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[TRENCHES] Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - Guest Art: Mackenzie Schubert

GethGeth LegionPerseus VeilRegistered User, Moderator, Penny Arcade Staff, Vanilla Staff vanilla
edited October 2014 in The Penny Arcade Hub
Guest Art: Mackenzie Schubert


Guest Art: Mackenzie Schubert
http://trenchescomic.com/comic/post/guest-art-mackenzie-schubert1

Employees Only!

Anonymous

I work as a contractor in software design for one of the Silicon Valley companies that got started by a couple of guys in a garage and eventually became a huge monolithic multinational corporation that loses more money in a hour than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. And no, it’s not one of the newer garage companies you might be thinking of; it’s the one that built the expensive calculator you’ve had buried in a box in the closet since college, at least one of the printers you’ve owned and possibly the PC you’re reading this on.

A week or so after Thanksgiving break, posters proclaiming the “IT Holiday Potluck Lunch” were hung throughout the floor with accompanying sign-up sheets in the break area. Longtime employees began buzzing about the spread the company brought in as well as the sweet prizes that would be raffled off with one ticket for each toy donated.

A few days before the big day I dutifully signed up to bring in a dish and bought a small toy to donate; part of being a contractor in the Valley is a desperate desire to belong so we’re suckers for any remotely team like activity.

Then the day before the shindig, signs much less elaborate than the original posters began popping up with “Potluck is for __ Employees Only”.

“Surely they must be speaking of uninvited guests,” I thought aloud. “Nope,” one of the older contractors laughingly told me, “No contractors allowed; we get paid to work not to party! “

The next day as several hundred laughing and smiling “employees” lined up for a 2 hour party with loud music, food, games and sweet prizes, long faced contractors packed up their laptops and other belongings in preparation for their search for alternate work spaces away from the Holiday cheer. Merry Christmas!


Geth on
«13

Posts

  • wilykatwilykat new member Registered User new member
    re the story: clearly that sucks. But assuming that there's a reason that the company has contractors (which you can probably debate), it is strongly in the company's best interests to make sure you aren't treated like an employee - if you are, it can invalidate your contractor status. See Vizcaino v. Microsoft (there's a decent writeup http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/04/01/businesspropicks-us-findlaw-dont-treat-c-idUSTRE53063S20090401), where Microsoft had to pay significant penalties for not allowing contractors to participate in the stock purchase plan because contractors there were indistinguishable from employees.

    gjaustintastydonuts
  • Gamer8585Gamer8585 regular Registered User regular
    wilykat wrote: »
    re the story: clearly that sucks. But assuming that there's a reason that the company has contractors (which you can probably debate), it is strongly in the company's best interests to make sure you aren't treated like an employee - if you are, it can invalidate your contractor status. See Vizcaino v. Microsoft (there's a decent writeup http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/04/01/businesspropicks-us-findlaw-dont-treat-c-idUSTRE53063S20090401), where Microsoft had to pay significant penalties for not allowing contractors to participate in the stock purchase plan because contractors there were indistinguishable from employees.

    Eh, I think that would just be something managers would say to try to justify the shitty behavior in this case. A holiday party and purchase of stock are incredibly different beasts legally and financially.

    The more likely story is that employees are salaried which means they're getting paid the same amount of money despite fluctuations in work, while contractors are paid by the hour. If they're in the same building as the party and allowed to go to the party then there is no way for their managers to verify exactly how much time they're working vs. partying. Its incredibly similar to why most departments won't let their employees or contractors telecommute. Managers and their Lovecraftian Overlords are incredibly insecure and need to feel like they have eyes on their employees at all times. Also, there is a pervasive stereotype that contractors try to constantly cheat their employers to pad their invoices that may be coming into play.


  • michaelkdawmichaelkdaw regular Registered User regular
    If you want employee benefits, don't be a contractor.

  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    Do you want contractors to insert secret backdoors into your products? Because that's how you get contractors to insert secret backdoors into your products.

    Seriously though, I've been a contractor for 10 months now and at the company I work for (easily as large as the unnamed company that OP speaks of) I get treated just like a regular employee with the exception that I am paid by the hour, paid significantly more than the regular employees, and don't get to participate in company HR benefits.

    But I'm still invited to all the company and team events and constantly reminded that they appreciate what I do for them. It probably helps that programmers/developers are in such high demand in Charlotte at the moment that only 1 in 4 of my team members are full time employees of the company. But even then, the other places I have worked (as a permanent employee) may have had some old timers who were resentful of the contractors, but otherwise they were treated equally well.

    I think that the other stories about how testers are treated badly are pretty shitty in general, but at least those people have limited ability to fuck your company in the ass. I've always said code reviews for purposes of security are a joke at 99% of companies they end up being more about some guy trying to ram his personal preference for indentation or white space or variable naming convention down your gullet. If you know what you're doing you can build in some vulnerabilities that would be undetectable by the vast majority of your peers, and even if they did find it you could easily profess ignorance of the vulnerability you included.

