Game QA & Testing: It’s Much About Reporting

To make the most of our potential in this ever-changing world, we are needed to express ourselves in such a way that others fully understand our concerns or demands. This not only ensures that our lives remain a lot simpler and productive but also make this world a better place. Thus, the key to happiness and fulfillment is apparently related to a robust communication bridge, established between people.

Same goes with software testing or any sort of QA testing in the world of gaming.

Tests report can serve their intended purposes well only if they highlight all the important points and present themselves effectively without errors to affect the desired results.

Track Or Crash:

Absolutely, the choice is yours. It is important to hire an intelligent and ardent tester who can not only find the bugs but also convey the messages or write bug reports efficiently without any errors.

Remember, it is equally important to describe the bugs efficiently in game testing because eventually, your message would make the thing work rather than an arbitrarily reported bug. Thus, game development companies should not compromise on investing time in hiring quality testers, who can write 100% error-free bug reports. No matter how good your bug tracking database is, it would not serve your purpose well, until or unless you would fill it up with consistent and relevant information. Lots and lots of companies are entering the game testing industry with the mass recruitment of fresh candidates and almost no technical interviews. While benefiting from low salaried fresh QA testers, such companies offer huge discounts to gain new business and survive the stiff competition. Ultimately the one purchasing such service suffers badly with poorly written and useless bug reports. A few well-written grammatically correct sentences are much better than an error-ridden lengthy report, which would end up wasting a lot of developer’s time.

Over the years, many bug tracking tools like Mantis, JIRA, and Bugzilla have come to the forefront to make a lot of things easier for testers and developers. But, once again the competency of these tracking tools is directly associated with the quality of reporting in testers. Ultimately, it would be the testers who would decide which bug is critical or trivial. Once done with that identification, a tester can present the information precisely without creating any confusion in the minds of the developer.

A tester should be equally good in reporting as he should be in playing games.

Tester: An Effective Communicator

We all have our passions, but it is important to channelize our energy in the right direction so that we can extract the best out of us.

A person has to be passionate about gaming if he wants to be a tester, but at the same time he should be endowed with good English writing skills so that he can send his messages effectively to ensure that there is no communication gap which otherwise may prove detrimental for everyone, from developer to tester and the game publisher. Computer-proficient graduates with ISTQB Certificate can enter the field of QA testing but what is essential is that they should have active language skills to report well.

It is also important for the game testing companies to hire those testers who can report and write in a way that is easy for the other stakeholders to understand what’s reported. Ultimately, the responsibility is upon the companies (game publisher or tester) because a buggy game can certainly ruin their reputation, which is earned after putting in years of hard work and perseverance.

Cut To The Chase:

Game development companies should pay attention in hiring experienced and attentive game testers rather than wasting time in finding the ‘perfect’ bug tracking tool. A well-written bug report can have all the attributes of conveying a message effectively even if it is written in a plain text over an MS Word Doc file or Google Docs. Always ask for a free demo or go for a QA trial (pilot project) whenever considering 3rd party QA testing companies to ensure that you are hiring the right and capable QA testers.

Even the best bug tracking tools in the world will remain useless if they are not put to use in compliance with norms of error-free reporting.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

QA Testing In Game Development: The Challenge That Needs To Be Taken!

What separates any enthusiastic gamer from a diligent tester is not their passion towards playing video games, but the varied degree of an objective approach both individuals make. Yes, both love gaming and spend a lot of time in pursuing that passion, but a tester looks beyond the obvious and scrutinises every aspect of every game he/she plays and ensures a continuing quest for betterment of the game, in tandem with set milestones.

So a casual gamer is not your game tester, never if you are serious about the fate of the game developed or published by your team.

Nuances Of Testing:

The modern gaming industry has become more erudite and sophisticated over a period of time, and this has been made possible by all those passionate testers, who work tirelessly, to add new dimensions to it. They contribute to the fact why PC or console game testing is a much more serious endeavour.

