At long last, the saga continues. Yay.
I sent several applications for tester positions through company websites. The only one that got back to me was Lionhead which was quite exciting. I enjoyed the first Black & White and was looking for an excuse to buy Fable. Also, an IGDA committee member (the same one who recommended I'll make a Neverwinter Nights module) forwarded my CV to the QA manager at his current company, Ideaworks3D.
Lionhead set me an interview for Monday. I left for a lovely vacation in Finland for a few days full of snow, dog sledding and Reindeers. It was there that the QA manager called me and asked me if I want to come and do work for them for two weeks starting Monday. I explained that I was busy on Monday and that I can start on Tuesday. After being unemployed for so long, even just two weeks of work seemed like a great triumph. Back then I didn't realize how special Ideaworks3D was. I only knew it was a company making mobile phone games and I had little respect to the platform at the time, basing my prejudice on the crappy games that came with my own phones. On the other hand there was Lionhead! Where Peter Molyneux works! So I pretty much already decided that if Lionhead accepted me, I would take them over Ideaworks3D even though I3D was in London while Lionhead were in Guildford and required a commute similar to the nightmarish one I did to Creative Assembly in Horsham and swore to never do again. Fortunately I screwed up the Lionhead interview and had yet another blessing in disguise.
I got enough notice about the interview to buy Fable and play it for quite a bit. I went there by train and the commute was indeed long, but mostly because I had to walk for more than thirty minutes from the train station. I got a little lost, but eventually found the place. I waited a little and then went into a room with two very nice guys whose names I forgot by now and their faces are nothing but a blur. They explained the position to me: it wasn't a regular testing job. We weren't meant to find bugs in the game, we were solely meant to comment about the fun factor. To see if the game is fun and balanced, if the User Interface makes sense and so on. I loved the idea very much as it sounded like something that could organically lead into design, something with a lot of creative input.
After chatting to me for a while they left me alone with an X-Box devkit running Fable and asked me to play a certain level of the game and write down comments and suggestions. They said that there are several things that are obvious and they expect me to notice. Oh well. I played and I wrote. And then they came back to the room and I said goodbye, aching to be called back. On the way back to the train I stopped and cringed. I suddenly realized that I wrote something stupid: brining up a problem, but not offering a solution to it- something they mentioned in the interview as a big no no. When I got the rejection letter after a few days I assumed it was either that or the fact that I was based in London and wasn't planning to relocate. Or maybe they found someone who was even cuter than me? Who knows, who cares? I'm just so glad things worked out that way.
On Tuesday I started working as a tester for Ideaworks3D! and it was great fun. Got to test System Rush on the N-Gage as my first game and it was the first time I actually played the machine. It turned out I wasn't needed for just two weeks, but for a permanent position. My QA manager only said two weeks so he can safely try me out before promising anything. I was a pretty good tester, if I say so myself, and got to keep my place.
I broke into the game industry. I got my foot in the door. Now I just had to make sure nobody would slam it shut and chop it off.
To be continued,
Part 4 Part 5