PROFESSIONAL RESILIENCE: USW GAMES GRADUATE Dafydd Jones discusses networking and testing options during his Research internship with Fictioneers - even despite social distancing
This week felt a whole lot more stable than our first week! We got a fresh new build so we were able to start playing the story from the beginning which helped me a lot. It was confusing being dropped in the middle of stuff and hard to figure out what I was doing and what everyone else was doing too. Now we have a new build I feel like we can really start getting into the app. It’s a lot easier to understand when you start at the beginning!
We started the week with a Product Café session. These sessions are a chance for the team to get together and address any concerns or ideas they have about the app. I really enjoyed this one! Maybe because it feels really design orientated and that’s what I enjoy.
I was surprised with how involved fellow intern Dan was! He was bringing points and it was great to see the team responding to them really well! I suppose there’s this worry when you first start at a place right? How will they treat me? What will my job be, really? Maybe it’s just my anxiety, but maybe other people can relate. I was relieved and encouraged to see another intern being treated as part of the team already. Everyone has been very kind to us.
The Product Café was so interesting. They have this whole Miro board with little sections for different things, and people on the team can leave suggestions and worries about specific areas of the app. Then members from all over the teams come together and talk about it. They decide what they’re going to do, if it needs to be addressed, how important it is, and they brainstorm ideas on how to implement/fix it! It’s the kind of problem solving that design is all about! I love it.
We also had our first Bug Triage session this week! I didn’t have anything to contribute really, it was just watching, but it’s good to see how the team operates and how bugs get dealt with. It was a very practical meeting, assigning tasks to people and checking on things. I can’t say it was super interesting personally? Some things are more essential than fun though, that’s just development and probably true for any job.
Last meeting was our check-in with the design team, to see how we’re getting on. This week has been really smooth. I’ve been able to log a few bugs and test out the app a bunch!
The thing that I’ve been adapting to is coming onto a project so late. I’ve only ever worked on games from inception, so it’s strange to be handed something almost done. I’m trying to find my place still. It’s far too late in development to start pitching ideas or anything like that (and I’m an intern so that’s not really my place anyway, I’m sure these folks know better than me). Bug testing is sort of like a support role, you’re there to help the others along. While I’m forming my own opinion of the app, it ultimately isn’t about my opinion, I’m just there to help. Does that sound self-centered? Well I guess I’m just trying to explain how it feels being pulled into an already formed team, which is something I came into the internship to learn! Nothing I’m experiencing is bad, it’s just new, so I’m having to work out what to do and how I fit as I go.
This week has definitely felt more structured and calm, I’m excited to see what comes next!
After having got through the first week, with all the introductions and early morning meetings, the second week felt a lot calmer. Dan and I were invited to two new meetings and got to spend more time testing the app.
We started the week off with the ‘Product Café’ meeting. Since it was our first time attending we mainly sat and listened, but it was really interesting to hear the views on the app from the team making it! All the members of the team spend time playing through the story, to find bugs, test the features, and also check the flow of the narrative. In this meeting everyone talks about their own experience with the app, and not just in their own areas of expertise, anyone from any team can make suggestions and flag issues. This is such a great way of seeing what parts of the app work and which parts need developing to enhance the experience and make it accessible for a range of ages. After all the testing Dan and I carried out this week, we’re excited to bring up and discuss our points in next week’s ‘Product Café’ meeting.
The second meeting I attended this week was the ‘Bug Triage’. In this meeting a representative from each of the teams comes to discuss the bugs within the app. The main bugs that require more than just a quick fix are handed out to the appropriate team to handle, and previous bugs are discussed to see the progress on them. One thing that resulted in a wide range of bugs, but I personally had never considered when thinking of mobile app development, is the different requirements for Android and iOS phones. As mentioned last week, I’m not the most technically advanced when it comes to app creation, but learning about how the team have created their own system, mixing Unity and Flutter, so that the app works for a wide range of phones was really eye-opening in seeing how hard the team have, and still are, working to make this app accessible to everyone.
When it came to testing, my initial assumption was that as interns we would test for bugs and check that the narrative of the story flowed smoothly, but so much more goes into testing than just this. The whole interface of an app inherently affects the user; the way things are ordered should guide the user through the app with the intention of making the story and mechanics easy to follow. Even with the app being released in a relatively short time, changes like this are still being made because of staff and testers suggestions, to make sure the users end up with the best possible version of the app on its release (and knowing I’ve had a hand in that is so cool!).
One of the things I’ve learnt over the two weeks is how discussion is such an important tool in testing. Experiences I had in the game that I hadn’t initially considered an area to critique, but still took a mental note of, were then emphasised when I heard my fellow intern Dan had similar thoughts about the topic. Being able to feed this and other points back to the design team is great in understanding the intentions of the app, how closely we follow this when testing, and in what ways we stray from this. Whilst Dan and I spent a lot of time in one area of the app, many members of the team found themselves spending very little time there. As the team are already familiar with the narrative of the story it’s good to get fresh eyes to look through it, to see how someone with no knowledge would navigate through the story, and also check that it all makes sense.
We interns have even more exciting meetings in the upcoming weeks. After returning from their time off, we’ll get the chance to sit down and talk with the members of the team who specialise in the areas we’re interested in. Since I’m doing my degree in animation, I’m particularly excited to meet one of the animators from Aardman, and see how they’ve contributed to the app!
With lots of exciting things coming up make sure to check in next week and learn more about my intern adventure.
· Bright Spark Apprentice Chloe
Settling in and making a contribution! USW GAme design student dan glazzard reflects on the learnings he's gaining as his behind the scenes internship with fictioneers continues
The Big Fix Up: Time to get to work!