Meet the Devs: Tyler Stokes

Mention the words “game developer” and the most immediate image that comes to mind for most people is someone perched in front of a computer, pounding out lines of code, someone creating art assets, or someone rendering 3D animations. While those are all important pieces of the complex puzzle, there are a multitude of other roles that are just as vital to a project’s success.

Our QA team of internal game testers is one of those groups of unsung heroes, and this month we sent David “Roenick” Schlow out, against our better judgement, to interview a recent addition to our team: Tyler “Saicred” Stokes. Now a bit of forewarning, David and Tyler have become like brothers over the course of their time here together, and, well, you’ll just have to read the interview to understand what it’s like working with these two...

Q: It’s going to take every bone in my body to keep this interview professional, but I’ll do my best. Tell us how you were able to make the transition from fan to full fledged member of the team.

A: Wow, this is a surprisingly good question from you. I will say it was more of a journey than transition. It started back in 2016 when I first discovered Pantheon. I spent the next year streaming, doing live podcasts on Pantheon Radio, and studying the game as if I was attempting to earn my Pantheon doctoral degree. Then got my first taste of Terminus in December of 2017 during Pre-Alpha 1. (I can say I was in PA now, right?) During those first few sessions, I felt as though I was making a real difference with my bug reports. So I spent the next Pre-Alphas focused on doing more of the same. Just so happens after years of hard work, I found myself in the right place at the right time, with the right mindset and attributes to fit a need. I guess in the end it took a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.

Q: Speaking of Pre-Alpha what was your favorite experience?

A: I have so many great memories. My first time logging into Thronefast and seeing the beauty of Terminus unfold before me, our first time defeating Gnashura in Halnirs Cave, and even “The great train of 2018” in Blackrose Keep! All such great memories, but the highlight moment for me came when I first stepped into Avendyr’s Pass. I remember hitting the zone line coming from Thronefast into AVP, and as you round a corner you see the AVP bridge leading you into the zone. The view alone was breathtaking enough, but then as I started across the bridge, suddenly my ears filled with the most enchanting music and chills of childlike excitement shot down my spine. A feeling of wonder, possibility, and the unknown all rushed over me, and I couldn’t help but sit back in my chair with a smile on my face, enjoying the moment. I haven’t felt that way in a game in a very long time.

Q: So what exactly is your role on Pantheon?

A: I’m currently a Quality Assurance “QA” Tester reporting under our awesome QA Lead, Kim Morrison. What this means is I focus on gameplay testing, building and running smoke tests, and bug reports. Bug reports are a major part of my role on the team as I’ll take each report, test it to confirm it, work to create steps needed to reproduce it, document everything along the way, and only then will I hand it over to our highly skilled team members for the permanent fix, depending on the department needed. Ultimately my role is to help ensure things are working as intended throughout our development. Speaking of roles, what exactly is yours?

Q: People refer to you as the Leper of Terminus, which I find very fitting. Don’t you?

A: Pretty sure you’re the only one that refers to me as that.

Q: Moving on… As a QA tester, how do you see the role changing as the title inches closer to Alpha and then toward Beta?

A: I can certainly see the demand of my role increasing based on needs in the future. Smoke tests and bugs will continue to be a major part of my role, and I can also see things like gameplay testing growing to include more group and raid testing. Mainly, though, my role around bug reporting will grow tremendously through Alpha and Beta. I fully expect to see thousands of bugs reported from our community during these phases. Not because there are thousands of bugs, but because we have such a great community so eager to help, I can see multiple reports for each bug, and no report will go unread.

Q: What is your gaming experience, and how do you think it assists you in your role?

A: I have a solid 20 years of MMO gaming experience under my belt, starting back with Everquest in 1999 and moving on to others like SWG, WoW, and LoTR, to name a few. I’ve also enjoyed many FPS and Moba type games over the years as well. However, I don’t believe it’s my gaming experience that is most useful here. Instead I believe it's my IT and military background as a Marine that really sets me up for success.

Q: How so?

A: Well 11+ years of IT experience really helps with understanding how to communicate to the team effectively, and while serving I was taught self-discipline, self-motivation, and mission focus. Each of these attributes are extremely important in my current role. There is a vast difference from playing a game and testing a game at this level. Often times I will find myself making my own test plans on top of the needs of the team as well. Being responsible for functionally and operationally testing every inch of Terminus, every NPC and class ability, every disposition, every skill, and more is a big responsibility. One I take very seriously for the sake of our team and community.

Q: What has been the most interesting part of working on Pantheon so far?

A: Oh wow, well I’ve loved exploring, for testing purposes of course, which has lead to some pretty interesting discoveries hint hint. Terminus is one of those places you can explore 10 times over and find something new each time by simply taking a slightly different route. But just seeing this world come to life before my eyes, and all the hard work that goes into every detail, has been insane. I’m simply amazed at what this team is able to accomplish week after week and love that they encourage me to break it.

Q: What class will you play at launch?

A: Ha! Depends on what I’m testing that week! Truthfully though I came into this dead set on Shaman as a main come launch, but after testing each class I’m struggling to pick just one. Personally I’m a big fan of support roles and mostly played as a healer type throughout the years, but I also have a weird love for pets. So Shaman and Summoner are my top contenders for now, but each class is so exciting to play it will be a challenge to settle on just one!

Q: What’s your favorite zone?

A: Truthfully, every time I step into a new zone it becomes my new favorite! But if I have to pick one now, it has to be Faerthale. As you explore the zone, you come across so many unique areas! I’ll stop there so I don’t spoil anything, but be sure to check out Farethale 101 if you haven’t already.

Q: Is there anything else you’d want the Phantheons to know about you other than that you drive tractors and milk cows in your off-hours?

A: Still jealous about my tractor I see. Well there is one thing. I used to mention how I got so excited when hearing this team talk on streams about what they did. Their passion, excitement, and energy was inspiring to me as a fan, and turns out our community is just as inspiring to our team as well. Seeing how this team celebrates the community internally is awesome! So for all my friends out there, know that we love having you on the team with us as our 12th man!