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Jumpgate Evolution Developer Blog

Jumpgate Evolution is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game set in the open expanse of space. With breath-taking visuals and an innovative twitch-based space combat, Jumpgate is the definitive space combat MMO, putting you at the heart of the action.

Author: JumpgateEvo

Contributor: Khatie

Breaking Jumpgate Evolution - Stephen Justice, QA

Posted by JumpgateEvo Monday January 18 2010 at 8:07AM
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Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Stephen Justice and I have the privilege of being a QA tester on Jumpgate Evolution. This is the first project I’ve worked on here at NetDevil. My previous experience comes from working at a third-party testing studio where I had the chance to test on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, DS, Gameboy Advance, PlayStation Portable and PC.

Before we begin, I feel the need to deal with a phrase that greatly irritates me as a tester. It’s that annoying phrase “paid-to-play”. I will state quite clearly that I do not spend my days playing, I spend them testing. The difference is if I’m playing a game then I’m playing through it as any other person would. When I’m testing I’ll play the game wrong. I’ll try to reach areas I shouldn’t be in, fly through walls, fall through floors, make textures vanish, cause physics to freak out, watch meshes collapse and (my personal favorite) cause the game to crash.

Testing Jumpgate Evolution is a fairly new experience for me as a tester. Sure I’ve done some closed and open betas on other MMOs and I do have experience with working on one other released MMO, but I’ve never felt like I had a direct impact on the development of those other games. With my previous testing experience , I rarely dealt directly with the dev team. Here, I have full access to the team (heck I sit next to Lance our new producer), so I’m able to give direct feedback about the bugs I do find. I get to see the new stuff as it goes into the game, so I’m able to diagnose new issues as they arrive. This makes it easier for the team to fix bugs since they’re generally able to know exactly what update caused the issue.

The biggest challenge I deal with is that Jumpgate Evolution is huge. MMOs can be a pain to test due to their go-anywhere nature and the vast amount of content in them. This means that there is so much to test it can be overwhelming and things can easily be changed from build to build. If someone doesn’t like how a mission works, it’s pretty easy to take it out and put in something new. Ships, weapons, add-ons, entire sectors can change pretty suddenly. This, of course, negates all the testing I did and I now get to start from scratch. Sure it’s frustrating, but I take it as a challenge. I will honestly do my best to break any new system that is put into the game. This isn’t done to delay development, but to make sure the game is stable.

For me personally, being a QA guy requires having a bit of a sadistic streak. You have to enjoy finding the mistakes of other people and then you have to have the heart to tell them about it. Sometimes it’s something that a person has been slaving on for months, and now I have the job of telling them it doesn’t work right and that they need to fix it. It can create a bit of a love-hate relationship but I do feel that if I do my job right, then the rest of the team will try to improve their performance, if only so they have to deal with me less often!

With regards to finding bugs this will always happen when you least expect it. For example after a long and strenuous space battle, I was docking at a near by space station to rearm. But instead of the normal rearming behavior I decided to take a chance and remove my missiles before rearming them. With the missiles removed I then clicked the rearming button only to find the missiles failed to rearm. At this point I thought I had found a simple rearming bug. So I re-equipped the missiles and found to my surprise and delight that they also remained in my inventory. Meaning I had successfully tracked down a notorious item-duping bug. Which evolved shortly after into a full fledged game crash.

That’s the way things go with this type of job. Some of the best bugs I find come out of nowhere. I just try different things and see what happens. Test cases and BVTs (Build Version Tests) are great for finding problems in the main gameplay areas, but it’s the stuff I find off the beaten path that are the most fun. The more complex a bug is, the more annoying it is since every bug needs to be verified, so you need to reproduce the bug multiple times.

Previously I’ve made the server crash by firing missiles and if you die while turning your ship in first-person mode, you will be spinning when you launch from the station. I've been able to pass the collision on any object by approaching it from a certain angle. I could place items for auction with a minimum bid amount in the duodecillion (1 followed by 39 zeros) range. Hit detection on turrets was off making them incredibly hard to hit and even some bosses have become invincible during encounters. Players would randomly end up moving at unrealistic speeds and even one of our in-space models ended up as a 3D teapot placeholder!

Bugs like these all need to be found. This is how the game improves. No game is perfect during the design phase. New code breaks old code, old meshes distort new meshes. These things happen. That’s why people like me exist. I’m able to catch these errors as they go in and prevent them accidently becoming permanent features. Once a bug is found and the problem diagnosed a fix is typically submitted pretty quickly. All of those “fun” bugs I mentioned have already been fixed and you’ll soon™ get your chance to test them out during Beta.

I do want to say this though, the game is fun! I know, I know, here’s the PR plug right? Seriously though, it actually struck me just the other week. I was going through the starter missions and I found myself having a good time. Sure I enjoyed the game before then, but this was the first time that I truly felt sucked into the game. The controls are smooth and responsive, dog fighting with the AI is fun yet challenging, PVP fights are sweet and just zipping around a sector is just fun. There is so much to see and I just love the look of the skyboxes, they were the first thing I noticed when I booted up the game for the first time. They truly are gorgeous; the art team has out done themselves on those. The game has come a long way and things are shaping up nicely. If you’ll excuse me the servers are stable now and it’s time for me to prove otherwise… remember it’s all about the polish!

