Developer Profile #1: Tim Temmerman, QA Lead LucasArts
Tim Temmerman has been in QA at LucasArts for several years, and today is the subject of our first Developer Profile here on MMORPG.com. Periodically, we pin down a member of an MMORPG company and conduct a brief Q&A. The hope and goal is to provide the readers with an idea of what it is like to work in the industry, in a wide range of positions.
Can you tell us a bit about what you currently do, and the day-to-day responsibilities of that job?
Basically, the Quality Assurance (or ‘test’) team here at LucasArts is responsible for ensuring that Galaxies is a fun, immersing game. This is achieved by writing bugs in our database, writing long-winded feedback documents about new systems, or just talking to production about pressing issues. It sounds easy enough, but as most people know, Galaxies is huge. Keeping track of all its sweeping system changes and subtle nuances is a daunting task!
Specifically, my daily routine includes coordinating with the Sony test team, directing our test team here at LucasArts, and going to meetings with Galaxies production to discuss the day’s hot discussion topics. It’s also my duty to organize and compile all of our written feedback so that we can aim this game in the best possible direction.
Not only is communicating with test departments vital, but I also need to keep my finger on the pulse of the Live Community. I’ve been playing Galaxies Live since it first came out of beta – I’m excited as anybody else when changes or fixes are announced!
How did you arrive at your current company? Can you run us through what brought you to this company and into the industry in general?
Back in 2002, I received a lucky break when a good family friend of mine submitted my resume to the Quality Assurance department. After months of nervous waiting, I finally had my interview. I was hired as a tester at LucasArts, and went on to test several console games throughout 2002 and 2003. I had worked on and off on Galaxies before throwing myself fully into the project. I haven’t been able to escape since!
I’ve always been a hardcore gamer, starting out playing on my siblings’ Atari 2600 (Yars’ Revenge rules!). I grew with the game industry, and continued to buy the latest and greatest games for all systems. I had played EverQuest before I started working at LucasArts, and played on and off for about a year. Honestly the most fun I had on EverQuest was simply creating new characters and playing up to about level 10. Then I’d quit and make a new character with a different race/class.
What to you is the most challenging part of your current job?
Just trying to keep up with Galaxies. As lead tester, I need to be on top of every change that went into the game, and every change coming in the future. In this respect, the game is much different from my other experiences testing console games. With console games, once you’ve released the game, you’re done. You can breathe a sigh of relief and relax (unless of course you’re doing online support for patches and whatnot). With Galaxies, once you release a publish or expansion, it’s straight back to work.
This project never slows down, and our test team has to be running at full steam every day to stay ahead of it. It’s tough to balance personal life when you’re a tester, but you just have to know when to take a break and cleanse your mind. Ultimately, though, it is a rewarding experience when you see the finished results.
You have what many would consider a dream job. What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is simply helping the game grow each day. Whether it’s new features added or old bugs fixed, being on an organic project such as this never gets old. There’s always something to be fixed, a new exploit to be discovered, or a new expansion to be added. It’s exciting to be on a project where you can look ahead to the future and always see new content, ready to be tested and evaluated, on its way.
Personally, one of the greatest moments on this project came when we finally added water textures on both sides of the water’s surface. That was a pet peeve bug of mine, that when a player panned their camera underneath the water, the water would disappear!
Of course, from a player’s standpoint, it’s a huge perk to see this content early in development before anybody else gets to. ;)
Finally, as a senior voice on the SWG team, could you deliver a message to your game’s fans about the future of the game.
I think that the MMO market as a whole is moving more toward the mainstream audiences, and this can only mean good things for developers and players alike. Already, the MMO market has bolstered the ailing PC game economy, and it’s my belief that we’ll soon see very successful MMOs on consoles as well.
Obviously, this means good things for Galaxies as well. You can expect to see tons of big changes and new additions coming down the pipeline.
Also, expect to see a lot of nasty old bugs finally being resolved. We recognize that we have released past publishes with a few bugs, and thanks to our great community support at SOE we know exactly what the players are concerned about. I wish I could spill the beans about these new expansions and bug fixes, but you’ll just have to wait and see what comes next.
Thank you for taking the time Tim. Keep checking back as we profile a diverse selection of video game industry professionals in the coming weeks.