Meet Michael Lattanzia, one of our best QA testers. Nobody makes games as big as ours and our testers are vital to our success. After we shipped Oblivion, many of our testers could troubleshoot and debug quest issues better than the designers could.
What’s your job at Bethesda?
I am a Quality Assurance tester here at Bethesda. I have the dream job of sitting around playing games all day.
What other games have you worked on?
I started out working on Oblivion for the Playstation 3, and I also got to work some with Shivering Isles. Since then I’ve mostly been working on Fallout 3, with the exception of a couple weeks that I helped out on AMF Bowling: Pinbusters for the Wii.
What is the best part about working as a tester? The worst part?
The worst part of being a tester is how repetitive it can get. Most people rarely spend more than 100 hours or so on a game, but as a tester we have to spend literally thousands of hours on the same game before it’s released. That quest that was really fun the first time through seems a lot less interesting when you’re playing it again for the 20th time.
The best part is everything else. I love getting to see the changes a game goes through over the course of the development. It’s also very entertaining seeing some of the crazy bugs that pop up along the way.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
I used to spend a lot of time checking and re-checking all of the local game studios for job openings. After a few years of not seeing much in the way of game jobs, I happened to notice listings for QA interns with a couple of the local companies. I immediately put together both a resume and a cover letter and sent them out for several different jobs. I was lucky enough to get asked in for an interview. I think my experience with beta testing and my programming background helped me get the position.
I got pretty lucky, so the only tip I can offer for breaking in to the industry is to not give up and keep searching and applying for any jobs. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get in right away, be persistent.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
It’s way too hard to narrow it down to a single game, but there are several that pop out. Lunar: The Silver Star for Sega CD is one that holds a special place in my heart, I just loved the story and the cut scenes. The Civilization series is one of my favorites, and has brought many sleepless nights. I absolutely love the Monster Hunter series and keep going back to it again and again. I loved Diablo 2, but I was so addicted to it that I refuse to let myself install it again, no matter how much my friends bug me to play with them again.
What games are you looking forward to?
Well, I’ve been following Spore for a couple years now so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m a big fan of Will Wright, and I love games with lots of customization. I am an MMO junkie, so I’m really looking forward to Age of Conan. I am excited about the PvP aspects, especially the city building and sieges. I am excited for both Grand Theft Auto IV and Fable 2 mainly for the multiplayer aspects of both. I can’t wait for the next game in the Monster Hunter series as well, and I’m really hoping that they’ll bring the Monster Hunter MMO over to the US at some point.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Usually my alarm clock going off for the fourth or fifth time, I’m not much of a morning person. Seriously though, just knowing that I get to go to work and play video games is enough.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
It’s a close call, but I have to go with doing tech support for cable modems over the phone. That was just not a pleasant experience.
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
If I’m not playing video games in my free time then chances are I’m watching a movie. I love everything from the big blockbusters to weird independent films. Some of my favorites are The Crow, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Across the Universe, and Wedding Singer. I’ve been collecting DVDs for a couple years and my collection is up to about 600 or so.
I enjoy doing anything with computers, whether it be hardware or software. I used to spend a lot of time building machines, then tweaking and overclocking to try and top the 3DMark charts. I’m also going to school for programming, so I spend a lot of time working on various programming projects. I’ve spent a lot of time playing around with the Torque engine, and recently I’ve started looking into developing a simple 2D engine in XNA.