Dvalon writes:

No offence, but I and many others would very much preffer to hear about the game, its features, functions , options, races, class's , ships, guns, zones, pvp, death penalty, will we have guild/squad housing/stations.

And a million other questions, than some testers view on the current build.

I really mean no offence your job is valued and very important . we just dont need to know about it, I know that sounds myopic, and it probably is, I just dont care I want to hear about the game, not the people who are working on it.

Sorry.

Mon Jan 18 2010 11:27AM Report
scuubeedoo writes:

No offense Dvalon, but i and many others would very much prefer to hear about the game, the people surrounded by it and the experience of the people that are testing it.

I really mean no offense, your comment is valued and very importand we just don't need to know about it. I know that sounds myopic, and it probably is, i just don't care. I want to hear someone that has actually something to say about the game, not some moron that is full of negativity and actually no idea about the game.

Sorry.

Mon Jan 18 2010 1:10PM Report
saranya writes:

scuubeedoo >> dvalon

Mon Jan 18 2010 1:19PM Report
Butch808 writes:

any news is welcome in my opinion, it was getting a bit quiet, and from reading that i can see theres still alot of work to be done, and TBH i want evo done properly as the original Jumpgate was one of my all time fav MMO's so i don't want this to be a copout like alot of MMO's are nowdays.

Mon Jan 18 2010 1:19PM Report
Storme writes:

Thanks. I found your insight very enlightening. I've project managed IT projects in the finance industry in the past and have a new found appreciation for testers with a passion :)

Mon Jan 18 2010 1:38PM Report
Stanto writes:

This's pretty sweet. I hadn't heard much before about the process of being in QA and it sounds just like what I've been doing in closed/open betas online anyway.

Tempted to seek it out as a career now, appears right up my street.;

Mon Jan 18 2010 1:42PM Report
eric_w66 writes:

Testing programs (even games) will make you want to tear your hair out unless you're truly a masochist. I write programs for a living, and while I test them to the best I can before handing them off, I cannot take the time to try every single key-combo or button click, and I feel for the people who's job it is to try to break them.

Heck, I had to write a testing plan for the testers a few weeks ago, and as I was "testing" the testing plan, I found 2 bugs...

But most testers I've known want to move "up" to be a programmer, designer, or artist (mostly the first two, since I don't write games sadly, I've only known one artist who tested :).

Mon Jan 18 2010 1:59PM Report
harvest151 writes:

This game is freakin vaporware.

Mon Jan 18 2010 2:50PM Report
Lyram writes:

Thank you for the interesting post.  I hope you have plenty of time and support to do your job thoroughly.  I really want Jumpgate Evolution to be enjoyable and a comercial success.

Mon Jan 18 2010 3:00PM Report
Serazahr writes:

harvest151, you just don't know the meaning of patience.

anyway... Everytime there is a new post about JGE it's like Christmas. (Well it sort of has the same frequency.)

Mon Jan 18 2010 3:05PM Report
rivener writes:

Really? The QA process? With nothing since December 09 (new producer interview) and no new media since November 09 this is the best you can put out? Good on the QA guy who got to write an article for the game and get it posted but could we have some real info please.

Mon Jan 18 2010 3:19PM Report
CuChulainn writes:

 This game's flat out sunk.  It won't come out.  Oh, if I had a dollar for every time I accurately called time-of-death on game development - ok, I'd only have like 7 dollars, but believe me when I say you'll never play this game.

Mon Jan 18 2010 5:32PM Report
Daedalus732 writes:

So MMORPG.com, how many interviews are you going to let NetDevil post in which they don't discuss their game at all? 

This is seriously the biggest joke since Vanguard. At least Brad McQuaid made you feel good inside while he sold you crap. Christ.

Mon Jan 18 2010 8:02PM Report
xalanadrie writes:

I gotta agree with the OP Dvalon and Daedalus732. It's been more than 6 months since the launch was delayed (was it june or july 09?) and I'd sure as hell like to see an article from netdevil on the JGE game features and not a garbage article like this. I'm guessing all resources and manpower are most likely on netdevil's upcoming launch of lego universe, so I'm hoping once that's out the door they can focus on JGE fully.

Mon Jan 18 2010 10:17PM Report
laephis writes:

As someone who was really looking forward to JGE last June, I find this post extremely disappointing.   Every month that passes without any real info moves me closer to the "vaporware" camp.   Hopefully Black Prophecy doesn't drop the ball like JGE has, but I'm not holding my breath on that one either.  Seems we're going to be stuck with EVE as the only worthwhile Sci-fi MMO.  :(

Mon Jan 18 2010 11:41PM Report
phaydee writes:

Nice read!   Thanks man!

Mon Jan 18 2010 11:43PM Report
cwricheson writes:

It's nice to know some version of the game actually exists.

 

I'd like to hear more about the game, though.

