The global community of gaming continues to grow while gaming companies are busy developing new games for an increasingly diversified audience using various consoles. Video games are now bagging billions of dollars from sales as gaming is now the most profitable form of entertainment, statistically. As of 2018, the gaming industry grossed over $116 billion, which is double the revenue of film box office and digital music combined. With revenues expected to reach $300 by 2025, the gaming industry has a promising future.
These numbers encourage investment and are good for the industry. But this also means that competition will get fiercer and the pressure of delivering quality video games will increase tremendously. That is why incorporating software testing tools in game development is of utmost importance. Is the concept of QA’s role in gaming new to you? It, basically, increases the speed and accuracy of game development processes. Game testing identifies issues such as functionality, performance, compatibility, consistency, completeness, and programming bugs. It inspects programming and code thoroughly while also covering the design and artwork side. To enhance the gaming experience, it is also checked whether the game is engaging, too difficult or too easy. In simple words, it’s a game after all, the target audience must want to play it. This phase of testing is aptly called gameplay.
Just like software development, integration of software testing tools must be ensured in the early stages of the development lifecycle to save costs and time. Issues revealed earlier in the lifecycle are easier and less costly to manage whereas late identification requires going back to each step one by one and dealing with piled-up issues which can be both hectic and expensive. The game development process is long and complex, requiring frequent and repeated tests at different points. Repetition of tests is important to ensure that the bugs, that were detected in the initial tests, are fixed. This is to ensure the satisfying performance of the game. Moreover, throughout the testing process, testers are expected to have complete documentation. When there is a code freeze, no more changes are allowed on the code. This is when the game is almost ready to be released. This is also considered the gold phase of game testing.
Game Testing Phases
Speaking of phases, let’s briefly look at the phases of game testing.
To create an expected game testing strategy, testers are required to understand gaming aspects such as storyboard, characters, features, concepts, rules, etc. Without this knowledge, testers are likely to miss issues that can affect the final product.
Preparation of Game Test Strategy
In this phase, the test strategy document is prepared, which includes sections like timeline, testers, number of testing cycles, in-scope, out-scope, testing types, risk-based test analysis, etc.
Designing of Test Cases
Testers use both positive and negative test cases while using effective test case design techniques such as critical path test, exception path test, traditional black-box test, etc.
Execution of Game Test Cases
With different software and hardware configurations, game test cases are executed in an identified environment to reveal more defects. To further improve the quality of the game, alpha, beta, and age group tests are conducted.
Recording of Test Results
The development team records test results as a movie or series of screenshots to review the behavior effectively. This helps testers and developers better communicate with each other.
Creation of Defect Log
All the defects are logged, prioritized, categorized, and tracked in this phase. Creating the defect log helps developers in their future title projects.
Testing is an unavoidable part of game development. With increasing competition and expectations of gamers, developers are burdened with delivering high-quality games. This further emphasizes the importance of game testing. To understand how game testing is done, I have also stated phases of game testing.