Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Observe the screen.

As a newly hired junior programmer I was given the esteemed responsibility of shepherding a content pack for our recently released game through platform certification. It was intended to be a pretty simple job that a newbie like me could take care of all on my own.

Unfortunately for me the platform certification team liked our game so much they happily ignored a large number of bugs and decided to rectify this when the patch required to support the content pack was submitted. They found saved game bugs, sound, language and a whole slew of networking issues. A real crash course in the certification process.

To top it off we didn’t have an internal QA team so I had to deal directly with the publishers QA. They would take a single certification issue and turn it into as many bug reports as was humanly possible, bordering on the ridiculous. If a button state was wrong in an English play session, they would report the same bug for French, German, Italian, etc.

The publishers QA also had a habit of not explaining in any detail what undesired behavior was being reported and instead as the final repo step they placed a single word: Observe. Whenever I read that
word it made my blood boil.

Six months of ‘observing’ and being bounced again and again by certification, I was so pleased when it finally shipped. Much later our own QA team would occasionally throw an ‘Observe the screen’ into
reports just to get a reaction out of me.