To unearth as many bugs as possible, testers play the games in different ways while covering every associated aspect in mind on gameplay, performance, UI, environment, character sketch, and sound. Well, the processes/philosophy of testing may vary between the publishers, but the major points, which regulate the domain testing, remain the same.

While there are dedicated companies extending game testing services to the very best and the biggest publishers and developers, testing has now emerged as a full-fledged industry which follows the growth pattern of the information technology domain. In unison, software development and game testing – in addition to several of their other multimedia production and QA counterparts – complement each other to render push to the growth of outsourcing business.

Here we would only talk about games and some of the efficient testing methodologies about the domain of game development!

The Enthralling Process Of QA Testing:

With the advent of new tools and technologies, it has become a lot easier for the companies to streamline their game testing processes. One of the most followed methods of testing is called ‘smoke testing’, where a game is split among various levels and areas which are given to different tester. So, each level is comprehensively tested to scrutinise the element of crashes, stalls, freezes and script blockers.

Smoke testing not only saves a lot of time but also ensures that every important aspect of testing gets covered. If any change is needing immediate attention, a tester can quickly report it to the development team and get it sorted, then and there, without wasting any time.

Another important type of popular testing methodology is called ‘Destructive Testing’ where testers target a particular area in a game and try to micro-fragment it. Well, it is one of the fascinating aspects of testing, but sometimes things become awkward when testers come up with useless or exaggerated bugs, which are related to cosmetic and unnecessary changes only.

The Culmination:

Once over with the initial tests, teams move to performance testing of games, where important decisions are taken regarding the crucial stages and sizes of the games. Sometimes even a simple tweaking like dropping or increasing frame rates can be made to achieve the optimum performance rate.

Precise and comprehensive testing is the bedrock of every successful and popular game, and it will continue to be the factor to play its part in bolstering the business and popularity of the overall industry. Some publishers, for the time being, may ignore the fact about how the eventual success or failure of a game title can be regulated by subscribing to adequate testing. But the smart ones will eventually know compelling reasons that say why testing is one of the essential blocks in a puzzle called the success of a game title.

It’s up to the publishers to choose, which category they would like them to be recognised in.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Software And Game Testing: The Latent But Burgeoning Market

A few years ago, it was just considered an offshoot aspect related to the overall development process of software – may that be a mobile app, web/desktop software or a game title. But now, bug testing has emerged as one of the essential requisites behind the well-being of the software/game development industry as a whole.

It is important for software development firms and customers to get a clear-cut idea about the overall cost involved in testing, to understand its true value and implications. In fact, the team entrusted with the development project should acquire detailed information related to the objectives behind the development endeavour before initiation and set testing paths so that all the major bugs can be fixed at the beginning of the development process and avoid big blunders later on.

Any sort of delay in that endeavour would mean that the clients will have to bear the brunt of the losses that would be incurred regarding extra time and money required in fixing the bugs. Apparently, it also hurts the software developers badly because a bug realised after a commercial release earns a bad reputation for them – which may force their clients to look out for more organised development firms equipped with better testing facilities and road maps to tread.

Startling Stats:

Though many in software industry don’t care much, there are alarming facts related to bug testing and fixing. The story can be termed grim because, in the end, it is affecting the end users. According to a new federal study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Software bugs have been costing the U.S. economy an estimated $59.5 billion each year.

Need To Follow The Process:

Obviously, it does not make any sense if you have to spend more time in finding and fixing the bugs rather than in the core development of the software. Yes, it can be done by involving testing from the very start of the development. This would automatically reduce the number of bugs at the completion of the project. Software firms need to have a separate and dedicated test environment and invest more in resources that can ensure the best in game testing services.

Other Important Factors:

Two of the most important reasons behind the surge in the incidences of bugs are – one, increasing the complexity of the game titles and two, the apparent disinterest of software or game development firms in rendering adequate focus onto their target audience.

