Tales from The Trenches Archive

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Test Lead

Many years ago I was a test lead on the certification team for the original XBOX. Every game that went out had to have a certain amount of regular game-play by a team of testers to be released. This was the classical tester dilemma, yes you get to play games all day, but you don’t get to pick what you play.

For one week my team was playing “Kabuki Warriors”. This title remains one of the worst games in history. Graphics were comically bad, combat was so simple that you could close your eyes and repeatedly press the A button for 1/2 hour and have beaten the entire game. Within 2 hours my team was crawling the walls, bemoaning the fact that they knew they would be playing this game 40 hours a day for a week.  My favorite point was when a tester took a bug form (bugs had to be written out long-hand on a form and handed to the “lead” for entry) and made a pirate hat out of it, saying “I’m a pirate!” every time he won a game.

One day, one of the other teams got a new game in, Silent Hill 2. Everyone had heard about it and that team was loving playing it; everyone but one tester. Within a few hours of playing it, he started getting motion sickness, and halfway through the day, he said he had enough and needed to be moved to another team. Immediately every person on my team begged to be his replacement, anything to get out of this bad-game hell they were in. Rounds of Ro-Sham-Bo were thrown and one of our testers got the honor of switching over to “the new cool game”.

For 15 minutes… because that was all he could play before running to the bathroom and almost losing his Ramen and Mountain Dew. That day, we rotated through no less than 4 testers until finally we found one that could manage to play it all day. We tried different monitors, moving the testers around the lab, everything we could think of, but it was clear, for my team, this was the game equivalent of the vomit-comet.