless. Mostly because we don't want the game to be cancelled and for us to lose our jobs.

But if they had any kind of gaming sense, I'm sure they know. But then again, QA are the only ones left the video game industry that actually play video games. Sad but true.

deadly-one2 karma

I just want to say thanks for doing this AMA. I'm was a QA guy..for minor government projects like medicaid and unemployment ;-). I'm glad I have somewhere to point people when they ask what I do.

My question: what is/was your favorite bug/defect. I saw the WWE/trish stratus one in the thread, so if that's it, are there any other ones that stick out in your mind?

Less fun, but still worth asking: Was there a time you were ever either railroaded into passing a crap application, or overridden? Care to describe it?

Gunnycycle2 karma

You're very welcome! I had been debating on doing this for a while. And yesterday, I was home sick and figured, "Fuck it, I'm going to be in bed all day anyway. Might as well!" I do appreciate the kind words though. Now for your questions:

The Trish Stratus bug was my favorite, but I'd say a lot of the Sims Online bugs were great. Bugs involving being able to PK (Player Kill) other players by "breaking into" their homes and then finding ways to "lock" them in. And some of these bugs made it live (for a little time). At which point we would just scramble to find fixes before the general public found them. Yeah, Sims Online was a Troll's paradise. I do not miss testing that game. LoL

As for your last question. This happens a lot in the video game industry. As QA, we generally had an idea what a good game vs. a bad game was. And we would make a few "suggestion" bugs to try to help out. But at the end of the day, the people paying for the game (publishers) had ultimate say. From there, if they DO realize that they're going to release something that's crap, they perform a risk assessment on the product.

Cost vs. Profit

And sadly, that's what ultimately determines what games go out and what doesn't.

krkon2 karma

Hello. How do you see the future of gaming industry?

Gunnycycle2 karma

I think the future, as it has been is very bright. I honestly think that we're approaching critical mass when it comes to huge multi million dollar production games and are moving towards simpler times.

As it was proven with casual games and now the surge of independent games that are making a huge splash in the industry. I think large publishers are looking at that as a more viable business model. And if they haven't, they need to.

I honestly think that a large part of the video game industry has lost its creativity in exchange for the quick buck. The quality of games have dropped just so they can get the next big Michael Bay car chase or explosion to amuse the masses.

Now would be the perfect time for them to move to smaller, more independent cells that develop small, cheap, quality games rather than spending millions in developing a franchise. Mind you, I still think franchises are good. It keeps the industry funded. But I also think they need a strong concentration on "Little Guy" studios that make hit or miss games. And if they do miss, be very mindful not to destroy them like what so many large publishers tend to do when a studio doesn't produce the next big thing 6 months after opening/acquiring said studio.

Hope that wasn't too much rambling!

krkon2 karma

Thank you for such detailed answer. I am totally agree that indie developers became serious part of the industry. by the way, what is your opinion on GTA franchise?

Gunnycycle1 karma

I think the GTA franchise, in the beginning was one of the most influential games to have come out of this generation. It's created not only a whole new genre of gaming, but was influential in helping create quite a few of the best games we have today.

In the past few years, they've become a bit stagnant. Not saying that the games are bad. They just haven't made any big splashes when it comes to innovation. But then again, they don't really need to.

I am definitely looking forward to the new GTA, it's on my "To Play" list and will definitely be out there running over hookers to get my money back from getting a quickie in the back of my beat up jalopy.

uVorkuta1 karma

How many games have you tested? Which game genre is your favorite? What was your favorite game company to test for? What was your favorite game to test?

Gunnycycle2 karma

Hmmm... my moby games says I've tested about 10-15. But I've tested much much more. I started testing SEGA Genesis all the way to the current generation consoles. I'm thinking 100, give or take?

My favorite to test is 3rd person action platformers/shooters... mmmm Dat Collision Seam. Favorite to play are MMORPGs/RPGs.

Favorite game company to test for was THQ in the early 2000s. When you come into work and one of your tester buddies is sitting at his desk in a bathrobe because he lives in his truck in parking lot and showers in the office. You know you work at a fun place. Oh, and don't even ask me about the cryogenically frozen goldfish or the 12 hour redbull challenge. I still have flashbacks. LoL

Favorite game to test. Batman and Robin for the SEGA genesis. 5 days straight, sleeping under our desks, so much weed, and some of the best QA I have ever seen from coworkers. It... was... glorious!

uVorkuta1 karma

Also, how long have you been a Q&A tester?

Gunnycycle2 karma

I started in the Video Game industry in 1995. I left last year and went to mobile software. So 17 years in video games and 18 years total as QA.

aveneyer1 karma

[deleted]

Gunnycycle1 karma

I took a very good pay raise. And I'm close to 6 figures. (But not close enough, lol)

Kevin-W1 karma

I often hear that video game QA is one of the most frustrating jobs ever. Do you agree or disagree with that?

