Game Quality Assurance Best Practices
No matter the size of the project, modern videogames are mostly pretty big and complex software products. They take a lot of time and resources to develop and bring players a huge amount of various functionality. So, it’s better to start testing as early as possible. The early testing principle works great in game development.
Even a few hours of ordinary manual tester work may help you to localize troubles and save resources. Various kinds of profiling, standard stability checks for early builds, first functionality integration tests, and balance debugging are some basic activities your tester should do first.
Defining the platform is a good starting point for figuring out how exactly you should test your game. No matter if you develop for one platform or your project is multiplatform, every device you want your game to be able to run has several points you should consider.
For example, if you consider bringing your project to the consoles, you should take into account all the possible console configurations, like PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro or Xbox One and Xbox One X. The same build may run completely differently even on devices of the same generation.
You should be familiar with some characteristics of every platform to release a game successfully.
The hardware of past generation Xbox consoles (One/One X) is pretty hard to work with now due to its limitations, so it may bring some challenges for QA and optimization of your game.
But more specifically, Xbox has a complex system of user account management. Players can log in to multiple accounts on the same console simultaneously. This requires very detailed testing and always brings dozens of bugs.
Also, your testers should pay special attention to the game’s behavior during activating/deactivating and staying in the instant-on power mode or energy-saving power mode.
QA of builds for Sony’s console is generally easier in terms of account issues, comparing to Xbox. Only one user can log in to one account on a single device, so the user change and suspends are much easier. But there are other elements your game testers should pay special attention to:
- Privilege system: premium and ordinary accounts behave differently;
- In-game elements naming: Sony has a set of special requirements for the naming of all the game elements which you should follow for your game to be certified for the PS Store;
- Save system: the conflicts between Online Storage saves and device saves are pretty common on PlayStation.
The major challenges for QA testers while developing or porting the game to Nintendo Switch mostly come from 3 things:
- Playing modes: the game should work equally well on the handle, tablet, and TV modes;
- Following guidelines: Switch is full of additional features, that may be added by the publisher, and, which must be tested properly;
- Build stability: Switch hardware is pretty weak due to its portability, so what runs well on PS4 Slim may not run at all on Switch. Pay special attention to optimization here.
The main issue with QA for mobile games is the number of possible devices. Specifying the set of devices for your game to run on is one of the best practices in mobile game testing you should implement.
Other things to take a look at are:
- Picture scaling: the game should run well no matter the screen type and resolution;
- Build stability: even the best mobile devices are weaker than consoles, so your game may require heavy optimization;
- Save system: various devices and operating systems are interacting differently, especially with cloud storage;
- Multiplayer: the connection depends on an internet source (WiFi/no WiFi) and the backend of the device.
Despite being the most developed, studied and common gaming platform, PC game development requires a lot of testing. We recommend paying special attention to:
- Device configuration: there are no 2 same PC’s in the world, so you should test your game for devices with various hardware and operation systems;
- Alternative controls systems: PC games should be agile for various gamepads, kinnects, and steering wheels, not just mouse and keyboard configuration.
A variety of hardware for VR games means a challenge, so, like with mobile platforms, specify the set of devices for your game. And pay special attention to:
- Controls systems: every helmet may have its own control device preference and also should run well with gamepads;
- Build stability: it’s crucial — playing VR games in less than 60 FPS is hard and even dangerous for the human brain.
Microsoft and Sony made us happy with the release of next-generation consoles last year. Despite the rumor of being the last generation of consoles before cloud gaming intensifies, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X reported record-breaking sales. The console market grew a little bit more again, so there will be more games for these platforms. This means that focusing on next-gen consoles is one of game QA best practices for the nearest years.
In terms of project management and planning, console games development means A LOT of resources to be brought to certification for every console. This can’t be done without proper QA and expertise in working with these particular consoles.
Of course, one of the best game testing practices is educating your in-house QA team to certify for the consoles. But in this case, make sure you have additional time for getting the certification in your development plan. Otherwise, you may outsource this part of your project. Here are some major advantages to do so:
- Experienced specialists can describe all the issues fast and offer a way to get the certification as soon as possible;
- Solving issues faster makes experienced QA team more cost-effective for your project;
- External teams always have a comprehensive set of devices, required for identifying and solving all the possible QA issues;
- Working with an external team will provide a unique experience for your in-house QA team, that may be used for your future projects.
As an external game development company, we realize that testing is a vital part of our work on any project, with no exclusions. Lack of attention to Quality Assurance destroys even the biggest gaming titles (ask our Plish colleagues if you need confirmation).
During the 14 years of our game development career, we’ve seen it all in terms of game testing. Participating in Pathologic 2, Waking, Lost Ember, Totally Reliable Delivery Service, and many other projects helped us to create exceptional expertise in game testing.
If you need external experts to implement best practices for game QA testing for your game — contact our experts and we’ll bring its quality to the next generation level!