Greetings warriors of Calradia!
Before a product goes to market, it is important that it has been thoroughly tested to confirm that it is working as intended and that it will meet the expectations of the end user. This is especially true for PC games, which are targeted at wide range of hardware and software configurations, with the aim of providing users with unique, fun and engaging gaming experiences. This is where the unsung heroes of the gaming industry step in, quality assurance (QA) testers. The role of a QA tester is to identify and report any issues with the game, ranging from game-breaking bugs through to obscure and hard to replicate glitches. This is often repetitive and tedious work, but it is vital in order to ensure the quality of the final product. In this week’s blog we talk with QA Lead and Game Designer, Meriç Neşeli, who oversees our dedicated and hardworking QA team.
OFFICIAL JOB DESCRIPTION
QA Lead and Game Designer
WHAT DO YOU NORMALLY DO DURING YOUR DAY?
In the morning I organise and allocate the day’s assignments for the rest of my team. Our daily tests revolve around testing features for both the game and the game engine. We test the functionality of newly added features and track general development day-by-day to ensure that the game is still stable after changes to the code.
In the afternoon I attend a meeting with members of our various teams. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the development process and establish which features need our immediate attention in testing. Naturally, the QA team gets to spend a lot more time playing Bannerlord than the rest of our colleagues which means that we have a somewhat deeper understanding of the current state of the game than others. We get to see the long term effects of design decisions and offer our feedback. If a feature is still interesting after hundreds of hours of gameplay then that is a good indication that the right decision was made during the design stage.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT BANNERLORD?
I like a wide variety of things about the game; battle strategy, the teamwork required in multiplayer, the different factions - each with their own distinctive culture... There is just too much that I enjoy to narrow it down to a single choice.
WHAT'S THE MOST DIFFICULT THING THAT YOU SOLVED SO FAR, DURING THE PRODUCTION OF BANNERLORD?
Balancing troops. In Bannerlord, each faction has their own unique troops. Although unique troops offer some advantages over regular troops, we still have to strike a balance with how these units compare to similar troops within their own faction, and how they will perform against units from each of the other factions.
Each faction has their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to army compositions. For example, Empire’s core units are heavy infantry, which are more durable than other infantry in Calradia. We need to select their perks and equipment in a way which will provide them with this advantage, yet exposes them to risk. In this case, the weakness of heavy infantry is shock infantry, such as the Falxmen of Battania. A good strategy to employ with Empire is to use infantry and ranged units in close proximity so that they can provide support to each other against their counter troop types.
Another balancing issue is the cost of troops, which is set according to the power of the unit. In Captain Mode we had to handle this a little differently because money doesn’t feature in this game mode. We decided to alter the troop count instead of the price, with the reasoning that all players have the same amount of funds and therefore the stronger units should have fewer soldiers because their recruitment and upkeep costs would be higher.
WHAT DO YOU CURRENTLY WORK ON?
Answering these blog questions, (just kidding!) I'm currently working on setting civilian equipment for lords. Lords will wear helmets and heavy armour in battle, but you will see the same lords wearing robes or silk tunics in a lord's hall. The aim of this is to make the world feel more realistic and immersive.
WHAT FACTION DO YOU LIKE THE MOST IN BANNERLORD?
Battania. Battanians have tattoos and battle paints giving them the look and feel of Celts. They have well skilled, armoured archers and many of their troops use two-handed weapons, (the archers included!) I find the atmosphere in their large and sparsely populated cities to be fascinating, and even though the cities are mostly ruinous, walking around them feels relaxed.
WHAT KIND OF PROCESSES DO YOU GO THROUGH WHILE TESTING SCENES AND CAMPAIGN?
There are two types of tests which we use. The first one is automated tests which are run by code. Some of them are unit tests, others performance tests, there are visual tests, etc. We have several computers running these tests at all times. The second type of tests are manual tests, which are performed by the QA team. We prepared a document for manual tests which includes testing steps for each scene and feature. We currently have 5 people working in the QA team and we focus our work on our field of experience, for example the editor tester checks engine features daily.
WHAT WAS ONE OF THE STRANGEST OR FUNNIEST BUGS THAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED DURING QA?
There was a bug at one stage where everyone in towns, some of them naked, madly started attacking the player! The screenshots came out to be almost like a renaissance painting.