    So even if being nice to your employees and treating them like valuable assets and at least partly human isn't the best way to prevent you from getting screwed over by your employees, it certainly doesn't hurt.

  • michaelkdawmichaelkdaw regular Registered User regular
    You feel you should be given special treatment because you will sabotage your clients if you don't?

  • wormspeakerwormspeaker Objectively Terrible Registered User regular
    You feel you should be given special treatment because you will sabotage your clients if you don't?

    No, I feel that employees (whether contract or permanent) should be treated like team members rather than a sub-human dirt, or I wouldn't be surprised if a disgruntled individual did sabotage a client's product.

    I mean if you want to read into it more than that, for the sake of argument you're absolutely welcome to do that. I mean trolls gonna' troll after all.

    However, I am simply stating that the management in the story was absolutely tone deaf and clueless. That's not actually a big surprise given the era that the story is from, there was a time when most mid-level and all upper-level management was blissfully unaware of the reach and scope of technology and the people within their organization which tend it. Now days, almost all mid-level management and most upper management understand technology a lot better than they used to.

    I used to supervise teams of programmers and you better believe that I treated every last one of them like a valued member of the team, whether they were contract or permanent. If upper management tried to pull something like that when I was lead I would have raised hell, and if management didn't listen I would have brought my ENTIRE team to the party and dared my bosses to fire me over it. Because not only would it have been the right thing to do on a human level, I am also keenly aware how stupidly easy it is to insert vulnerabilities into enterprise level distributed applications. I would lean on professionalism and basic human decency for them not to do so, but if treating them like people instead of undesirable elements was going to reduce the chance that one of them would decide to fuck over the company by even 0.01% then HELL YES I would do it.

  • UNHchaboUNHchabo regular Registered User regular
    Gamer8585 wrote: »
    Eh, I think that would just be something managers would say to try to justify the shitty behavior in this case. A holiday party and purchase of stock are incredibly different beasts legally and financially.

    You misunderstand his point. In that court case, since Microsoft treated the contractors as employees for the purposes of workload, employment duration, etc., the courts ruled that they were entitled to the same monetary benefits as the "normal" employees, such as stock benefits.

    Allowing contractors to attend on-the-clock parties could be considered "paid time off", and could potentially be a factor in a determination that the contractor was actually a de facto employee.

  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    No new comic yesterday, but a new tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/tech-support-in-the-restaurant-industry
    Tech support in the restaurant industry
    10/16/2014 - Anonymous

    This isn’t really about games at all, but I feel the pain of the stories I read on here as a tech support “specialist.”

    First off, I am the only one at my company that supports the software we carry for restaurants, so it’s a little stressful, especially during the holidays. My wife is very upset because we basically can’t go anywhere or do anything as a couple without it being a giant hassle.

    Now, on Christmas Eve I got a call from a rather large restaurant chain that uses our software and proceeded to get bitched out by the operations manager for her own screw up. She had told me that she called my boss twice the last two days and he had not responded to her calls for what she called an emergency.

    The thing about that is that an emergency, according to my boss, is anything that stops you from doing business.

    This was not an emergency. The thing to remember is that she has my number. She has my 24/7 emergency cell number that we give everyone, so she really had no excuse, but here I was getting yelled at because she can’t use a phone properly to contact the only guy that could fix her problem. So she is having a very small problem where a swipe card reader is not working on one of her terminals. So her employees can still use it without a swipe card but that would be too complicated. Never mind that this terminal is in a very bad spot in the place to begin with, so it’s not great for the servers to use. They have other terminals in far more convenient places throughout the store. But she insists I walk her manager through what we can do to fix it.

    This issue is easily corrected by unplugging the only USB cable and plugging it back in. THE ONLY USB cable on the whole machine, which is very easy to access. So somehow she powers down the whole terminal while doing this and at this point becomes very unwilling to even look for the power button to try and turn it back on. So I get her to hand the phone back to the operations manager and explain to her the issue and instead of getting someone to try and turn it back on she demands I come fix it myself. I explain to her that this does not constitute an emergency and she can wait until after Christmas for this to get fixed.

    She says we will see about that and calls my boss. So now I’m talking to my boss after and he asks me why I have been ignoring her for two days and I told him it was because she called him not me for service on the weekend before Christmas.

    Awkward Silence.

    “She hasn’t called me” he says

    “Well that’s what she told me”

    “Let me call my voice mail box at the office.”

    Minutes later he tells me she left two voice mails on his office line on the weekend and thought she would get service this way. Then he says I have to go down and deal with it.

    So bad management is apparently a wide spread epidemic, and I don’t understand how it hasn’t crippled the business world.

    Also, who opens on Christmas day? This place did.

