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[TRENCHES] Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - Reprisal

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Posts

  • Blackbird71Blackbird71 Registered User regular
    As someone who recently dusted off and is currently playing through NWN2 again, I can definitely see how "lore bugs" with this title could also be true "game bugs." Over the history of the game, there were many bugs in which the mechanics were not only not working according to D&D pen & paper rules, but weren't even working according to the in-game descriptions (which were usually identical to the P&P rules). So if, for example, he were to submit a bug stating "Feat X is supposed to grant a +2 armor class bonus, but is only granting +1", that would have been both a problem with the P&P rules and a programming bug (yes, this is a true issue; as I recall the "bugfix" was to change the feat description, not fix the programming, something which drew a lot of fire on the forums). Again, there were (and are) many such problems with this game; some got patched, many others have not (and now never will be thanks to Atari shutting down the patching process a few years back due to licensing issues).

    I cannot fault the "truly insufferable" QA tester for attempting to report such problems; this game truly needed all the help it could get, and it is a shame the developers did not listen to more such feedback.

    I think the important lesson here is that with each of these tales, we should remember that we are only getting one perspective on events. In this particular case, the second account gives a little more information, but there are still many details missing. The point being that those of us here who in reality know so little about what actually went on should not be so quick to cast judgement.

  • RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    As someone who recently dusted off and is currently playing through NWN2 again, I can definitely see how "lore bugs" with this title could also be true "game bugs." Over the history of the game, there were many bugs in which the mechanics were not only not working according to D&D pen & paper rules, but weren't even working according to the in-game descriptions (which were usually identical to the P&P rules). So if, for example, he were to submit a bug stating "Feat X is supposed to grant a +2 armor class bonus, but is only granting +1", that would have been both a problem with the P&P rules and a programming bug (yes, this is a true issue; as I recall the "bugfix" was to change the feat description, not fix the programming, something which drew a lot of fire on the forums). Again, there were (and are) many such problems with this game; some got patched, many others have not (and now never will be thanks to Atari shutting down the patching process a few years back due to licensing issues).

    I cannot fault the "truly insufferable" QA tester for attempting to report such problems; this game truly needed all the help it could get, and it is a shame the developers did not listen to more such feedback.

    I think the important lesson here is that with each of these tales, we should remember that we are only getting one perspective on events. In this particular case, the second account gives a little more information, but there are still many details missing. The point being that those of us here who in reality know so little about what actually went on should not be so quick to cast judgement.

    I don't know much about the game, but I think I agree with you here, given that the first Tale is clearly using hyperbole--it's safe to assume that he wasn't, in fact, concerned with .3 inches of penetration on a Baloovian Farglebargle. That's how every lore or mechanic issue would be seen to someone who doesn't care about the source material.

    That said, like you said we'd need more details before we could really know, regarding the nature of the bugs and the nature of this guy's job.

  • astronautcowboy3astronautcowboy3 Registered User regular
    It doesn't sound like this guy was fired, so I doubt we're looking at the world's worst tester here or something.

    The JRPG Club: Video game reviews, vocabulary lists and other resources for Japanese learners.
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    forty
  • Grey PaladinGrey Paladin Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    Dedwrekka wrote: »
    ...
    As for authenticity, DnD throws that out the window as much as any game based on the franchise for the purpose of balance.
    NWN2 isn't remotely balanced. It is a mostly 1-to-1 translation of 3.5, which, according to the author, was purposefully written to be unbalanced so that good players can be rewarded for their system mastery by avoiding all of the trap choices.

    Grey Paladin on
    "All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible." - T.E. Lawrence
  • fortyforty Registered User regular
    For anyone who missed it on the last page, go here for a lot more of the tester's story and perspective.

    Cambiata
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    I think the important lesson here is that with each of these tales, we should remember that we are only getting one perspective on events. In this particular case, the second account gives a little more information, but there are still many details missing. The point being that those of us here who in reality know so little about what actually went on should not be so quick to cast judgement.

    Agree completely. Still sounds like GrayPockets was going outside their duties as as bug tester, but and the unfortunate part of that is their passion wasn't recognized by the company and put in a more appropriate role.

  • JavenJaven Registered User regular
    Einzel wrote: »
    If you're hired to do 'Job A', don't do 'Job B'. It's novel and all to think a complex game like that is an effort where 100% of the team gets a say in shaping all aspects of the product, but that's not how business works. If you want to do 'Job B', get that job next time!

    No, his superiors should have noticed what he was pointing out and changed his position to one where he could correct the games lore errors. As rdx pointed out, licensed properties are often heavily judged on their accuracy to their parent material. I'm fairly certain they would have been able to refill an entry level QA position after moving Mr. Truly Insufferable to the story department. You don't punish effort.

    'Man, this custodian at the bank is super good at rolling pennies but is kind of bad at keeping the place tidy. Instead of reprimanding or getting rid of him for not doing the job we're paying him for, we should make him official penny roller!'

