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Game Testing Challenges And Essential Metrics

Game Testing Challenges And Essential Metrics

September 21, 2022
 by 
Rohan SinghRohan Singh
Rohan Singh

October 18, 1958. This date is one to remember. Many believe that it was on this date that the first ever video game was born, called Tennis for Two. This simple 2-D tennis game introduced the world to an industry that experts value in the billions.

Now, games are available in various types (3D, 2D, VR), and you can play them on multiple platforms. However, performance is paramount wherever users play their games: on PC, XBOX, PlayStation, or VR. 

Games usually have things at stake. For example, the game won't progress until you clear a certain level, a particular mission is essential to the character arch, and specific actions can help you upgrade your character in online RPGs or level up in first-person shooters. Users can find it very frustrating if the game crashes during critical moments like this. If the performance drop is no fault of theirs, expect them to abandon the game.

So, if you are a gaming company, how can you ensure your game performance never drops? Through testing!

Also read: Perfecting Gamer’s Experiences with Performance Testing

Why Testing?

Companies never publicly release their first versions of their games. These versions will have plenty of glitches and issues. After multiple versions, companies will opt for an early release with limited features - which is also a test on its own.

Game performance testing ensures you get the best out of the tests you perform on each version. Here are a few tests that developers run and why they run them:

Functional Testing: Testers running functional tests look for gameplay, audio-visual and graphic issues, among other problems. 

Compatibility Testing: This testing helps testers ensure their game performs well across different platforms, devices, software, and hardware. 

Load Testing: Load testing helps testers observe and track the game's performance under simulated heavy loads.

Compliance Testing: Compliance tests help ensure the game meets specific market regulations.

Localization Testing: Companies generally release games in multiple locations. Localization testing ensures that the game is ready for release in a specific location by considering all requirements. 

Soak Testing: Soak testing ensures there are no memory leaks and other issues in the game engine that can lead to crashes.

Recovery Testing: If the game crashes, testers run recovery tests to check the game's ability to recover after a crash. 

Security Testing: Security testing helps testers check if the game meets all the security regulations, especially when the game stores a user's payment information for in-game purchases.

Interrupt Testing: Interrupt testing analyses the game's behavior to interruptions. These interruptions can come from calls, messages, and other notifications. It aims to help developers test their games to see if they crash or continue to perform well.

See Also: Game Functionality Testing: How It's Impacting The Gaming Industry

Testing games is different from testing other apps. An aspect of game testing that is complex is testing the level or world of the game. Each game has unique stages. Developers can automate some parts of the game in a way that is unique to game testing. For example, having bots roam around the level to test if everything works well. For puzzle games, it's essential to ensure that the levels are passable and that the game mechanics tested in isolation work together well. 

Many aspects indicate user satisfaction levels, one of which is 'Time Played' - calculated in hours. No other app uses this metric to identify its performance, making this feature unique to games. 

Games also come with multiplayer and computer-controlled opponents. In either case, testing can get unique. For example, testers will need to consider the complexity of behaviors with computer-controlled games. In a First-person shooter, testers will need to understand the different triggers that result in specific responses and how the AI can confuse these triggers.

A multiplayer game mode is much more complex, and testers have much to consider since live players interact with the game world, with game servers, computer-controlled opponents, and each other. Even a single glitch can result in users leaving the game. With so much that can go wrong, ensuring you get a tool capable of testing such complex environments is vital. 

Audio testing in games is also unique. Besides ensuring that music in the game motivates the user and enhances gameplay, it also creates an immersive experience. In multiplayer FPS games, like Fortnight or PUBG, hearing opponent footsteps or visualized audio features play a key role. Again, these features are unique to gaming apps. 

Additionally, games come with physics engines. These engines ensure that objects within the game react appropriately to specific responses. For example, some games have interactive objects. Depending on the action, these objects must respond like in real life, like how shooting a mirror shatters it. However, game testing has its own set of challenges.

Also check: Challenges, Best Practices, and Emerging Trends for  Testing Mobile Games

Game Testing Challenges

Due to its uniqueness, game testing isn't easy if you don't have expert help. Here are a few common challenges:

Game Assets - Affecting Testing Capabilities

Games require a lot of content and assets - characters, environments, audio effects, animations, and more. Uploading these assets to a testing environment right at the start of a new build can be time-consuming and costly.

Analyzing every asset takes equally longer. Massively multiplayer games, PRGs like Skyrim, and adventure games like Assassin's Creed give players options to interact with various in-game assets, which can number in the thousands. Running end-to-end tests on them is no easy task and requires a capable tool.

Latency Issues Due To Disconnected Global Device Cloud

Developers often struggle with latency issues when organizations place the devices they need for testing in various locations worldwide. It is essential to develop games in time, but it can hamper the team's ability to get a new game out the door if they are waiting for a device to connect or a test to execute.

It is essential to have a platform that can connect developers to devices regardless of the location of these devices. An agile work environment is the best way to ensure continuous delivery.