  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    No new comic Tuesday, but a new tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/17741
    We ran out of room for…
    10/21/2014 - Anonymous
    -
    The first job I had in the video game industry was as a tester for a shovelware company making Bratz games on the GBA and DS. The job wasn’t stressful, mainly because I could crank out bug reports faster than they could fix them, leaving me with ample time to do whatever I pleased.

    For the most part, it was just going to be another crappy game that a misaimed audience would buy. However, toward the end of the game’s development, I saw a darker side of the industry. Apparently, in order to make the game easier to translate for foreign markets, it would have to cut out a third of the text in the game.

    Since the game was now being rewritten, the plot became incoherent in addition to just bad, minigames had the bare minimum of instructions, and the only reason I knew how to progress was because I had done it all before the rewrite.

  • fortyforty regular Registered User regular
    There's a foreign market for Bratz games? That's sad.

    Or is it? I guess I don't know.

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    forty wrote: »
    There's a foreign market for Bratz games? That's sad.

    Or is it? I guess I don't know.
    There's a foreign market for everything. There's a foreign market for Adam Sandler movies, for crying out loud.

    No new comic yesterday, but a new tale.
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/the-big-retail-score
    The Big Retail Score
    10/23/2014 - AnonymousShare

    I ran an independent game store in a mid-size town and was doing fairly well. We opened up with an imported N64 (the first in town); we rented out a Neo Geo CD system; we had arcade machines along the back wall, and we just happened to be at our peak when Final Fantasy VII came out.

    Now we had a long history of selling Final Fantasy games, we had a serious core customer group who relied on us for their RPG fix. FFVII was going to be massive, and we had dollar signs in our eyes when we placed our pre-order for 125 copies. This was the biggest order for a single game we ever placed, by far.

    We were stunned when, in an industry where ordering 20 means you get four, we got our entire order. One hundred and twenty five copies, it was a huge deal for us. We had pre-orders for everyone, and a waiting list as well. And at twelve dollars profit per copy, we were expecting a pretty decent week.

    And then Wal Mart dropped the retail price to below our cost. We sold 125 copies of the game at a dollar loss, then cleaned out Wal Mart and sold 40 more with the slimmest of profit, matching the other big retailers. The biggest game launch in our four year history, and we didn’t even make fifty bucks.
    People bemoan the loss of independent game stores, but customer loyalty only lasts as long until someone else has a cheaper price.

  • michaelkdawmichaelkdaw regular Registered User regular
    I'll bet the independent game market is even tougher these days. Not that I'm bemoaning the loss of business for big box stores or the end of their inefficient practices due to modern strategies, but I think it's a bit sad to see the end of viability for a small, independent business.

  • fortyforty regular Registered User regular
    The timeline on the story confuses me. Or maybe the language is confusing me.
    We opened up with an imported N64
    This makes it sound like they started their business at the same time as they got an imported N64.

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    edited October 2014
    forty wrote: »
    The timeline on the story confuses me. Or maybe the language is confusing me.
    We opened up with an imported N64
    This makes it sound like they started their business at the same time as they got an imported N64.

    I think you're reading it right. The N64 was released in Japan on June 23, 1996, the Neo Geo CD was discontinued in 1997, and Final Fantasy VII was released in North America on September 7, 1997. So the timeline works, although it means they had been open only a little more than a year when FFVII was released.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_64#Release
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo_Geo_CD
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_VII

    BTW, the N64 was released in NA on September 29, 1996, 3 months after the Japan release, so you had to have been really impatient to want an imported N64.

    marsilies on
  • fortyforty regular Registered User regular
    marsilies wrote: »
    forty wrote: »
    The timeline on the story confuses me. Or maybe the language is confusing me.
    We opened up with an imported N64
    This makes it sound like they started their business at the same time as they got an imported N64.

    I think you're reading it right. The N64 was released in Japan on June 23, 1996, the Neo Geo CD was discontinued in 1997, and Final Fantasy VII was released in North America on September 7, 1997. So the timeline works, although it means they had been open only a little more than a year when FFVII was released.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_64#Release
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo_Geo_CD
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_VII

    BTW, the N64 was released in NA on September 29, 1996, 3 months after the Japan release, so you had to have been really impatient to want an imported N64.
    I was more focused on this aspect:
    Now we had a long history of selling Final Fantasy games, we had a serious core customer group who relied on us for their RPG fix. FFVII was going to be massive, and we had dollar signs in our eyes when we placed our pre-order for 125 copies. This was the biggest order for a single game we ever placed, by far.
    I didn't get how they could have a long history of selling FF games if they had only opened a little over a year earlier (during which no new FF games were actually released anyway).

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • The WolfmanThe Wolfman regular Registered User regular
    forty wrote: »
    marsilies wrote: »
    forty wrote: »
    The timeline on the story confuses me. Or maybe the language is confusing me.
    We opened up with an imported N64
    This makes it sound like they started their business at the same time as they got an imported N64.