Gunnycycle1 karma

Yes it is, but not necessarily the work. All jobs involving sitting at a desk has its problems. It's the actual process and communication between development, production, and QA that's frustrating. Again, QA is the redheaded stepchild of video game development.

Shoneorangutan1 karma

Any advice for those trying to get into the gaming industry? IE Specific Degree Requirements? Programming languages to learn? Steps to take to get a foot in the door?

Gunnycycle3 karma

Getting a degree in Computer Science is a good degree to get into general software development. But you can get game specific degrees which will teach you programming. I know that the CS degree is a bit more flexible when it comes to moving laterally within software development. But as for the game specific degree, you might end up being shoehorned into the video game industry. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it's always good to have multiple options.

As for languages, I'm not a dev, so I unfortunately know what the current standard is. But it used to be C++ and might still be as a base language to know. As for getting your foot in the door, QA, Community Management, Customer Service, or Game Master is a good way to start if you want to get your feet wet while going to school. If not, you can usually get a job right out of school with a pretty good starting salary.

Hope this helps!

brwbck1 karma

How's the relationship between Dev and QA in these companies? Do you talk to each other directly or is there a pointlessly convoluted communication path?

Gunnycycle5 karma

It really depends on where you work. In a large publisher, actual communication with devs will most likely involve comments on bugs you write. And most of the time, because text is unforgiving when it comes to portraying mood or intent. It'll be like talking to your mother in law about how come you still "play games for a living". This is mostly due to the fact that you're more or less a last line of defense for the publisher QA wise.

And the first line would be the dev house's in house QA. Each dev house will have their own QA. In fact, I often advise new testers to try to get jobs there as it's a great place to learn what you're doing by asking questions of the devs directly, and most likely at their desks. It serves two purposes. To improve your QA skills by seeing what's behind the scenes of the game you're testing. And in some sense, seeing the game as Neo sees the Matrix. And also a good stepping stone to going into being a code monkey as opposed to a QA monkey.

TL;DR Publisher QA to Dev communication = Maze of text and hatred In House QA to Dev communication = having a neckbeard explain exactly what lines of code is causing your crash. And you LOVE it!

tribbing13371 karma

What do you think happened with SimCity?

Gunnycycle1 karma

Honestly, I think that SimCity was a corporate assfucking to the Nth degree.

I have a few friends at EA still and from what I've been told, the devs and designers aren't the ones at fault. There were decisions made by management that they knew would garner a lot of drama. But they measured that risk with how much money they could possibly make and figured "Fuck it. C.R.E.A.M."

And, as we all saw, they made the wrong choice... again. Now they're going through another corporate shuffle. Which they've done time and time again in order to mitigate the damage. And then they'll do some good things in order to get back into our good graces. Then, as they've got us by the balls. Bend us over and take our money through our assholes.

All of that said (and with great anger and lots of cussing). I can't really blame them. Yes, they're money hungry dungeon beasts bent on sexually assaulting us through the games we play. But people are buying their games. So, hey, the circle (jerk) of life continues.

giggity_tigga1 karma

Did they treat you well as an employee?

Gunnycycle1 karma

It depends on what you mean by treat you well. As a contracted tester, you don't many too much in the way of employee benefits. You will receive benefits from the company you're contracting with, but that's usually optional and no one really takes advantage of them. Most of the time, it's because you're already not being paid much and to have more of your paycheck taken out for said benefits isn't viable for most.

As a permanent employee of a publisher, you get pretty good perks. For instance, when I worked at EA, I had a full benefits package including medical/dental, a 401k, and stock options. Same with the other publishers. It's pretty much just like any other corporate job when it comes to that.

But if you're talking about how they treat you in regards to your well being. Well that's a case by case scenario. But generally, as QA in the video game industry. You're part of what we call the "Redheaded Stepchildren" of the Video Game industry. Sad, but true.

[deleted]1 karma

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Gunnycycle2 karma

I totally differentiate between the two. In a video game aspect, the first instance would most likely be used towards MMORPGs or anything game that has a persistent server state. Not only testing for bugs, mostly generated by new systems and/or fixes to legacy bugs, but also to maintain server health and game stability. The second would be used for standalone games, mostly attributed to console games. Where you run base test cases according to feature and system sets, a lot of ad hoc, and regression of bugs.

And as for your situation. That happens more often than not in the video game industry also. They're making progress when it comes to the complexity of the work, but that's a necessity considering the complexity of the games over the years. Unfortunately, respect and compensation has not progressed anywhere near the same rate.

You're right though, it's unfortunate that in some industries (especially video games) consider QA to be "child's play". It's probably the most frustrating thing as a QA professional. And this is coming from someone who is used to 14+ hour days w/ no weekends for months at a time for very little pay.

