Well I have had this interview for a while now but due to issues with the forums etc I wanted to keep it until things were a bit more stable!
I had the chance to send some questions to Misk who leads up the QA section of Ultima Online a very important department when it comes to all piece of content!
So I would like to say a BIG thank you to Misk for answering my questions and to Mesanna for making it possible! I hope everyone enjoys!
Q: Where did the name Misk come from?
A: The name is a combination of Michael and Risk. I was originally dubbed Misk by a roommate in San Diego due to my recurring dominance over him and a group of friends in the board game Risk and it just stuck.
Q: What does QA do and at what point of the process does new content come to you?
A: I maintain the general QA workflow which consists of confirming and submitting bug reports, providing detailed game information to the developers as needed, and supporting the development team through feedback and reporting on features and issues.
As far as when new content reaches me it varies. In some cases I am in on the process before anything is even implemented by acting as a sounding board for development, while in some cases the first time I learn about something is when I am compiling our daily changelist.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: Each day is different, however there are some things that I tend to do daily. I confirm that our daily client builds built properly. I put together a list of the changes/submissions from the prior day and perform positive and negative testing on them. I also monitor all of our player bug submitting systems.
Q: How did you end up working on UO's Dev team?
A: Simply put Bonnie was offered a promotion. Prior to the move out to Virginia we had come out for a visit and during the visit I interviewed with Mythicís QA management team and was offered the job. I had played the game for years and I have always been extremely detail oriented which were viewed as very high pluses. If she had not been offered the promotion, more than likely I would still be working at an accounting firm.
Q: Before doing QA for UO what did you do?
A: I had worked for a small accounting firm in San Diego for about 10 years. I also did some independent contractor bookkeeping for several small businesses.
Q: How long have you played UO?
A: Off and on since November of 1997. Mostly ON since my oldest account just recently hit 180 months.
Q: What do you think makes UO so unique?
A: A few answers pop into my mind. UO is a sandbox MMO and unlike a lot of MMOs there is no train track-like experience in UO; you can play and experience the game however you like. Another thing that makes UO so unique is its skill system and the fact that if I want to be a singing archer I can literally make a character that uses musicianship and archery, if I want to make mage beggar, I can make a mage with the begging skill. I have played many MMOs that were class based and often found it difficult to find a class that I thoroughly enjoyed. I never had that problem in UO.
Q: What has been your favourite expansion to be part of?
A: The Stygian Abyss expansion was probably my favorite one. There was just so much content involved in that expansion and it was incredibly fun and challenging to test.
Q: Which expansion gave you the most bother from a QA perspective?
A: I donít feel that any of the expansions that I have been involved with were a bother. I would say that the most intensive and nerve-wracking expansion was, again, the Stygian Abyss expansion. There was just so much to test between all of the new content, new systems and new client.
Q: What is the most memorable moment in your role?
A: I would still say that testing smooth boat movement was one of the most memorable moments. After having spent years out on the seas fishing and other sea faring things (<cough> 8x8), when smooth boat movement was introduced and we began testing it out, I was absolutely amazed.
Q: Do you prefer testing structure or something mobile like a monster or creature?
A: My top preference would be testing bug fixes, however I also really enjoy doing negative testing on new systems. It is one thing to do the positive testing and confirm that the content does what it should, although it is entirely different trying to break the content.
Q: If you could change one thing in UO right now what would it be?
A: I would love to be involved in some sort of pet revamp. Right now there are so few reasons to use anything but a greater dragon. I would love for us to provide players with reasons to use other pets.
Q: What is the biggest challenge for you as QA on UO?
A: Fifteen years of content is probably the biggest challenge. Everything in the game is so inter-twined and making a small change to one thing can adversely affect something seemingly unrelated. An attempt to change the spawn in a specific region could potentially break tinkering or cause moongates to stop functioning or something worse. With so many years of material in the game, it can be difficult at times.
Q: With the big bug squash for Pub 80, is your department working overtime to test all the fixes?
A: Definitely, a lot of hours have been put in while testing all of the fixes.
Q: UO's 15th Birthday marked a World record achievement , What do you think will keep UO going for another 15 years?
A: Keeping the players happy, if we continue to put out solid, interesting and enjoyable content the game could last indefinitely.
Q: What other games do you play if any? And on what formats, PS3, Xbox, PC etc?
A: Every year for my anniversary I get a copy of the latest MLB the Show game for my PS3 and I honestly get about 3 months worth of enjoyment from that game. I also enjoy most 4X games and have recently been playing Fallen Enchantress and putting a lot of my free time into another game called Project Zomboid.