    I think you're reading it right. The N64 was released in Japan on June 23, 1996, the Neo Geo CD was discontinued in 1997, and Final Fantasy VII was released in North America on September 7, 1997. So the timeline works, although it means they had been open only a little more than a year when FFVII was released.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_64#Release
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo_Geo_CD
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_VII

    BTW, the N64 was released in NA on September 29, 1996, 3 months after the Japan release, so you had to have been really impatient to want an imported N64.
    I was more focused on this aspect:
    Now we had a long history of selling Final Fantasy games, we had a serious core customer group who relied on us for their RPG fix. FFVII was going to be massive, and we had dollar signs in our eyes when we placed our pre-order for 125 copies. This was the biggest order for a single game we ever placed, by far.
    I didn't get how they could have a long history of selling FF games if they had only opened a little over a year earlier (during which no new FF games were actually released anyway).

    This would have been around the turn of the internet, where people were now discovering there were 3 whole FF games they never even frickin' heard of, and the whole numbering system was a lie. So it depends how long a "long history" is to them, but if they were dealing in imports then that must be it.

    "The sausage of Green Earth explodes with flavor like the cannon of culinary delight."
    PSN: TheWolfman64 3DS/Pokemon Y: 0774-4614-4065/NNID: the_wolfman64
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    edited October 2014
    No new comic yesterday, but a new tale:

    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/software-testing-101
    Software Testing 101
    10/28/2014 - Anonymous

    Some years ago when I was new to the trade, I got involved with a small company that created multiplayer casual board games. These games were basically being mass-produced with only a slight modification to certain game-rule related methods and the GUI (according to best OO-practice), but, since the “real” programmers were relatively expensive, the actual testing got delegated to the employee with the least experience and lowest per-hour cost to the company (moi, of course).

    What can I say; I was new, eager to start coding and got shafted with a dull testing job. These programs didn’t even have AIs yet so every move had to be done manually, quite a chore for a 4-player game. It took me about half a day of clicking through more-or-less working games until I came up with the ingenious idea to program my own AI, I even dubbed him “Artificial Idiot” due to the absolute basic, patch-work code that made up his decision making process.

    At first I was ecstatic, not only was my AI testing games for me, but my boss took note of my initiative and redefined my assignment; now I was to not only report the bugs, but also to check the code and propose possible modifications… Which was when I made a huge discovery; while the games played well, they all had a problem with the final few moves. Whenever a player was close to winning, the whole thing would just freeze and not accept any user input whatsoever, no error message, nothing. This was a major chance for me, if I could prove that the original design had a fault and maybe even find a way to correct it, then maybe I could get net some “real” work. Or so I thought.

    After one frustrated night of searching for bugs, fueled on caffeine and ambition, I finally found the mistake… The original programming was just fine; it was my AI that, at a certain point, would keep repeating the same command. The game itself, as it should, rejected the illegal move and asked for a new one. So, ironically, instead of saving time I ended up creating something that made me do exactly the opposite.

    Now who’s the idiot?

    marsilies on
  • fortyforty regular Registered User regular
    It's nice to read a Tale where the author isn't a Mary Sue for once. Good story.

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    No new comic Thursday, but a new tale
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/its-not-what-you-know
    It’s not what you know…
    10/30/2014 - Anonymous

    I graduated from a four year, well known college many years ago with a degree that could easily have put me into a coding position (not computer science however).

    The job I ended up taking was that of a tester because it’s the only offer I got. I did that for 5 years, all while studying and trying my best to move into development for the project I was working on.

    My co-workers knew I could code. The developers knew I could code. The managers… well, lets just say they have the impression that testers are testers and don’t know a damned thing about coding. It was never going to happen. Testing is a black hole. Once you’re in, your skills will not help you escape. I interviewed with companies that told me “Sorry, we can’t hire you as a developer because you’re a tester.” THAT was their reason.

    If you want to be a developer, don’t take a testing position and think it will be your way in.

    With that said. If you do become a tester because you have to, make sure you are nice to the developers. Make sure they know what your goal is. Make sure they like you. Because those connections will help you. I am currently a developer (and well paid for it). Those developer friends I made on my project eventually went to a new company, one of them as the lead and in charge of picking his team. He hired me on as a dev.

    Because this industry is not about WHAT you know… it’s about WHO you know.

  • vardisvardis regular Registered User regular
    The new tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/good-intentions
    Good Intentions.
    11/04/2014 - Anonymous
    As with a few other readers on here, I worked for a company whose name includes the letters “Gamestop.”

