Jill Quek knows a thing or two about career variety. After working in various industries like tourism, retail, administration and academics, she’s since found her niche and utilizes her collective experience and skills as an Associate Lead on our DevTest Team. She reflects on her career journey, experience at Ubisoft and advice to others entering the gaming industry.
Hey Jill, what do you do as an Associate DevTest Team Lead? And what’s your favourite thing about your role?
We have a great DevTest team here at the studio whose job is to make sure the features we want in our games work… and that they work well! In order for the team to do their best work, they need to have the space to collaborate and the freedom for creativity and critical thinking. And so, as Dev Test leadership we work hard to create that space by providing guidance, direction, and ensuring they have access to the tools and knowledge they need. My goal as an associate lead is to make sure that my team feels supported, encouraged, and valued so that they can work with our developers to create the shiniest working features for our players.
How long have you been at Ubisoft Toronto, and what drew you here?
I joined Ubisoft Toronto in August 2020, this was right after Ubi had gone fully remote. The reasoning as to why I came here was because I wanted a career that merged my interest in video games, storytelling, and world building. Ubisoft, the creator of worlds since 1986 (our literal signature lol), is not only behind some incredibly popular IPs, but also one of the larger AAA studios in the city. I felt that joining Ubisoft would give me the best opportunity to learn from people with expertise and drive to keep making games.
SKILLS AND CAPABILITIES
What qualities or traits does it take to excel in your role?
Patience, open communication, and being unafraid to ask questions. Making video games requires a lot of moving parts. And here at UbiTO we have fairly large teams comprised of many experts with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and skills. As an associate lead, it is my job to make sure my team receives the information they need to inform their decisions as well as have access to the tools they need for bug hunting and ensuring build stability. That means that I will be spending a lot of time scouting and reaching out to others across various projects and teams that have the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources and connecting them to one another to achieve their goals.
How did you pick up the skills required for your role? How do you continue to hone them?
Starting as a Dev Tester played a key part in how I acquired and developed the skills required for my current role. Being a Dev Tester meant that I needed to take what I had learned about communication, teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking and adapt it to the video game industry’s methodology and discourse.
The Dev Test team is brilliant. In addition to bug hunting, we take the time to learn what is supposed to go into the game. We learn how components and features are supposed to look, work, sound, and play. We work with our devs and our production teams to get a feel for the game’s direction and intent. We check fixes and newly introduced features before integrating it into the game to ensure the game remains stable. We also think about our players’ experiences and prioritize our tasks to ensure enjoyment and great quality of life gameplay. Using all that information, we figure out not only how to test it all by using various tools and equipment, but also how to present our results and progress to the right people and the right teams so they can make well-informed decisions.
From my experience as a Dev Tester, I understand what it is that the Dev Test team needs in order to do our job well. I learned how we use our tools, what kind of documentation, or communication is needed to inform our work and direction, and most importantly, how the team worked together to achieve their goals, and what next steps we could take to bolster all of that. All of this knowledge has helped me with this role, it has helped me learn what kind of questions to ask and what kind of information I need to help my teams get “the right tools for the right job” (Juan Cortez, Far Cry 6 🤣).
I am constantly learning, so even though I have picked up all these skills to get me to where I am, there is still a lot more I can do. I continue to hone my skills by listening, asking questions, paying attention to feedback and learning from whoever, or whenever I can.
What are some tips you’d give to someone hoping to land a similar role to yours?
My advice would be to start dedicating time to building your communication skills and connection with others. Communication is a skill that can always be improved. It is important to pay attention to not only what kind of information you need but rather what information others need from you and how they like to stay informed (learn the ways others communicate). And always, be courageous enough to ask for information or clarity, consider what your team might be looking for from you.
YOUR CAREER JOURNEY
What did you do before working at Ubisoft Toronto? How did you break into the video game industry?
I was everywhere – tourism, hospitality, retail, administration in both medical and fitness industries. I’d also spent more than a decade teaching and researching in grad school where I focused on storytelling and world-building in video games, film and literature. By the time I joined Ubisoft in August 2020, I can safely say that I had spent 18 years trying to find my groove.
The summer of 2020, after the landscape of every single industry changed, I knew I needed to find something new. I needed something motivating and interesting. Ubisoft was looking for Dev Testers so I applied and was invited to an interview. I believe the key was that I showed the Dev Test team how my varied background helped me build a wide variety of skills that included communication, problem solving, and creative critical thinking. It may sound cheesy, but in addition to my experience, I brought with me positivity, optimism, and an eagerness to learn. I stayed true to personality – someone who is friendly, approachable, and wanting to share knowledge and help others. While not a requirement, it doesn’t hurt that I also enjoy playing video games. 😉 Ultimately, all this led to an invitation to join the team in August 2020 – my entry point into the video game industry.
What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on?
Far Cry 6 will always have a special place in my heart. It was after all the first video game I had ever worked on.
When the pandemic flipped the world on its head, it was no different for us. Ubisoft switched to a fully remote environment during production, and this caused Far Cry 6’s development plans to change radically. People needed to learn new ways to communicate, new ways to build and test, and new ways to stay connected. Plans flew out the window and everybody on the project needed to adapt.
