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Game testing, a subset of game development, is a software testing process for quality control of video games.The primary function of game testing is the discovery and documentation of software defects (aka bugs). Interactive entertainment software testing is a highly technical field requiring computing expertise, analytic competence, critical evaluation skills, and endurance. In recent years the field of game testing has come under fire for being extremely strenuous and unrewarding, both financially and emotionally.
In the early days of computer and video games, the developer was in charge of all the testing. No more than one or two testers were required due to the limited scope of the games. In some cases, the programmers could handle all the testing.[ citation needed ]
As games become more complex, a larger pool of QA resources, called "Quality Assessment" or "Quality Assurance" is necessary. Most publishers employ a large QA staff for testing various games from different developers. Despite the large QA infrastructure most publishers have, many developers retain a small group of testers to provide on-the-spot QA.
Now most game developers rely on their highly technical and game savvy testers to find glitches and 'bugs' in either the programming code or graphic layers. Game testers usually have a background playing a variety of different games on a multitude of platforms. They must be able to notate and reference any problems they find in detailed reports, meet deadlines with assignments and have the skill level to complete the game titles on their most difficult settings. Most of the time the position of game tester is a highly stressful and competitive position with little pay yet is highly sought after for it serves as a doorway into the industry. Game testers are observant individuals and can spot minor defects in the game build.
A common misconception is that all game testers enjoy alpha or beta version of the game and report occasionally found bugs.In contrast, game testing is highly focused on finding bugs using established and often tedious methodologies before alpha version.
Quality assurance is a critical component in game development, though the video game industry does not have a standard methodology. Instead developers and publishers have their own methods. Small developers do not generally have QA staff; however, large companies may employ QA teams full-time. High-profile commercial games are professionally and efficiently tested by publisher QA department.
Testing starts as soon as first code is written and increases as the game progresses towards completion.The main QA team will monitor the game from its first submission to QA until as late as post-production. Early in the game development process the testing team is small and focuses on daily feedback for new code. As the game approaches alpha stage, more team members are employed and test plans are written. Sometimes features that are not bugs are reported as bugs and sometimes the programming team fails to fix issues first time around. A good bug-reporting system may help the programmers work efficiently. As the projects enters beta stage, the testing team will have clear assignments for each day. Tester feedback may determine final decisions of exclusion or inclusion of final features. Introducing testers with fresh perspectives may help identify new bugs. At this point the lead tester communicates with the producer and department heads daily. If the developer has an external publisher, then coordination with publisher's QA team starts. For console games, a build for the console company QA team is sent. Beta testing may involve volunteers, for example, if the game is multiplayer.
Testers receive scheduled uniquely identifiable game builds [ citation needed ] The game is play-tested and testers note any uncovered errors. These may range from bugs to art glitches to logic errors and level bugs. Testing requires creative gameplay to discover often subtle bugs. Some bugs are easy to document, but many require detailed description so a developer can replicate or find the bug. Testers implement concurrency control to avoid logging bugs multiple times.[ citation needed ] Many video game companies separate technical requirement testing from functionality testing altogether since a different testing skillset is required.from the developers.
If a video game development enters crunch time before a deadline, the game-test team is required to test late-added features and content without delay. During this period staff from other departments may contribute to the testing—especially in multiplayer games.[ citation needed ]
Most companies rank bugs according to an estimate of their severity:
A game tester is a member of a development team who performs game testing.
The organization of staff differs between organizations; a typical company may employ the following roles associated with testing disciplines:
Game QA is less technical than general software QA. Game testers most often require experience however occasionally only a high school diploma and with no technical expertise, suffice.[ citation needed ] Game testing is normally a full-time job for experienced testers; however, many employees are hired as temporary staff, such as beta testers. In some cases, testers employed by a publisher may be sent to work at the developer's site. The most aggressive recruiting season is late summer/early autumn[ citation needed ], as this is the start of the crunch period for games to be finished and shipped in time for the holiday season.
Some games studios are starting to take a more technical approach to game QA that is more inline with traditional software testing. Technical Test positions are still fairly rare throughout the industry but these jobs are often full-time positions with long term career paths and require a 4-year computer science degree and significant experience with test automation.
