Testing games

OTUS expert Dmitry Shadrin invites everyone to free demo lesson course “Game QA Engineer”, within the framework of which we will talk about how modern game testing is arranged, discuss the prospects for the development of specialists in the field of game development, and also consider the main distinctive features in game testing

What do game testers do?

Officially, the vacancy is called QA tester, or, in Russian, tester. QA stands for “quality assurance,” meaning “quality assurance” for a video game. These words describe the purpose of the work and reflect the difference between simply playing through games and testing them.

And the essence of the work is finding bugs

Your task in testing is to break the game. You need to catch all the code that is not working correctly. To do this, go through the game and test it for strength very ingeniously.

Think about it: in a game of the scale of Skyrim, there are millions of player sequences possible. Interactions with objects, characters, and environments occur in a different order and in different combinations.

The tester should try as many of these combinations as possible to check that they work correctly. And for this, you also need to think outside the box. You must interact with the world in unexpected, even unthinkable ways for developers. Remember the bugs you know in games. Let’s make a reservation right away that there are hack-handed crafts, the developers of which seemed to give up without completing the work.

It’s not about them. Instead, let’s remember what “holes” are in good games. For example, in the first Halo there is a level where, due to a bug, you can stay aboard the Pelican transport ship, throwing a grenade at the very beginning. At the same time, to pass the level, “Pelican” must be left. The developers didn’t expect players to start throwing grenades without waiting for the landing!

Games of any genre have an infinite number of bugs with items and levels. Simply because there are many more atypical game actions than developers can foresee.

The task of game testers is to find as many of these bugs as possible.

How long does it take to test the game?

To catch every single bug, testers check absolutely every possible combination of game elements. Take a fighting game: each of the available characters must meet everyone else at all existing levels.

If there are 12 characters in such a game, each fight will result in 144 matches. However, there are also more than one levels, which means that 144 fights will be repeated on each of the maps. There are five levels in total, and you have 720 matches to play. As you can see, even small numbers and limited in functionality genre require many days of tester’s work.

If the prospect of playing a fighting game a thousand times still inspires you, then you probably envision your favorite game. Let’s say Marvel vs Capcom, Dead or Alive, or Mortal Kombat.

But what if you have to take on a fighting game based on the cartoon “Kung Fu Panda”? In games that you don’t like, you also need to look for bugs! Do you have enough willpower to invest hundreds of hours testing such a masterpiece? The bitter truth is this: as a rule, someone else will choose games… If you’re lucky, a fascinating novelty might come up. Most likely, commitment will tie you to less-than-exciting games.

We’ll also have to face load balancing. Other projects are too big for every tester to go through in their entirety. Therefore, you will be given a certain fragment for testing, and you will have to thoroughly check all the possibilities in this narrow area of ​​responsibility – so that your 10% of the game works one hundred percent.

“Testing a game” doesn’t mean “just playing,” just as “editing a movie” doesn’t mean “watching a movie.” You will have to repeat the same steps many times. It happens that you go through the same location for months!

The monotony is aggravated by the fact that you need to be able to reproduce any bug to write a report. Even if the error leads to a crash from the game, but you do not understand why this happened, the report will not make sense. It is required to describe the actions leading to the repetition of the bug, down to the smallest detail, so that the developers can repeat them and try to fix the problem.

However, all of the above does not mean that testing games is unbearably boring. This is just a juxtaposition of expectations and reality.

You will not be lounging on the couch, chopping into the beta version of Overwatch, over and over again taking out losers and swimming in loot boxes. Most likely, while sitting in your office, you will have to go through the same fragment of a little-known game hour after hour, trying to break it.

What should a game tester be able to do?

Let’s talk about skills.

In the work of a tester, it is incredibly important attention to details… To work successfully in this area, you need to be able to notice every little thing.

Thinking flexibility comes in handy too. Coming up with all the new ways to break the game will help creativity… The main thing is not to be distracted by impulses of inspiration.

This means that you need to develop superpower in yourself: absolute concentration… The closer the deadlines are, the more work you have, and productivity should not be lost for a minute. You never know how many bugs lie ahead, but you need to collect all of them: you won’t be able to play according to your mood.

Not to do without communication skills… Remember, it’s not enough to see a bug, you need to be able to tell the developers how to reproduce it.

A perfect bug report shouldn’t be the beginning of a long correspondence with a developer. It is best if the only answer to it is a letter to the testing department stating that the bug has been fixed. No one likes to waste time on clarifying questions, so the ability to immediately convey a message is crucial.

Remember, too, that sometimes you will have to talk to a wide variety of people. Not all errors are dealt with only by programmers. You need to be able to find a common language with all the departments that develop the game. For example, it may turn out that it is better to speak directly to programmers, bluntly, but in a dialogue with artists, more accurate wording may be required.

Learn more about the “Game QA Engineer” course here.

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