Monday, July 19, 2010

Starbreeze internship report - Mikael Segedi

Summary
This is a report of my internship peroid in a leading digital gaming company located in Sweden. The company is called StarbreezeStudios AB. During my internship I worked as a QA. During this role, I discovered; new ways of working, managing the QA software, delivering bug reports, focus testing, meeting participation skills and acquiring an insight into the corporate culture of a gaming company.

Introduction
Starbreeze is a digital game company founded in 1998 under the name O3 Games in Uppsala. In the year 2000 the company changed its name to Starbreeze after merging with a company of the same name. Starbreeze have developed a variety of game titles. Their best known game titles are; The Cronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, The Darkness and The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.
During the period 2010-02-15 - 2010-06-02 I performed my internship at Starbreeze as a Quality Assurance Technician. In the process I got to work on the development of their latest confidential AAA game title.

Internship purpose
Observe how employees work at a video game developer, and how the whole company organizes themselves. Learn to work as QA, and how to use QA-tools. Furthermore, the aim is to give me more knowledge of game design and the video game industry as a whole. Last but not least, get references that can improve my CV.

Internship goals from start of internship
  • Create 500 quality bug reports.
  • Attend at least 20 strike team standing meetings.
  • Create 50 images of the game.
  • Emulate 50 Xbox 360 images correctly.
  • Burn least 20 Xbox 360 disks that work as expected.
  • Create 20 PS3 images for testing.
  • Burn at least 20 PS3 disks that work as expected.
  • Correctly report 10 crashes acquired through the XBWatson debugging tool with Watson output attached and dump files correctly filed.

Internship goals after Internship-meeting
  • Create 500 quality bug reports.
  • Attend at least 20 strike team standing meetings.
  • Create 50 images of the game.
  • Create 20 PS3 images for testing.
  • Burn at least 20 PS3 disks that work as expected.
  • Take notes and document your work.
  • Be more pro-active.
  • Be more self-propelled.

Information on work at Starbreeze
One of my future goals is to be employed as game designer. To succeed I need to integrate in to the digital games industry. Of what I have read, many game designers have begun to work within QA befor they started to work as game designers. From this position they have been able to prove their knowledge in game design. Therefore I had two personal goals defined before I determined my internship goals; learn to work as QA, and see how other employees work together at a digital game company.
By participating in the work process I learned; what possitions are available in the company, how they are connected to each other, and how the companys work processes look like (the pipeline). Working as QA, puts you right in the heart of the process. QA staff see the big picture of the game gradually developed. When QA encounter an error in the game (bug), the QA informs this to the appropriate developer. This creates a dialogue about where the fault may lie and how the problem may be fixed. Using this method of communication, QA acquire knowlge in both the technology behind digital game development, and how the different department collaborate with each other. In addition, this knowledge also improved by attending meetings, and perusal of the various corporate documents. These documents also strengthened my understanding of the importance of QA work.
To work as a QA you need as an individual to manage the software, understand the methods used for QA work, and whom to contact when you have found a bug in the game. These were my only difficulties as beginner. It was a lot to take in, and self-explanatory it generated many questions on how things work. When I had learned the basics, it was very easy to understand new knowledge and learn new skills.
As QA you have the most knowledge on what the game looks like, compared to the other employees. This provides the knowledge of what works in the game, and how new mechanics can be cracked in the game. This knowledge is enhanced by the execution of focus testing. The results from focus testing is one of the key tools used when pursuing design issues. In other words one can say that QA represents the players who will buy the game during design meetings.
Discount the work at Starbreeze, there is a strong culture and community around games. The company organise events that give their employees a chance to meet each other and develop relationships on a personal level. These events may manifest in such forms as; dinners, pub evenings, Friday beer, cinemas visits etc. Besides this, various activities are also establish by the employees; soccer, softball team, gym, game nights etc.
Starbreeze employees may also access events where they can meet other employees working in the digital games industry. These events may take the form of fairs, award shows, pub evenings, release parties etc. It is not uncommon for game developers to have been employed at various companies in the industry. Therefore, these events provide a good opportunity catch up with old colleagues and meet new individuals from the industry.

Final Discussion
I have learned a lot from my work here on Starbreeze. There are not many who get a chance like this to work at a big digital game company. I’m therefore very grateful to have help the development, and seeing how much hard work lies behind the development of games.
Communication in a big digital game company is paramount. People are working in different departments, where some people even speak a different language. Establishment of a common vocabulary was therefore very important. I focused on learning the concepts used during development of the game. In addition, I learned what types of communitcations methods were used and when they were appropriate in specific situations.
Most digital game companies have a similar professional role as they have at Starbreeze. Therefore it was very good for me to learn what the different departments work with, and how they cooperate with one another. I noticed very early on during the Internship that the more you know about the technical background, the easier it will be to explain and understand how a specific problem needs to be solved.
I'm very happy that I’v learned to some degree to work with the tools used by QA at Starbreeze. Many of these QA tools are also used by others digital game companies. This will give me added value if I were to search for a job at a different developer.
Moreover, I am interested to start my own digital games studio in the future. Therefore, it was a good experience for me to work on a digital gaming. I saw both the good and bad points during the work, and this will help me during my own projects in the future. In addition, I got to meet many talented and wonderful people, which I in the future I hope to be working with.
During my internship, I started thinking a lot about my future. I asked myself; where do I want to work, do I need to study further, can I imagine my self working abroad etc. There is not much time left and there are no guarantees. Therefore I have spent some of my time questioning the employees at Starbreeze about their careers. I asked how they ended up at Starbreeze, what they had done before this, what kind of education they had, and where their next career step will lead them. This was very fruitful. The talks got me to feel much more secure for the future. After my work at Starbreeze I feel safer over the choice to work in the gaming industry, and to meet my goals.

14 comments:

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在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。.................................................................

林聿希林聿希林聿希 said...

期待你的下次更新喔^____^..................................................................

淑林林松 said...

一時的錯誤不算什麼,錯而不改才是一生中永遠且最大的錯誤..................................................

宛淑芳真 said...

「仁慈」二個字,就能讓冬天三個月都溫暖。..................................................

韓志張人豪豪 said...

教育的目的,不在應該思考什麼,而是教吾人怎樣思考............................................................

家唐銘 said...

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與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

廷家祥家祥雯 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。..................................................

于庭吳 said...

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財富並非永遠的朋友,但朋友卻是永遠的財富。......................................................................

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