Things to Consider Before You Start Test Automation for Video Games
How do you think about processing each added feature in WoW, Forza Horizon, or The Sims Online manually to ensure they work as expected? How long would it need to ensure there is no dispute with the other upgrades?
It would take years. This is why automation is important in video game testing right now.
The gaming industry is not prepared enough in test automation practices, yet their adoption is being taken into the mainstream by dev studios all over the world.
Test Automation in a Nutshell
Software testing and test automation are several things, obviously.
Manual testing is about creating effective test cases able to identify as many bugs as possible in each aspect of the software, and then performing tests by hand.
Test automation, on the other hand, enables automating test execution (for example, for repetitive tasks) and, hence, cutting costs and speeding up the complete process.
That’s exactly what game developers require these days, right? First of all, many game development studios are utilizing CI/CD practices that need them to test and release faster. Also, modern video games have a long lifespan as some of them have stayed in production since the early ’00s – therefore, there is an ever-growing number of patches and expansions to be tested and delivered. And, most importantly, gamers spend in games. They expect things to work!
Factors to consider before automation
There are five core things one requires to take into account for a successful game test automation, particularly production costs, reusability, test automation infrastructure, human factor, and automation scale.
Cost of production
Hiring new developers to write scripts and other test utilities indicates an important initial investment – even though it will give off finally. Additionally, automated test scripts are like any other code – they may appear with their own set of bugs.
Test automation infrastructure
A solid infrastructure for automated tests to be installed onto should be involved in the production costs but this point requires extra attention. It is a starting point and essential requirement to be able to adjust test code to the modifications in a game build/functionality/features set, etc. The system should be very bulletproof to be integrated with game development.
Reusability is one of the main benefits of test automation scripts, but there is a concern about the gaming industry that presents it a little more twisted. Unlike other software products, each game is created on new code. That is why game test automation needs a particular way. Such as providing functions that protect the game code details from the automated tests to maximize test reusability.
The Human Factor
Test automation does not reduce the requirement for human testers. At the end of the day, some tests cannot be automated (like ad hoc or playtesting). However, it will surely leave more time for the standard assessment of playability, balance, and other issues.
The more features of testing the dev studio aim to automate, the more factors they have to consider into account. First of all, it surely brings a fundamental shift in the process the company operates. Also, it is a long-term investment that will not pay off instantly. Finally, automation is not just only purchasing a magic tool and submitting it into the development mix. Automation needs persistence.
That is why it is important to assign this task to expert test automation engineers who would not expose the whole thing. A trusted provider of independent software testing services will provide a team of seasoned professionals on-demand, able to manage the automation process flawlessly.
What Games to Automate?
Most of the games would profit from some degree of automation, but some of them want it full-scale.
- Massively Multiplayer Games: for automating the parts that have many repetitive actions or get synchronized between a large number of servers and clients together, and for affecting server load.
- First-Person Shooters: for imitating a player regularly shooting in a certain pattern, randomly testing paths by a level to detect sticky spots, clippings, or invisible walls, and retesting the GUI of the game with each new build.
- Puzzle Games: for accurately testing what would happen if the gamer makes moves the game developer does not assume them to make.
- Mobile games: for automating the testing of press actions, game screen displays, and menu selections.
From improved efficiency, coverage, and cost savings to improve game quality – there are clear advantages the gaming industry can get from test automation. Even though it is a common method these days to begin automating tests in the later stages of development, game developers should begin as early as possible and test during the development cycle.
Entrust test automation to the QA pros from TestUnity. We provide the testing services on-demand, serve with projects of any scale, and are ready to start with a few days’ advance notice.