Are you an avid hard core gamer like me? Do you play game up to or more than 8 hours a day? Have you ever thought that oooohhh wouldn't it be great, if i can just continue on playing everyday and get paid at the same time, without having to do any other job except for playing games?
If the answers are yes, then there is only one, one and only solution and job in the world that suits the criteria of a perfect paid-job.
Yeah~~ Nothing BETTER than PLAYTESTER!!!!!!!!!
What the heck IS THAT???
Well, Just like the name, you play and test the in development games. Here i am going to share my experience as one of the many playtesters in Ubisoft Shanghai Game Development Studio.
As i stepped into the Ubisoft Game Development Studio which is located down town Shanghai (I live in another side of Shanghai. Shanghai is divided into two principality) I couldn't help but to smile. It reminds myself of my very first visit to this place. I have been here before. But for a completely different purpose. My first visit was to meet mr. Erick Wujcik who was interested in my talents because i did great in my E-test (Internet test) that he designed and emailed me and also that i surpassed 200 other applicants so thus he called me in and interviewed me in this very room. The thing is.... i turned him down because at that time the reply from my Resume application to Ubisoft came like 4 months later, where then mr Erick sent me the E-test and i did it anyway, the reason why i turned the offer down is because i already enrolled in the local University. I regretted it now, i should have just flunked uni and started working right away. What's a piece of paper called Diploma for if you did not get the job??
I rummaged through the magazines in the waiting room which is also served as a Library for everybody. Then another guy came in, he looked like one of the Playtester, just like me. After awhile, mr Liu Guang Lei came and escorted us downstairs to the game lab.
The Ubisoft Shanghai office is huge. They actually occupied two whole floor. On the 15th floor. And inside the 15th floor there is a wooden stairs to the 14th floor, Just when i stepped out of the lift, i can see a huge sign that says 'UBISOFT' and then there is a small hallway to the right hand side where i was directed automatically to the receptionist.
Just like any other 'normal' receptionist in Shanghai, or in big companies in Shanghai, they are rude. Rude in meaning, proud as being a receptionist in a big and famous company, always seemed 'too busy for you', do not smile--not forgot to smile, but they just do not smile to you, do not say welcome to Ubisoft, or how can i help you?, not to say to say 'Do you want anything to drink?' that is like an impossible thing to say for receptionists in Shanghai. They are just rude. Chinese people : Rude.
I was the one who has to come up to her and told her my intention for coming in. And she pointed out her finger to the room on the left just beside her, where it is the waiting room combined with the library all together. At the back of this room, there is a big cafetaria, with sofas and tables arranged neatly beside the huge window glass that has a fantastic city view of Shanghai. In the left end side of this cafetaria there is a small kitchen, fully equipped with a coffee machine, plastic cups, microwave, fridge, etc.
And there is even a waiter! Who happens to be a very strict and rude lady. She was eyeeing me as if i am an intruder or a terrorist coming in to her company to get a free cup of coffee before i shoot all of them to death with a machine gun.
There is also a big human sized statue of the Splinter cell hero.
At the far left end of the cafetaria side, there are rooms for people who are working there. But most of the staff are located downstairs.
Back to the receptionist table, just in front of it on the right side there is a wooden stairs to the 14th floor. I went down and under the stairs, just in front of it, on the left there are sets of consoles with a special kind of in development games installed on it. So the employee can play and test it at the same time to have fun.
Behind this, is the game lab. And opposite this, on the left hand side, there are huge rooms with hundreds of people and computers in it. The halls are all protected with passwords and cards. So only employees can enter. Even if you want to go to the bathroom. You NEED that card! The employee card.
I remember once after testing the game, i went to the bathroom, and the waiter lady, the rude waiter lady was there. When she saw me, she was all bewildered and said in a huge rude voice,"Who are you? Are you working here? Are you new? Why are you in this toilet? Do you know that this toilet is for Ubisoft staff only?"
I receive this kind of treatment with patience as i know that she probably has a low level of education and IQ thus she could not think that nobody will come to the 15th floor of some company just to 'borrow' their toilet, and being able to pass the door with cards without a card, or to be able to pass the rude receptionist and descend down the stairs just to 'borrow' the toilet. If she is intellectual and has manner enough, she would have known that anybody who looks 'new' to her, must be a new employee, an interviewee, a guest, or someone who is connected with the company. Not just some strangers who wanted to 'borrow' a toilet especially on the 15th floor.
