A video game TestingTips and Considerations

Posted on Mar 14 2010 - 4:13am by Raj

Video games are also considered as software that needs sufficient testing before releasing in the market. In fact, many software developers want to become game developers.

Game testing is the process of verifying game environment and behavior. Its occurrence in game development depends on its budget. High-budgeted projects test their products when the draft version is finished. On the other hand, low-budgeted games might only support testing of the probable final version. Other types like public betas and stress tests are also used in actual game industry, but it less systematic and scientific because testing is being done by simply playing the game from the start to finish and reporting random bugs that occur and detected accidentally. Scientific and methodological approaches in testing have the following purposes:

Game Functionality

This includes gaming environment, textures, and elements. Issues like stability and game messages are also included in this purpose. The exciting part about functional testing is verifying the correctness of game elements, because for example, checking if weapons like swords can really incur damage to enemies and of course, the most practical way to do it is to play the actual game.

 Game Compliance

Most games are not stand-alone system. They need to interact with hardware devices and this is especially true for console games. Protocol compatibility and hardware pin assignments should be compatible for both software and hardware side. This is often seen as an area outside the scope of game testers because it now deals with issues beyond the gaming environment.

 Game Localization

It is  the common knowledge that most RPGs and other story-based games came from Japan. Thus, scripts may have inconsistencies when translated from one language to another. Unlike functional testers who need to play the actual game, localization testers often face a spreadsheet-like interface where all game scripts and its translation are listed.

 Game Soaking

Soaking simply means exposing the game for an exaggerated long period of execution. This is to test if the game will exhibit unreleased segments of memory and mathematical rounding discrepancies. Rounding errors can be problematic for games because it can affect its pointing system, health value consumption, and other game parameters that involve numerical computation.

 Games need thorough evaluation to deliver maximum playing experience. For this reason, its testing focuses on some crucial part and breakdown to achieve realistic game behavior. Listed below are some game testing components:

    * Menus, sub menus, and its functions
    * Graphics, texture, and animation
    * Character audio, sound effects, and special effect
    * Game difficulty level
    * World, dungeons, and map settings
    * Player, action, and inanimate attributes
    * Artificial intelligence for the defense and offense mode
    * Game flow, logic, and sequencing
    * Life points, magic points, and player points
    * Game pad vibration, analog stick, and other hardware issues

Game testing tips and considerations are greatly focused in game graphics. For example, testers should verify a realistic behavior when multiple objects overlapped with each other. Collision effects between two objects should also be realistic. This is especially true for games involved in sports. In terms of considerations, testers should be aware of the so-called crack bugs and placeholder. This often appears in the development period. Crack bugs are also called false bugs because it is just the result of misjudgment by the tester, while placeholders are shapes used to cover temporarily some part of the game screen while the real image is not yet finished.

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