Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Knowledge is dangerous

I did QA for a summer job one year for an independent testing firm. This was exceedingly different from doing it in a studio as far as I understood. There’s all the hard work and crunch-time and none of the light-hearted atmosphere during the better times. The schedule was fairly grueling but we were all gamers and with grim determination we kept going at it just for 10 bucks an hour and for making our industry better.

At least that was my thought until I worked on a reasonably big project. A licensed RTS. We were put on this project with only 30 bugs logged by the devteam. By the time it was over we logged several thousand, ranging from game-crashers to spelling errors. But my favorite one took the cake. If you pressed B it would instantly crash the game to the desktop.

Now that was interesting, I filed the bug, told my testing lead… But then I did a bit of digging in their files. I found out that the company had been cribbing their engine from another popular RTS from a few years before. Namely Warcraft 3. Pressing B would try to call up part of the engine code to open a building menu. This particular game didn’t have a building menu and so the engine would divide-by-zero and crash.

I added an addendum to my bug report saying “Bug most likely tied to engine issues”. Innocent enough, helpful even. But it showed them I knew too much. The next week we recieved a notice from the publisher that they cancelled our contract.

Ah well, knowledge is a dangerous thing.