House of QA

 

1: Hello who are you and what are you known for?

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Hey All, I am Jonathan Pasamonte and i’m [sic] a Sr.QA Lead Tester / QA Manager (In my circle of developer friends I tend to do all the 

 

Game Designs for Game Jams we participate in)

2: How did you get your break into games?

I first got my break into the game industry with Atari Inc. back in 2003, I was hired on as an Entry QA Tester you can also run a google search on my Mobygames to see some titles I am credited for, though it doesn’t list all of them. 1200px-Atari_Official_2012_Logo.svg.png

When I joined the company around that time, they were publishing titles for various developer studios such as Epic Games, Shiny Entertainment, Chris Sawyer Productions, to name a few.

When it came to hear about the opportunity, it appeared networking with game industry members was pretty huge in finding my way in. By making friends with people who already work in the industry, this helps you keep a pulse on the roles that are open at any given time. I found out about Atari hiring QA testers while working as a Gamestop associate through one of the regular customers who became a friend. I am totally grateful to the guy for helping me accomplish my goal of breaking into the game industry. Let me just say the entry level landscape for QA is starting to shift though, and there appears to be less of a reliance for in house manual testing compared to the earlier 2000 time period of testing. 

3: What advice would you give as a mentor to anyone either entering the industry as a QA Tester. What qualities do great QA Testers have?

This is a two part question so let me start with the first part.

Firstly, and this is going to sound a bit cynical, but I personally believe its an important piece of info rarely shared outside of the industry. My advice is to maintain a good reputation within the game industry if you intend to last in it. As massive as the game industry is, it’s actually a tight knit community and what I mean in that everyone is connected to everyone through someone, cause we are all there because we love games. So, if you were a toxic person within the company, you will find yourself truly having a hard time getting future jobs at other companies. For example sake, lets say you left the company as a super toxic person, and the new company you applied for has someone who worked with you in the past, or one of the people within the company you applied has a connection with someone who used to work with you. They will most likely bring up their negative experiences you left with them and in turn this will severely impact your future within the industry.

pexels-photo-110739.jpgAlso part of the first answer if I were to mentor someone, I push the individual to understand the importance of researching bugs thoroughly, the sooner the issues are entered into the database the sooner they could be graded and assigned out or fixed by developers. That’s great and all, but thorough research you can give them more accurate reproduction. Especially high level priority issues like blockers that impede on the product. I would also so say please don’t ignore smaller issues, I know this is quite common among testing, but sometimes smaller issues are ignored due to the effort required to write them up in some cases, but a bug is a bug and developers should know about them.

The second part, is and this is my opinion.

– Stamina (QA tends to be long hours, lots of overtime)

– Attention to Detail (I know its a given, but a solid QA person just spots all the issues that impair quality on various perspectives including a *User Perspective* on top of the typical functional tests, stress tests and so on.)

– Excellent Reporting (I used to teach my new hires and interns, a good bug report is a lot like Google Maps, if the directions to reproduction are well documented, the developer can reach that issue, If)

I believe everything else is nice to haves for example:

– Communication skill to me is borderline core essential (On a leadership level this is core, but I’ve seen some of the industries best testers rarely communicate with others ironically.)

– Experience with Hardware (This can be taught fairly quickly)

– Gaming Skills (This can’t be taught but its a nice to have when it comes to playthroughs [sic] and level progression testing)

4: Is there any current or past game that you would have loved to have been involved with? How would you have changed them if you could?

I mean this as no disrespect to the developers of Dawn of War III, I would have asked them to explain why it was attempted to build this game with E-sports in mind. In my opinion, it totally rubbed the loyal Warhammer 40k fans in the wrong way, who were an important part of their customer base. It’s understood the reasoning behind why they 

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wanted to break into E-sports, its an emerging industry everyone is building product around, but if its going to be a competitive RTS in the E-sports realm it needed to be presented entirely different from the ground up and marketed entirely different. It may as well have not been a Warhammer 40k game. *Note to Devs: I love the heck out of Relic and their work, please don’t be mad at me, I bought the collectors edition of DOW3 for a reason <3*

I would have been involved with Dragon Force for the Sega Saturn, I just loved this conquest style strategy RPG. I would make it load faster, better visuals, and create expansions or sequels around it potentially change the kingdom locations to be a bit more randomly generated. Also, if possible get them to release Dragon force 2 to the US market.

5: Apart from the team you’re working with now, which team or team members were most memorable to work within the past?

 

Hmm its tough to say, I have memories I will carry with me from my various experiences in the game industry and it’s teams I found myself in and people for a lifetime. Good and bad, they all left an impression on me to become who I am today career wise and the thing most attractive about the game industry, is that these people within the industry end up becoming long time friends and continue to be super amazing to you well beyond outside the company. Shout outs to the Sunnyvale Atari Alumni, the San Jose Namco Networks (Now Namco Bandai) Allumni, TinyCo, The Playforge and TinyCo peeps!

