Super Mega Baseball started in a basement with just two devs – Christian and Scott. Eventually they brought on Tobyn and Dan to handle art, Mike to round out the programming team, and the crew at Tetrahedral to help with presentation. But before shipping the game, it was time to tackle bugs.
Liane: What did you need next to get this thing out?
Christian: Well, we were in a state where we started to have a product that was by no means done, but at least starting to be playable…to some extent. And we knew that we didn’t really have anyone that was going to be able to actually test, put serious hours into the game.
Scott: There was finally enough stuff actually working that it was ready for real testing.
Christian: Yeah, so that was very quickly becoming a large issue for us. We knew we needed to bring the quality of the thing up, and there was not really anyone to do that.
Scott: And balance, too. Some of the mechanics were far enough along that starting to work on the difficulty and the balance was becoming important.
Liane: So Andrew, how did you come on?
Andrew: Well, we first met through an internship I did with Metalhead while I was still in school for general programming computer stuff. They had a few little things they wanted me to do. I did some web work, and I did testing. But after I finished school they wanted an actual full-time QA position. It started out part-time but the main focus was QA over anything else.
Scott: Because you had done a whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff in the internship, even if it was all over the place, you knew a ton about what we were trying to accomplish. You sort of understood the whole project, our major design goals and the end goal - from a user’s perspective.
Andrew: I should mention, too, that I had seen Christian's long hair on the website and was really disappointed by not seeing it when I first came in.
Christian: Oh yeah.
Scott: That’s awesome actually.
The long hair in question, which he cut off just before Andrew's internship:
[Sidenote from Scott: I'd also like to throw in a shout out to George here! There are several folks outside our core dev team, including friends and family, who you won't see heavily mentioned in this blog series, but they all helped us make the game happen. George helped us part-time with some operational stuff in 2013 and early 2014. One of those things was arranging some internships (which led to Andrew's involvement) and also helping us run several of our group focus testing sessions...pretty relevant stuff at this stage of the story. Thanks George!]
Liane: Were you excited to be working on a sports game?
Andrew: Um, I had basically never played a sports game before then. Cause I was never a “sports” kind of guy. It was a new experience.
Christian: As it is for most people here.
Scott: Yeah, the irony.
Liane: What kind of games are you into playing?
Andrew: Well this has already been talked about in a blog post. I am the JRPG guy.
Scott: Anywhere you see JRPG on our website, we’re talking about Andrew…he’s our token JRPG guy at this point.
Liane: He’s our diversity.
Scott: Yeah, we’ve reduced him to “JRPG guy” in everything in our marketing.
Andrew: But I’ve had experience in a lot of genres. Sports is maybe the only genre I didn’t have experience in.
Christian: I think that because you love Super Smash Bros, it’s very applicable.
Scott: That’s almost a sports game.
Christian: Super Smash Bros is like a side scrolling sports game.
Scott: Yeah, Andrew, you like your fighting games and they’re close.
Christian: I’m pretty sure fighting is a sport. I’m just saying.
Andrew: Completely different.
Christian: Pretty sure it’s sports. **Laughing**
Liane: How has the gaming you’ve done in other genres influenced your work here?
Andrew: I guess it helped me just being experienced in gaming in general, it made it faster to learn the game. When we would introduce the game to people at PAX Prime or other places it was interesting seeing people not figuring out how to play as quickly as I would.
Here's Andrew playing SMB with gamers at PAX Prime:
Andrew: And I think relatively quickly I got up high in the Egos too.
Scott: Oh yeah, you were the best player for a long time. And then I caught up. And I’m clearly significantly better now.
Liane: What Ego were you playing at, Andrew?
Andrew: I’m trying to remember where I was when we first released. But now it’s like, 95 Ego games…“sure, why not?”
Scott: And just to put this in perspective, where did your baseball knowledge start? Had you even heard of something called an “infield fly” prior to working with us?
Andrew: Yeah, I knew more baseball than you probably thought I did. And I totally did put “is familiar with the official rules of baseball” in my resume, which was a total lie.
Andrew: But I played a bit of little league, and my Dad’s a fan of baseball so I was familiar with enough to make that lie and pass it off.
Liane: That’s awesome.
Scott: Well there you go.
Andrew: But I certainly know it a lot more now.
Scott: I’m sure you do.
Andrew: Yeah, too much.
Christian: So when you first started and you knew what we were trying to do, did you think the thing was going to ship in 2014?
Christian: It was like April or May 2014 when you started. And I mean, it was pretty rough at the time.
Andrew: Um, it’s kind of hard to remember but if I threw a shot in the dark I’d say 50/50 for 2014. I mean, it was clearly on the way to being done, it was going to happen sooner or later. It didn’t look like there was any chance of it being cancelled, and some games get cancelled really late in their development. But it looked like we were past that.
Liane: I would like to know how many hours you’ve played of Super Mega Baseball?
Andrew: I don’t want to know.
Scott: Probably like 8 hours a day times 6 months full-time. Ballpark something like that.
(Which is around 1,000 hours, btw)
Christian: No, I don’t think it was that much. Cause it wasn’t full-time all the time.
Scott: But when you add up the bits and pieces over 2015, too?
Andrew: The most I've ever put into a single game is probably Skyrim at around 440 hours, and more than that into Super Mega Baseball.
Christian: I think the only person competing with that is Scott’s Dad.
Scott: Oh my Dad’s up there now. I think he’s got close to that on Steam at this point. Like, since the Steam release, not even including all the testing.
Liane: How did things change when Andrew started doing QA?
Scott: I wanna say we had like a hundred issues, maybe 150 issues in our JIRA database when you started and I’d love to look back and see what the peak number of open issues was, but I think we got to over a thousand open issues at one point.
Christian: Oh yeah.
Andrew: I remember Christian complaining about how much bigger the red section was getting on the graph.
Christian: Yeah, cause we were using this bug tracker and there’s a green line on it and a red line on it. The green line is the number of issues you’ve fixed, and the red line is the number of issues that are getting reported as bugs, and when you first started the red line just took off. Suddenly there’s hundreds of bugs that are being entered.
Scott: Totally, and I don’t care how small an issue is, when there are 900 bugs on a list and there are three people that can resolve them, that sucks.
Christian: Yeah, that did suck.
Andrew: It was a lot more fun when there were new things to find, though. Fun for me.
Christian: Yeah, I remember you liked reporting issues. When the pickings were easy. In the beginning it was like every screen he went into there were 25 things that didn’t work right. So wherever he went it was glorious bugs everywhere to report, nothing was working.
Andrew: Yeah eventually it came to a point where it was a struggle to find bugs. And I would be spending the 8 hours a day just playing the game. And it is a fun game, I can definitely appreciate that it’s a fun game. But it’s also a sports game, so after so many hours of playing it, it’s not a fun game. For someone who isn’t into sports games.
Christian: I think that probably applies to everyone. There’s an upper limit.
Andrew: So there was a while when work was not exciting, and then it came to the point where there were TRCs (Sony’s Technical Requirements Checklist) and work was just horrible. **Laughing** The tediousness of checking every little thing so many times. Following all these actual steps instead of just playing and seeing what happens.
Christian: How do you feel about your contribution to the game, though? Like, from where we stand the quality went through the roof when you came on. How do you feel about it?
Andrew: I mean, sure, the game improved because there was a QA guy there. Any QA guy could have done that.
Scott: And let’s end the post with that.
Whether any QA guy could have done it, or whether it was just Andrew, the game quality was brought up to a high standard when he joined the team. In our next post, we'll talk about the other, less official, QA guy for Super Mega Baseball - Scott's Dad.