As for Microsoft. My old supervisor at SEGA actually went to MS working on the XBOX, XBOX 360, and XBL. His name was Mark Subotnick. Great guy. Used to look like the white Jesus when I worked with him. Before he became a "suit". lol

[deleted]1 karma

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Gunnycycle1 karma

Oh man, how many times have management set up meeting with QA talking about how we didn't find bugs and then us sending them pages of these same bugs being written up but deemed "As Designed", "Will Not Fix", "Not a Bug". The QA database is our best friend. And as the saying goes "When in doubt, write it up!". Hehe

And as for communication issues with people who have no idea how software QA worked, as much as I love South Ameristralia (Australia), the miscommunication from our QA to their producers for a project I worked on... OMG, the the rage. I had one of my testers start crying and quit at 3 in the morning. It was both funny and sad at the same time.

[deleted]1 karma

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Gunnycycle2 karma

Oh man, it reminds me of this one time we had two new people hired as contractors to a company I worked for. One was a damned good tester that did all his work and then some, learned more than he was supposed to, and never refused overtime. Another was a super hot chick that left early (less than the 8 hour shift) every day, took days off, and didn't know a bug from a hole in the ground. She fucked up and let a showstopper slip through the cracks week of submission. He got blamed, she got hired as a permanent within 2 months and a lead within 6 months because she had big tits and went to work dressed like she was going to a club every day. She eventually quit because being a lead was "too much work".

I'll admit, she was nice too look at, but useless as a dead rock.

Nik001171 karma

I once hired a woman cause she had an amazing ass and an awesome rack...Unfortunately she was dumb as a box of rocks...And I really hate to use that example, I find it insulting to the rocks.

Gunnycycle1 karma

Hey, I don't mind that practice as long as it doesn't put people who deserve it out of pocket. Once all the people who deserve it gets hired, then bring in the hot chicks!

Robo_Garlando1 karma

As much as I love playing games, I'd hate to have your job! It seems like you wouldn't be able to ever fully enjoy a game, because you'd naturally be looking for bugs and stuff!

Anyway, 1)what's your take on companies bringing out games every year that arguably don't differ much (e.g. COD, FIFA, Madden etc...)

2) What's your take on DLC's and Online passes? It seems to me like publishers only sell half the game, then make you buy the rest in a DLC.

3) Have you testing anything for the PS4 or new Xbox yet?

Sorry for a few questions, I'm interested to know what people in the industry think!

Gunnycycle4 karma

Yeah, it's sometimes rough trying to turn off my "QA" brain when trying to enjoy a game outside of work. The hardest part is breaking my own sense of immersion when I find something I think might be broken and then spend the next hour trying to reproduce 100%.

  1. I think it's one of the worst things to have come out of the video game industry. But can't really blame the industry as at the end of the day, they are in the business of making money. And as long as people buy the games, they'll keep doing it. I am glad that small indy games are making a big splash though. I'm hoping it opens the door to more risks and hopefully a large surge in new IPs rather than the rinse/repeat method.

  2. Again, this is more a business strategy than anything else. As a gamer, I think there should be a compromise. Release smaller DLCs but for free. Instead of using them as an addition to the game, use it as promotion for potential sequels. But sadly, I doubt this will happen with the bigger franchises as development costs, even for DLCs are typically in the 6 figure to million dollar range.

  3. No, I left the industry as the new consoles started to come into full swing development wise. But I did get to tool around with the dev kits for the new XBOX. Which, in reality is a super expensive PC with Next Gen software installed.

And don't worry about the questions, this is what AMA is for.

green_glitter_queen1 karma

Why does GTA Vice City freeze up so often?

Gunnycycle2 karma

If it's a crash where it's unplayable, it's most likely overloading with resources and the console just locks up. Another reason would be a conflict in the code which could be caused by a number of things.

If it's just freezing, again, most likely it's just an overload of resources but the system itself is recovering. I'm assuming this happens when a lot of things are happening on screen or if/when you're executing multiple systems/features at once.

Or magnets.

green_glitter_queen2 karma

Well, my husband says it's because I use the cheat code for tanks too often...

Gunnycycle1 karma

Well, stop eeeet! LoL

But honestly, if you're spawning a ton of tanks in the same place or area, you might be overloading the screen with too many polygons. It does happen. hehe

gabbagool1 karma

why isn't configurable controls not a standard thing?

Gunnycycle1 karma

What do you mean exactlly?

Do you mean on console controllers? If so, most games out there, especially fighting games and shooters allow you to reconfigure button assignments to certain buttons. But the games that don't allow you to do this are mostly action and platforming games. And most of the time, their actionable buttons aren't that complicated. It's mainly movement, camera control, attack, jump, interact. That being the case, being able to assign buttons to certain events may not be a feasible programming concern.

But as more and more "pc" type games are released, I can definitely see configurable controls being more prevalent.

I hope this answers your question.

Gunnycycle1 karma

Welps, I'm off to bed. If any of the South Ameristralia folks have any questions, feel free to ask them. For the rest of you, keep em comin'. I'll try to answer as much as I can from work.

Thanks for all the fun, all!