6: Can you explain in more detail to someone looking to become a QA – What does an average day look like?

 

For example sake, an entry level guy can expect something like this or similar:

– Sync with the team lead / manager for work load distribution or information on QA matters

– Go over the test plans or design documents that may accompany the workload

– Checkout the devices / hardware needed to run the tests

– Report all issues they find into the tracking app

– Run a full play through
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There will definitely be differences depending on what sort of test environment you land in, but with QA one of the things media fails to ever portray, is that QA isn’t just sitting around all day playing video games like in the movie Grandmas Boy. It’s quite repetitive, you would be working on some projects over and over for months, in some cases years and are still expected to pay close attention to its various details. That’s when the stamina and passion come into play. 

7: What are your thoughts on project funding? Is crowd sourced funding viable and what makes or breaks an attempt to go that route for funding?

I believe when it comes to funding a project, it could go any direction. Some people or teams bootstrap it themselves or take investment from financially well off friends and family, some go through a publisher and some have had success using crowdfunding goals. I believe all options are viable routes, but to me whats important is having a viable product that people believe in and trust to invest in getting completed. If anyone invests in your project, you need to have the means to see it through, you can at least validate to those who have invested that you went 100% through in your execution. More times than I could count, I have seen many people underestimate their projects financial logistics and resources needed to finish the project (Myself included with my indie development attempt). 
8: Big picture question: Can you share your thoughts about your 10 year outlook for games….
Ok, not saying I am some sort of prophetic Technomancer, but I would consider myself a decently researched futurist to have some ideas. Here is what I believe is going to happen, there is going to be a surge in AR / VR markets when they solve the issue of a decently affordable piece of hardware the market could walk into and buy at Walmart, right now its not at that point but that is the goal to getting VR/AR to the mainstream. At some point VR and AR will converge to become a single unit, because this hardware must at some point be able to do both on the fly, people don’t necessarily want to buy 2 pieces of hardware that do digital media differently they want at least a unified one. 
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What this means, is the big tech titans have to become involved in continued development of these hardware’s and right now that seems to be the direction of the VR and AR hardware, with support the from tech titans like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, HTC, Apple and Samsung we will eventually see a solution that becomes the standard. These companies are investing in VR and AR so it wouldn’t surprise me if in about 5 years we begin to see a big leap in software developers jumping in on it, that includes a massive amount of video games finding themselves in this space. 
What this also means to me, is that home consoles such as Xbox, Nintendo and Sony need to start to think about supporting VR and AR out of box. If they don’t eventually get involved they may get complete overtaken but other gaming platforms that do support these technologies. Sony is the only company that has currently taken a stab out of VR and it seems to be a good first attempt, they need to continue to invest in it and I would say it needs to just be packaged with the consoles in the future. 

There also will be a larger E-sports scene in another 5 years, ESPN for example understands the youth growing up today and in the future can become avid E-sports enthusiasts from so much exposure to these types of games, and has started to follow statistics and events surrounding E-sports now. You may even see a televised station dedicated to displaying nothing but E-sports but who knows when that will occur if not in 10 years then maybe never. 

9: VR hardware and gaming, a fad or here to stay?

If you asked me this 5 years ago, I would have said a fad. But, everything I know now about VR/AR. It appears to be here to stay. The beauty of VR/AR is that its not exclusive to video gaming at all. It’s expanded to Medical, Industrial, Multimedia, Development, Art and Marketing industries with many more I have yet to mention. and more investing in the technology in its own capacity. Video games in VR are fantastic and the social implementation of it has yet to be fully realizes. There are some really good in game usages of it now, but the market hasn’t gotten that mainstream enough to fully support massive gaming within. 

10:  Finally……Any advice for your last boss?

This isn’t addressing any sort of previous boss as I have actually felt they all have done a great job in leading, but I personally don’t feel “bosses” are very good at managing and more often than not drive off talent and kill morale. I work harder for excellent leaders, folks who focus on solving problems not pointing fingers. As someone who has managed people and lead many teams, there is a level of integrity and investing my own sweat into the efforts my teams place in getting a project done, so it creates a better understanding that you as a leader are there to support, not just delegate and receive the credit for everyone on the teams efforts. So be a leader, not a boss, inspire try not to fire right away. Trust your team to execute as much as they trust you to lead them to success. 

 

 

 

Thanks Jonathan, for a great insight to being a QA manager!

If you would like to know more or to connect with Jona, check his profile out on Gamesmith.com.

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