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Meet the Team: Singlebear, QA Lead

Welcome to the first of this series to take place in the new forums! See previous threads here:

EME Senior Producer Lawllipops
Technical Producer GELETRON

As you can see, I'm changing this series title from "Weekly Q&A" to "Meet the Team," which I feel better embodies the feeling we're all shooting for with these discussions. Technical TERA-related questions are still fine, but the point of the series is to get to know the various personalities at En Masse Entertainment. We have an awesome and passionate crew, and that fact sort of gets lost/overlooked when a lot of the work they do takes place behind the scenes. Every patch, game update, news post, advertisement, item sale, gameplay video, etc... that goes out requires work by multiple people in the building. People whose names you probably don't even know... yet!

This week, we have En Masse Entertainment QA Lead Singlebear! I'll leave this thread pinned until end of the day Friday. Until then, Singlebear will answer all the questions he can.

Prime Directive: Be polite to Singlebear!

One question per post. It keeps things tidy and significantly increases the chances you'll get a response from our guest.

Be succinct. No rants. This kind of goes along with the "be polite" Prime Directive. This isn't the place to post long rants or giant lists that hijack the thread. Please make your own threads for such things.


Here are some questions I asked Singlebear to get the conversation rolling:
  • What is your full title at En Masse Entertainment?
    - Let’s go with QA Lead. It’s been a couple years since anyone has cared about my title. I think I got business cards 3 years ago with Senior QA Tester, but a lot has changed since then.
  • Please describe the kind of work you do.
    - I manage the QA team and spend a very large chunk of my time making sure our TERA deploys are ready to go live.
  • How does your work specifically affect TERA?
    - There is the simple answer: QA tells people if what they did actually works.
    - There is the professional answer: QA verifies TERA products for Live deploy.
    - But it gets tricky when we try to describe it further. We work with everyone on whatever product they need us to. So we may be looking at our new TERA forums to make sure all the features work the way we want them to. Or we may be looking at the text localization for the Ninja class to make sure our Writers wrote the skill localization correctly. Or we may be troubleshooting an in game issue reported thru Customer Service so that we can write a bug to send to the people that can resolve it.

  • Best two movies you’ve seen in the last two years
    - Birdman and John Wick
  • If you could pick any superpower to have, what would it be?
    - I want Kilgrave’s power to control people. Or maybe it’s just because David Tennant killed it and made me want to be a villain.
  • If you were randomly born with a superpower, what do you think you’d wind up with?
    - Teleportation. BUT, I could only do it when I sneeze. And since it’s hard to concentrate when you sneeze, I would always end up in random places. And of course I would have allergies.
  • What’s better, the moon or tacos?
    - Tacos. I mean without tacos, what would Tuesdays be for?
  • Who is your favorite visual artist?
    - I have never had a favorite visual artist.
  • Who is your favorite musician?
    - Maynard James Keenan if I am picking one musician, Tool if I can pick the band.
  • What is clipping and why is it important in real life?
    - Clipping is when the visual doesn’t exactly match collision. Tells us life isn’t a computer simulation cause even the best games have clipping issues.
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Comments

  • UltemeciaUltemecia ✭✭✭
    Well my question is one that you'll probably see a bit over the life of this thread. As you're aware many many recent patches came to us live with game breaking bugs. What is your response to that and what have you implemented to prevent these large issues from continuing to occur.

    (ps. I get yall will get bugs, [filtered] happens. I still love the game, bugs and all :chuffed: )
  • Bless you, singlebear, for walking into the lion's den.

    My question is about time allocation. Do you play on the public servers as well as the test servers to see if the changes produce unforeseen effects? If so, are you incognito?
  • edited May 2016
    Ultemecia wrote: »
    Well my question is one that you'll probably see a bit over the life of this thread. As you're aware many many recent patches came to us live with game breaking bugs. What is your response to that and what have you implemented to prevent these large issues from continuing to occur.

    (ps. I get yall will get bugs, [filtered] happens. I still love the game, bugs and all :chuffed: )

    I have to disappoint you with my first answer.

