Friday, March 17, 2006

Path to Design Part 4

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

So there I was, a tester.

Testers don't have the greatest reputation in the inudstry. It's like only half a level above the cleaners in the company's hierarchy. QA (quality Assurance) is a very important aspect of game development and you learn a lot from it regardless of your coveted position. So it's still worth going for a testing gig if you struggle getting the job you believe you deserve.

At first I told myself to lower my expectations. That I could be doing this supposedly lowly job for a long time, or maybe even let go at one stage altogether. Yet a couple of days into the job I started eyeing the next step: a lead tester. There were three lead testers at the time and I knew that it was only a matter of time before one of them will move on. Especially since two of them had a long and tedious commute from Brighton. So how do you prepare yourself for a lead tester position? Especially since you've been testing for only a couple of weeks by that point? You just do. I requested to learn how to do all the fancy bug database management and other little bits and pieces related to lead testing. My reasoning was that I would like to help if one of the leads will be unavailable, and indeed that was the case. I pitched in and worked as fill-in lead whenever one of the other leads was on vacation or sick.

We were based in Bayswater outside the main building in a small rented room nearby. On the day we finally moved into the main building, the only two girls in QA left(which were half of the girls in the entire company), including one of the lead testers. I was right, she didn't want to bother with the commute anymore (and today happened to be the last day for the other lead tester from Brighton). I approached my QA manager and requested to be considered for the position even though I was only a tester for three and a half months at the time at my very first testing job. He said he'll think about it and two days later I got the good news. It might've been the fact that I was really hard working and taking the initiative in learning new stuff, or the fact that I was playing World of Warcraft with my boss. Either way, things kept working my way much faster than I could imagine.

Partly because as soon as I got the Lead Tester position I already set my eyes on the next step: to become a designer. It wasn't greed, it was ambition. I enjoyed every step of the way, but I wasn't cutting myself any slack. If you don't move forward, you move backwards because others will be moving forward and leave you behind.

I was willing to be a lead tester for a couple of years if necessary, but because I was lucky enough to be working for a successful growing company at just the right time, I had to strike the iron while it was still hot. Besides, I was willing to be a lead for a couple of years, but I didn't really want to. At the age of 27 I felt that I had to make up for lost time, and I did. But even now my current lead designer has just turned 24 and he has years and years of experience and many games under the belt.

So how did I become a designer? Well, all will be revealed in the last part of Path to Design.

To be concluded!


Part 5

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