Profile: Testology

Profile: Testology

By Ed Fear

September 11th 2009 at 9:30AM

The prevalent QA and testing specialist in focus

Testology


Specialism: Testing and QA
Number of staff: 40
Year founded: 2006
Location: Aldershot
Previous projects:
Fable 2, LittleBigPlanet, and more
Currently projects: LittleBigPlanet DLC and a ‘massive AAA title’


Founded in 2006 by Andy Robson, former head of testing for Bullfrog and later Lionhead, Testology is often classified as a testing company but actually has a roster of services beyond simple quality assurance.

“It had always been my ambition to establish an outsourcing company that focused on quality assurance and gameplay consultancy,” says Robson. “I had just completed work on the Lionhead titles Fable, Black and White 2 and The Movies and decided that this was the perfect stage in my career to make the transition. I was very proud of my achievements with Bullfrog and Lionhead, but felt ready for a greater challenge.”

And so, despite starting up without any business experience or even external investment, Testology’s rapid rise to the big leagues is even more impressive.

“In 2006, we had one member of staff and myself. Now, in 2009, we have continued to expand and grow, now reaching 40 testers. It’s a testament to the success we’ve experienced even during this period of recession, which luckily has not really affected us.”

CONSULT WARS
What really sets Testology apart, however, is its gameplay consultancy work. It comes from what Robson calls his “unrestrained honesty and commitment to releasing the highest level of games possible,” and was partly borne from his experiences working alongside Peter Molyneux, who valued the opinions of his testing staff.

“We’ve worked with many clients who send us game prototypes, semi- or fully-complete levels, and even design documents. In addition to our usual feedback and bug reporting regarding the basic functionality of the title, we objectively assess the quality of the work and offer our opinions and suggestions for improvements. Usually, the client is surprised by the amount and quality of the feedback we present in our report, but they always value and consider our opinions when making alterations.”

One of Testology’s other strengths is its rigorous hiring processes – Robson boasts that, in the three years he’s been running the company, he’s conducted over 1,700 interviews. The firm’s attitude to staff also stretches to not treating them as just battery hens, too, but rather embracing the fact that a lot of people get into testing in order to get into the industry.

“We most definitely encourage our staff to cultivate their interest in game development,” says Robson. “Testing allows individuals to understand the process, developing skills essential for success in the industry. This has led to many of the individuals I employed as testers with no previous experience now holding senior positions within large publishers and developers. I have always promoted and encouraged this ambition with my testers and will continue to do so at Testology.”

But, at the end of the day, what really keeps on attracting new business is the strength of Testology’s experience.

“We’ve worked on over 40 AAA titles, and that’s undeniably one of our defining strengths. This experience is seen in our daily communication skills with our clients, whether developer or publisher, and hiring processes. At Testology, we are also extremely flexible. Our ability to react and adapt to our clients needs, allow them to shift and reshape testing coverage as they please, which is fundamental during the crunch phase of development.”