To whoever "MyRealName" is, I don't know what your position in the industry is, but it's clearly one that shields you from the realities of the game industry and the production process.
It is true that trained professional QA testers are really good at finding bugs, revealing design weaknesses, testing balance, and doing thousands of other tasks, such as compatibility, network testing, stress testing, etc.
BUT, what you don't realize is that sometimes it is a good idea to bring in actual GAMERS, guys and girls who play the kinds of games you're making and can give you totally objective feedback on whether your game is FUN or not.
It's called "ad hoc" testing, and it can be extremely useful. So can focus group testing - bringing in people in your target demographic to give you first impression feedback. Because QA testers can get jaded. They can get hardened, they can lose their objectivity. I know this because I was a tester for years. And because "fresh eyes" can always see things that someone who has been staring at a game for 6 months, or 9 months, or 3 years, can't.
I'm sure the original SiN had testers on it from both Activision and Ritual. Activision has an internal QA department, and they always test their products before release.
People who blame QA, or the lack of QA, for the QUALITY of a product are just plain ignorant. They don't realize that QA is a department among many. It's name "Quality Assurance" is a laughable misnomer. Testers don't assure quality games, they provide the data that developers need to fix bugs. Having the time, money, and expertise to actually FIX those bugs...THAT is what assures quality.
QA departments often lose arguments with other departments when the decision on when to release a title comes up. Sometimes marketing wins. Sometimes finance wins. Sometimes the developers just don't want to fix bugs. Imagine that?? A developer...that actually DOESN'T CARE if a feature is broken. I've seen developers fight with publishers for more time to get their game to a quality state. But I've also seen publishers fighting developers who don't have the work ethic to actually get things done. Maybe they're just tired. Maybe they have another, more exciting project they want to work on, so they just abandon yours and make up excuses for why they can't fix the bugs. And so the publisher ships the turd, and they take the blame, and all the ignorant gamers who have elevated developers to cult status as infallible beacons of quality and creative zeal whine and cry and get mad. And those same developers get to maintain their reputation when they really should be out of business.
I'm not saying any of this happened on SiN. I'm saying that, in my nearly 9 years of experience in QA and then design and then production, I've seen stuff that would make you wretch with disgust. I've seen producers mark more than a thousand bugs "will not be fixed" with the click of a database button. I've seen a QA team slave endlessly, writing up bugs and balance reports and trying desperately to shine a light on the crapitude of a game that really could be great if the developers took the time to make it right, only to watch their title ship buggy and broken.
I've watched publishers strongarm developers into shipping early. I've watched developers weasel out of contractual obligations to fix bugs and support products post-release.
IT ISN'T ALWAYS QA TO BLAME, MAN. Just like everything in life, the answer isn't always simple, or easy.
Did you know that sometimes publishers push up release dates by a few months to make sure revenue hits within a certain fiscal quarter or fiscal year? And that this shortens development cycles and forces developers to scramble to get a game done sooner than expected?
Did you know that developers sometimes overpromise features or overstate their abilities, or, more often than not, simply fail to properly project how long things will take to implement, and end up shipping a rough product because they ran out of time?
Did you know that, on a lot of games, there are ARMIES of professional QA testers. And those armies write up THOUSANDS of bugs, everything from crashes to broken features to the teeniest, tiniest vis bugs and misaligned textures that 99% of players will never see or notice? And did you know that a lot of times, publishers STILL ship the title? Even though they KNOW its full of bugs?
If you are in the industry, spend less time blabbing on forums and more time actually observing how the business works. You just might learn something.
Your apocryphal citation of that Ultima game having exactly one QA person is almost certainly untrue. It's the kind of urban legend-like bit of drivel that whiny gamers throw around when they feel the need to rail against the injustice of an industry that releases buggy products.
A buggy game is USUALLY not QA's fault. I can say that with full authority, having been on both sides of the equation. It is a complicated, twisted maelstrom of decision-making that involves multiple departments, multiple companies, and sometimes dozens of people, all with competing priorities, pressures, responsibilities, and interests.