Position:QA Tester
Release Date:2005-09-27
Genre:Real Time Strategy
Players:1-8
Platform(s):PC
Publisher:SEGA

Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion

Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion was developed by The Creative Assembly in 2005 and published by SEGA. I worked on this title as a Quality Assurance Tester for SEGA Europe. I was an active member of the testing team throughout the entire test cycle of this game and its demo.

About the Game

Rome: Total War: Barbarian Invasion is the expansion to the best-selling Rome: Total War. The original game covered the rise of the Roman Empire and the struggle to be the Emperor of the Roman World. In the tradition of earlier Total War expansions, Barbarian Invasion (BI) introduces a new campaign in a time when an almost-unstoppable threat has arisen.

The expansion moves the action on 350 years to a time when the Roman Empire is in deep trouble, beset by enemies inside and out, and possibly even dying. The year is 363 AD, and the Roman Empire has split into two parts ruled from the cities of Rome (for the Western Empire) and Constantinople (for the Eastern Empire). If this weren't bad enough, barbarian tribes have been massing on the Imperial frontiers in Europe for many years. In the East the Empire faces a renewed threat from the Persian Empire, under new vigorous rulers, the Sassanids.

This is an exciting and turbulent period of Roman history: the Fall of Rome itself and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the slaughter of Emperor Valens and a complete Roman army at Adrianople in 378, the arrival in Europe of the terrifying Huns, the political in-fighting that saw Rome's best generals hounded as traitors, and the final humiliation of the last Emperor of the West being forced to retire in 476 AD as a barbarian took his throne. Romulus Augustulus simply wasn't enough of a threat to be worth killing.

Barbarian Invasion starts just after the last Emperor of a unified Rome has died. His successors in Rome and Constantinople are now uneasy allies and rivals for power. The barbarians are massing along the borders, and in some cases are living inside what used to be Roman territory. There are many, many challenges for a Roman to face - and some may be almost unbeatable!

Skills and Experiences

Through this experience, I learnt a lot about how games are tested and the continuous development cycle to fix reported bugs. It also gave me a lot of insight into the professional relationships between developers and publishers. I also learnt about the long hours involved in testing a single title, 8 hours per day, month in and month out on a single game can be draining.

As a QA Tester, I was involved in testing every element of the game. This included general bug testing or "destructive testing" as we called it. Looking high and low for bugs. Playing through the game with every faction in every difficulty setting, testing every game and menu setting, testing network capability and speed and even testing the localisation in French and Italian. Through the testing phase of the game I also tested the game from a game play perspective, rather than just looking for visual or audible bugs, I experimented with the balancing of the games units and the overall "feel" of the game. We were a small team on this project and worked in the SEGA Europe Head Quarters office on Brentford. I don't think we used many test plans back in these days, it was more about "find as many bugs as you can" and testers were reviews on the quantity and quantity of the bugs that they entered.

Working on Rome Total War: Barbarian Invasion gave me clear indication as to what bugs to look out for while I developed my own RTS game S.O.S: Save Our Souls for my final year group project at University.

Through working on Barbarian Invasion, I gained invaluable real world experience within the games industry and a first-hand understanding of professional game development.