Some testers use the job as a stepping stone in the game industry. [ citation needed ] Applicants for programming, art, or design positions need to demonstrate technical skills in these areas. fcnaz.comQA résumés, which display non-technical skill sets, tend towards management, than to marketing or production.
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.(March 2010)
Game testing personnel are usually paid hourly (around US$10–12 an hour). Testing management is usually more lucrative, and requires experience and often a college education. An annual survey found that testers earn an average of $39k annually. Testers with less than three years' experience earn an average of US$25k while testers with over three years' experience earn US$43k. Testing leads, with over six years' experience, earn on an average of US$71k a year.
A typical bug report progression of testing process is seen below:
There is no standard method for game testing, and most methodologies are developed by individual video game developers and publishers. Methodologies are continuously refined and may differ for different types of games (for example, the methodology for testing an MMORPG will be different from testing a casual game). Many methods, such as unit testing, are borrowed directly from general software testing techniques. Outlined below are the most important methodologies, specific to video games.
For consoles, the majority of testing is not performed on a normal system or consumer unit. Special test equipment is provided to developers and publishers. The most significant tools are the test or debug kits, and the dev kits. The main difference from consumer units is the ability to load games from a burned disc, USB stick, or hard drive. The console can also be set to any publishing region. This allows game developers to produce copies for testing. This functionality is not present in consumer units to combat software piracy and grey-market imports.[ citation needed ]
Microsoft DirectX is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming and video, on Microsoft platforms. Originally, the names of these APIs all began with "Direct", such as Direct3D, DirectDraw, DirectMusic, DirectPlay, DirectSound, and so forth. The name DirectX was coined as a shorthand term for all of these APIs and soon became the name of the collection. When Microsoft later set out to develop a gaming console, the X was used as the basis of the name Xbox to indicate that the console was based on DirectX technology. The X initial has been carried forward in the naming of APIs designed for the Xbox such as XInput and the Cross-platform Audio Creation Tool (XACT), while the DirectX pattern has been continued for Windows APIs such as Direct2D and DirectWrite.
A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder, is a person who creates computer software. The term computer programmer can refer to a specialist in one area of computers or to a generalist who writes code for many kinds of software.
Software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the software product or service under test. Software testing can also provide an objective, independent view of the software to allow the business to appreciate and understand the risks of software implementation. Test techniques include the process of executing a program or application with the intent of finding failures, and verifying that the software product is fit for use.
A software bug is an error, flaw or fault in a computer program or system that causes it to produce an incorrect or unexpected result, or to behave in unintended ways. The process of finding and fixing bugs is termed "debugging" and often uses formal techniques or tools to pinpoint bugs, and since the 1950s, some computer systems have been designed to also deter, detect or auto-correct various computer bugs during operations.
A software release life cycle is the sum of the stages of development and maturity for a piece of computer software. Cycles range from its initial development to its eventual release, and include updated versions of the released version to help improve software or fix software bugs still present in the software.
A game programmer is a software engineer, programmer, or computer scientist who primarily develops codebases for video games or related software, such as game development tools. Game programming has many specialized disciplines, all of which fall under the umbrella term of "game programmer". A game programmer should not be confused with a game designer, who works on game design.
Video game design is the process of designing the content and rules of video games in the pre-production stage and designing the gameplay, environment, storyline and characters in the production stage. The designer of a game is very much like the director of a film in many ways; the designer is the visionary of the game and controls the artistic and technical elements of the game in fulfillment of their vision. Video game design requires artistic and technical competence as well as sometimes including writing skills. As the industry has aged and embraced alternative production methodologies such as agile, the role of a principal game designer has begun to separate - some studios emphasizing the auteur model while others emphasizing a more team oriented model. Within the video game industry, video game design is usually just referred to as "game design", which is a more general term elsewhere.
A video game producer is the top person in charge of overseeing development of a video game.
Video game development is the process of developing a video game. The effort is undertaken by a developer, ranging from a single person to an international team dispersed across the globe. Development of traditional commercial PC and console games is normally funded by a publisher, and can take several years to reach completion. Indie games usually take less time and money and can be produced by individuals and smaller developers. The independent game industry has been on the rise, facilitated by the growth of accessible game development software such as Unity platform and Unreal Engine and new online distribution systems such as Steam and Uplay, as well as the mobile game market for Android and iOS devices.