    I’ve always been taught, “Do right by the customer” to the best of my ability. If I can make a good sale and keep the customer coming back, go for it. After I had transferred to an newly opened store as a keyholder, I had a customer come in who wanted to buy a 3DSXL and a pre-owned game. A $250 transaction, but he was a couple dollars short. Being the nice guy that I try to be, I told him I’d use my power up card (paid for by me through the year) to cover the couple bucks he was short.. Didn’t even care about the points. I was a gamer helping a gamer.

    Being a new store, we had our Regional Loss Prevention Manager come in and review us all. I was pulled into the office and given a chance to confess my sins after a long winded speech about what’s considered stealing. I brought up that circumstance and one other getting a friend I was with off hours a $3 discount on a game. All in all less than $10 in difference. He brought out two other receipts which had $0 impact, made me write a personal confession (which was in my own words that he gave me). After discussion outside with the DM, they decided to suspend me while my case was reviewed, as the discounts were considered stealing from the store. The next day, after tracking down the DM via phone, I was informed (over the phone) that I was fired, two weeks before Christmas.

    I have nothing against the stores I worked at. They continue to be great places. I know I was technically in the wrong, but it saddens me when trying to help someone out can get you in the corporate hot seat.

    That... sounds like a pretty clear cut case of theft (albeit minor theft) to me. If you just want to help a gamer out, cover the amount he's short out of your own pocket.

    SecretagentmanmarsiliesCambiata
  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove regular Registered User regular
    vardis wrote: »

    That... sounds like a pretty clear cut case of theft (albeit minor theft) to me. If you just want to help a gamer out, cover the amount he's short out of your own pocket.

    While logistically true, having worked in retail it tends to not be that cut and dry.

    I've seen managers push for this kind of thing to make sure they get a sale. I've seen others knock down the price of products to cover service plans and the like just so they can show there was a sale.

    I'd imagine had he used that card on that sale to insure the sale of some accessories and a service plan on that 3DS, he might have gotten a pat on the shoulder for that.

    Of course, using it to get a deal for a friend in the other occasion was dumb unless it also had a similar benefit to the store. And the two other $0 instances I can't comment on because there were no details.

  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    The thing about store policies is that they can't really distinguish between "good intentions," if the same behavior could be readily abused. Also, the size of the violation may not matter from a policy level, especially since there's no way to tell if an employee isn't going to ramp up the abuse later.

    The one thing I would disagree with is possibly the outright firing, especially if it's a first offence. Some sort of warning and probationary period may have made sense, or banning him from using the power up card as punishment. Still, as it was a new store, they may have wanted to set an example and try and nip any potential abuse in the bud.

    forty
  • SecretagentmanSecretagentman regular Registered User regular
    While logistically true, having worked in retail it tends to not be that cut and dry.

    I've seen managers push for this kind of thing to make sure they get a sale. I've seen others knock down the price of products to cover service plans and the like just so they can show there was a sale.
    But it's a different situation if it comes down from management: if it's allowable/desirable by policy then the employee didn't do anything wrong (but could still have been fired: poo always flows downhill; never up). Doing this kind of thing without the manager's knowledge/approval is where the question of abuse seems to be.

    PSN: matter_ic
    Professional forum lurker
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/dont-ever-complain
    Don’t ever complain
    11/06/2014 - Anonymous

    You know what’s really the worst thing about working in QA? Even worse than the low wages, the glass ceilings, the monotonous work?

    It’s the constant, fundamental lack of respect that anyone outside the games industry - and many inside the games industry - has for your career.

    Can’t make a bachelor party because of crunch? “But you just work in video games. Can’t you just take the weekend off?” Have to go to bed early, so you need your roommates’ guests to quiet down? “But you get paid to play video games all day. You’re just going to sit here in the living room in your pajamas and play Xbox anyway.”

    Complain about your lack of career growth? “But you play video games all day. What do you expect?”

    Complain about your wages? “Person X has it worse than you, so what are you complaining about? You should be glad to have a job at all, much less this frivolous of one.”

    We all work in video games because we all have a deep, almost pathological desire to be fundamentally connected to a hobby that we obsess about. And for many of us, working in QA is a means to an end. We don’t have the worst job in the world, not by far. But let me tell you, to come so close to your dreams, to get IN the industry, to be finally in! But then to be constantly gated from where you actually truly want to go, be it Art, Design, or Production… it’s infuriating. To be constantly questioned in your career and life choices, everywhere you go. To be told again and again, “Stop being a baby, you have it so good!”

    And yet we keep slogging on. Keep hoping for that day that maybe something will fall through, or maybe with just another title under my belt I’ll have a good enough resume to apply somewhere better… we’re always chasing our true Dream. And for many of us, no matter how hard we try, no matter how long we work, we’re no closer than we were years ago.

    This person has horrible friends/roomates.

    Cambiata
  • Blackbird71Blackbird71 regular Registered User regular
    edited November 2014
    Don’t ever complain
    11/06/2014 - Anonymous

    ...
    We all work in video games because we all have a deep, almost pathological desire to be fundamentally connected to a hobby that we obsess about.
    ...

