Firaxis Employees Discuss Quality Assurance, Artwork

Ginger_Ale

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Firaxis published today two new articles regarding the employees and internal operations of the company. Continuing their "Start a Career [in the Gaming Industry]" series, Quality Assurance manager Scott Wittbecker addresses getting started with QA work, revealing what exactly composes a "successful" game tester:

While a love of gaming will help make you a better QA tester, this isn’t the only requirement for being a successful member of the team. Keeping in mind that you’re going to be playing the same game (or maybe even a tiny part of the game!) for hours on end each day, concentration, attention to details, and diligence are very important attributes...Most importantly, you need to be able to write clearly and concisely. If the programmers can’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, they’re not going to be able to pinpoint where problems are occurring and you’re going to spend even more time focused on a single issue, which isn’t a good use of your time or theirs.

In a second article, Steve Odgen, lead artist for Civ4, reflects upon his favorite pieces of artwork from the many models and images developed by the art team. One of the pieces that he discusses is the image to the right, from the Great Pyramids wonder video.

Keep an eye out for another game industry profile next week, according to Pete Murray of Firaxis!
 

Powerslave

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Please forgive my cynicism, but I remain unconvinced that Firaxis employs a QA team. Actually, this sounds like a good idea for a poll: "At which game company does the QA team most likely consist of a burnt out junkie, an autistic chimp, and a blind cat?"
 

Civinator

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Please forgive my cynicism, but I remain unconvinced that Firaxis employs a QA team.

May be the quality team was mostly oppressed by other parts of Firaxis in the past. It would be very good, if this could be changed for the future. :)
 

fuerza

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Quality Assurance? QUALITY ASSURANCE??? Really?!?!?! I have to agree with Powerslave. If Firaxis has a QA department it must be in name only or on a company charter they were required to file in order to get their tax exempt status or one of those "we'll get to that someday" pipedreams. Sorry Firaxis, if you have a QA department it is completely inevident based on the problems with Civ IV (all you have to do is read the Technical Support thread here) and the way in which you handle customer service calls when people call in for help.
 

Mors

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Please forgive my cynicism, but I remain unconvinced that Firaxis employs a QA team. Actually, this sounds like a good idea for a poll: "At which game company does the QA team most likely consist of a burnt out junkie, an autistic chimp, and a blind cat?"

Classy comment by someone who clearly speaks from vast industry insight and experience. After all, it's well known that QA departments always make the final decisions on what issues are addressed when a game ships :dubious:
 

Afforess

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I'm appalled at the comments suggesting that Firaxis QA department is purely fictional.

It's impossible to judge how buggy a product is, like Civilization, because you have no basis for comparison. You can't compare it to another game, because, it's not the same. Who knows how many game-breaking bugs the QA department stopped?

Plus, all of you forget that Civ4 Vanilla had no real major issues. There were no CTD or MAF issues, like many mods here at CFC have. If anything, most mod's are much buggier than Vanilla.
 

CustodianV131

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Something is up... :confused:

You would almost begin to think we're going to see a new Civ 4 expansion... That seems really unlikely though... hmmm what else... could it be Civ V?
 

toft

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In all honesty I dont give rats behind about all those things they have been posting lately. And these two articles are for a very VERY narrow audience - not the average consumer.

It is as if they want to market themselves as a 3rd party consultant. Seems a bit weird.
 

Sullla

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I worked in Quality Assurance with Scott at Firaxis in 2005 face-to-face, so I have to dispute the notions that the group is purely fictional. Unless things have changed in the past few years, at least. ;) And as someone who worked on Civ4, I can definitely state that that game didn't have very many issues post-release. Not exactly sure where these commenters are coming from.

Speaking seriously, if anyone is interested in going into this field, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely really is important. A vague bug report is practically useless; if the programmers can't identify the problem, it's not going to get fixed. You don't have to be a great writer, just make sure to write effectively.
 

Afforess

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I worked in Quality Assurance with Scott at Firaxis in 2005 face-to-face, so I have to dispute the notions that the group is purely fictional. Unless things have changed in the past few years, at least. ;) And as someone who worked on Civ4, I can definitely state that that game didn't have very many issues post-release. Not exactly sure where these commenters are coming from.

Amen. That's what I said too.

Civ4 has very few real bugs. And it's in the top 100 PC games...
 

Grey Fox

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Heh, Civ 4 got best PC game of the year in 2005 from Gamespot, IGN, GameSpy as well as Time Magazines top pick.

What is it really about the quality of the game that is lacking you who comment about the nonexistant QA team?


Btw, what is that hovering to the right in the Pyramids picture? :D
Is it bees? Looks a bit like spaceships :D
 

toft

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The initial launch of civ4 might have been good, but the patches have all been mediocre and takes forever to be released.
 

Afforess

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The initial launch of civ4 might have been good, but the patches have all been mediocre and takes forever to be released.

Maybe it says something about the game. If the patches don't add much in the way of content, maybe it's because the game is already perfect, and adding more would ruin it?

Remember the Axiom, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it."

Personally, I think Firaxis's support of Civilization IV has been incredible, and made it much more than a game.
 

Padma

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The initial launch of civ4 might have been good, but the patches have all been mediocre and takes forever to be released.

Maybe it says something about the game. If the patches don't add much in the way of content, maybe it's because the game is already perfect, and adding more would ruin it?

Remember the Axiom, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it."

Personally, I think Firaxis's support of Civilization IV has been incredible, and made it much more than a game.

And one reason the patches take a while to be released is because the QA team is working. If a submitted patch doesn't actually work, or, worse yet, breaks something else, they send it back to the developers. All that back-and-forthing takes time.
 

binhthuy71

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Years back I worked in software dev for a large ISP. Although our proprietary software was bone simple compared to Civ it still took a couple of hundred hours' work for our QA people to sign off on it. If you take all of the elements of Civ and all of the possible interactions between them then you're looking at a few man-years of QA to find every possible bug. Would you be willing to wait another ten years for a perfectly bug-free release of Civ 5? Even if you are willing, I can guarantee you that 2K Games would not be that patient.
The person who mentioned that QA does not have the final say regarding release is absolutely correct: Marketing has the final say and their word is law. Unless there's a showstopper (App erases C: drive, App crashes to desktop after loading, App changes all system fonts to Cyrillic) the baby will probably ship because Marketing can and will tell you to the nickle how much it costs every day that the release date is slipped.
Whenever a new application comes out from anyone the first users are always unknowingly testing it for quality.
 

J-man

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I worked in Quality Assurance with Scott at Firaxis in 2005 face-to-face, so I have to dispute the notions that the group is purely fictional. Unless things have changed in the past few years, at least. ;) And as someone who worked on Civ4, I can definitely state that that game didn't have very many issues post-release. Not exactly sure where these commenters are coming from.

I'm satisfied with the level of support and the patches Firaxis has released, but often
new patches from Firaxis contain new bugs. Particularly with one BtS patch (I think it was 3.15) that broke a lot of things.
 

binhthuy71

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What would you estimate a release date for Civ 5... marketing-wise? :)

Heh! As a PC game that would necessarily be much deeper and broader than Civ 4, Marketing would take a look at the cost/benefit ratio of producing Civ 5 and announce; "Approximately the same day that Hell becomes a ski resort."
The real obstacle is that Civ 5 would have to be better both graphically and in terms of gameplay than Civ 4 BtS is in the hands of the modders. Between Blue Marble, Legends of Revolution, BUG mod, Better AI and all of the other excellent things that the modders have produced and given away for free Civ 5 would have a tall mountain to climb.
 
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