One of the challenges the Dev Test team faced during the transition to working from home included accommodating the difficulties of remote testing. Working via remote access to our consoles and workstations meant something as simple as rebooting required extra time and steps. It also added an extra layer of potential technological failures we had to consider that had nothing to do with bugs, freezes or crashes in the game itself. These included connection lags, controllers disconnecting, failure to hear audio, or simply unable to get into our kits for one reason or another.
We had to figure out the quirks that came with our remote software and learned a brand new set of troubleshooting techniques unique to remote work to determine whether we were experiencing a failure of technology or if we had actually found a bug in the game.
Our success was a direct result of team collaboration and supporting each other when we encountered unfamiliar terrain. And these lessons continue to guide our hybrid approach to work today. I could not be prouder of the Dev Test team (and the broader project team) for adapting under challenging circumstances.
Far Cry 6 is enjoyed by millions of people because the team pushed forward despite facing many difficult obstacles. It was truly an incredible experience (and my first).
You’ve worked on Far Cry 6. Can you tell us about a key task/strategy that you’ve worked on for a project and how you approached it?
I was an Engine/Core Tech Dev Tester during Far Cry 6. Early on in my role, a colleague and I were tasked with prepping for the dev test team that would be ramping on and taking care of the live features in the game.
To prepare the dev test team, we needed to be creative, inquisitive, and ready to learn. We had to collaborate and communicate with various teams to fully understand what kind of features were going to be implemented, what their intended design was, and how things were supposed to play. Additionally, we needed to figure out how to test these features for the first time and be able to explain what made this live vs a similar feature that was not live.
“Live” is a complicated, fluid beast. Things that are considered “Live” overlap or share spaces with other more easily defined components such as open world activities or missions. For Far Cry 6, Live existed in both the main campaign and post campaign world states and included live video game content such as in-store purchases along with real-time events.
Our team built a comprehensive set of tests dedicated to ensuring features and content stability as well as created documentation for a smooth transition of information over to the dev test team. At the end, we succeeded, and Far Cry 6 ended up with a great live team!
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome in your career and how did you do it?
Imposter syndrome. And I’m sharing this because I know I’m not the only one who sits back and wonders how on earth they got here and why hasn’t anyone kicked them out yet.
I wouldn’t even say that this is a hurdle that I’ve overcome but rather a hurdle that I choose to face and take on every day. I’m working on believing in myself and redirecting the dialogue I have with myself into one that is more compassionate and encouraging. I also put in the effort to do the best I can. (After all, if I encourage my team to do the best they can, I should do the same for myself – I am part of the team too!)
I also place trust in my team – I trust that if for some reason I am not doing my job well, someone would tell me. I work with great people who support me and want to see each other succeed. So, I place trust in the fact that if I was underperforming, not only would I have been told, but I would also have been given the guidance and tools to help myself succeed, as I would do the same for others.
Can you describe the DevTest community within Ubisoft Toronto?
I work with an incredible team here at the studio! I’m building my career path here because I was inspired by others on this team to help create an encouraging environment where others feel valued and have the ability to grow. Our Dev Test team is composed of individuals who are dedicated, collaborative problem solvers, who want to see the project succeed.
How has hybrid & flexible work impacted your work/team’s experience?
Since I joined the company a few months into the pandemic, Ubisoft had completely shifted toward working remotely. I was learning in a completely new and unique environment. While I appreciated the flexibility hybrid work offered, not having the opportunity to walk over to a fellow tester’s workstation to ask a question or to learn by watching meant that I had to pick up new skills and adapt to a new way of working and connecting with people.
With our current hybrid model, some people may come into the studio on occasion, and some may prefer to work from home each day. This challenge of making sure people felt seen was a huge motivator behind me taking on this role. I wanted to ensure that our Dev Testers felt like they’re part of a team as well as felt recognized because it’s easy to get lost in a virtual environment; so, I moved into a role that will allow me to help build a positive environment with a new way of learning and interacting with one another.
What’s one game that’s left a lasting impact on you?
Sorry but I’m gonna have to cheat and mention more than one (I can’t choose). I have fond memories of playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Golden Eye, Super Mario Bros, and Final Fantasy 7,8,9,10. Games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Golden Eye introduced me to the joy of coop Gaming. The Final Fantasy games introduced me to massive (at the time) worlds with compelling stories where you could wield strong magical powers. Super Mario Bros. speaks for itself 😂. And while there have been many games that I’ve enjoyed since, these are the games that started it all and inspired me to become part of projects that aim to bring that kind of entertainment to people’s living rooms.
If life were a video game, what cheat code would you want?
It’s quick travel. Which is pretty lame considering “God Mode” exists. But honestly, do you know how much more I can sleep and spend time snacking if all I needed to do is type in a word or two and end up exactly where I need in an instant?
People of Ubisoft Toronto is a series featuring studio members from a variety of projects and backgrounds as they share their experiences at our studio, perspective of the video game industry and, perhaps, even a sneak peek of what they’re working on!
Our studio values diversity and believes in embracing differences to build stronger and more creative teams. We welcome people who would like to join us and redefine the future of games. Visit our careers page for more information on open roles and how to apply. To know more about our studio members and culture, click here.