    CambiataDarkewolfe
  • AZChristopherAZChristopher Registered User regular
    forty wrote: »
    For anyone who missed it on the last page, go here for a lot more of the tester's story and perspective.

    Wow. He wrote that almost 2 years ago and it is just now being posted.

    Anyone who hasn't clicked on that link needs to since the guy goes a lot further in his explanation.

    Cambiata
  • AegeriAegeri Tiny wee bacteriums Plateau of LengRegistered User regular
    edited July 2013
    Oh now I remember. His later explanations added a lot more and he was much more reasonable than the posted tales make him see (EG he reported the endless armour and clipping bugs as separate things initially, but then got told off for doing so despite being asked to do that).

    It's just weird seeing this posted almost two years after the fact.

    Aegeri on
    The Roleplayer's Guild: My blog for roleplaying games, advice and adventuring.
    Cambiata
  • EinzelEinzel Registered User regular
    Javen wrote: »
    Einzel wrote: »
    If you're hired to do 'Job A', don't do 'Job B'. It's novel and all to think a complex game like that is an effort where 100% of the team gets a say in shaping all aspects of the product, but that's not how business works. If you want to do 'Job B', get that job next time!

    No, his superiors should have noticed what he was pointing out and changed his position to one where he could correct the games lore errors. As rdx pointed out, licensed properties are often heavily judged on their accuracy to their parent material. I'm fairly certain they would have been able to refill an entry level QA position after moving Mr. Truly Insufferable to the story department. You don't punish effort.

    'Man, this custodian at the bank is super good at rolling pennies but is kind of bad at keeping the place tidy. Instead of reprimanding or getting rid of him for not doing the job we're paying him for, we should make him official penny roller!'

    Glad someone gets it.

  • AugusteAuguste Registered User regular
    Javen wrote: »
    'Man, this custodian at the bank is super good at rolling pennies but is kind of bad at keeping the place tidy. Instead of reprimanding or getting rid of him for not doing the job we're paying him for, we should make him official penny roller!'

    Are we talking a star penny roller, better than anyone else on staff at rolling pennies? And would having a star penny roller on staff make the bank more successful? Then yes we damn well should. Seeing someone as "stuck in their place" because they were originally hired to be custodian is the exact opposite of what American industry was built on. It's called upward mobility, MFer!

    Grandiose but based in seriousness statement to follow: The longer we continue to forget that fact, the longer America is going to be stuck in this rut we've got going.

  • SecretagentmanSecretagentman Registered User regular
    Mr. Anders continues to be the only likeable character in the entire strip. Well besides Toots, but he never got a lot of dialog.

    PSN: matter_ic
    Professional forum lurker
    forty
  • AI50AI50 Registered User regular
    Auguste wrote: »
    Are we talking a star penny roller, better than anyone else on staff at rolling pennies? And would having a star penny roller on staff make the bank more successful? Then yes we damn well should. Seeing someone as "stuck in their place" because they were originally hired to be custodian is the exact opposite of what American industry was built on. It's called upward mobility, MFer!

    Grandiose but based in seriousness statement to follow: The longer we continue to forget that fact, the longer America is going to be stuck in this rut we've got going.

    Although things are never so black and white. Clearly the tester was putting in a fair bit of effort to even find this lore "bugs". It could be debated how much these bugs improve the quality of the game and there is some value in knowing that they exist even if the developers/managers decide not to fix them. It seems that the tester has metrics of how many bugs they find each day and they are trying to pad their numbers. In my experience people change the way they do their job depending on what is being measured, management may be able to get useful bug reports from this tester by simply changing the metrics that they track. I would hard to put all the blame on the tester and rarely is the situation so bad that the only two options are to fire someone or change the job responabilities to match what they are doing any way.

    forty
  • AugusteAuguste Registered User regular
    Right, and honestly, I wasn't even trying to defend the "promote this tester!" line. Just taking issue with the dismissive analogy, and observing that indeed people tend to view "promoted from within" as some sort of negative these days.

    forty
  • fortyforty Registered User regular
    Also, reporting a different kind of bug than maybe the development team would prefer is a lot closer to doing your job than a janitor rolling pennies.

  • C2BC2B SwitzerlandRegistered User regular
    edited August 2013
    I didn't see this trenches till now.

    I have more to say in regards to this (and circumstances as the development of NWN2 is pretty... special) as I think he was both right and wrong in what he was doing. But, for now I just wanted to mention that I'm going to try to ask Ex-Obsidian Programmer Anthony Davis about the QA situation back then. I think he did gameplay programming as well on the title so he may have come into contact with that particular tester. May offer some insight.

