This edition of Inside the Vault features Christopher Krietz. Chris was one of our best testers on Oblivion, and is currently our QA Lead for Oblivion Game of the Year. After GOTY ships, Chris will be focusing his ninja testing powers onto Fallout 3.
Chris once won a pie for winning a three way race against Todd Howard and Jeff Browne to finish Oblivion’s main quest (during beta testing). His winning time as of the end of the final cutscene and movie: 02:12:29 (difficulty slider allowed, no console cheats).
What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m a Quality Assurance Team Lead.
What projects have you worked on?
Since starting at Bethesda, I’ve been on the QA team for several of our titles… Call of Cthulhu, IHRA, Breeders Cup, and many flavors of Oblivion. You gain a fine appreciation for a lot of games out there, after testing a Horse Racing Sim.
As the Oblivion Game of the Year test lead, what is it like testing a game that you’ve already played for hundreds of hours already?
I won’t lie and say each moment is as good as the first few with it, but I can still sit down and enjoy playing. I’ll still find things I hadn’t seen before (I only found out about the giant mudcrab fairly recently, for example), or get into situations that are new and exciting even now. There’s a bit of tedium with it, sometimes… but in the end there is a comforting feeling, being in Cyrodiil, it’s almost like being home.
What do you like best about working as a tester? What is the worst part?
For me, the best part about being a tester is being involved in the production and completion of games — it’s awesome to see the evolution of a title from the initial design up to a fully polished game and knowing that in some tiny way, you’ve had a hand in it. As for the worst part… I would have to say that the worst part of being a tester is dealing with the outside world’s perception of your position. People have some glamorous preconceptions about testing and gaming industry jobs in general, and while it certainly is fun and a great thing to be a part of you only get out of it what you put into it… just like any other job. Which leads me into the next question…
How did you get into the industry? Do you have an tips for breaking in?
I applied out of the blue on a whim when a friend had mentioned that they were looking for testers, while browsing Bethsoft’s site. I have to admit that I was slightly surprised when I got a call, and before I knew it, here I was. As for anyone looking to get into making games… I would think a passion for games first and foremost is important. Be friendly and know how to have fun and be prepared to work hard in whatever field you happen to call home. Be confident and make yourself known but don’t be too persistent, patience is a virtue. Good luck!
What is it like working at Bethesda?
I’d say we’re a pretty friendly group of people, the different teams usually don’t have any problems getting together to discuss ideas and go over problems. Things are generally pretty intimate in that regard, around here… everyone gets involved in some way. Occasionally when they unchain us from the QA Cave and take us on our daily walk, we’ll get to offer our input — in the end, the games are for the fans, which all of us here are.
What is your favorite type of game to play?
I like all kinds of games! Right now, I’m playing World of Warcraft, replaying Starcraft (excited about 2), Crackdown, Oblivion (ironic that I can’t escape it), Guitar Hero 2, GTA:San Andreas (can’t wait for 4), and Civilization 2 (still my favorite). I’ve recently had a hankering for a few other games… X-Com, Syndicate, and some other older titles… I’ll have to break out DOSBox some time.
Have you played any of the Fallout games?
My introduction to the series started with Wasteland on the C64 — at the time I was fairly young and didn’t think much about it as I was playing a lot of the other great RPGs at the time too (Ultima 4-5, Bards Tale, Might and Magic 2, the SSI Gold Box D&D games), but I’ve since revisited it and have greatly enjoyed it. Admittedly, I’ve not spent as much time playing Fallout 1 and 2… I played quite a bit of 1 but never completed it, and never got ahold of 2. I think the whole world of the franchise is great. I find the setting fascinating.
What games are you looking forward to on the horizon?
Tough question, I like trying every game at least once… but I’d have to say the ones I’m looking forward to most are probably Bioshock, GTA4, Blue Dragon, PGR4, Rock Band, Lost Odyssey, and Fallout 3 of course.
What would you say is the best game you’ve played in the last year?
Would you hate me if I said Oblivion? Probably… so aside from that I’d have to go with Gears of War (late 2006 counts right?). It’s one of the few games I’ve played lately that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. My World of Warcraft addiction is still going strong, and Guitar Hero 2 on the 360 was tons of fun, as was Crackdown… but I’m gonna have to give this one to Gears for now.
Other than videogames, what are your interests?
I’m an all-around nerd I think, as for board games, I’m currently playing a lot of Go. I also enjoy pen & paper RPGs (started with AD&D 1st edition, have also played a bit of Rolemaster, MERPS, World of Darkness stuff, and others)… As for reading, I’m currently rereading the Harry Potter series in anticipation of the final book coming out soon, other than that I’ve lately been a huge Neal Stephenson fan… fairly typical musical tastes for my demographic I think, rock, metal, alternative, etc. Just picked up the ‘reunion’ album from the Smashing Pumpkins yesterday, not sure what I think of it yet. I also like to draw, bit of an anime-nerd, I’ve done a little programming… I could go on and on.
Pitch me your dream game in a sentence or less. Go.
GTA meets Crackdown meets City of Heroes — I want to be a free-form superhero in a living, breathing, over-the-top comic-book world.
Finally, time for a rant. Go.
What is it with the vilification of gaming in the media and the political sphere these days? A Class E Felony in New York to sell an M-rated game to a minor? You’re telling me that someone who sells a copy of Oblivion to a high school student deserves the same punishment as someone who assaults a police officer with a firearm, or burns a church, trafficks methamphetamines, or physically abuses a child? Perhaps some folks should reconsider their priorities.