Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Domino Effect

A number of years ago, I worked as a tester on a board game compilation for the a console. The publisher’s office was very small with only two permanent employees, the CEO and COO. Because it was such a small company, I was the person testing the game full-time in the office. The game’s developer was located across the Atlantic in Britain.

The board games in the compilation were a mixed bunch. Some were fairly complex, some were absurd in their simplicity, but testing proceeded as normal, and after I spent close to two months testing the game, it was submitted to the console maker’s certification department in the U.S. The game failed certification not because of crashes, or data corruption, or an inability to handle catastrophic errors of any sort. No, the reason was actually much more serious than that.

The game couldn’t play Dominoes correctly.

What none of us knew, not being particular Dominoes enthusiasts, is that the game has very different rule sets depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on. The developers, being British, had built the game using the British rules. As it turns out, the certification department we were dealing with had a Dominoes fiend on its staff that wasn’t having any of that and wouldn’t allow certification until the game was altered to use U.S. rules.

Which was fine. Except that the guy that had programmed Dominoes was on vacation when the game was kicked back at us.. Sigh.