The Internship Chronicles: Michael Foti

By: Michael Foti. Game Production ’21

My name’s Michael Foti, a Game Production Management student at Champlain College expected graduation May 2021. I participated in a semester long internship at Martov Co, a VR Game Development company based in Montreal now with two titles; Chiaro, and the Elixir of Life, and Forged. I worked alongside another producer, Riley (left) in this internship, though for the most part we worked on separate projects. Chiaro was the first project taken on by the team, led by its CEO, Martin Backstreet (center) Martin has a lot of background skill learning, so he takes a lot of jobs on the scene at his company. Primarily working as a project lead, he also works as a programmer, formulated his entire teams marketing for Chiaro, and has participated in voice work in that very same game. In my time at Martov, however, my mentor segmented me off to work with Myles, a newer employee of a few months, and a programmer with a knack for producing.

During my sessions under Myles supervision, I participated in QA testing for their already released game Chiaro. In order to pick up new players, Chiaro was going on sale during the Steam Halloween sale, and Martin wanted a better performing game for the sale. My job was to find the biggest and smallest bugs I possibly could in order for a higher quality release. 

I first went into Martov Co with the assumption that my job would involve watching people continuously playing the game, taking a survey, getting a new player and repeat. I was very unknowingly wrong. This QA support wasn’t for player involvement- zero percent of my job was to watch someone else. Instead, I immediately, day one, sat at my desk and played one of my first ever VR games. To be fair, I was an avid gamer up until this point and didn’t have zero experience in VR, but very little, and none were as long or as complex as Chiaro was.

Funnily enough, my first playthrough created an issue for me. I sat down, played through the intro and Chapter 1, just to have the entire game crash on me. I froze. Did I do something wrong? I’ve never set up an Oculus before, maybe a wire disconnected? What if I broke something on my first day? I started to panic. Before I turned around, Martin noticed my confusion and laughed. “Already finding bugs, five minutes in? Nice!” I was relieved. Genuinely, one of my worst fears is to mess up on day one of a job. Instead I found a performance issue that would lead me to finding many more.

In game bugs and breaks were much more common than I expected, but Myles assured me a lot of them were due to the players physical aspects and, since I had no idea what that meant, nodded and continued to find other issues. I focused on finding the biggest bugs at first, the easy ones like when a player didn’t die in water, or could easily glitch into a part of the world they shouldn’t have, etc. After the first few days, I was on a role. Bugs were typically an annoyance to me, however to me they were a shot of dopamine, showing me I’d found a secret part of the game even the Developers didn’t know existed. 

Tasks were written in a format that Myles could easily understand, focusing on the replication process and the bugs severity to the games quality. Learning how to write bugs in Jira based on personal experience is a skill- creating a specific enough diagram of words to recreate a bug, yet not so specific that it takes someone more than a few seconds to read.  Throughout my experience at Martov, I gained a lot of knowledge on the internals of a business from the complexities of writing Jira tasks to what it takes to set up and work on Oculus Rift.