    As a publisher, the EME QA team does not focus on testing builds for the same purpose Bluehole does as the developer. Here is a breakdown of the things EME QA focuses on.
    1. Verify the build Bluehole sends will patch appropriately from our currently live build and a handful of outdated client versions.
    2. Verify EME Writer localization is appropriate for the new content.
    3. Verifying EME Production designed events and changes work the way EME Production expects.
    4. Translate and verify Bluehole build documentation for patch note creation.

    EME QA relies on Bluehole to fully test TERA and to make sure the regional build they send EME is stable for deploy. EME QA runs Sanity tests and as I stated in line 4, we verify the build documentation. But we aren't trying to break the game.

    Here is an example:
    Currently, the live build has The Abscess returned as an event. This is a re-balanced version of the dungeon that is getting re-balanced again for release in 42. EME QA is responsible for making sure the localization is appropriate and that players can enter and complete the instance. This was accomplished by one QA team member visually inspecting the content in game with one character using a lot of QA commands.
    EME QA did not verify the balance changes or attempt to exploit/break the encounters. I did check to see if Bluehole fixed the mini boss encounter exploit to despawn the adds (I am sure many of you know it), but that was just so I could update the bug.

    The time our QA team has with a build is not enough to validate build mechanics. I wish it was, but our priorities as a publishes have to be different and we have to expect the developer to send us stable builds.

    All that being said, when we happen upon major issues we quickly report them to the developer and notify our PD staff so that we can work with Bluehole to get a resolution before deploy.
  • UltemeciaUltemecia ✭✭✭
    SingleBear wrote: »
    -long snip-

    @SingleBear Not disappointing at all actually. I've got a better insight and hopefully the rest of the forums will read this before screaming at EME in the future if there is issues.
  • What additions to tera would you like to see added? i.e. optimization, content, etc.
  • Notises wrote: »
    My question is about time allocation. Do you play on the public servers as well as the test servers to see if the changes produce unforeseen effects? If so, are you incognito?

    I do have characters on the public servers (zerker main) and some of them are in the EME guild. Though it seems like a lot of you aren't aware EME has a guild since I get accused of impersonating EME staff when I run dungeons.

    But, most of my time is spent in our QA servers. One of the advantages we have over other regions is we can locally generate our localization files and drop them into our build. We are constantly bugging the game and all those bugs need regressed. And then there is PD coming up with new ideas or community asking QA to check some spawnable mobs, or CS telling us about a player reported exploit, yada yada yada (more excuses not to be on live).
  • I saw on twitch,the last stream of Spacecat
    Someone from enmasse in the chat saying : " I have an ETA for Ninja Patch " "but not telling"
    Why you hide this ETA ..?
  • What additions to tera would you like to see added? i.e. optimization, content, etc.

    I remember when the Vanarch system hit our QA build. I felt the system was a great idea that didn't get enough time to turn into something great in game. Obviously TERA players didn't like it too much either so Bluehole adapted it into the Exarch, Alliance, and Crusade systems.

    I want Bluehole to take another crack at the political systems so that players can have a much bigger impact. It shouldn't just be leaderboards and vanity mounts.

    Putting my dev hat on: How cool would it be if player guilds could actually be given responsibility for in game events. And then the in game community had a way of checks and balances to make sure those player guilds were doing their job. So, let's say a guild is in charge of Arcadia, and there are some level 60s ganking people at the Lumbertown bridge. That guild should have to dispatch members to stop the gankers so that players could enjoy the content. I want that. Player driven content that gives players a reason to care about the game world.

    And of course we all agree that we would like to see optimization. I bugged Teleport Jaunt in 2011 when I was a QA noob. That bug is still there. We haven't figured out how to automagically compensate for player latency and make that skill 100% stable. We're working on it.
  • Nanahira wrote: »
    I saw on twitch,the last stream of Spacecat
    Someone from enmasse in the chat saying : " I have an ETA for Ninja Patch " "but not telling"
    Why you hide this ETA ..?

    I was the one that typed it. QA hires trolls.

