Inside the Vault: Terry Dunn

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Inside the Vault presents Terry Dunn, quality assurance tester.

What’s your job at Bethesda?
I am a quality assurance tester, which basically means I get to play games for a living. While it may sound like a glorified position to some, it actually requires persistence, conviction, and thoroughness. It’s my job to track down issues in our games, find a way to reproduce it if possible, and then write a report up for it and submit it to the developers for review. When fixes come in, I double check it to make sure the problem has been resolved.

What other games have you worked on?
Aside from Fallout 3, I’ve worked out Star Trek: Conquest on PS2, Ducati Moto for the DS, and also helped out on AMF Bowling: Pinbusters! for the DS.

What is the best part about working as a tester? The worst part?
Best: Depending on when you come in on a project, it’s really interesting to see the different phases a game can go through during a development cycle, and how much the different gameplay elements and quests can evolve over a period of time. It should also go without saying that getting to experience a highly-anticipated title first hand before the general public is a nice perk.

Worst: Easily the one thing I dread are bugs that have low reproducibility. These are bugs that can be a real pain to replicate and sometimes they require an odd combination of steps to reproduce, an extended amount of play time, or in some cases, it might even just be a fluke. You never know.

How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
This wasn’t a walk in the park for me. I had to constantly check in with HR for openings and eventually I got my foot in the door. I started out with an internship on Conquest, and got hired back full time a few months later for Ducati and Fallout 3.

You just have to keep at it — persistence and tactfulness are key.

What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
I was always a huge fan of Xenogears on the original PlayStation. I can honestly say it was one of the few linear RPGs that I played through more than once. It was an odd combination of Mechs, martial arts, magic, and awesome story that just drew me in again and again. The original dev team at Squaresoft supposedly had a prequel and several sequels already in the works, but the team left Square and couldn’t exactly take all the original rights to the game with them. They came out with the Xenosaga trilogy later on, but it just wasn’t the same for me.

What games are you looking forward to?
I know it sounds corny, but I’m actually looking forward to Fallout 3, or rather, some of my friends are really looking forward to it, and it’s going to be cool seeing what their take on the game is.

I have high hopes for the next big MMO, whatever that may be, but I don’t think it’s here yet. I was a big WoW fan, and am willing to try the new expansion out this fall. I didn’t care for anything else that’s out now. When I have time, I’m looking forward to spending more time with Spore.

I’m also looking forward to Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3.  (Isn’t it obvious I like Blizzard?)

What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
I hop out of bed whistling with a smile on my face! I don’t even need an alarm.

No, really, I hate getting up. I don’t care what job I have. I get up because I have to go to work. :)

Worst job you’ve ever had?
I used to work for a food/drink vendor manufacturer. I had to get up wicked early, was usually sore when I got off work, and was sore when I woke up the next morning, so I knew it was always going to be a fun day ahead of me. Also, this one time I drilled a hole in my thumb… yeah that sucked.

Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to get out as often as I can without spending a lot of money, so this generally involves outdoorsy type things with my friends.  We went spelunking recently and I realized what a sissy I can be, but it was fun nonetheless. I also like to draw, listen to music, go to movies, and play games mostly. Or just whatever’s else is fun.

Reader Comments

  1. @Delaric He is smiling… You can tell because his stare doesn’t bore quite as deeply into your soul as it normally does. This one leaves you with chills instead of the cold, dark despair that you’d normally feel when Terry looks at you.

  2. He was smiling but then heard what sounded like someone dropping a bag of russet potatoes down the stairs, and clearly you can see the concern on his face.

  3. Hi Terry!

    I’m a 3rd year game design student from Sweden and I’m graduating within a year. As I soon have to fly into the game industry, I have a few questions that I hope you can help me with.

    1. Working with QA, what differents kinds of QA is there and how hard do you think it is to get into the different areas of QA?

    2. Personally I’m interested in developing and researching different ways to conduct QA and I have alot of interest in marketing. What kind of QA work do you think fits best for me?

    3. Can you work with both QA and other areas of game developing at the same time, like working with QA alot in general, but at the same time use that experience to a working area where you help changing the game to better fit the market? Sorry for long sentence.

    Cheers,
    Joakim Bergman
    University of Skövde, Sweden

  4. i would like to know why you quality assurance testers wasn’t able to find the problems that we are having today? there are a High amount of people having issues with the game and you guys weren’t able to find them so quickly as we did.