Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Let slip the dogs of war.

QA testers have an unusual relationship with gaming press. I’d like to elaborate a little. You see, every time a member of the press plays any game that requires a second player, you’re playing alongside a member of QA. We have the most experience, and handing the game off to some unpracticed marketing guy with no idea what bugs dodge would be a catastrophe.

So here’s where it gets awkward on the QA end. We have collectively spent the last 6 to 9 months playing nothing but this game for 8-16 hours a day. Once you hit 1000 hours spent playing a single game you ascend beyond mortal skill. Multiplayer games against each other are measured in single bullets and millisecond reaction times.

Now imagine asking these people to lose.

We are asked to collectively throw the game while playing you. To appear like we are trying but never kill you. To make you feel like a champ.  I really hope that didn’t shatter egos.

Now to rein this back in and turn it into a proper story.

It was roughly 4 years ago, and I was on the 30-ish person large Multiplayer team for a AAA Shooter.  The brutal grind known as the prep for E3 was winding down and it was game time. The name of the game was 3 days of non-stop multiplayer against the press.  Breaks and lunch taken at our desks. The entire time only maintaining the facade of a game taking place. Bullets flying everywhere but to no real effect. Like storm troopers.

We periodically get feedback from the attendants on the floor with the press. Things like “he’s lost over by the docks, someone get over there and keep the action going,” or “people are noticing the bad lighting on those trees. Keep the action elsewhere.”

While we were getting feedback from our liaison, some obnoxious dude was hanging out near the booth loudly proclaiming “Wow, is that the best AI you could come up with? Those bots are terrible!”

Our lead asks what Marketing wants us to do about it. Our Marketing liaison utters the magic words through the speakerphone.

“It’s an hour until we pack it up, Let ‘em off the leash.”

The ground shook. The heavens split. The world exploded.