Anthony L. Sommers, Quality Assurance Project Leader
Q: What does the Quality Assurance team do?
AS: The QA team is primarily responsible for insuring that the game is up to ORIGIN standards. We're responsible for finding all the problems with the game and reporting those problems to Development so that they can be fixed.
Q: How long does QA work on a project?
AS: That all depends on the position. The Project Leader is normally involved with the project from conception to close. The Assistant Project Leader and the testers don't primarily come into the project until maybe three or four months before it's ready to go out the door. I attend design meetings from the beginning. I guess I'm there to represent the customer. I keep what the customer wants and expects from being overlooked. ORIGIN games should be fun, intuitive and should run well on their machine. Customers should get something that they are basically happy to pay for. That's what I want whenever I buy a game.
Q: What's the most fun part about working on games like that?
AS: Well, since I have no life, basically I just spend all my time here at ORIGIN. The most fun part about it? I like managing a team. I don't play the game as much as some of my testers do. But I am involved in pretty much anything that has to do with testing the project.
It's a lot of work. Some people are cut out for it, and some aren't. But as far as I can see I wouldn't mind doing this again.
Q: What's it like to work on a big game like Wing IV?
AS: It's not easy. One, I have to manage a lot of testers. Right now we have 16 people, excluding myself. Two, I have a lot of demands from Marketing, Creative Services, Product Development, my managers, and the test team itself. Being in QA, I'm responsible for a lot of the end result. There is a lot of documentation I have to review. There is a lot of input I need to provide as far as design of the game goes, missions, etc. And then there is the actual physical testing and maintaining of the bug data base. And with a project of this size — six CD's — there are a lot of bugs.
Q: How does working on a big game like Wing IV differ from working on a smaller game, like a 3DO game?
AS: Well, with Wing III 3DO, most of the design issues had already been laid out, because the PC version had already been completed. Comparing it with something like CyberMage or even Crusader — having a smaller test team means you have more communication with the testers, there's more communication with the project leader and his team. With a large team I find that I don't have enough time to devote with each individual tester. And that's one of the drawbacks.
Q: Do you find that people from QA go on to join the product development side of things?
AS: The two are very different. In my opinion I think coming from QA is good because you get an understanding from talking on the phone with a customer; you know what they want. By testing games, you know what to look for in designing one. Also, having QA's strong software and hardware background — DOS, hardware, sound cards, CD-ROM drives — you pretty much know what's going on.
Originally published in Origin's Official Guide to Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, 221-222.