    Honestly, I don't think I could ever take a job involving a major hobby of mine, as I think it would make me grow to hate my hobby.

    From my point of view, if you really enjoy video games, the last thing you should do is take a job testing video games. You'll end up hating both your work and your play.

    Blackbird71 on
    fortyCambiataSorce
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New tale:

    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/game-translations
    Game Translations
    11/11/2014 - Anonymous

    I have worked in a publishing company based in Asia for about a year now. The company purchases games made in a particular foreign language, and we translate everything to English so it can be released in the US. We had almost no contact with the developers, and a minuscule amount of time to familiarize ourselves with the game beforehand.

    The overall process ran like this: the ops team gave us a huge list of raw terms (in one big excel document), we translate it, and it is sent to a branch in the US for proofreading before release. Sounds simple, right?

    Try to imagine an excel cell with a random gaming term, like “bag”, or “backpack”. Now all the excel sheets were labelled as “UI Text”, “Quests”, “Dialogue”, and so on, but that’s it. You have no idea where the word appears in the entire UI. You cannot imagine if it’s a tooltip or a name or a title or whatever. Simple terms were alright, but when it got to phrases such as “Click to close window”, which can appear anywhere in any form, you begin to find problems like titles being 3 paragraphs long and tooltips which were summarized into 3 words.

    The developers, it seemed, did not design the UI with English in mind. In the original, monosyllabic language, you can express a great deal with 5 characters. Any longer, and it would extend beyond the space designated. We had to find ways and means of expressing nearly every game function, currency, consumable resource, and so on, in words of 4 letters or less.

    After we got everything sorted out, it was sent to the proofreaders, who promptly undid everything up by insisting that Americans liked “Marie” more than “Mary’, and “Coupons” somehow sounded better than “Vouchers”. Basically, they used Thesaurus to change our work and passed it off as good editing. When we confronted the HQ with this problem, we were told to carry on with the translations, because “the players won’t give a damn”.

    This all meant wild inconsistencies with the entire translation. It’s still not sorted out till this day. Worst of all, because we took about 3 months to scrape out something barely suitable for release, the company decided the translation team is too slow, and outsourced the next few games.

  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/i-could-have-this-done-in-5-minutes
    “I could have this done in 5 minutes”
    11/13/2014 - Anonymous

    Not a tester but a writer of web software. Da Boss had a habit of telling us we were taking too long on something he could write in 5 minutes. Never mind that we were working on a project with poorly defined goals, no hard dates, no planning and two of the three people are either brand new or not trained in CS work.

    One day we are informed that in 10 days there will be a demo for the company that is contracting us for the work I’m doing. I take this to mean “Have something that kinda sorta works.” The boss takes this to mean “Have a beautiful website prepared with plenty of buttons for me to talk about.” None of this is communicated to my team.

    The weekend before the Monday Demo he decides the whole thing needs to be rebuilt from scratch. And so, he sits down himself to completely overhaul the interface, then sends a frantic email promising double pay to help him get it out the door. A number of the devs on other projects help out and we get it done. I pass out at 11:30 and the demo goes quite well.

    We never saw the double pay. It took me the next month to unwind and rewrite all of the code that was written in that time period.

    Later on a different aspect of our products, we were requested to create an update:
    - At 5 PM
    - On a Friday
    - With no testing
    - With the lead dev called in sick
    - Without any code review
    - Without any documentation internally or externally
    - Before half the development team leaves on a week-long business trip.

    I heard later in the week that this update was very rapidly followed by 3 more updates.

    I left that company with less than stellar memories and never looked back.

    Promising double pay and then never giving it is just wrong.

    Cambiata
  • vardisvardis regular Registered User regular
    After we got everything sorted out, it was sent to the proofreaders, who promptly undid everything up by insisting that Americans liked “Marie” more than “Mary’, and “Coupons” somehow sounded better than “Vouchers”. Basically, they used Thesaurus to change our work and passed it off as good editing. When we confronted the HQ with this problem, we were told to carry on with the translations, because “the players won’t give a damn”.

    That made me laugh a little, since I do like Marie more, and if the item was a discount off a product, I'd be confused by calling it a voucher instead of a coupon. The only time I hear the word "voucher" is in reference to something to do with schools.

    So if that's the sort of thing they were changing, it sounds like good editing to me. ;)

    fortyCambiata
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/5-too-easy
    5% Too Easy
    11/18/2014 - Anonymous

    I am an indie developer of mobile games with a couple of very obscure titles released.

    A year and a half ago I was working on my first game. Given my extremely limited resources, I had to resort to friends to do free Q&A for me. My first tester found the game was way too easy, so over the development of the project one of the largest priorities was to increase the difficulty of the game. I kept trying to make things harder on a nearly daily basis but I kept getting the same feedback: too easy.

