Dev Blog: Rise of the QA Raider

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Jarrett Douglas, Development QA

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As Lord Croft proclaims in the opening narration of Rise of the Tomb Raider and the Descent Into Legend trailer

“What makes someone reach beyond the boundaries of human experience – To face the unknown?“

When I first heard this I felt like I was able to apply it to my own experiences growing up. While the context and meaning of Lord Croft’s question goes much deeper, I think that same question can apply to so many aspects of life. Especially for people entering a career field that they are new to. From the moment someone looks for their first job at a young age or finishes school, they are stepping out into a world that will have many new challenges and obstacles to overcome. I feel that I can apply this question to my experience at Crystal Dynamics.

Turning the clock back for just a moment though… Tomb Raider is a beloved franchise which was reinvigorated with the reboot from Crystal in 2013. The sequel to that game would of course be an ambitious and exciting project. It goes without question that following up a success with an even bigger triumph is the goal in many avenues of life. While I wasn’t a part of the development of the first installment from 2013, I certainly enjoyed it from home when it was released. At the time I had just stepped out of working in retail and finished a career training program that helped get my foot in the door of Information Technology and Quality Assurance. I was in the very beginning of my journey of working in the QA field as I had basically taken part in my own reboot, my career and presence in the workforce.

Bringing the clock forward now… I was just about to finish a contract at another company when I began searching for my next project. In a stroke of tomb raiding luck I received a chance to work in Development QA on Rise of the Tomb Raider. To be able to come aboard the Crystal team in the middle of development to help finish the game was an amazing opportunity for me and a big step in my career at that point. I was just as excited as I was nervous, which can always be an entertaining mixture. I had been involved in other QA jobs in the past, but most of them on projects that were at the tail-end of their development or already completed. In essence, this would be a new venture for me and like I was stepping into a whole new environment. I felt like I would need to bring a bow and arrow and crack on a flare my first day stepping into the studio. However, that probably would not have worked out well as I’d have most likely been escorted off the premises by security.

But I had, in a sense, become my own kind of raider, a “QA Raider” that is… *ba dum tish*, along with my team as well. We were now Lara’s companions over the course of the development of this project and needed to stick close to her to make sure that this would be a successful journey. Someone that needed to explore the ins and outs of the game, just as she did in her exploring of new areas and puzzles. Crystal did a terrific job in keeping this journey a team effort and I don’t think I could have asked for a better Crystal experience. I am honored to have been a part of Rise of the Tomb Raider. One thing I was never familiar with was the passionate and dedicated fanbase of Lara Croft. Once I began working here and seeing first-hand the love and admiration for Lara Croft from the community and fans I felt like I was a part of something special. 

QA on Rise of the Tomb Raider was certainly an exhausting and challenging ride but in the end was completely worth it. At the same time isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t that what our heroine proves time and time again? That sometimes you have to be willing to step up to the challenge of the unknown and fight through whatever is in your way. The reward is worth it in the end and while you may have some rough patches or find yourself knocked down, you always have the chance to get back up. Or in this case, RISE.

Happy Raiding,

Jarrett