pátek 31. srpna 2012

Ubisoft - living like a tester 4

Assassin's Creed 3 - Overtime shift

It's quite some time since you read something about how it is to work as a tester in Ubisoft. So let me remedy this inattention and give you some tasty crumbs from the latest game that will come out this Christmas. You probably know that the GAME I am talking about is Assassin's Creed 3, right? Omitting the fact it is in title of this post, you could read in one of my previous posts.

I wont lie to you, the game is AWESOME - have played it through twice. Really quickly though - my gamers soul is not fully satisfied yet :-) and now I am in the middle of a Multiplayer localization pass. But what this post is going to be about the 46 hours last week we spent on Singleplayer walkthrough of Assassin's Creed 3.

5:15 - Miau, Wake Up, I am hungry and you are sleeping almost 6 hours now. Give me food and make me happy. Geralt knows how to attract attention and lately he also discovered how to open the door to my room and roam around the whole apartment....but thats another story.

6:15 - Well known melody is waking me up. I seriously need to change that thing:-)

6:24 - Bob Sinclair, you SOB I will change you the next time...

6:43 - Finally checking my mail. Yesterday we had to stay late at work and since the taxi driver picked us up with 30 minutes delay I was back home no earlier than 11 pm. Was hoping to check the mails at least, but while the computer was starting I sat on the bed, changed into the nightgown and...the story of  sweet dreams began.

7:28 - Tram number 1 Titan-Basarab is picking me up at Calea Vitan station and taking me those looooong 600m to the nearest metro station. Thinking about the stuf  I should do in the morning: feed the cat-checked, have a breakfast - unchecked, have a shower - checked,...

7:39 - Dristor doi station. If I am going to be lucky I will make it to Basarab in less than 30 minutes and transfer to green line so I might not even be that late for today. Getting into the metro on the first station have some advantages. You always get a seat. I picked my sleeping seat and plunged into a half dreaming state for next 30 minutes. What I really miss here is a book I could read during that time. Already chewed all I had with me and reading the .pdfs is not as pleasurable as having paper pages between my fingertips.

8:10 - 1 Mai station. On the stairs someone is knocking on my shoulder "Good that I am not the only one who is going to be really late"...Alejandro is accompanying me on the way up the stairs.  We are lucky, 105 bus is just passing by. That one is worth to take only if it is passing by while you are near the station, otherwise a little jogging to Ubisoft building is faster.

8:20 - Greeting girls carrying supplies from MEGA IMAGE right across the street from Ubi. Those will be necessary. Today we will spend here another 14 hours. First cup of coke is on its way...

8:50 - The newest build of currently tested game is installed already. Still my tummy is longing for some treatment and I have to leave for MEGA too. On the way there we meet 258 people going to work or already having the same idea as me. So instead of doing business in overcrowded branch of Delvita I am deciding to go next door for sandwich. 4,5 Lei - the old lady subdued to the inflation as any other shopkeeper. Still the sandwich is good for that price.

10:15 - After walking through several side quests My brain is feedbacking me this game sucks ass and I should be doing something else. So I went back here write some senseless quotes. Waiting for the day time to pass. The workers in my homestead will deliver their goods in the morning anyway and the current executable we are running will not allow me to alter the pace of time in game.

11:05 - prolonged break - I like the toilets they have in here - clean and comfy. I am not a person to sit on toilet and reed, but I admit I could do it in here. Only place you have a piece of peace.

11:35 - Long testing and lack of sleep is taking its toll. I don't have power even to hold gamepad in my hands. I am seriously considering going to the relaxation area to sleep for some time. My energy level is reaching the bottom.

12:14 - Another break I went without noticing. Created a bug in which English text is appearing. In this state of testing it means someone/something went really wrong. Funny thing is that in translated text it is present, which means some re-coding needs to be done. Made a video and described that one thoroughly.
 Crush On Hardcore TATWCV_cover
12:18 - Time for some music - Crush On Hardcore TATWCV - CD3

12:59 - Lunch time. Since the sandwich was great I decided to go a little later to the Lunch. Vlad and Fox from functionality test department joined me and we spent lovely 40 minutes in discussion about gaming industry fall down and the new course of testing games on-line.

13:40 - my belly is full, but every time after lunch i desire something more. It might be sweet, it might be salty but something for a dessert is a must. Heading for the nearest MEGA IMAGE right across the strees. Should I be lucky, no car will honk at me and my legs will stay attached to my body. There is no pedestrian crossing on Ubi segment of Expozitiei boulevard. There was one in spring not far, but as they upgraded the blacktop they did not bother with updating the pedestrian crossing pattern anymore. Did I mention the street is more than 3km long and absolutely straight? Well you can imagine how FAST the cars are driving on it.

