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How to Be a Video Game Tester in the Game Dev Industry | Rian Trost | #11

Funsmith Fireside Chats Episode #11

Guest: Rian Trost

Rian Trost is a veteran of video game QA from Sony to Blizzard, he’s helped make some of your favorite games work. If you ever wanted to build a career in testing and QA, you don’t want to miss this!

Rian offers great insight for anyone interested in working in QA as a tester including the expectations of a QA tester, how to excel as one, and how QA testers and designers work together. Along with some behind-the-scenes QA talk, Rian also offers his thoughts on the changing gaming industry and how to follow your passions to land the jobs you want.

Rian Trost started his career at 19 years old testing his dream game Tribes at Sony. After finishing QA work on Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest Online Adventures, and PlanetSide, he moved to Blizzard as a QA Lead. His years of experience offer amazing insight on what it takes to test video games, work in QA, and how to build a career with very little to start.

Watch or Listen to the Full Episode

Audio:

Other Podcast Platforms:

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Referenced Links & Resources

Connect with Rian Trost:

LinkedInInstagram

Connect with Alex:

Twitter

Connect with Ari:

Instagram | TikTok

Mentioned Resources:

Rian’s Art Station

Free Game Design Learning Resource:

What is Video Game Mechanics (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Become a Video Game Designer

Functional Game Design Document Examples, Templates, and Instructions

Game Design Portfolio, with Examples (Guide)

Episode Chapters (with Timestamps)

0:00 – Introduction

2:05 – Welcoming Words and Chitchat

3:54 – How Did Rian Trost Get into Gaming?

10:32 – How Much Do QA and Testers Have to Work?

13:03 – Can QA Designers Bring You Better Roles in Gaming?

15:10 – Women in the Gaming Industry Who Are Crushing It

19:20 – Lessons From Women in the Gaming Industry

21:43 – The Ins and Outs of QA

24:34 – What Happened with Starcraft Ghost?

26:38 – What Are the Most Fun Games to QA?

28:38 – Why Are the Best Games to QA the Worst Games to Play?

31:16 – How to Transition Out of Game Testing to Other Roles?

34:01 – Key to Blizzard & Riot’s Successful Releases

38:34 – How QA and Designers Should Work Together

46:24 – Game Studio Internal Networking Secret

48:19 – Lessons in Hiring in the Video Game Industry (Blizzcon)

51:46 – What’s it Like Behind the Scenes at Blizzcon

53:46 – Rian Trost’s Proudest Moments at Blizzard

1:00:20 – How to Transition from QA to a Concept Artist

1:06:59 – Skill vs. Talent in the Video Game Industry

1:13:43 – Sign Off, Thank Yous, and Final Advice for Video Game Artist

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

By the way, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways to help you start or level-up your game design career:

1. First Principles of Game Design: Skill Development Program: Join game devs who got hired or promoted across 51 AAA and Indie game studios including Riot, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and etc.

Improve player retention and word of mouth by learning to accurately diagnose why the players are losing interest in any game and how to adjust accordingly – one of the main skills studios hire for.

2. Game Design Mentorship – Get access to live weekly video calls and chat feedback support directly from veteran game designer with 25 years of industry experience (see example sessions).

3. Game Design Career Goal Strategy Workshop: A live workshop to help you figure out exact action steps to reach your goal, whether you aim to

  • Break into the video game industry
  • Get promoted (or pivot) from your current position
  • Ship a successful Indie game

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If somehow it turns out this isn’t for you, unsubscribe any time.

EXPERIENCE & BACKGROUND:

[STUDIO] Blizzard Entertainment: Content, mechanics, and systems designer

(Creator of Apex Legends & former Creative Director at Respawn)

[GAME] World of Warcraft: MMORPG with 8.5 million average monthly players, won Gamer’s Choice Award – Fan Favorite MMORPG, VGX Award for Best PC Game, Best RPG, and Most Addictive Video Game.

  • Classic:
    • Designed Cosmos UI
    • Designed part of Raid Team for Naxxramas
  • Burning Crusade:
    • Designed the raid bosses Karazhan, Black Temple, Zul’Aman
    • Designed the Outlands content
    • Designed The Underbog including bosses:
      • Hungarfen, Ghaz’an, Swamplord Musel’ik, and The Black Stalker
    • Designed the Hellfire Ramparts final bosses Nazan & Vazruden
    • Designed the Return to Karazhan bosses: Attumen the Huntsman, Big Bad Wolf, Shades of Aran, Netherspite, Nightbane
  • Wrath of the Lich King:
    • Designed quest content, events and PvP areas of Wintergrasp
    • Designed Vehicle system
    • Designed the Death Knight talent trees
    • Designed the Lord Marrowgar raid
  • Cataclysm:
    • Designed quest content
    • Designed Deathwing Overworld encounters
    • Designed Morchok and Rhyolith raid fights
  • Mists of Pandaria: 
    • Overhauled the entire Warlock class – Best player rated version through all expansion packs
    • Designed pet battle combat engine and scripted client scene

[GAME] StarCraft 2: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Diablo 3: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Overwatch: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Hearthstone: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[STUDIO] Riot Games: Systems designer, in-studio game design instructor

(Former Global Communications Lead for League of Legends)
(Former Technical Game Designer at Riot Games)

[GAME] League of Legends: Team-based strategy MOBA with 152 million average active monthly players, won The Game Award for Best Esports Game and BAFTA Best Persistent Game Award.

  • Redesigned Xerath Champion by interfacing with community
  • Reworked the support income system for season 4
  • Redesigned the Ward system
  • Assisted in development of new trinket system
  • Heavily expanded internal tools and features for design team
  • Improved UI indicators to improve clarity of allied behaviour

[OTHER GAMES] Under NDA: Developed multiple unreleased projects in R&D

Game Design Instructor: Coached and mentored associate designers on gameplay and mechanics

[STUDIO] Moon Studios: Senior game designer

(Former Lead Game Designer at Moon Studios)

[GAME] Ori & The Will of The Wisps: 2m total players (423k people finished it) with average 92.8/100 ratings by 23 top game rating sites (including Steam and Nintendo Switch).

  • Designed the weapon and Shard systems
  • Worked on combat balance
  • Designed most of the User Interface

[GAME] Unreleased RPG project

  • Designed core combat
  • High-level design content planning
  • Game systems design
  • Game design documentation
  • Gameplay systems engineering
  • Tools design
  • Photon Quantum implementation of gameplay

[VC FUNDED STARTUP] SnackPass: Social food ordering platform with 500k active users $400m+ valuation

[PROJECT] Tochi: Creative director (hybrid of game design, production and leading the product team)

  • Lead artists, engineers, and animators on the release the gamification system to incentivize long-term customers with social bonds and a shared experience through the app

[CONSULTING] Atomech: Founder / Game Design Consultant

[STUDIOS] Studio Pixanoh + 13 other indie game studios (under NDA):

  • Helped build, train and establish the design teams
  • Established unique combat niche and overall design philosophy
  • Tracked quality, consistency and feedback methods
  • Established company meeting structure and culture

Game Design Keynotes:

(Former Global Head of HR for Wargaming and Riot Games)
  • Tencent Studio
  • Wargaming
  • USC (University of Southern California)
  • RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • US AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association)
  • UFIEA (University of Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
  • West Gaming Foundation
  • Kyoto Computer Gakuin – Kyoto, Japan