Here’s why we think Amanda is swell…
Robert Tzong, Quality Assurance Manager: Amanda is the owner of a key component of the development process on the QA side. Before any significant changes are introduced to the game, she and her team perform a set of testing procedures on those changes to make sure they don’t break our game or our development tools. Sitting in her quiet little corner, she and her team are some of the most critical members of our studio.
Hers is a particularly tough spot to be in since she is not just the gatekeeper to protect the team from catastrophic game breakage, but also one that ferries out new features the team is waiting for. Don’t spend enough time and you might miss a crash. Take too long and the team can’t move forward with making the game. Striking the balance between finishing quickly and testing thoroughly is a talent that she has honed to near perfection. It’s because of this that I am able to trust that any new set of changes can be delivered to her and she will take care of everything else. And what I love best is that she’s constantly looking for ways to do that work even better, not just for herself but for everyone else involved. The Excel document she created to inform this testing is a work of art.
I’ve met very few people quite as passionate about games and the game community. Outside of being a swell Irrational employee, she’s just a really cool person to hang out with. If you ever bump into her, ask her about Palewife.
Your title is Quality Assurance Lead. What does that mean?
Amanda Cosmos: Being QA Lead means I’m directly responsible for tasking a team of QA testers, and I coordinate with the other QA Leads and QA Manager to determine the best allocation of QA resources at different points in a project. My team deals with approving new code builds before they are released to the rest of the studio, so this means digging through a lot of crash dumps and working directly with programmers. I have a long and diverse well of QA experience that I can draw from when determining answers to tester and developer questions and troubleshooting problems.
What games have you worked on?
AC: Before Irrational, I was a QA Tester at Turbine on one of their MMORPGs, The Lord of the Rings Online. I was there for two years working up to become an acting representative of QA to the dev team and ensuring my assigned deliverables were as bug-free as possible. I came to Irrational as a Senior Tester, and BioShock Infinite is the first console game I’ve worked on.
Describe Life at Irrational in three words or less.
AC: Passion and prestige.
What is your favorite game of all time?
AC: Xenogears. I was a huge JRPG nerd growing up, but definitely a latecomer since Final Fantasy VII was the first one I played, so my tastes lean more modern. The game’s expressive sprite graphics gave it a lot of character, and as a result it’s aged really well. It has a mix of humor and seriousness that doesn’t grate. The combat’s deathblow system flows and feels satisfying. Mitsuda’s soundtrack is haunting and I love the extensive amount of thought put into backstory
What is your favorite movie?
AC: Princess Mononoke. My dad took me quite a ways to see it when it came out in a limited amount of theaters back in 1999. As a teenager I thought San was really cool—still do. And my dad also liked the movie so much I bought the DVD for him that following Christmas. Seems like whenever we talk on the phone now he asks me about Miyazaki films.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
AC: I’m trying to catch up on my fiction reading, working through Dune right now. I also have an extensive library of books about the study of mythology and folklore that I am reading through. I constantly try to catch up on my giant backlog of games, but my attention span is not what it used to be. I also dabble in the creation of interactive fiction, visual novels, and other hypertext-style experiments. Nothing published yet, but I hope to finish something once work slows down. My boyfriend and I are also beer snobs so we like to go to dinners and festivals that serve unique brews.
Can you tell us a little about what you’re working on?
AC: I’m working on a text-based game where you get trapped in a train station that shouldn’t exist. I ride the subway a lot and wanted to make something that captured the feelings of being a city commuter but had a Narnia twist to it. It’s still in the early phases, and I’m figuring out how exactly I want to present it. I’ve rewritten the beginning in different systems quite a few times already, most recently transferring it from Inform to Twine. I presented an early build of the Inform version at a friend’s conference a couple of months back when I was jamming on it, and the feedback I was getting was surprising. People were excited and encouraging me to finish so they could play! Was definitely a good morale booster and pushed me to keep going with it. I’m hoping to spend some time on it over the holidays.
Tell your favorite story about life at Irrational.
AC: I want to tell you about My Favorite Bug. It was when we were working quite tirelessly leading up to the E3 demo. I was doing a run-through to familiarize myself with the beats. At the beginning of the demo, Booker and Liz are in a gift shop and Liz is doing all kinds of wacky things with assorted items in the shop, like showing off faux-gold souvenirs and messing around with a Lincoln mask. As I was walking through, I found I had accidentally done something amazing. I had to pause the game because I was crying from laughing so hard. I had gotten the overblown, cartoony Lincoln mask stuck on Liz’s face past when it should have been taken off. I’m watching through my tears and gasps as a papier-mâché Lincoln stares at me instead of Liz during the dramatic tension of the Songbird sequence. The other testers started gathering around me to see what was wrong and a ruckus went up. I luckily captured a video that went all the way through the iconic New York scene, but unfortunately the rogue accessory culled off her soon after that. My resourceful testers eventually figured out how to get her masked all the way to the final scene. I love showing new employees that video.