13:50 - Twix and Milk shake won the race for dessert satisfying my whims today. As I was leaving the shop and crossing the deadly street again, French guys from MANA team were leaving our Ubi building and heading for the Otopeni Airport. For past one week they were giving lectures and presentations about our internal Social Network. It was launched last year and since then not much people were joining. Even though the MANA champions are doing heroic job to attract other employees, still there is something missing.
We spent a lovely Monday morning with the whole team answering their questions and giving them hints how to spread MANA all over Ubi more effectively. Overall I have to say they did a good job in here. Well... at least they visited Bucharest and traveled a little around Romania:-)

14:00 - Siting behind my machine again. Wondering where I left Connor and whether is worth to continue this part of the story or simply skip it by using debug menu. Hmmm beloved debug menu. What would a tester do without such a cheating feature. Not only you have the opportunity to skip and load any mission from selected point but you have so many possibilities you can get lost in it. Seriously, just to reach our Localization segment in this super-structured debug menu means going in to the fourth level. We can switch the subtitles, change the language of subtitles or audio, display messages Line IDs and many more. Considering we are just a small part of the whole testing process the possibilities have to be in matter of thousands.

14:30 - 15:50 - Immersed in the game. Although I am already sick of all the loading I consider this version of game somehow stable and reliable since functionality and developers were sitting over it manymanymany hours past 2 weeks. From overall count of the bugs they were able to subtract more than 1/3 and...smoke pause is calling.

16:10 - Our smoke chat was a little longer than it should be. We don't care much, since we are overworked and its getting on our nerves already. We simply do not give a FLOWER.

18:40 - Time for my beloved pizza. When overtime, Ubisoft is giving us free food. We can choose between 3 types of menus - desert, soup and simple or to grab one ordinary pizza(Capriciosa, Hawai, quatro stagione,...). All absolutely for free and with delivery and service. My usual choice - Hawai. I think I might gain weight for those overtime weeks, but am too afraid to step on the scale.

19:30 - Lovely chat over the delicious meal is over and we have to head back in front of your machines. But not without a cigarette.
19:40 - Naval missions are awaiting. Since yesterday I roamed through almost all the side missions - god bless the debug menu. And now its tome for a little bit of unusual adventure. Naval missions were already introduced on E3 and other fares. Have not been there, don't know what the marketing heads were bragging about, but what I know is that this part of Assassin's creed 3 makes me feel really free and I can almost smell the salty breeze blowing.

21:00 - BREAAAAAK. With guys for external testing we go out to enjoy the evening cold fresh air and one of the nicotine shots. They arrived from a censored country and with their Sirs and Madams imprinted new and fresh style to our testing routine. Adam, Kristine, Stephanie, Muse, Casper, Timo, Liliana, Marlon, Bruno or Alexandru, all of them were significant. I can say that game testing environment is attracting all sorts of very sophisticated, clever and thorough people...usually inclining to travel and discover. All of them have background stories that would cover many pages and are not as young as you would expect. Sharing many hours with them on the site and also in pubs and clubs made me wonder about this specific and definitely extraordinary occupation. On the one hand you have here freedom, fun and prolonged youth on the other you have to pay attention to detail, be prepared to work really hard and have responsibility for your segment. Assuming all people are gamers in certain parts of their lives and also the well known Shakespeare's quote I wonder, why some are reluctant to admit that all you do, all you live, everything you experience is part of a one big game called life.

"I met a lot of beautiful people during these Assassin's Creed 3 testing rounds and am glad that even for just a limited amount of time, they were part of my life. Farewell and remember. "

22:50 - All 14 missions are proofed. Well not all of them, since some are unable to load, but at least the majority. Hope you will also enjoy playing those naval missions as much as I enjoyed their testing. Andrei is already distributing taxi vouchers and we are finally ordered to leave our machines be.

23:00 - In front of Ubisoft Bucharest solitary groups of testers are waiting for their ride home. Its hot and and smell of dogs is in the air. Tripod guards his territory and enjoys attention of tired employees.
Ubisoft is providing ride home - taxi vouchers to all employees staying over 21:00 for overtime. Its pretty convenient and always useful. Though sometimes the taxi driver forgets to drop by and had to be reminded through their call center - Meridian taxi. Today we are waiting more than 20 minutes.

23:20 - As I was saved from being run over by tram, I realized the fatigue is extreme. Yawning every 30 seconds. Not even smoke can help me to overcome this state of body and mind. Interconnected, they DEMAND to rest.

23:22 - Finally our taxi is here. My stoip is last. I can sink in to the state of unconsciousness.

00:10 - The ride is over. Lukasz is waking me up to take care of the voucher. Nodding. Falling asleep again.

00:13 - The driver fills in the voucher for me. Wishing me sanetate and o sera buna we are parting. 4 more stories in to my apartment and few more steps in to the bed.


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