>> Tuesday, March 20, 2007
"My first real job in technology was as a QA tester for a company that made games for the CD-i platform. I worked the night shift there while I was in college to help pay the bills. 9PM-2AM. Ugh. When I was in college those seemed like pretty sweet hours, though :-)"
With these words CD-i tester Jason started. "In retrospect the CD-i platform seems pretty weak (and even at the time I could tell it was a bad bet business-wise -- the high cost limited its appeal), but it was doing some pretty cool stuff hardware-wise, at least for 1994-95. The CD-i titles I got to work with were uniformly awful. There was a Civil War strategy game based on the Battle of First Manassas, for example. A "feature" of the game was that you could set different postures for the AI opponent; "Cautious", say, or "Aggressive". The only problem was that, no matter which you chose, the AI always ended up massing its units into a giant blob and then charging them all North or South, depending on which side it was on. Oops!
Another title that was much-hated inside the test lab was an NFL football trivia game. This was loathed because it had a bank of audio quotes from real NFL announcers; it would play a quote back to you after each question. Unfortunately there were only about 10 quotes in the system, so you got real tired of them real fast. One priceless aspect of that game, though: if you were unfamiliar with the rules of the trivia game, it had an audio feature with one of those announcers where he explained the basic rules to you. One of those rules was that each player had to pick an NFL team to represent them in the game. This meant that the famous announcer guy had to explain to players that, in a 2 player game, each player had to choose a different team -- they both couldn't be the Chicago Bears, for example. But due to a poorly written script, the way he explained it was (and I quote): "One more thing: remember, no team can play with itself."
Another one I worked on was called "Kingdom: the Far Reaches", anticipated to be a Blockbuster Title because it was one of the few CD-i games that used the "DV Pack" addon (an MPEG-1 video decoder) to allow glorious Full Motion Video. Pretty cool, except it meant that the already small universe of potential customers (people with CD-i's) suddenly became an order of magnitude smaller (people with CD-is who ALSO have the DV Pack). :-D "
Sure not all CD-i testers have fond memories of the system, and it's nice to read what bugged them the most about a difficult system like CD-i! Questions for Jason? Post them here!