    C2B on
  • C2BC2B SwitzerlandRegistered User regular
    edited August 2013
    I got an answer and more may be coming. Also @GrayPockets you are remembered.
    I saw this too and posted it on facebook to see if any of my old comrades remember more of this than I do.

    I remember this QA person in particular, but I do not know for sure who wrote the original comment on The Trenches complaining about the QA guy.

    The QA situation at Obsidian varies slightly from project to project. Obsidian has internal QA and QA Producers. The rest of the QA needs are determined by the project. Sometimes a publisher will provide their own QA working in tandem with Obsidian's QA, sometimes they will provide QA support in the form of a "testing" contractor working in tandem with Obsdian's QA, and finally sometimes they publisher provides funds in the contract for hiring internal QA - and in that case Obsidian then hires up an internal team for QA.

    The QA situation at Obsidian is actually pretty good for an independent developer. The sad truth is that many, many independent developers don't have money for QA at all. That doesn't mean QA doesn't happen of course, almost everyone in the game industry wears multiple hats and EVERYONE has a QA hat. The owners at Obsidian recognized from an early point that QA was a necessary expense. I know everyone is like Bugsidian, har har har, but the QA guys there do work hard and it is a thankless job.

    C2B on
    Commander Zoom
  • vapidincarnatevapidincarnate Registered User new member
    Lutes? No, no. Everyone knows that sloths are hardcore metal fans.

  • C2BC2B SwitzerlandRegistered User regular
    edited August 2013
    Thanks to creepy internet stalker powers (wasn't hard at all and he doesn't seem to be hiding it in the first place) I'm actually pretty sure who GrayPockets is as well. Does seem to be in a rather fine position, even though he isn't in the gaming industry anymore. (At least I think so, could be wrong)

    C2B on
  • C2BC2B SwitzerlandRegistered User regular
    Kevin D. Saunders, another Ex-Obsidianitie, also weighs in. (Only had a small role in the original NWN2, was Project Lead for Mask of the Betrayer and Producer on Storm of Zehir. Now Project Lead on Torment: TON)
    Having passionate team members is generally a good thing. It can be problematic if QA testers aren't aware of what sorts of bugs the team would find most useful -- this can be caused by a communication breakdown, which happens too easily in any team effort, especially large, complicated ones like most video games.

    As for Obsidian's QA -- the QA teams on Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir were fantastic. They played a big part in those games reaching the quality they did. And like every department on the games, they were few in number and had to work hard. Even so, many QA members made time to also aid in various design aspects in meaningful ways -- mastery of the source material was certainly valuable in these cases.

    (Sorry to crash your thread, Anthony! (And "hi," by the way! =) ))

    forty
  • Ori KleinOri Klein Registered User regular
    Henroid wrote: »
    You've never worked for like, a company before, have you?
    I don't know about him, but I have.
    This has nothing to do with working for companies, it has to do with competent management and personality types.

    That's very nice and dreamy, but if people worked like that, no game would ever get released, ever.
    Balancing videogames and PnP games are two completely different tasks. And scrounging crap from 15 year old rulebooks helps no one.

    Wholly fallacious.

    Balancing resources and budget versus time tables and bringing the game to release point is the producer's job.
    Assuming core competency, the producer is amply capable of making calls which modifications get in and what not. That is his duty - prioritizing and allocating resources.
    It has no bearing on the work output generated by QA, writers, editors, tech engineers, so on. Their job is to make sure the game gets done to the best quality possible and locate (or anticipate) problems and propose solutions.

    That "crap from 15 years old rulebooks" forms the very basis upon which the rest of the entire game is designed. It helps the designer very much in determining core mechanics, character aspects, gameplay flow and features.
    And it does contributes to, as well as its adherence being judged by core fans, the overall quality of the product delivered.

  • trident042trident042 Registered User regular
    I'm super late to the party on this Tale, but I've been working my way backwards in the archives after having rediscovered them in my downtime.

    Let's all be realistic here: There was enough wrong with NWN2 that neither of the people sending in their tales can claim to have contributed much to its Quality, nor the Assurance thereof.

    Three different times a friend and I tried to run this game, co-op, and once we had worked out the various vagueries necessary to actually co-operate the game together, we powered through the tutorial/Prologue, completed it, and moved on into act 1 proper.

    The literal first location reached after exiting the starting town finds itself lacking in the contact that continues the main storyline if you are playing the game co-op. There is precisely no way to continue the game. Oh sure, you can run side quests out of the location, but that will only progress you so far. We actually returned to the title two additional times to see if it had been patched, and found after two separate instances of running the intro sequence for an hour that this was never the case.

    Perhaps if fewer of its testers cared about making things lore-accurate, and even fewer cared about complaining about the ones that cared about making things lore-accurate, this could perhaps have been prevented.

    But then, this is the Trenches. We all know better. "Cannot continue story-driven game's story line quest after first town when playing co-op?" "Working as intended."

    This signature now left intentionally blank.
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