Game Testing: The secret sauce to a robust strategy

According to Nielson’s Holistic Gaming Report, nearly half of the population in the developed world are gamers, and gaming takes up about 10 per cent of their leisure time.

According to Newzoo, the market intelligence company specializing in gaming and eSports, the gaming sector is expected to generate over US $99.6 billion in revenues in 2016, a growth of 8.5% compared to last year.

What does all this data mean for us at Indium? Five years back we took a leap of faith to launch a business division dedicated to game testing.

It meant, we had to get out of our comfort zone, setup a separate team, craft a unique methodology and approach to help some of the world’s leading gaming firms deliver top-quality products.

We took our expertise in mobile and web testing methodologies and combined that with new skills to launch our Game Testing division, with a dedicated team in Bangalore.

As the Nielson and Newzoo numbers suggested, with a rapidly growing market came the responsibility to deliver bug-free, high-quality games. And, the role of game testers in the process became critical.

At Indium, our team of multi-dimensional game testers engage in various aspects of game testing – functional testing, compliance, compatibility, performance and load/stress testing.

Because we know gaming is not a predictable process and we have to think out of the box, testing for a variety of playing methods is part of our DNA. We have to do get the process right, regardless of whether a particular game is a tester’s favorite genre or not.

The Secret Sauce

In this blog, we wanted to specifically focus on what is the secret sauce to deliver a wonderful game testing experience for our clients.

Of course, we wouldn’t reveal all our secrets here, but here’s a glimpse of 10 key ingredients to do this right:

A right mix of testers

Every player is different; and how he/she responds to different situations in the game is different. Hence, it is important to mimic this while testing a game. We’re convinced that having the right mix of testers, with different analytical approaches and a multitude of thought processes, is crucial to get the game testing process right.

A fine line between structured and ad-hoc

In any game testing process, there is a fine line between being structured and using ad-hoc approaches.

Of course, game testers do use a lot of test cases and checklists, but that certainly does not define game testing in its entirety.

There are number of processes and procedures that define game testing but the crucial aspect to note here is the ability to go beyond the obvious moves and try various ad-hoc tests.

Thinking out of the box

Your tester may be a gaming expert. It may be a cakewalk for him or her to reach the top most level in the game, but that’s not the way one should test it.

At every possible move, the tester’s job is to think of multiple moves a player could potentially make. Try making that move and see what happens.

Game testing, at the end of the day, is both an art and a science; A tester needs to have both a logical, analytical approach, even as he or she brings in dose of creativity.

Guidelines and a Process

Whatever we’ve said thus far may make you believe that the art of game testing is chaotic at best.

But that’s not true. We’ve checkpoints at every stage. We use a process-oriented approach to escalate bugs, see patterns, and ensure that with every build, there’s an improvement in the overall quality of the game.

Why is there a bug here?

For game testers, it is certainly not enough to say something isn’t right. The real challenge is to explain why there is a bug? What is causing it? This insight will help a game developer get to the root of the issue and fix it.

Testing on a variety of devices

At Indium, we’ve hundreds of devices running on iOS, Android, Fire TV, Kindle and Windows, on which we test games for our clients.

The willingness to invest in an inventory of large number of devices, we believe, is one of Indium’s key differentiators. This, and the ability to build a top-notch testing team.

Shuffling teams

As is the case with any form of art (remember, we think Game testing is an art), it is crucial to have multiple perspectives while testing.

Therefore, we often shuffle teams at different stages of testing a game, to ensure a myriad of perspectives, situations and potential moves are explored and overall, this will result in comprehensive testing.

Top-notch testers

This goes without saying, but to deliver a high-quality client experience, the key ingredient (in addition of all of the above) will always be an army of brilliant testers. At Indium, we launched iGTA, the Indium Game Testing Academy, to continue to build on our talent pool for the future, and this we think, is one of key differentiators. Our two-month training program is one of the best in the industry and is complete with theoretical classes, practical game play sessions on various devices, and a mock project for two weeks simulating a real-life test environment.

Working in tandem with game developers

The other aspect of game testing is the ability to have a tester get back to the development team, quickly.

If the client is in a different time zone, it is important to have your game testing team work in the same time zone, and work in tandem. If a bug is found, the developer goes back, fixes it, and immediately delivers a new build for testing.

Lots of Coffee

Alas, we almost missed out on the most important ingredient; Lots of coffee, drive, alertness and the ability to stay agile and nimble is critical for a game tester.

The future

Of course, Game Testing is not all play. It is work through and through, and needs skills beyond being able to just crack the different levels.

Though at this stage game testing is entirely manual, our team has started exploring opportunities in automation and performance, making good progress here.

We believe, security and compliance are going to become critical as the industry gains recognition, and we continue to enhance our expertise in this area.

Virtual and Augmented Reality are emerging trends that we at Indium are looking forward to being a part of. Even as we gear up for the future, we strive to deliver a top-notch testing experience for our clients, and eventually help deliver a high quality game to our clients’ end customers.