Mas Tnega wrote:I remember Xarlaxas telling me that story, although I distinctly recall him starting with either you or zach saying something on the lines of "London can't be all that bad".
Heh. I don't remember that, but it sounds plausible I said that.
As far as the amount sunk into testing goes: it's important to realize the test goes through different phases. The batch runs I described were the HWC (dunno who came up with that abbreviation but it's the Hardware Compatibility test, i.e. non-playable alpha). This mostly collected data about the wide variety of systems it was run on, and if the tester in question was watching from time to time there could be the occasional bug being spotted or crash to be blackboxed. Once this was done we moved on to playable beta versions, with the testers being selectively divided into groups that each got certain game modes to test. For me personally this turned into hours upon hours of playing the game; especially when you're trying to replicate a bug by playing the same game configuration over and over, this gets quite repetitive. This results in reporting of bugs and submission of feature requests, along with discussions about certain design choices.
Of course it's not all bad. Although I can't really remember exactly which features they were (and I'm pretty sure the NDA officially still prohibits me from telling if I did) there were quite some important additions to the game which were suggested during testing and were eventually refined and implemented by IV. For me personally there was some testing going on with Dedwinia and/for the Ladder as well, which was a whole project by itself and incredible fun to do. So yes, there's a lot of contributions you can do and in the end there's definitely things you might be able to point out and be proud of to have contributed to. It's just that to get to the fun stuff, there's a lot of work that needs doing that's more on the repetitive and boring side of the spectrum. Doing that part of the job well raises others' opinion of you and gives you more (unofficial) priveleges within the testing group.
Obviously a lot of bigger companies make QA positions paid, precisely because there's such a grinding element to it. This, however, is a small company where outside of the free copy, the launch party and the small bit of community recognition there's not a lot you get for it. For some people this is enough, for some it isn't. It's also entirely true that people who take their testing seriously spend so much time playing the game that they'll be fed up with it afterwards, which is definitely something you'll have to be prepared for. I personally just really enjoyed testing in the past because it really felt like we were a small team helping build a game. The early access to a buggy version of the game is a nice bonus, but not the main goal. Then again I'm the kind of person that devoted half a year to coding something like the Multiwinia Ladder, ran community contests etc.
Xocrates: Perhaps the Steam key was revoked, but the game key associated with it probably wasn't. I had one Dedwinia running on my beta key and one on my Steam beta key, all the way until the end when I took them down.