[TRENCHES] Thursday, April 2, 2015 - Under Appreciated

GethGeth LegionPerseus VeilRegistered User, Moderator, Penny Arcade Staff, Vanilla Staff vanilla
edited April 2015 in The Penny Arcade Hub
Under Appreciated

Under Appreciated

The More Things Change…


My father has a story he likes to tell of when he did testing for a game company. This was before videogames were mainstream, so he was doing test runs of an old school RPG. I won’t give away too much about what game, but it has a lot to do with running and shadows. He had been game mastering a campaign with the system, and one of his supervisors came in to check on him. So, my dad starts talking about the campaign, particularly an NPC called the Paladin. The Paladin was an actor that wore a suit of “armor” that was actually a bunch of recording devices. The devices existed already in the game, but the supervisor said they wouldn’t fit into the suit. My dad continued the campaign, and finished his testing.

A year or so later, he sees a module for the game that uses the Paladin, relabeled as Knight, as well as several other ideas he had. He was not credited anywhere, and had done the testing for free. That night, my dad sat down with his game buddies and decided that if his ideas were good enough to be published, he would publish them in his own system.

Geth on


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    milskimilski Poyo! Registered User regular
    So is The Trenches just off-brand, out-of-date Penny Arcade? There's not a plot anymore, and the jokes seem to vary between overly-wordy versions of PA gaming jokes, and overly wordy versions of PA "Tycho and Gabe are disgusting" jokes.

    Also, Fez is three years old! You could have a less dated reference by trashing Sony Smash Bros!

    I ate an engineer
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    wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    New Tale
    Trenches wrote:
    Lost in Translation

    04/07/2015 - AnonymousShare:Share On TwitterShare On Facebook

    I worked for a very small developer that worked on “edutainment” titles for a super-sized scholastic company. Initially, my job was to create the concepts and the art of the games, and then to ship the resources off to the code team…in the Philippines.

    I was having a blast coming up with ideas for these games, and then spending my time creating the artwork in any style I wished. I was blissfully unaware—perhaps willfully ignorant—of the troubles that can come from working with a code team in another country than one’s own.

    The first builds began coming back after a few weeks ready for QA. Supposedly, they had already gone through a QA process to eliminate bugs. My production manager handed the builds to me without so much as a glance at them, and now I was supposed to make sure that everything fit together from a visual perspective.

    The first game featured an animation of a child performing jumping jacks—a standard P.E. class activity (in the U.S.). They had no idea what a jumping jack looked like in the Philippines, though. Rather than asking us to clarify the action for them, they took it upon themselves to invent an action, which they thought might be a suitable alternative. We called and tried to explain to them how it would look. We sent them links to YouTube videos, but they did not get it. Their English was impeccable, but there were still too many subtleties to explain.

    We were on a tight timeline, and my production manager decided it was time to move on. So, “Jumping Jack Math” became “Jazzercise Math.” A small difference, I supposed.

    It was the beginning of a pattern, though. “Thwack-a-Mole” became “Thwack-a-Rat.” “The Cloud Machine” kept it’s name, but wound up looking more like “Gassy Calculator.” The kid in “Slip & Slide” was granted superpowers, and levitated his way across the yard. It went on like this for about five months before I’d had enough.

    I told my production manager we could probably save time and money by dropping the code team in the Philippines for someone we could sit next to everyday. I explained the troubles I was having communicating my vision to coders who were not native English speakers. Her took this into consideration, and quickly decided on a solution.

    They fired me, and hired an artist in the Philippines.

    From my experience dealing with Filipinos, chances are good that their English was "impeccable" because they considered very carefully what they were going to say before they said it. That doesn't mean that they actually understood what you said. Filipinos are very self conscious about speaking English, in school they are made fun of by other classmates, and even the teacher if they mispronounce an English word, so they won't speak English unless they are confident that they will say it right. But that does not mean that they actually understand English as well as they sound like they speak it. If they don't understand they will just pretend like they did, until and after the misunderstanding was detected. That's one of the things that broke off the relationship with my ex-fiancee. She would always pretend that she understood and agreed with what I said, until I found out that where I thought that the relationship was going wasn't at all the same place that she thought that it was going. Such is life.

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    razaatifrazaatif Registered User new member
    I love our QA guys. Hell, the good ones are worth their weight in gold and should be paid twice what they are.

    The ability to reduce the factors in a bug so that I can quickly nail the issue is a completely indispensable part of game development, especially at the end where I am walking a tightrope between tears and table flipping rage at all times, with only the balancing pole of caffeine to keep me upright.

    But. But. And I say this with love QA folks.

    You aren’t designers. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Hell, these days most designers aren’t designers either, so no need to feel bad. Often the only guys who get to make decisions about the games we work on are the far removed owners and their marketing buddies, who can suggest whatever the standout feature of the game they briefly played that weekend before going out on the town (hey, we should have takedowns/melee combat/sassy/robots/fungusFacedZombies!).


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