Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Only Good Enough To Steal

I started my career in the industry at a very well known AAA developer as a tester on the first release of what became a major franchise.  I was on year long contracts.  My goal was to eventually get a permanent position in Design.

Things were progressing well, on my second contract I was a part of a section of QA devoted specifically to Design feedback.  I got to sit in on Design and Writing meetings and give feedback which often made it into the game.

In one such meeting we were reviewing a pivotal scene in the game.  A scene meant to really expose a layer of one of the main characters.  I very politely and diplomatically offered what I felt was a very creative suggestion on how the scene could be altered.  It was a pretty substantial change, admittedly, but I felt I was very respectful in my suggestion.  Some studios don’t encourage QA to give Design suggestions, but the section of QA I was in, that was literally my job.

The Lead Writer completely tore me apart in front of the entire meeting room filled with Designers and Writers, the department I was trying to get into.  He claimed it was a horrible idea and completely amateur, that it went against the feel of the scene, that I clearly had no knack for story structure, etc, etc.  I was pretty crushed by the ordeal, not to mention humiliated.  I had been very humble in my suggestion, and had taken polite rejection fine many times before, but this Lead Designer was malicious, and seemed to enjoy publicly tearing me down.

Not long after that I got a permanent job at a different studio on the other side of the country.  I very quickly made it into the Design department where I’m climbing fast, and love where I work and what I do.  I’m happy to say the negative event didn’t deter me from my goal.

Oh, and a year later, when the game came out…  I got my free copy mailed to me for working on it, and played through it to see how it had come along since I left the project.  When I reached the scene in the game that I had suggested the change for, you guessed it, my suggestion was there.  Scene for scene, line for line.