Friday, May 18, 2007

Quality Assurance 2084

QA was the path to stardom.

That's what they told him.

Well... at least it was the door in if you had airy dreams to be a game designer.

Airy dreams, indeed. Now he was doing his work.

They were in an alpha test. Had some gamers in on the local area net, playtesting. His job was to test the latest suite of assets.

They looked good. There was a multiplayer game on and he checked the play stats. Nice n-scores all around.

But not here... This player was crashed on his n-score.

Which one was that? He looked over at the bank of gaming stations? Station M7. Let's text him.

QA3031: M7 - what's up?

M7: i can't do this

QA3031: you don't find the game fun?

M7: it's not that

QA3031: is this level not up to par?

M7: i can't do this! I WANT OUT!!!!!!!!!

QA3031: want out? where you gonna go to?

M7: i don't know - it's lost its meaning

Oh Christ. He had heard about this, but never actually seen it.

M7: GET ME OUT!!!!!!!!!

He called the lead QA.

QA3031: Lead QA, gotta situation at playtest.

LQA92: What's up?

QA3031: Player "wants out"?

LQA92: Be right there.


"Well, this is your problem right here," Lead QA 92 said. He brought up the alpha, beta and gamma n-scores on the timescale. "They flatlined just moments prior to him 'wanting out'."

"So it's a good test still?"

"Absolutely. The n-scores on those latest assets are all good. In fact, this map rocks. The n-score on that latest boss encounter alone are well into green. We have a best-seller here. Corporate is going to love that. Well, but it's too bad about the poor guy at M7. He must've just suffered a crash on his n-module. We've had problems with that station."

Well, that was good to hear.

He looked over at the gaming stations. Body disposal was washing out the M7 pod. The other pods were good. He could see the gamers floating in the polyfluid vats, the sens-wires hooked into their brain stems. In a couple hours they'd be back on the worknet and none would be needed here for close observation so they'd rotate them out.

He checked out, his shift over. He walked over to his own pod. For a moment he wondered if he would ever become one of the vaunted game designers he heard of. He wondered about the guy in M7, why he talked about meaning just before the pain levels screamed into red - bringing him to such a final end. It was a bad feeling. He didn't like bad feelings. He hurried into the warm fluid, hooking the sens-wire up to his brain stem. The rush came as he felt his n-score go into high green through all the way to white - and the bad thoughts faded into nothing.

Ahhh... what a good feeling...


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The Ogre said...

It's been some time... are you hard at work even now? Do you bend the world into a wondrous new shape by main force?

While you are ushering in a new age of game design - don't forget to buy some gold for World of Warcraft! So much easier than farming.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

Been busy doing a contract the last few weeks. The WoW gold guide is useless - don't play the game. (Don't believe in MMOGs in general. Why? Read my fugging blog again. MMOGs are about bean-counting, not gameplay.)

Ogre, we have no relationship.

Ogre said...

No relationship! Too true. But then, who were you talking to? When your promises of innovation came up empty, even the few encouraging comments to your first few posts disappeared.

Most "visionaries" that follow the game industry have some actual idea - usually a hybrid of two existing ideas - that they hold up as the main illustration of their grandeur. Take part of one game, part of another, and suddenly, originality! We have "Candyland Wars", ZombieTris, or the Pong RPG.

Some, of course, hold an idea that is so revolutionary and amazing that they cannot tell anyone what it is for fear that it will get out and improve the "games industry" - without them receiving any credit for it. Then they describe a crippled version of their idea, one which could not possibly give away its true genius, and it sounds suspiciously like a game that one has already played.

But what have you shown here? Ideas cut in whole cloth from the work of others - without even the hybridization that most take as sufficiently original - and a promise of "change" so vague that even the other "secret idea" types would scoff.

Your single point, the only one that rises notably out of the gentle and unsurprising waters of your prose, is that there is some nebulous "meaning" that somehow existed in some golden age of your youth, and that is slowly disappearing from the games industry.

Now, have you given an example of what this meaning should be? How it could be expressed? No... you've merely dismissed game developers and game players alike as "slaves to the wire", incapable of changing their environment or in most cases even seeing past the meaningless haze that obscures their vision.

But it does not go beyond this. You dismiss the makers and consumers of these games as helpless, unthinking clods... and then what? What epiphany is this meant to engender? Where is your meaning, other than this reactive rejection of a situation you dislike?

If your only objection is that games do not match the shiny ideas in your head - welcome to the human condition. You'll also find that in many cases the games you played in your childhood are not as fun or meaningful as you remember them to be - this is the nature of memory, rather than a failure of those games to meet your since-inflated expectations.

Ultimately, if you wish to be an innovator you will need to do something innovative... but until then, you may feel free to apologize to the gold farmer for your continued inactivity, for - as you say - we have no relationship.

Grassroots Gamemaster said...

I don't buy your shit, Ogre. You're fundamental problem is you are subtractive: you don't judge things for what they are - you judge them for what they aren't. The old, decrepit shame-based learning approach. "Mom, I got a 95% on my exam." "What happened to the other 5%?" In this case, I think the only possible way for me to please you would be to start up a multi-million dollar game company and publish titles under the name "Grassroots Gamemaster". I remember dealing with one fucked-up client who, when presented with accomplishments, only focussed on what hadn't been built yet. It's like we developers faced with a major issue in the design, got a certain distance, and said - "Yay! We managed to build the foundation now" - to which he replied, "What! You mean you only have the foundation?"

You flog me for using references to past culture but overlook the possible creative use of those references in light of the subject matter. As if really innovative work didn't use references; and as if you honestly expect me to set aside my other work (which I do under my real name) to craft multi-chapter novellas here in this anonymous blog (which has to remain uncredited to me, and so doesn't help me in my real career). Man, there's just no winning with you. I think you're just negative.

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Jerry Range said...

Interesting narrative about game quality assurance. This gives life to the interaction and relationship between QA testers and players.