    Eventually I got another friend on board to test. This second tester found the entire game was too hard, impossibly hard very often. Both testers were rather equally skilled so this didn’t compute. Can it be the first tester was just getting too good too fast? I proceeded to add some logging to the game that would email me reports on player failure rates and had them both test it all again.

    Again, the first tester insisted the game was too easy while the new tester said it was too hard. I looked at the report: both had about a 5% success rate on average across all tested levels and the first tester never managed to 3-star a single level. I came to conclude the first tester was simply refusing to acknowledge he sucked at a game, much less one programmed by a friend…

    I spent the next month attempting to reverse the difficulty slope, not an easy thing when you are a master at the system and every tester got used to the higher difficulty settings of the early beta. The point came I was forced to release with a still too difficult curve to an unaccepting casual market. Post launch updates to lower difficulty further were too late to help me.

    Lesson learned: Anecdotes are a horrible way to balance difficulty. Don’t trust expert gamers on that: just data mine their success rate and work from that data… hopefully the data mining process won’t have bugs, though…

  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New Tale
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/pizza-pizza.-pizza-pizza-pizza
    Pizza! Pizza. Pizza? Pizza?! Pizza!?!?!
    11/20/2014 - Anonymous

    I worked for about a year and a half as a tester for a major American game publisher. A particular project I worked on was a comic-book licensed action RPG for the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube generation of consoles.

    The project went into overtime around the second week and stayed there for two or three months, I can’t remember exactly.

    During long overtime projects, ordering dinner and often lunch for the team is a standard courtesy, and is also a time saver for management because getting food brought in makes confining the time spent away from desks working easier.

    The first night of overtime, around 6pm, we were told we we’re being served pizza. Hooray! Free pizza! Score! Nom nom nom nom nom…

    The second night of overtime, we were told we were being served pizza. Hmm, twice in a row? Oh well, I love pizza, and besides, who am I too complain? Nom nom nom…

    The third night of overtime, we were told we were being served pizza. Wait, they aren’t going to feed us pizza every night are they? I mean, we aren’t livestock, they can’t just fill a slop bucket with the same thing every day and expect us to be happy about it. Well hell, I only make 9.50 an hour, I can’t really turn down a free meal can I? Nom nom…

    The fourth night of overtime we were told we were being served pizza. Oh dear. Anyone know where he nearest grocery store is? That far huh? Do I have time to go to subway? Not really? Fuck. Nom…

    The fifth night of overtime, I came into work with terrible heartburn and a bad case of the runs. The entire work area for our team smelled like three-cheese-blend-and-pepperoni farts… And, we were told we were being served pizza.

    Restroom break boss? Nah… I’ll pass on the pizza tonight, thanks.

    The next week, the overtime got longer. And they started feeding us lunch as well as dinner.

    It was pizza.
    It's a sad state of affairs when someone wants a Subway sandwich over pizza.

  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    I believe this is the longest time between new comics, even guest comics. It's been the same guest comic for 42 days, beating out what I think is the previous record, Nick Trujillo's guest comic from last October, which ran for 21 days (10/29/13-11/19/13):
    http://trenchescomic.com/comic/post/guest-art-nick-trujillo

    Some other stats:

    Season 1 08/09/11 - 02/16/12
    Season 2 03/20/12 - 11/15/12
    Season 3 01/08/13 - 09/05/13
    Season 4 11/19/13 - 09/16/14

    Break between Season 1 & 2: 33 days
    Break between Season 2 & 3: 54 days
    Break between Season 3 & 4: 75 days
    Break between Season 4 & 5: 70 days (so far)

    Note that I'm not counting guest comics, concept art, or sketches as part of the seasons.

    forty
  • fortyforty regular Registered User regular
    I was going to say this felt like the longest update hiatus the site has had.

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/fudgin-football
    Fudgin’ Football
    11/25/2014 - Anonymous

    Once, many years ago, I was a game tester for this small company in Ukraine that was working on a football game. An American football game, so I have no idea how it works. We were paid shit, but we could live with about $12K a year. As part of the training, they made us kick a real ball several times.

    We had to kick it, like 8 times. It was awful.

    Testing the game was okay, though.
    I'm trying to figure out why they had them kick an American Football, when that's only like 3% of the game; the vast majority of the time the ball is either tossed or held.

  • Blackbird71Blackbird71 regular Registered User regular
    marsilies wrote: »
    New Tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/fudgin-football
    Fudgin’ Football
    11/25/2014 - Anonymous

    Once, many years ago, I was a game tester for this small company in Ukraine that was working on a football game. An American football game, so I have no idea how it works. We were paid shit, but we could live with about $12K a year. As part of the training, they made us kick a real ball several times.

    We had to kick it, like 8 times. It was awful.

