Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Orders of magnitude

The stories posted here are mostly for testing games. Games that ship without testing or without addressing issues found in testing leads to buggy games. That is, I’m sure, very frustrating for the testers and the consumers. I am a different kind of tester, I test equipment being purchased by a government, one you may be familiar with. Instead of shelling out $50 of your own hard earned bucks for a game, the government shells out $50 million hard earned bucks of other people, people you also may be familiar with. But hey, governments need stuff, so at least they test it, right?

The problems start early. For my program, they never wrote proper requirements, so no one really knows what this thing is supposed to do. After working around the clock for month, testing the equipment in an inhospitable wasteland, I have to write a test report in a couple days to meet a deadline made up by some contract weenie that has never even read, much less written, an 80 page technical document. The system literally falls apart during test and doesn’t meet a number of critical requirements, all of which is detailed in the report. The vendor and program manager (the guy that decides whether or not buy the equipment) take turns complaining about how I conducted the test, how I came to my results, and how I wasn’t being fair. After I give up a lot of ground, the equipment still end up failing miserably. So, do they say “No, we aren’t buying this crap”? Of course not, the government tells the vendor to fix everything and come back in three
months. Back to testing for me…

They put on some fresh loctite, fix a handful of the most egregious bugs, throw on an extended warranty, and my wife gets some quality alone time. I brief another test report and the take away is “wow, they really improved”. Of course, when your baseline is, it doesn’t work, it barely works seems great, I guess.

The worst part is that I am actually the customer. It’s my damn taxes going to buy this crap. If you test My Little Pony Adventures and it crashes at every turn and they ship anyways, at least you are not legally forced to buy it after it ships.