March 26, 2007

Dave Perry Felt Some Heat

Well, if you go to Dave Perry's website, you'll notice that his "Dark Future for Game Testers" post isn't in the index anymore.

If you follow the link above, you'll also notice that he updated the post.

We noticed your "cover-your-ass" comment, Dave. We're just trying to show you that your numbers game is a shell game in disguise.

You tried to keep everyone focused on the "numbers," shuffling your hands around showing a poorly run test department as an example (only testing at the end is idiotic), thousands of volunteers to "test" (i.e. play) your latest and greatest, a mirage in the form of a testing holy grail (full automation testing), and pointing to QA as a massive expense on your bottom line (QA usually amounts to 10% of the budget at most on a project), while the real meat of what you were proposing (when these multitudes would join in, what the expenses of managing this mob would be [higher than you expect, given experience with external betas], etc.) fell under the table.

So here are some numbers for you from real life.

For an external beta, it generally takes three people per 250-300 testers to handle the beta. Two are communications guys. They actually communicate with the beta testers, collect the bug reports, attempt to filter duplicates, etc. The third is a tester who reproduces the bug, works closer with beta testers who actually report bugs to solidify repro steps, and then works with the development team to ensure that the bug is actually fixed. If you have more than 300 testers per trio of support staff, the feedback overwhelms the team and the model starts to fall apart. In other words, your mythical 3,000 testers are still going to require a support staff of 30 on your end just to keep up.

Now, your company is going to be working on multiple MMO's simultaneously, so it might be possible for you to prorate the cost of those people across projects, but it's still an additional expense, and as you said, it doesn't replace the need for actual testers.

Regardless, the "meat" is that your proposal doesn't save money at all, and it has done more to damage the image of quality assurance than any recently-rushed-to-market title could have.

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