Train2Game recently sat down for a chat with THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3 Senior Game Designer Wes Bunn at a preview event in London. In an in depth interview with The Train2Game Blog, Bunn discussed developing UFC Undisputed 3, Game Design, QA Testing, getting into the industry and more.
In part two of our interview, the THQ Senior Game Designer discusses getting into the games industry and the importance of QA Testing in game development. Read it right here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game Scribd page. As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.
How did you get started in the games industry?
I actually got started as a QA Tester back in 2000. It’s funny how this industry works because it’s really small. I started at a Crave Entertainment, who had the UFC license way back in 2000, I tested UFC Tap Out 1 and 2 back on the original Xbox. That’s how I got started and that’s how I got introduced to UFC.
So how important is testing to the game development process?
I think testing is huge. Back when I started there wasn’t these education programmes where you could go to the different schools and learn about game design, which is cool now, but back then they didn’t have that. But I think in QA Testing you get to see the whole development process, so you get to see iterative builds come in and see the changes, learn the debugging process; that’s a huge part of making sure the game comes out polished, that there’s no imbalanced things in the game, that there’s no exploits, so testing is a huge process, not just with our game but any game.
How did you work your way up from being a QA Tester to being a Senior Game Designer now?
As a QA Tester you get the opportunity to suggest things, that’s basically how I got started when I was working on the original UFC was suggesting ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we do this, and this is how I think this should work.’ I went to different studios but eventually became a Lead QA tester and was mentoring other QA Testers, then I got into working into production. From production I found out I didn’t really like the production aspect of it, I liked the creative aspects, so from production I got into some junior design work at a Sony studio. I’ve been designing ever since.
For those who might not know, what are the differences between game production and game design?
The production aspect deals more with scheduling, making sure everything comes in on time, making sure that if you’re working with a licensed product, especially, you deal specifically with the licensor. Production also deals with managing the QA Testing process, the development process, dealing with the licensor and marketing as well. Designer focuses on the creative aspects of the game, the game content. That’s where I prefer to be.
So how big is the game design team for UFC Undisputed 3?
It’s pretty big! The situation that we’re in is kind of unique. We’re a co-development team, so we have a group of game designers at the THQ offices and then we have a group of game designers at Yuke’s office in Japan and we co-develop UFC Undisputed 3 together. Most of the design concepts are generated by the THQ team, implementation is done by Yuke’s then the balance and tuning is done by THQ. But there’s a lot of back and forth with Yuke’s, they’ve been great to work with and have offered up some suggestions and have been willing to accept suggestions and things we come up with.
With Yuke’s being based in Japan and THQ in the USA, how do you go about collaborating with them?
It’s been really challenging, we’ve done a lot of teleconferences with them, but we’ve made a lot trips out there. Last year alone we made ten trips to Japan, so I’ve racked up the frequent flyer miles! There are a lot of TV conferences in addition to meetings on site.
Back to getting into the industry, what advice would you give to those aspiring to work in it?
Probably the biggest thing to do, the best thing, is play a lot of games. Not just the mainstream games, the blockbuster games, play a lot of indie games and expand your pallet so you can touch every area. As far as getting into the industry is concerned, you break in through focus group tests. Usually a company will bring people in to test their game and give feedback on what they think of the game. We do focus tests for our products, there’s usually an opportunity there if they like your suggestions enough to bring you on as a QA Tester or something. Now they have the schools you can go to that’s an avenue as well, I have some friends who are enrolled in schools now, but back when I was around they didn’t have that!
And would community created content, such as that of UFC Undisputed 3, be something an aspiring game developer could show to potential employers?
That’s true actually, especially for an artist, creating stuff with user generated content and saying ‘this is what I made’ will help with a CV as well. I think publishers and developers are looking at that stuff.
Thanks for your time Wes.
UFC Undisputed 3 is released on 17th February 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3.
For more about UFC Undisputed 3, and some great advice about getting into the industry, see The Train2Game Blog interview with UFC Undisputed 3 Neven Dravinski from last year’s Gamescom.