Being unable to explain to her that i am the playtester, since she could not speak English and i did not know how to say playtester in Chinese, i just repeated mr Liu's name three times. ' Liu Guang Lei, Liu Guang Lei, Liu Guang Lei' as if it is a magic word, she nodded her head although her eyes are still staring open wide like a gold fish and opened her mouth with a big ' A~~~~~'. People in china says A instead of O to show that they understood, so don't mistake her for screaming,
The game lab is not very big, but it is fully equipped with the newest and best technology. This game lab is really served the purpose of game testing. They have this super wide and huge TV monitor, with PS3 and XBOX and Wii and any consoles you can think of, and computers, and speakers, and headphones with mic, and cool comfy sofas, some table, mr Liu Guang Lei, the game lab management guy, and mr Ivan, the game lab manager or supervisor. Mr Ivan is French, well at least i think so because he can speak French very well, while mr. Liu is a Shanghainese. What i cannot believe of Mr Liu is that he stole my Cover letter and paste it on his own account in Linkedlin and claimed it was his own. Can you believe it?
The first game that i tested was BEOWULF
Before i get to test any game, i had to give mr Ivan a copy of my passport, and also to sign an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) That i shouldn't say anything or steal any technology or anything from the company and publish it or give it to their competitor. Sure~~I thought. Like what am i going to steal? I don't even know what! It does not cross my mind. Even now, I still could not figure out what should or what can i steal?
Then afterwards, me and 2 others, seated ourselves on the mini sofa and took our post. Play the game from 9 am to 5 pm. We got ourselves paid lunch by mr Ivan on 12-1pm
During testing, what i should do is just to start playing the chapters that they has chosen for me, and then mr Liu will sit beside me and took notes about what i did in the game. Being a 3D artist, i could not help but to examine their 3Ds as well. And i could see some flaws in the texture and polygons and i mentioned this to mr Ivan who could immediately see that as well.
I also looked around in the game, looked for their environment, and i tested the movements, and also searched every possible bugs, for example, after one task is finished, i went back the map to the previous one to see whether anything will go wrong. And i try to skip some monster by sneaking past it, where it hangs, but it prove to be a fault because i was suppose to face it to be able to go through the story, not by sneaking past it, but i could sneak past it.
And we also tested the King monsters, or the main monster for every chapter, the magics, the gameplay, and everything else. It's just like playing a normal game at home, it's just that this game, being still in development, hangs a lot, and you need to be super patient and skillful during playing, or else you wont be able to notice any bugs, and super patient because you need to redo one chapter over and over and over again. And not to be nervous because people who make and designed that game were sitting behind you watching you play their game!
After the end of the day, usually mr Ivan will round us up and fire questions, such as : Do you realize there is a this and that there? That this is not working...that is not right...? What do you think of the level of difficulty? Is it OK? Too difficult or too easy? How is the chapters? How is chapter one, two, five? How is the monster? and other bunch of questions, and we can also say some inputs about the game,
I am a very outspoken person. I honestly feel that this game is almost the same like God of War. So i told him that unless there is something outstanding and different about Beowulf that can make it stand out, it will be just another God of War game, if you know what i mean. It wont beat the market as 'WOW! Beowulf!'
People did that with God of War, but Beowulf is just like a copied version of it. That's why the game did not really create any big impact in the heart of gamers. You just need to be original.
The second game that i tested is Tom Clancy End of War
It is a strategy and war based game. I hate war game. And this is strategy and war! The most boring game that made me almost fell asleep during testing it. Luckily i was always aware that mr Liu is sitting beside me.
I tried to use the voice command. And it's cool. My best strategy is 'all for one--one for all', so i will direct all my troops to go and kill one enemy unit. After that one is done away, then i direct all of my troops to focus on killing another one. Instead of separating them and strategizing my troops to kill and move and do something else, i always told them to be as one and kill the enemy unit one by one. After i eliminate all the enemy units, then i win.
I can use this strategy for most of the scenario. But unfortunately not ALL of them can be done in this way. Some needs a highly intelligent strategy to beat the enemy unit because the enemy are far too organized or spreaded all over the map.Or i was attacked for couple of directions so i need to balance my teams to be able to withstand both attacks.
As usual, the end of the day mr Ivan will round us up and fire questions.
The pay is good, i tell you. Although not as high as me teaching in one day, But the job is fun and it is almost 3/4 to the salary i get in 1 day teaching, Not bad, huh?
I wish i can be a full timer playtester. But too bad Ubisoft does not hire full timer playtester. Only part timers.
At least Ubisoft Shanghai did not hire full timer. And lately, when i saw their ad again looking for playtesters, i was very disappointed when i saw how much money they were offering. It was SUPER LOW. As low as a cleaner. A house cleaner. A Maid!
How can they do this? It was 80% lower than the price they offered me last time. I was devastated to hear that. I mean, with that kind of fee, WHICH hard core foreign gamers wanted to take over the job? Only those ones who got nothing else better to do, i guess.
If they sweeten up the fee, i would love to apply again for the sweet sweet job of playtesting.
I know that we are in China, but that fee is just ridiculous. Be reasonable, Happy employee means good work, good work means good quality, good quality means good sales, good sales means prosperous company. Catch the drift?