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THE LAYPERSON’S GUIDE TO QUALITY ASSURANCE [Author: Lietgardis]

I have no idea what I’m talking about, though. I don’t know how quality assurance works. I never get into betas, I try not to ask friendly game industry workers too many questions about their jobs so they don’t think I’m using them or anything, and the last House of Game Development whose lobby I visited is rumored to have no in-house quality assurance department at all, so I didn’t get to learn about it there either. But you know, there are some things that are just obvious.

1. Review patch notes before posting them to your website. Even if you’re hard at work moving your office, ask a happy slave labor intern to verify that all things were actually included in the patch downloaded to users’ clients. IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH.

Exhibit A: “The Thaumaturgic and Exarch Plate Coats have been extended to cover the hands” (Zone, marchbuild.asp).

Exhibit B: “Mage armour [sic] does not cover hands” (Namu, CoD post).

2. Don’t tease the more technologically sophisticated of said users with content pulled at the last minute. They use third-party programs, they “hack,” and they know when you do it. If Santa were as omniscient as 1940s pop singers would have you believe, like those people, it would earn you a spot on the “naughty” list.

Exhibit C: New portal.dat icons, complete with new arrowhead types and a really old joke.

Exhibit D: Educated guesses about new arrowhead types by savvy observers.

Exhibit E: Better-educated apologies about new arrowhead types.

Exhibit F: Cheaters blow the surprise anyway.*

3. Put some effort into fixing old bugs. They irritate people. They make you look bad.

Exhibits G: “Sanctuary Recall still broken? You gotta be kidding me….” (Nighthawk, CoD post)

Exhibit H: “Will the life prot bug be fixed?” (Zax, CoD post).

4. Have at least one person run through the final build before it’s released, to ensure that nothing is being retained by mistake. See Exhibit I for complete explanation.

Exhibit I: FIX ME!

5. If absolutely no testing can be done in the time allotted to even an overdue patch, apologize, emphasize the cool new shit, and go show off the rest of the company’s work at a trade show, if at all possible. Say you’re sorry, then opiate the masses, and stuff like that.

Exhibit J: “This month is an anomaly” (Ken Troop, CoD post).

Exhibit K: Stuff that works.

Exhibit K and a half: “That dynamic as implemented is not the one that should have gone in the game” (Ken Troop, CoD post).

Exhibit K and a half and a half: “Expect tweaks next month [in reference to above ‘dynamic’]” (Ken Troop, CoD post).

Exhibit L: An attempt to render an unlicensed Lara Croft in a brand new engine.

In the temporary absense of any kind of quality assurance team, numbers one through four are temporarily excusable, and number five is temporarily acceptable, excepting, of course, the media materials available as part of exhibit L. Bad. Stop that!

[PATCH] *Update, 3/24/01, 2:00 PM MST: Oops! Sorry about that. [/PATCH]