Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Sometimes the Good Guys Win.

We had been working 80+ hour weeks for over a month on one of the largest videogame franchises in existence. I actually liked the long hours and overtime, and since our division was the multiplayer component of the title, it was fun to work with other people. I had written a bug where a player who had been killed by a specific weapon, after his armor had popped, had his death cam actually become the 1st person vision of the enemy who did the deed.

It didn’t repro if you simply started without shields and didn’t repro in any other instance. We tested every variation of steps possible and determined it was this very specific situation that the bug would occur. Our thoroughness was not only due to doing our job well, but also because the last thing you want is to look stupid by bothering a Dev with a bug that didn’t exist.

I wrote up immaculate, step-by-step instructions with a warning that it doesn’t work if you try to cut corners.
We send it up the flagpole, and the bug comes back the next day as “No repro.”  We investigated the bug again, and confirmed its existence and sent it back up. We even waited a few builds to see if they fixed it. Nope. We send the bug back AGAIN with a step-by-step video.

The next morning, the bug comes back as “No Repro.  We all know testers are glorified monkeys banging on controllers.  Don’t send this back unless it is broken.”

Now, I was a new tester, so I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that. Some 5+ year testers were LIVID, whereas I was just worried that I fucked up. We had 3-4 people go through steps and even try variances. My repro was perfect. The team told me to send it back.

For the next four days anytime a developer came into our room, they would fling controllers and make monkey sounds. The “hoo hoo haw! eerrraghs!” became pretty frequent, as the meme had spread across the dev studio.

I walk in for my 20th consecutive 12 hour day, and 20 minutes in three people walk into my area. It was my Lead’s boss (the QA manager for the developer), THE NEFARIOUS Art/Tech guy who gave the original “Monkey Taunt,” and his Art/Tech - they approach me as I’m seated and in a quiet voice ask me to “repro the bug… RIGHT NOW.”

I repro it flawlessly.
“Wait? What?” Mr. Monkey taunter says. “That’s not possible… what are you doing?”
“Um?  Everything in the repro steps and video. I have my armor go down, and then have this specific weapon kill me.”
“Oh… I thought that was a waste of time, so I started without armor.”
“Well we tested every variation and weapon possible, so the very next line we warn you that you must have armor as per a normal game… right… here.”

What follows is a mandatory two-hour meeting with ALL FULL TIME EMPLOYEES about the importance of reading bugs and COMMON COURTESY.

I’ve since moved on as a developer with another local company… one with a great, warm-hearted culture.. and I still take a deep breath when I find a tester I THINK is dumb.