A publisher will only deal in hypothesis, at best, and should not be assured of the desired results, if the software/app or the game is not tested among users (the target audience) – or with respect to the environment (read console/device or the OS), where it will be used. It is also important to have an independent test methodology in place so that applications can be tested through different mediums comprising of browsers, devices and operating systems.

Game publishers need to hire expert testers who can test software and app based upon functionality, performance and security and ensure the success of a game title.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

The Evolution Of Game Testing: The Need Of Start-To-End QA Engagement

With the advent of increasingly sophisticated games, quality assurance has not remained limited to just testing but emerged as an inclusive and imperative process that now encompasses a broader range of tasks.

Earlier, gaming industry had set parameters for quality assurance, where the QA teams were called in to thoroughly test the product for the need of identifying possible bugs and glitches at the later stage of development. Then, the testing was limited to finding and fixing the bugs, rather than ensuring that the end product, the game title, would be enjoyable, engaging and easily accessible to the users. However, now the scenario has changed completely and quality assurance has emerged as an important aspect of the overall development process rather than just a sidekick to the protagonist.

A Welcome Change:

Again, it’s the growing complexities of the game titles and the need for the publishers to be up there with the best if not outscore! Nowadays, game testing services enjoy the topmost priority in the process of developing and marketing of a game.

Today, game QA teams come early in the picture from the start of the development where they are entrusted with the task to check the content and sometimes even play a hand in influencing the decision making to augment the entire experience of gameplay. Involvement of QA team from the start also gives enough time to run QA checks at regular intervals and offer a complete competitive analysis. It leads to improvement in overall efficiency in workflow from across visual art teams to developers. This is also the reason why most of the established publishers and studios have recognised that QA is an essential part of software development and now they are investing heavily in this important process.

Though, it is simply impossible these days to release completely bug-free games (again, mainly due to the inherent complexity of the games), a thorough testing can reduce the number of issues significantly. Quality assurance team can change the overall process of game’s development if they get involved from the start. If the QA team gets the complete information about the size and scope of the game at the start, it can easily estimate the size of the team required during the project development process from start to finish.

Different Requirements, One Goal:

As per their requirements and games, different studios can have different priorities and expectations from quality assurance department. Thus, testing methods also vary in different genres of games i.e. expectations around a racing game may differ from RPGs comprising of shooting or strategy setting. These variations also stand true across different platforms of gaming from consoles, smartphones and tablets. Now, QA firms also play a vital role in evaluating the requirement of additional content and patches required in the future, after the launch of the game. This plays a major role in ensuring a good gaming experience to the users as because add-ons can have a radical change in the content and future of a game and its overall performance.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Creation Of Test Artifacts: An All-Inclusive Process

Besides finding bugs and other issues with games, a tester also provides the key information to stakeholders through information artefacts. It is an important process where the results are presented in the form of test reports, verbal accounts or bug reports. To achieve the maximum accuracy and output from these artefacts, a tester needs to keep a few things in mind. A comprehensive information artefact should have some common traits, which can be mutually beneficial for both testers and stakeholders and should yield the maximum output.

Important Attributes Of An Information Artifact:

An information artefact should have accurate and valuable information, which should be complemented by every important detail. At the same time, this information should be easily understandable and presented in the right format to avoid any confusion. In the end, the most important thing is that the methods and means detailed in the artefact to iron out a bug should be cost effective, which make game testing services viable and implementable.

Effective Information:

The process begins by finding the right information, which ultimately makes an artefact valuable. Any trivial information should not be filed in the bug repository, as it would waste a lot of time and would not yield any results.

The bedrock of any information artefact is accuracy. Thus, stakeholders should get all the accurate information from these artefacts including events, environments, outcomes and states among other factors. Any uncertainty in detailing will cause a lot of harm in the overall process of testing. The information provided in these artefacts should be easily understandable. So, they should be written with the right/proper language, abbreviations and terminology. The stakeholders should understand all the provided information in these artefacts and make complete use of the information mined.

Formatting And Cost:

It does happen almost every time that stakeholders get multiple information artefacts regarding the same bugs or test reports. To make the process of information filtration easy for them, these artefacts should come in specific formats so that they can be used correctly. Besides offering the right information, these artefacts would also save a lot of additional handling cost.

