Exclusive WAR Launch Blog with Justin Webb - The CE Launch

By Justin Webb, Senior Designer for WAR

Justin Webb, Senior Designer for WAR

It’s Saturday. We start letting CE players in tomorrow.
It’s simultaneously very nerve-wracking and exciting. With
the game essentially launching tomorrow, loads of people are here today
making sure that everything goes smoothly.

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Justin Webb,
WAR Blogger on the Prowl

Mostly, today is the time for the server engineers to shine
(we’ll check in with them in a bit). But everyone in the
building is piling onto beta and just playing, double-checking that
everything is working and that all the bugs we’ve been
working on have been squished.

I was able to find some time to talk to Jason Abbott [Lead Server
Engineer] and Colin Shannon [Technical Director] about their
experiences during this week, and they were gracious (foolish) enough
to let me film them.

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This is
Shannon's current threat level.

It’s time to check in with QA again and see how they are
holding up. Today, I talked to Crystal Ferguson: QA Analyst.

JW: I know
that QA is split up into a certain number of teams. What’s
your current role as a QA analyst?

I’m kind of the QA advocate for players, reading all their
feedback on the boards  and presenting it to teams, or to
other QA departments. Its lots of  “this is what
players want to see. This is what they don’t.” And,
as a result, a lot of changes are made sometimes.

JW: Is that
a position you can come into straight away, or do analysts normally
come up through the ranks?

CF: I came
up through QA first. The thing about the analyst team is it’s
not common in most game companies. It was something that we devised
over time in QA. And the position just kind of came up and went from

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illustrious board of quotes.

JW: What
would you say the focus of your analysis reports were, say, two months
ago, compared to what they are this week?

CF: Two
months ago we were focusing more on the features that people wanted to
see implemented in the game that weren’t in yet. And also,
doing things like going through and getting a feel for what people
liked in a particular chapter. Now it’s a lot more really big
game-design issues that people are concerned about, whether its
endgame, or progress or leveling, or things like that, because we are
so close to launch that these are the big things that stick out to
people. That’s the biggest difference.

JW: Two
months ago, how many hours a week do you think you were working?

CF: Normal
days, so 8 or 9 hours.

JW: This

CF: This
week, err, this last week has probably been an average of 12 to 14
hours a day.

JW: What
time were you here til last night?

CF: Last
night I actually got to leave early [beams].

What’s the vibe like in QA this week?

CF: Kind of
a lot of just making sure that the servers are OK, and just really
“Oh my Gosh! What’s about to explode right now?
What’s going on? What are players reporting? Oh we need to
get this bugged up as soon as possible! Someone needs to figure out how
to do this!”

JW: Do you
think the launch process has galvanized QA into a big gang/team?

CF: We were
always kinda that way. We really work well together. So I do think that
now we’re all really trying to just band together and do what
we can to make sure that things are found and that things are bugged
up. We’ve been trying to do things as a team. We’ve
been going to Karaoke on Tuesday nights. We’ve been trying to
get out and have fun together.

What’s your fight song?

CF: Oh my
gosh! Wow! Oh yeah, I’d have to say a little bit of House of
Pain, yeah.

JW: Why that
song? Is it because it IS a “House of Pain”, or
because it’s a really upbeat song?

actually think it started because somebody made a comment about not
liking that song, and then it was broadcasted across the floor to
irritate her, and then it become our little motto and every now and
again we’ll start playing it and everyone will go

JW: So what
is the preferred caffeine-delivery system? I’ve seen Finnigan
is loaded up on Red Bull.

There’s quite a few of them in QA who like the Red Bull. And
they’ll frequently have to run out on their lunch hour just
to get more, and keep cases of it under their desks.

JW: Has
anybody brought any coffee machines in this week?

CF: Yes, I
actually have one at my cube now.

JW: So,

CF: We have
a lot in QA. The longer you are in QA, whether its your first day or
been here for as long as I have, you eventually develop a nickname at
some point, normally due to something you’ve said or done or
types in on our chat channel.

What’s your nickname then?

CF: My
nickname is “not Charlie” or
“Charlie” … as they like to call me.

JW: So why
Charlie, because obviously that’s not your name?

CF: That one
actually started because I moderate a lot of our bug forums, so I post
there frequently, and on the boards I’m CFerguson. And
someone sent me a private message asking if I was someone
called Charlie Ferguson because they used to know one. And I told them
No. But apparently he must have referenced me as Charlie on the boards
because then I started getting little references in feedback like
“Hey Charlie, I just wanna say that I like this”
and everything, and now I’m thinking “they really
think my name is Charlie”.

JW: So Right
now you have an opportunity to set the record straight.

CF: I am NOT

JW: Any
final comments?

CF: We work
an unbelievable amount. We’re all really hard workers, just
like everyone in the company, but we do our best to make sure that
we’re not making players angry. Keeping them as happy as
possible is really that side of our job that is outside the realm of
just putting in bugs. And that’s a big thing for us, being
that advocate for players.


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A shot of
Crystal Ferguson.

As launch approaches, tempers begin to fray. As a social experiment, I
want to see whether small insignificant requests can push someone who
is stressed over the edge. This small regular column is something I
like to call “Can I borrow a dollar please”. Today,
I try to” borrow a dollar please” from Jon
Farinelli [Insider Note: Jon is a really important QA guy. You should
note that his nickname is “grumpy”]. It’s
Saturday at about 2PM and Jon is up on the eighth floor looking for
some coders to chastise. Let’s see what happens:

JW: Hello Jon

JF: What?

JW: Could I
borrow a dollar please?


JW: Please?

JF: No, get
the …. I don’t even ******* know you! Ask your
******* wife.

It’s for the soda machine. ‘Be your best friend?

JF: [Glares]
… It’s not my job to be your friend!
It’s my job to tell you your ****’s broken. So fix

JW: Or do
you have change for a 10?

No, I
don’t have change for a ****** ten! I got quarters.
That’s it! Soda machines TAKE quarters! So I bring quarters.
I come prepared.

JW: Um
… Can I borrow a quarter then please?

JF: No!
****! MY office is on the SECOND floor. This is the EIGHTH
floor!  Ask someone who has an office on 8! [Stomps off]

He was testy wasn’t he? I actually felt a bit scared then.
Join me later when I try to borrow a dollar off href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=34756"
target="_blank">[checks the poll]
… well, let’s see.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/war/launch" target="_blank">(Editor's
Note: If you'd like to read all of
Justin's exclusive WAR launch blogs, simply click here!)

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