    Testing the game was okay, though.
    I'm trying to figure out why they had them kick an American Football, when that's only like 3% of the game; the vast majority of the time the ball is either tossed or held.

    I was wondering that myself. Was this some misunderstanding of how the game is played on the part of those requiring the training?

    Also, what could possibly be so "awful" about having to kick a ball "like 8 times"? If they were made to play regularly for hours at a time, I could understand that. But kicking a ball eight times? That's a mild annoyance at best.

    forty
  • fortyforty regular Registered User regular
    Did they kick it inside the office or did they go outside for that?

    The best card in Hearthstone is your credit card.
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    Also, what could possibly be so "awful" about having to kick a ball "like 8 times"? If they were made to play regularly for hours at a time, I could understand that. But kicking a ball eight times? That's a mild annoyance at best.
    I figured the "it was awful" was ironic hyperbole. An overreaction to something the author found pointless, dumb, and boring, and possibly a comment on how video game players/testers are stereotyped as not enjoying physical activity.



    New Tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/the-committee
    The Committee
    12/02/2014 - Anonymous

    My horror tale comes from an overall positive experience. I was hired into a big-name company with a huge batch of testers. The QA department would fluctuate from 100 to 500 of us at a time depending on how busy the launch schedule was, so they were known for having a pretty high turnover rate as people left for more stable jobs.

    However, they seemed to like me well enough, keeping me for the entirety of the time that they could. Along with a number of other regulars, I was noted for my interest in baking, and asked to join a group that would cook for the entire department on special occasions and organize baking events.

    We were all informed that the company would be able to scrounge up enough money to partially refund us for some of our baking expenses—after all, we would be cooking for a few hundred hungry testers and leads. That was all well and good. It was when we started talking about competitions that things turned sour. We got to talking about prizes, and that was when the department manager explained to us that the company could not give any prizes or recognition to testers.

    We were just contractors, so if word got out to folks who REALLY worked for the company that we were getting any cool swag, they might get jealous.

    We could eat at the company cafe, get discounts at the company store, devote our personal time to making awesome food to share with our fellow testers and company higher-ups, but a pat on the back and a T-shirt would ruffle too many feathers.

    Now I work for a tiny local game company. An appreciative customer sent us a box of homemade cheddar biscuits for Christmas. The whole team got to eat them. Even me, the tester.

    I'm wondering more about the "partially refund us for some of our baking expenses" bit. If this was a group that was solely baking stuff for work-related events, I'd want all my baking expense paid. After all, the company is still benefiting from the free labor, since I'm assuming the baking was done at home after hours.

    fortyCambiataCommander Zoom
  • marsiliesmarsilies regular Registered User regular
    New Tale:
    http://trenchescomic.com/tales/post/im-team-rocket
    I’m Team Rocket
    12/04/2014 - Anonymous

    I work at a games retailer. Sure I’ve got some horror stories involving demanding managers, annoying children and irate customers (there was a lady who told me that “This would never happen in the horsing business” whatever that means) but this story is about the perks.

    I get to talk about video games all day, and I get a small percentage off my games, but the best part… I steal Pokémon.

    Whenever a new Pokémon cartridge comes in as a trade, I’ll start it up and take a look at what monsters were left behind. Some legendaries on one cart, some of the rarer ones on another. Sometimes I even get event Pokes.

    I’ve completed the dex entirely by taking Pokémon from traded games.

    It’s a pretty good gig.
    This only works because Nintendo kept with cartridges on their handhelds. Otherwise, the saved games would be on some memory card, and the traded-in game discs would basically be like new.

  • MarcinMNMarcinMN regular Registered User regular
    So, is Trenches done at this point? It's been quite a long time since we've had a real comic. Just curious if I missed the memo.... ;)

    fortyCommander Zoom
  • IncindiumIncindium regular Registered User regular
    The I'm Team Rocket title and story is hilarious.

    steam_sig.png
    Nintendo ID: Incindium
    Hex TCG: Incindium
    PSN: IncindiumX
  • ShowsniShowsni regular Registered User regular
    The Pokémon left behind on a secondhand cartridge really tell a story. I bought a copy of Yellow secondhand, back in the day. The player had saved the game partway through the Victory Road checks. He had something like 6 or 7 badges. All his Pokémon were pretty much level 5-10 trash, as though he'd caught them and then never levelled them up - except the leader of his party, a single level 69 Raticate. Clearly he'd caught this Rattata on the first route, then soloed the game with it. Levelling it to the exclusion of all else. Until he hit a brick wall, where he just couldn't beat one of the gym leaders (Sabrina? Gionanni?) with a single Raticate, and had travelled to Victory Road to see the place he could never enter, before giving up forever and trading the game in.

    I traded all his Pokémon over to my copy of Pokémon Stadium before restarting the game, so now they sit there in my Stadium Box, unused, a reminder of a failed Pokémon Trainer...

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