Game programming, a subset of game development, is the software development of video games. Game programming requires substantial skill in software engineering and computer programming in a given language, as well as specialization in one or more of the following areas: simulation, computer graphics, artificial intelligence, physics, audio programming, and input. For massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), knowledge of additional areas such as network programming and database programming are required. Though often engaged in by professional game programmers, some may program games as a hobby.
A playtest is the process by which a game designer tests a new game for bugs and design flaws before releasing it to market. Playtests can be run "open", "closed", "beta", or otherwise, and are very common with board games, collectible card games, role-playing games, and video games, for which they have become an established part of the quality control process. An individual involved in testing a game is referred to as a playtester.
A level, map, area, stage, world, track, board, floor, zone, phase, mission, episode, course or rank in a video game, is the total space available to the player during the course of completing a discrete objective. Video game levels generally have progressively-increasing difficulty to appeal to players with different skill levels. Each level may present new concepts and challenges to keep a player's interest high.
PCSX2 is a free and open-source PlayStation 2 emulator for Windows, Linux, and macOS that supports a wide range of PlayStation 2 video games with a high level of compatibility and functionality. Although PCSX2 can closely mirror the original gameplay experience on the PlayStation 2, PCSX2 supports a number of improvements over gameplay on a traditional PlayStation 2, such as the ability to use custom resolutions up to 8192×8192, anti-aliasing, and texture filtering.
The art pipeline is the process of creating and implementing art for a particular project, most commonly associated with the creative process for developing video games. In an era of high-profile video games, wherein the creative energy of the teams and the budgets for projects surpass even some Hollywood blockbusters, graphics are ever-improving and an increasingly important selling point. Video Game developers employ extensive teams of artists to carry a project's artistic goals through from the conceptual stage to the final release. A fully realized game asset, whether it is a character, background, building, object, or animation, is created in a deliberate process with different artists working on and contributing separate aspects in a step by step process to the final product. To facilitate this process, a number of software programs are marketed to developers as flexible tools for productively streamlining the transformation of elements created within a program to a fully realized game asset. These highly customizable programs allow users to apply plug-ins or add-ons to tailor the interactions each program will have with one another as an element moves along the pipeline from concept to completion.
A video game console emulator is a type of emulator that allows a computing device to emulate a video game console's hardware and play its games on the emulating platform. More often than not, emulators carry additional features that surpass the limitations of the original hardware, such as broader controller compatibility, timescale control, greater performance, clearer quality, easier access to memory modifications, one-click cheat codes, and unlocking of gameplay features. Emulators are also a useful tool in the development process of homebrew demos and the creation of new games for older, discontinued, or rare consoles.
Pair testing is a software development technique in which two team members work together at one keyboard to test the software application. One does the testing and the other analyzes or reviews the testing. This can be done between one tester and developer or business analyst or between two testers with both participants taking turns at driving the keyboard.
In software engineering, tester-driven development, or bug-driven development, is an anti-pattern where the requirements are determined by bug reports or test results rather than, for example, the value or cost of a feature. The concept is generally invoked facetiously, and comes with the implication that high volumes of computer code are written with little regard for unit testing by the programmers.
Game art design is a subset of game development. It is the process of creating the artistic aspects for video games. Video game art design begins in the pre-production phase of creating a video game. The video game artists are visual artists involved from the conception of the game and they make rough sketches of the characters, setting, objects, etc. These starting concept designs can also be created by the game designers before the game is moved into actualization. Sometimes these are concept designs are called “programmer art”. After the rough sketches are completed and the game is ready to be moved forward those artists or more artists are brought in to bring these sketches to life through graphic design.
Crowdsourced Testing is a crowdsourcing platform which provides functional, localization, usability and Beta testing through crowdsourcing.
This article discusses a set of tactics useful in software testing. It is intended as a comprehensive list of tactical approaches to Software Quality Assurance (more widely colloquially known as Quality Assurance and general application of the test method.