6 Steps to Test Games Effectively
Have you ever wondered how games are tested and delivered? Effective game testing strategy leads to a hassle free and responsive gaming vigor to the end users. Gaming industry is growing exponentially due to increase in apps usage in mobile and tablets. It is hard to define a standard strategy for game testing and testing methodologies need to be tailored as each game differs from the other. To start with, aspects like Functionality, Usability, Multi-player functionality, Regression, Endurance, Compatibility, Localization / Internationalization (L10N, I18N), Performance, Content Testing, Hardware and Recovery Scenarios have to be analyzed. Phases of game testing almost align with the standard Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC) and based on my experience, below is the approach to test games effectively.
1. It starts with requirements elicitation. A thorough understanding of Storyboard, Game Architecture, Game Features, Characters, Concept, Rules, Game points and Game stages/levels helps testers to create an effective game testing strategy.
2. Game test strategy preparation is the next phase. The Test Strategy document must include sections like Timeline, Testers, Number of Testing Cycles, In-scope, Out-scope, Types of Testing to be conducted, Risk based Test analysis, Service Level Agreements, Risks and Mitigation, Defect Logging Process and Reporting Process. For a typical action game,
· In-scope tests could be Functionality, Performance, Compatibility, Compliance etc.
· Validation of hardware components such as Joy stick, Console, Wi-Fi devices etc. as they are outside the game testing environment.
3. In third phase, testers should design test cases. Testers should create positive as well as negative test cases. Following are some effective test case design techniques:
· Critical Path Test is a technique to identify the critical paths in the game. Critical Path testing helps to reveal the dependencies which causes the failures.
· In contrast to Happy Path testing, Exception Path Testing helps to document alternate paths and exceptions path.
· Also, boundary value analysis, equivalence partitioning, and error guessing are the traditional techniques of black-box testing.
4. Executing game test cases in the identified environment with different software and hardware configuration reveals more defects.
· Alpha, Beta Testing and respective age group testing helps to improve the quality of the game further.
· Content Testing plays a significant role in game testing, often partially ignored in many projects. It validates the following aspects of the game:
o Is the content appropriate for the gamers?
o How easy it is to understand the content?
5. Test results should be recorded as a movie or as a series of screenshots. This helps the development team to review the behavior effectively.
6. All the defects should be logged, prioritized, categorized and tracked effectively. Defect Logs help developers for the next title work.
Once the game is created, it is delivered to entertainment companies like Sony, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft for their feedback and production. And finally on the approval of respective Censor boards of the game, it is ready to be distributed commercially.
I would be more than happy to know your view points as well towards effective testing of games.
Happy Gaming & Testing!