By Lukasz Szewczyk, Functionality QA Manager, Katowice
When I joined Keywords Studios in October of 2019, I could never have anticipated that its Katowice studio would grow so fast and become so successful in such a short space of time.
Not long before I arrived, Keywords had announced the expansion of its operations in Poland, providing additional capabilities to offer Player Support and both Localization QA and Functionality QA services to video games publishers and developers.
Since then, our teams have worked with a multitude of clients with whom we build strong, integrated partnerships. As these collaborations developed and grew in size and scope, we started to receive more and more requests for Compliance QA services (CQA), which were not yet available from the location.
Instead of having to refer incoming client requests to other Keywords Functionality QA studios, management set about creating the CQA service offering.
We had much experience working with consoles, but looking at it from the Compliance side is a truly different experience.
Compliance QA requires a massive change of mindset. It’s not essential to make sure that the game works like it should from the player’s perspective, like on Functionality QA (FQA). However, we need to confirm it meets the quality standards and follows all necessary procedures set by platform manufacturers.
Setting the acceptance level high, we make sure that all titles that reach the respective stores will work smoothly with all features provided by the manufacturer.
I lead the effort to create the CQA team, along with Krzysztof Fudro, Technical Project Manager and Artur Marcinkowski, QA Trainer. For Artur it had long been a personal ambition to deliver materials and prepare testers for a new service offering.
“The first time I was told we will be creating a CQA department I was really happy and had just one question on my mind: ‘Can I really help with creating something so grand?’,” he explained.
“The first hurdle was a big one. Who could assist us with this big task?”
Fortunately, Keywords has its FQA headquarters in Montreal, Canada and an established, industry standard CQA team run by our talented and experienced colleague, Telmo Guevara.
“We’ve worked with the Montreal CQA team for quite some time, conducting a solid knowledge transfer, educating ourselves and preparing material for our testers in Katowice,” explains Artur.
“Thanks to their cooperation, we were quickly able to prepare quality collateral which enabled us to quickly move into our first training sessions.
“At first, it seemed daunting but, with time, this feeling changed to excitement. Seeing testers grow each day was really fulfilling and, with every piece of feedback, our training became more focused and efficient.
“Currently we are preparing to add even more testers to our already great team.”
Having our Learning and Development department creating all material, for all possible platforms, was the first challenge we encountered. Tight collaboration with the Montreal team and the Katowice CQA team let us prepare to the point where the CQA department could share it with new members on their own.
Using first-party platforms to gather knowledge was only the first part of creating test strategies for consoles. However, the crucial item that we lacking was experience and this is where the Montreal team came in. They shared everything they had learned over the past number of years, so we could upskill at pace.
All learning material requires regular updates and that is a priority. We are focusing on updating our documentation, even the smallest changes, and making sure that we are ready to provide certification to any new video games platforms on the horizon.
Our newly promoted Technical Department Project Manager, Krzysztof Fudro, was another key factor in the success of the project.
With his background in the Polish game development industry, prior CQA experience and many successful projects as an FQA Lead in Katowice, he was the ideal person for the job.
Krzysztof describes the early days of creating the CQA function and how working together with a shared sense of purpose lead to success.
He explains: “If I had to choose one factor that helped us succeed the most I’d choose ‘the team’.
“We cherry picked a group of ambitious alphas with technical skills beyond the regular QA tester level. Without them, we would have been just a pack of leaders trying to create something way out of our league. However, with them, we firmly believed that we could achieve anything.
“The early days were hard, really hard, but with the help of the FQA department in Montreal and close cooperation with the ‘Learning and Development’ team in Katowice, we managed to gather and connect all the necessary pieces of this puzzle.
“Right now, looking at it fully assembled, I can only recall all those quiet whispers: ‘Will we succeed? Can we do it?’.
“Once we started assembling the department, we all agreed to start small with uncomplicated projects and gradually polish our skills,” adds Krzysztof.
“In reality, it turned into something different. Our first compliance project was for Bloober Team on their title ‘Medium’. We serviced both Xbox Series X and PC Submission with success.
“I have to give huge thanks the team in Montreal for their continuous help in this process – it meant a lot.”
Currently we are growing both the FQA and CQA teams in Katowice with care and respect and have already exceeded, at the time of writing, the 400-tester mark.
And, do you know what the best part is? This is just the beginning.
Discover more about how Keywords Functionality QA services can deliver proven, quality results for your game development project.