    I am aware of our deploy dates, but I am not at liberty to say. So if I remember right, someone was asking us if we knew the date. Spacecats and I do so I admitted as much. I could not however actually give the date.
  • edited May 2016
    longdong wrote: »
    There was a really really old bug report on the old forums that had a person talking about the still very prevalent slayer ICB "bug". You replied to this post and said that there was no bug and that the damage increase was consistant. In fact, to this day, it is definitely NOT consistent. And almost every dedicated slayer player knows this. https://tera-forums.enmasse.com/forums/bug-report/topics/Game-Bug-Skill-Overhand-Strike-in-cold-blood-random-bug This was the thread.

    Is your position at EME still relevant in answering questions regarding this type of thing? And if so, can you look at this glitch again and clarify if the randomness of the damage increase is intended and inform us about the % chances and details?

    I just checked out the original thread and I do remember working it. That bug revealed to us that we had failed to localize the skill and abnormality (read buff). That's the part I best remember.

    As far as the skill damage, I know we tested it, but I can't remember the details. EME QA will take another poke at it.

    This is one of the areas EME QA is limited. We do not have any tools to help us test these issues or any build documentation specifically about skill damage and abnormality interaction to refer to. And it's an area I wish we would learn to work with you all better. You all collectively see more and know more about TERA than we do. It's a weakness I want us to turn into a strength.
  • BanimBanim ✭✭✭
    edited May 2016
    SingleBear wrote: »
    I bugged Teleport Jaunt in 2011 when I was a QA noob. That bug is still there. We haven't figured out how to automagically compensate for player latency and make that skill 100% stable. We're working on it.

    For what's worth, Teleport Jaunt stopped being buggy for me (and as far as I know for most players too) many months ago after one of the major content updates. I guess it's still an issue for players with really high latency, but on my unstable 150-210+ ms I have yet to see it rubberband on me again ever since.

    So, anyway. There's a bug in particular with the Trade Broker not showing the Arcannon and Power Fists categories.

    9ee05d110a.jpg
    Even if you search from "Weapons", where it should show all types of weapons on broker, gunner and brawler weapons still won't pop up. The only way thus far to find them is to type in the specific or partial weapon name. This can be a huge inconvenience when trying to sell Starfall BoE weapons for those classes, for example. With Ninja coming soon, Shurikens will be added to the game, and I think it'd be counterintuitive to not have these categories fixed for all the new and returning players that will flow into Tera. Can we expect this broker category bug to be fixed with that build?
  • Spacecats is cool with some "Technical TERA-related questions" but please remember this thread is not designed to be a Bug Report thread.
    Banim wrote: »
    There's a bug in particular with the Trade Broker not showing the Arcannon and Power Fists categories.

    This and the issue with broker crystal categories is fixed in 42.

    The issue here is a very interesting one...well, to a QA nerd like me it is interesting. Warning, some of you may fall asleep.

    As I mentioned earlier, EME creates the file that controls our text localization. The developer Bluehole sends us a tool with every build that lets us accomplish this by turning all of the localization xmls into the DataCenter_Final_USA.dat file you can find in your TERA\Client\S1Game\S1Data folder. This is awesome for us because we can test localized text more often and without going thru the developer.

    However, this isn't without risk. The tool is created by Bluehole with datasheets that are not completely localized. EME is very committed to making TERA as enjoyable as possible. That means we make a lot of changes all the way up until the day before the build deploys. Every change we make, also makes the game a little different than it was when the tool was created.

    That's what happened with these broker issues as well as with the square text you all saw in 37 when you talked to some NPCs like Jodoc in Crescentia. Our writers checked their files and found nothing wrong. We reported the issue to the developer which turned into a very long email thread that lasted weeks. We couldn't figure it out. Those issues only appeared when we used the tool with our localization files. Bluehole could never reproduce the issue. All we could say was that the issue "resolved itself" in the next build.

  • I see you mentioned 37 and 42

    But what those that means ? the Build Version ?
  • AulonAulon ✭✭✭✭
    Seems to be a push for Nexon to bring changes to TERA, will there be a day where NA is as big of an influence in the game?
  • Cat or Dog Person? (I'm going to ask this every Q&A :D)
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