Before dispersing the information, tester and stakeholders should agree upon a format for future exchange of information. An information artefact has to be valuable, accurate and should come with credible information, but ultimately it has to be bound by cost-effective steps/measures. Much of all depends upon the testers engaged in the process. Stakeholders cannot deduce the expected cost of these artefacts. At best, regular stakeholders of a game title would want all the relevant information at one place to effect a deduction. But it’s the tester whose role is defined by the effort to find irregularities and facilitate the list of artefacts.

Thus, it becomes imperative for the testers to take the responsibility to make it a cost effective endeavour and let the artefacts comprise of only the important information to save the money and time of the entire game development and delivery process.

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

The Surge Of Buggy Games: Incomprehensible Reality

It is not just a random occurrence but a prevailing trend these days that every brand-new, big-budget game comes with a day-one patch. Yes, it was a reality till the early days of Xbox 360 to have bug-free newly released games, but the same looks to be a distant dream now. To refresh your memory, just think about the recently released Assassin’s Creed Unity of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which was just in shambles on the face of the series of performance-related issues, before some life was breathed into it by the form of the first patch. This phenomenon makes a dedicated gamer to think that game QA testing hasn’t remained the top priority of the companies like Ubisoft, but that is not the case at all!

A Disturbing But Accepted Trend:

It appears like a tacit deal between the gamers and publishers, as both have no qualms in accepting the buggy games, which can be deemed unplayable at the time of their release. No wonder, it is a common sight these days to see the launch of buggy PC, mobile or even console-based games.

Yes, they don’t get good reviews, but gradually they earn the acceptance among gamers. Depending upon the Internet access and other factors, gaming experience may vary, but the obvious verdict is that amidst a present state of affairs, it has turned into a compulsion for publishers to release buggy games.

The Big Role Of The Internet:

It has become a lot easier and convenient for the developers to fix bugs and glitches in the games, which are played on PCs and consoles, having a constant Internet access. On the hindsight, with the help of the Internet, developers not only fix the bugs but also push the retail versions of games. Developers release these buggy games with the belief that the bugs can be fixed later on by releasing patches via the Internet. Even if it has become a norm these days, companies should avail reliable game testing services to ensure the longevity and viability of their products in the long run.

Need For A Potent Testing Mechanism:

Much of the present trend may be attributed to the fact how exceedingly complex (read dynamic) games have become these days. Given the complexity of the current games – and there’s a need to be so – there is nothing much that the companies can do technically to prevent any bug or release an entirely bug-free game. It is not possible in the present scenario – with games having a life-size recreation of locations, numerous plot missions and side-quests among other factors – to have big-checked while being developed.

But, game developers can avoid big bloopers by sticking to a rigorous testing approach. It is not wise to rely entirely on free game testers, or Beta testers who cannot fully justify your purpose as most of them would be there just to play a free new game. When it’s about a serious (and on top of it rigorous) testing, it is imperative to involve professional QA teams to get the maximum output regarding quality.

After all, releasing patches after complaints only hint at the lack of seriousness of the game publisher.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Points To Pay Heed To Before Undertaking QA Of A Cloud-Hosted Game

Cloud-based gaming has become very popular – both among the publishers/developers and the users – in the recent years. The fact that it can create a console-like experience on your device has made it very popular among computer game enthusiasts. Availability of cloud has also made games more cost competitive – in addition to making game titles easily and widely accessible. And this facet refers to a scenario in which, as a game publisher. If you hire a game tester, it’s advisable to make sure that the testing/QA expert has the experience and expertise to deal with cloud-based games.

While performing the testing activity, the testers should keep in mind some of the unique features of different types of cloud environments as they can have a bearing on the performance of the respective game title.

What You Get As A ‘Cloud’?

