Tales from The Trenches Archive

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The Reality of the Situation.

I work for one of the largest publishers in world, and they treat the development of games as a machine (which I believe is representative of many testing environments). The issue with these policies is that it systematically breeds a disdain for actually assuring (or ensuring) quality.

In the last few months of testing, 95% of bugs will be marked WNF (“Will Not Fix”). The idea is that fixing a bug could cause a new bug, and if the bug is not high severity, it’s not worth the risk. So if the project is running longer than planned, most low-severity bugs (and some mid-severity bugs) get ignored. Of course, the project always runs longer than planned, because the producer’s goal is to cram every game into a one year development cycle, even if it really should have been a two or three year game.

What makes matters worse is that many of the producers running things used to be QA Testers. These are the ones who stuck with it for years. Usually they have an easy-to-get-along with personality, a good record of being on time, a decent record with bugs and a tendency to not complain. These are the guys who took the eventual QA mantra, “Ship it!” to heart.

“Ship it!,” by the way, means “Fuck it.” It’s the realization that after enough trials and tribulations, you just don’t care about the quality of the game anymore because the game NEEDS to get out the door (or so says the folks upstairs).

Testers are still judged by their bug counts (though some leads will try to say otherwise to their testers), even when the bugs won’t be fixed. So the grunts are still expected to cover QA’s collective ass by entering everything they find, presumably to convince the higher-ups that we’re actually working. The result is a sense that your job… your high-overtime job, and therefore your life… has no purpose. It’s just you and the guy next to you, yelling at screens, finding and entering bugs that won’t be fixed, in a soul-crushing room the color of bile and shit, trying to earn $9.50/hr. In Los Angeles, where $9.50 might buy you lunch, and a month’s worth of pay might cover your rent, if your parents are very generous in what they charge you.