“Testing is an integral part of game development. It’s the process that helps transform a good game into a great one.” – Tim Sweeney (Founder of Epic Games)
Game testing is an integral component in game development where hidden bugs are detected. Many think game testing begins after game production. But the game testing process starts as soon as the coding begins and progresses towards the completion of the game.
Generally, the games are tested for quality assurance and quality control. The game quality is measured by specific factors. Tracy Fullerton, a game designer says — Functional, internally complete, fun, balanced, and accessible are the five basic qualities needed for a good game.
Hence, game testing deploys different game testing techniques to check if the game is good and functional, thus ensuring a better user experience.
Let us learn about game testing and the various game testing types in brief.
Game testing is a very important game development process. Game testing helps to detect any bugs, technical glitches, or defects within the game. The game testing follows a user-centric approach. It helps with the uninterrupted functioning of the game and ensures the game is playable by the audience.
Much like every other technological evolution, game testing has also evolved with time. Modern game testing employs a combination of existing game testing techniques and software testing techniques.
Also, game testing differs based on various factors such as game genre, game engine, and gaming platforms. For example, the game testing for PC is not the same as the console, due to the difference in their hardware configurations, OS, drivers, controllers, and other such factors.
Keep reading to learn about the various game testing types.
There are many different types of game testing. But they are generally classified into two
White box testing is employed to identify any hidden errors in the game. In this game testing type, the internal code and game design documents are visible to the programmers. The game testers require coding knowledge for this type of game testing.
Black box testing is done to check the functioning of the game and it is not necessary for the testers to know the coding. In this testing approach, the internal codes, design, and documents are not accessible for testing. This testing ensures that the expected output is delivered to the users.
Here, I have provided a brief account of the various game testing techniques.
Functionality testing is performed to check if the game functions properly. For instance, if the game crashes, or does not load, it is a functional issue.
Here, you will check if the exhibited action is the same as the expected action. Functional testing does not care about the game being fun, or the language used being correct. It is to make sure the game does not have any interruptions with functioning.
Combinatorial testing checks if the input combinations are working correctly. This testing uses the combination sequences to check if game inputs and combination parameters work without any defects if they interact with one another.
Pairwise combinatorial testing is conducted to check if the game components work in sync when combined with one another. It is easier to test the various combinations in the game using this testing.
Compatibility testing is done to check if the game is compatible with various software and hardware devices. People play games on different devices and each device has different configurations and features. So, it is necessary to check if the game is compatible with multiple devices.
Additionally, game accessories like controllers, bluetooth headsets, etc., are connected to the game. It should be compatible with the game for it to work. Video cards, controllers, OS, and standards like USB should be checked for compatibility.
Compliance testing is done to check if the game adheres to the specific standards of the platforms.
Compliance testing is done before the launch of the game on the market to comply with the guidelines of the game hardware manufacturers. The leading gaming hardware manufacturers like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have their own compliance testing certificates.
Without compliance testing, a game cannot be released on the gaming platform.
Ad hoc testing is done to check if there are any unexpected errors. It neither follows a checklist nor any test plan. The error-guessing technique is used to detect any bugs or errors in the game.
This testing doesn’t follow any process, planning, or documentation. It is done randomly at any part of the game to test for any issues. Ad hoc testing helps to detect major bugs which are not able to be found in the prior testing.
When the game is tested, sometimes unexpected errors will keep on occurring, even if you fix them. In those cases, clean room testing comes in handy.
This testing helps to understand the exact reason for the bug to arise or identify the location of the bugs. Thus, helping to fix the bug permanently. It is one of the essential game testing types, to prevent the same bugs from appearing time and again.
Load testing is done to check if the game can function seamlessly under heavy activity. In this testing, the game is played by multiple game testers at the same time and they perform multiple actions simultaneously. It is done to check if the game crashes or if there are any technical issues in the game.
In any case, if issues arise due to heavy load the game developers need to work on it to make the game work under such conditions.
Each player is different and they have their own way of playing. Soar testing is to make sure that the game is playable under any circumstance.
In this game testing, the game is left on or paused for two or three days to check the functioning of the game. The tester plays the game leisurely and pauses the game for hours and resumes the game to check if the game functions properly. It is much like when the player leaves for a short break (for say lunch) and resumes the game again to play.
Playtesting is done to check if the game is fun to play. The game being fun means the game is successful. The playtesting checks if the game is fun to play at every level.
When playtesting, the tester plays the game to check if the game is boring or lagging at any point. After that, they give a detailed description of what the problem is to the developers to make the game interesting to play.
Regression testing is done to check if the changes made have created any additional bugs in the game. In instances of software upgradation or version change the bugs that were previously fixed might appear again.
Here, the tester also follows up with the game post-release. In regression testing, the feedback is collected from the players, and issues are fixed in the upgraded version even after the game launch.
Video games are released worldwide. And the game developers need to make sure that it appeals to the audience worldwide and ensures a better user experience. Localization is the process where the game is released in other regions and it is optimized to the likes of the local user.
Localization testing mostly involves translation. We can see many popular games made in Japan and Korea are released in English. The games before release should undergo localization testing to make sure the translation is proper and understandable.
Some games like Zero Wing, Ghostbusters, and Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, were trolled mercilessly for their poor English translation.
Usability testing is the testing done to check if the game is easier to understand and playable. When we say easy it is not in the sense of difficulty level but the ability to play intuitively without any control issues. If you are playing the game, the main concern should be about beating the opponent and not about figuring out a way to use the control.
In short, usability tests focus on providing a better user experience to the players.
The Alpha testing is done during the production process, where the game is tested to curb any possible errors or bugs at the earliest. This testing process is very difficult, as the testing is conducted at every step of the production phase to avoid any technical glitches or defects when the game is being developed.
In this testing, the tester needs to have knowledge of the software and hardware, to fix the issues and make sure the same issue does not arise again. In alpha testing, most of the major bugs are fixed.
Beta testing starts right after the completion of alpha testing. By now, the whole of the production will be completed and all the major bugs will be addressed. The beta testing makes sure that all the bugs are fixed before the game is released to the world.
The beta testing is divided into two:
In closed beta testing, the game is not open to the players and is available only to the developers and game testers to test. During this process, the game is polished and any possible bugs and defects will be fixed.
In open beta testing, the game will be available for players. The external testers play the game and report any issues with the game. In some open-world massive multiplayer games, it becomes impossible to detect every issue. Stress testing is done at open beta testing with many players playing simultaneously to detect any crashes, bugs, or loading issues in the game.
Game testing is an important process in game development that detects any possible bugs and functional issues in the game. It begins in the early stages of game production and makes its way into post-production.
Game testing is a difficult process and the game tester uses various game testing techniques to ensure the game is playable. Ultimately, the goal of game testing is to ensure a seamless user experience.
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Game testing is important to make sure that the game is functional at every level and that there are no defects in the game. It ensures the game is functioning as intended by the developer.
The major types of game testing are White box testing and Black box testing.
No. Game testing is not the final process in game development. It starts at a later phase of game development and goes through multiple iterations.