Tue Jan 19 2010 1:11AM Report
TheKronos writes:

Nice read. Thank you. Great to know that the game isn't dead already.

However it's scary to hear that there is simple "duplicate bugs" and server crahes by single client at this stage of dev... Looks like there is still lot of work to be done. At least, during this extended time, content and art teams can polish stuff ;-)

Tue Jan 19 2010 3:16AM Report
shepx22 writes:

There is no rush to release JGE. There first project Jumpgate is still going strong. This will be a great game, and willing to put money over top of kids minds that this will release.

Tue Jan 19 2010 5:39AM Report
Butch808 writes:

Lol at the people calling vapourware, seriously now this game ain't vapourware not by a LONG SHOT, ive played it at connect 09 and if you READ the JGE forums you know they had to go back and re-do ALOT of stuff which takes more time, and the head of netdevil Scott brown.. well this is his baby and he said he's not gonna release early and everything is gonna be done properly. so take you your vapour and...

Tue Jan 19 2010 6:28AM Report
LuigiPT writes:

I have to disagree with some of the people here.

It may not share any new info about the game but for instance, I liked to read that since I had no idea what a QA do.

Oh, and for the haters, this is a Blog, a Developer Blog, not a news blog so expect for the devs and others to talk about what they're doing in there.

Tue Jan 19 2010 9:30AM Report
Tikigod writes:

Good article.

It's nice to read what some of the team are doing whilst waiting for the warm friendly marketing content blitz.

 

For those who are giving negative reactions to this blog, consider that at the moment the choices are 1) Hear nothing at all. or 2) Hear what members of the team are upto.

Simply growling and playing up isn't going to speed up the rate in which functionality information is ready for public release. :)

Tue Jan 19 2010 1:54PM Report
GoBBels writes:

 Well, though it was disappointing that it wasn't a status update, i found the article interesting.. Ok, i'm more or less just happy to hear anything about the game, so i know it's still alive...

Tue Jan 19 2010 4:38PM Report
sadeyx writes:

This game is still in production? I thought Netdevil went bust and JGE permenatly delayed,  wasnt it supposed to have been released last year?

Wed Jan 20 2010 6:22AM Report
Anakhahawk writes:

Good to hear things are moving forward. I'd lost hope on ever playing!

Wed Jan 20 2010 6:43AM Report
freejackmack writes: If SWG jump to light speed would have had this kind of testing with this tester I might still be playing. Shooting things in SWG like the star destroyer was frustrating because a dead on hit would not register. That is not what I want in a game I pay for. JGE continues to excite me and to hear of specific bug squashing makes me feel like I can spend cash on JGE and not have to deal with ridiculous things that take away from the experience and should not be present in a finished game. MMO's have been less than stellar in this department. Looks more and more like it will be worth the wait. Wed Jan 20 2010 10:19AM Report
Tl12000 writes:

That guy up there is a suck up. Its not about the games features or related system software. Its about they're lagg behind the release.

Personally i think those bugs are whats stopping them from even thinking about a near time release date. Apart from all that i can see NetDevil delivering a high quality game. Thanks for the "close" developer contribution.

Wed Jan 20 2010 5:48PM Report
Ketsum writes:

I found this very interesting, I'm glad I read it. I've been worried about how quiet JGE got, I also haven't done more then amauter beta testing bug hunting and I've never looked at it the way a QA guy needs to  from the sounds of it. I hope your work goes smoothly cause I so wanna play JGE already hehe.

Thu Jan 21 2010 9:41AM Report
korndog22 writes:

I am happy to see a dev team who is actually taking there time to doit right.hell I rather see a game in developement for 5 or 6 years and Launch in a good finished,polished manner,than rush it out and see the entire community let down like Star Trek seems to be doing.I will reserve my Judgement til I actually get a good feel for what we have here.But I am very excited atthe idea of this title.

Sat Feb 06 2010 11:20AM Report
naardejood writes:

As a former MMO QA tester (internal), it's good to see QA get a little more emphasis than it usually does. In my opinion, the biggest problem with just about every MMO out there is the near total neglect of quality assurance. It takes more than eight people to thoroughly test an MMO, and it definitely helps when the code monkeys actually READ your bug reports. I've seen too many good games hamstrung and eventually destroyed (I'm looking in your direction, Warhammer) by compounding bugs that make it all the way from alpha to a year after release. It's good to hear that someone who knows how to properly break shit is making sure things get fixed. I don't care how far release dates get pushed back if it means the game isn't released with bad code that's just going to get worse as more and more patches are piled on top of it. Nothing creates more bugs than "bug fixes."

I can remember one particularly humorous bug (that ended up live due to a bad patch, of course) that resulted from the addition of a new set of stairways to the newbie city that resulted in the upper level of said city dropping around three inches, resulting in a clear gap between the ground and the levitating vegetation, fences and rocks. There wasn't any real need for new stairways, which required a massive restructuring of the entire environment, but I guess someone, somewhere, got a bug (pun entirely intended) up his ass about having to spend three seconds walking around a building when he first created his character.

Tue Mar 30 2010 4:47PM Report

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