We are happy to say that TibiaQA has interviewed Bolfrim - the lead tester at CipSoft. Find out what challenges await the Tibia testers and read about some funny bugs they encountered!
This interview is also available in the following languages:
Hello Bolfrim! Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I'm happy to say that most of them have been collected from the tibian community, so the topics raised in the interview are something they are especially interested in!
TibiaQA: For the start, can you tell us a bit about your real self? Who is Bolfrim?
Bolfrim: My real name is Sebastian, I'm 41 years old and I'm from Germany (most of the time I've lived in southern Germany but I have also spent some time near and in Hamburg). I'm a gamer and I'm playing on PC and PS4. I also like watching movies and reading books. I'm interested in photography and videography (especially aerial photography). In addition, I'm a passionate motorcyclist. I've been working for CipSoft since February 2010.
TibiaQA: We know that your role in CipSoft is Lead Tester. What does that mean? What are your main responsibilities? How does your typical day look like?
Bolfrim: As a lead tester, I am responsible for organizing the team that does all the internal testing of our games. In addition, I advise all product teams regarding testing. From time to time, I also have the chance to test smaller features myself. A typical day looks something like this: When I arrive at the office I usually check my emails and calendar (after I had a coffee, of course). Then I check the status of any ongoing tests and if there are new tasks waiting
to be planned. The rest of the day is a lot of communication with my team (answering questions, helping out) and the product teams in different meetings.
TibiaQA: Being the Lead Tester, how do your responsibilities vary from other testers in CipSoft?
Bolfrim: A lead tester has to do more organizing and planning. There are more meetings including, for example, to lead job interviews. But at the end of the day, I'm still a tester:-).
TibiaQA: What was the most interesting challenge that you have faced in CipSoft as the Lead Tester?
Bolfrim: The biggest change for me personally was the fact that you test much less yourself and sit in a lot more meetings as the lead. But it is also exciting to work more closely with the management or to do new things such as job interviews.
TibiaQA: What was the weirdest/funniest bug that you have encountered in Tibia (either in the final version or on the test server)?
Bolfrim: Weird bugs in Tibia are often things that do not belong together at first sight. For example, the introduction of a new feature that has nothing to do with the chat and suddenly the chat does not work anymore. More on the funny side were things like killable NPCs or a not accessible level of a dungeon and everyone was wondering why no one had tamed the new mount days after the release (guess where you had to go ;-)).
TibiaQA: On the other hand, what was the most harming hack/exploit ever exposed/found that made it to the final version?
Bolfrim: This is really hard to answer because hacks and exploits are a sensitive matter. In general, the most harmful bugs are those that cause server crashes and resets or damage database integrity. However, we certainly work hard to find such errors in advance.
TibiaQA: Does the testing team visit social platforms to find feedback/bugs? Like posts on Reddit, clips on YouTube/Twitch, etc.
Bolfrim: After a release, we get bug reports and feedback from players via different channels. In general, we don't check social platforms ourselves for bug reports. However, our customer support and community management relay bug reports to us, too, and tutors can send us reports directly. Shortly after a release, we testers often observe the forum ourselves to see if any critical problems made it into the release.
TibiaQA: We know that balancing hunting grounds is a hot topic and a difficult thing to test since many factors need to be taken into account. Other than players' feedback on test servers, how does the testing team approach balancing the content?
Bolfrim: We are not involved in balancing content. During our internal tests, we give feedback regarding certain aspects of new content. Balancing, however, is done by the content team with the help of Tibians on the test server and other feedback our community management collects. We are responsible for technical and functional testing.
TibiaQA: How do you approach testing hunting grounds or quests that require many players to collaborate with each other?
Bolfrim: We have tools to help us with some aspects of testing. But as we mainly test the technical side (the game mechanics) of content, many areas can be tested by a single tester or a small group of testers. As you can see, the test server is a pretty important part to check things that involve many players.
TibiaQA: Zuna and Zunera, the experimental game worlds are currently pretty dead. Are there any plans to use them more for testing in the near future?
Bolfrim: I'm afraid, but I don't know of any plans concerning Zuna and Zunera in the near future. These experimental game worlds are not used by the test team but by the Tibia team for proving grounds. That means that things that required internal testing have indeed undergone the regular internal testing processes already before they get released on Zuna and Zunera. The decision to test something on Zuna and Zunera before it gets released on all other game worlds is made by the product management of Tibia.
TibiaQA: Have you considered setting (or using Zuna and Zunera) game worlds that would be permanent test servers used to balance items, monsters, hunting grounds, etc.?
Bolfrim: As I explained before, we are not involved in balancing. That's why from our tester perspective, there is really no need for a permanent test server. We do most of our functional testing on internal test environments.
TibiaQA: What are the testing stages for each new feature since it's first implemented until it's released? We know about the final stage - the public test server for bigger updates. What happens before that?
Bolfrim: In general, we test new features after they are already completely implemented by the developers of the Tibia team. Before you can see a feature on a test server, we have tested it pretty intensely internally. In fact, for bigger updates, an internal test often means a testing effort of several weeks. Every release (small or big) and every round of weekly bugfixes and content changes are tested internally. If we find a bug in the internal testing, we report it back to the developer who fixes the bug then. Once the bug was fixed, we test it again. This process is repeated till the internal testing for functionality does not find any further bugs in a feature.
TibiaQA: What is the process for emergency incident handling in CipSoft? There are certain situations that may require someone's immediate attention (very serious bug abuse, server crash, etc.). Is there anyone actively monitoring the bug reports 24/7? Are there any automated alerts?
Bolfrim: Our technical infrastructure is monitored around the clock, of course. There are processes in place to tackle server crashes as fast as possible. And we also detect critical errors early on (most of the time :-) ).
TibiaQA: How does the Tibia's testing team structure look like? How many testers are involved in testing Tibia? Do you have automation testers as well?
Bolfrim: Including me, the team consists of six testers. Significantly more than half of our time we spend on tests for Tibia. So every tester has at least some contact with Tibia. The test team does no automated testing. We rely on experience and ingenuity of the human mind and use some tools for support.
TibiaQA: Most of the new world events that were introduced were tested during the test servers. Why have you decided against testing Winterlight Solstice during the test server for the Winter Update 2018?
Bolfrim: This decision was made according to the wishes of the Tibia team not to spoil any of the content beforehand. In our assessment, the content was testable internally.
TibiaQA: According to you, what's the main difference testing MMORPG like Tibia compared to other game genres (FPS, RTS, etc.)?
Bolfrim: A big challenge when testing a game like Tibia is the high complexity of several interacting components (server, client, store, payment). Especially with Tibia, the old age of the game is often a hurdle. Sometimes changes or new features are tricky to implement which also has an impact on testing. Nevertheless, it is always exciting to test for Tibia and even after almost 10 years at CipSoft I always encounter new and interesting things with every new feature or change.