Shared/Public Cloud:

This is the most common type of cloud where users aren’t aware of the location of the infrastructure and have limited control over it. In this environment, the games would be shared among multiple customers with low levels of security. Here users might need to wait for their turn as the same infrastructure is being used by thousands of users simultaneously. Shared/public cloud setup is best suited for ‘free-to-use’ games that do not feature complex UI or graphics and pertain to branding or viral marketing.

Private Cloud:

This type of cloud environment is dedicated to a particular client, and hence the owner doesn’t need to share it with anyone else. Since private clouds are expensive, hence this is ideally suited for premium games (requiring some payments to be made towards downloading/playing them) where the user bears the cost for an uninterrupted experience.

Hybrid Cloud:
This stands somewhere in between the two of the above environments. Here, the game tester has to consider the security aspects of the cloud while testing the game. However, like private clouds, they also offer dedicated resources for hosting premium games.

A game publisher can decide on the use and fate of a title based on the above three cloud platforms; and can hire a game tester/QA expert to ensure the success of the title on the environment where they host it.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

Amazon Intensifies ‘Fire’ OS Development With Live App Testing

Fire Phone developers can now rejoice as Amazon Fire phone testing has just become easier with the introduction of a new service called Live App Testing. This new service would offer Fire Phone developers the right kind of testing environment to take on competition from other smartphone developers in the market. Developers can now distribute apps on the Amazon Appstore to a limited number of users who own a Kindle Fire, Fire Phone or a Fire TV.

Amazon seems to be following the path of Google and Android who also allow developers to test their apps before launch.

Amazon Fire App: Test To Perfect!

Under this service, an app developer would be able to invite a selected group of testers and email them a few instructions relating to the app. The testers aren’t charged for downloading, and neither sought for payments towards exploring the in-app items. The individuals (read, volunteers) would test the apps extensively and find out any bugs or other issues related to the app, if available. The developers would be able to connect quality feedback from the testers. The feedback would allow inducing improvements regarding the quality and stability of the apps.

And yes, there are also chances of introducing new features based on the suggestions received from the peers and volunteers – before the apps head to the mad release.

This Live App Testing service along with the Fire Phone SDK would go a long way in placing this new OS in direct competition with market leaders Android and iOS. The SDK includes API Simulator that allows developers to test their apps without having to test it on a device. This testing environment allows app developers to test all the basic features of the app including side panels and app widgets.

Testing is a fair, democratic process they say –and Google has been a forerunner in bolstering the belief. Amazon’s decision to introduce volunteers in the testing process adds voice to that belief.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd

What Do The Game Testing Services Do Exactly?

The core responsibility of any game testing service is to find bugs in a game until there are no bugs anymore. From the face of it, the job appears quite enjoyable. Play games all the time and at the end of the day list out all the bugs found from all the nooks and corners of the interactive entertainment application – as simple as that. However, the job in real is not that easy.

How incredible it might sound for the game testing services, playing games, is not fun at all. It is hard-work! The job starts with performing some standard tests one by one, including a few that have step by step manual to be followed. The intention behind playing is not entertainment but to identify any weird behaviours in the game, like freeze, crash or progression blocks. The objective is to find bugs in the game’s design or code. The game tester also needs to show the parts of the game that are working perfectly as intended.

The next step forward is to amplify the defects found. In other words, the testers must deduce all permutations and combinations for a particular bug to happen. This means that the testers must check everywhere for bugs and no place should be considered safe or infallible. It must also be documented as to how each defect or bug affects the game. Only once the problems in the game have been found in their entirety, do the testers report the bugs to the developers. Thereupon, the job of the developers starts by fixing the outlined defects in the game.

Once the bugs have been fixed, the game testing service once again tests the game for bugs. The tester tries to find bugs at all the places possible. If any found, it is tried hard to find more occurrences of the same bug at more places and more frequently at that. Once that is achieved, the bug is documented, reported and gotten fixed. It’s much like Do-Until loop sort of a scene.

 

Article by,

Laxmikant B. Thipse
Founder & CEO
GameCloud Technologies Pvt Ltd