Multiple Devices and Operating Systems

Games run on multiple platforms, devices, and operating systems. However, the diversity increases even further when mobile devices are involved. The growing fragmentation of the Android ecosystem makes it challenging for many organizations to keep up to date. 

Not Having Dedicated Testers

Many organizations do not have dedicated testers, and this causes problems. Teams cannot interpret test results accurately, causing bugs to remain undetected. 

Meeting Security Laws

To support freemium pricing strategies, many mobile game vendors are shifting from advertising to in-app purchases as their primary source of revenue. The right type of payment system is vital in this space. Managing payments and interfacing with a payment gateway is essential in many mobile games where organizations use freemium pricing strategies. Ensuring secure transactions and meeting regulations like GDPR is crucial to maintaining user happiness and is a challenge.

See also: 7 Reasons Why Testing Mobile Gaming Apps is Harder Than You Think

While these challenges can make matters worse concerning time-to-market, finding the right tool can help you immensely. HeadSpin is such a tool.

The HeadSpin Platform: Designed To Help You Meet Challenges

HeadSpin is the industry standard in all things testing. Its unique platform empowers an agile work environment by promoting experience-centric development, empowering distributed team testing on global devices, and encouraging collaboration among engineering, QA & DevOps, and product teams. Here's how it does this:

End-to-End Evaluation

HeadSpin allows you to measure game performance on various devices by connecting you to its global device cloud. Developers and QA teams can connect to devices from anywhere in the world, creating an agile environment.

Apart from helping you improve latency issues, you can also leverage the HeadSpin Platform to perform functional, non-functional, black, and white-box testing and run analysis on applications, networks, and devices. 

Data-Driven Analysis

The HeadSpin AI collects data from 120+ data points. It analyses this data and provides actionable insights to help improve performance & user experience.

This data-driven approach will help you effectively test multiple game assets. You can ensure your game is bug-free with detailed insights into any issues found.

Furthermore, this also addresses the challenge of not having dedicated testers. The HeadSpin AI interprets test results accurately and provides actionable insights that you can follow to fix bugs.

Mobile Device Lab

HeadSpin lets you quickly test key workflows on remote devices as if they were in the palm of your hand. With HeadSpin, you have the flexibility to identify and resolve issues early in the development lifecycle. These devices also allow you to run effective security tests knowing the HeadSpin Platform will test accurately. 

Global Device Cloud

HeadSpin offers a global device cloud with access to the latest mobile technologies and operating systems. It lets you test on various devices and OSes to ensure compatibility. HeadSpin's global device cloud offers premium support for Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms, so your testing needs are always covered.

HeadSpin adds to this versatile platform in more specific ways. Regarding gaming, it lets you track crucial game performance metrics.

Game Performance Metric Tracking With HeadSpin

Game performance metrics help track essential aspects of the game's performance to help you improve the overall functionality of your game. Here are some of the mobile game metrics that HeadSpin tracks.

Video Mean Opinion Score (MOS)

In the age of gaming and esports, users expect a fast and fluid experience that never pauses or breaks. Headspin's Video MOS provides a more objective, independent assessment than relying solely on the user. The MOS score uses deep machine learning models that you can use to accurately identify gameplay malfunctions without relying on metrics like jerkiness and blockiness that produce false positives or a reference video.

Root Cause Analysis

HeadSpin helps you identify the root cause of issues and find quick fixes for them. Our deep machine learning models help you understand how your game performed, no matter what underlying issue or issue context led to it. If you want to optimize performance and get the most out of your games, use HeadSpin to identify problems before they turn into disasters.

FPS Tracking

FPS drops are the most common cause of user frustration when using an app, especially in gaming. It's essential to track down the causes of FPS drops and quickly find ways to address them. HeadSpin's game testing platform shows you how to investigate usage and performance issues to improve your apps' performance from start to finish.

App Crashes

The HeadSpin Platform allows developers to track the performance of their apps, letting them identify problems with their game and fix them before it negatively impacts the user experience. For example, if the player's movement in the game causes lag on a computer, HeadSPin can identify that problem and help fix it before thousands of players notice.

An automated code-level performance audit allows you to identify any regression in your app, quickly find resource-intensive methods and SDK bloat, and ensure that you optimize your app for a stable experience. The audit also conducts code-level profiling and baseline recording, identifying performance degradation as soon as you identify issues.

Multiple Devices

With HeadSpin, you can easily test your game's behavior on real devices using our in-house proprietary bridge for iOS and Android. Regardless of where you are, you have complete control over manual and automated testing of your game's key workflows because we host mobile phones in 100+ global locations and provide a virtual managed environment that acts like a mobile device lab.

Conclusion

HeadSpin helps you speed up your development by providing a reliable and efficient environment for running automated test scripts on native platforms. By utilizing HeadSpin, you no longer need to create customized test automation scripts for your game and run them on your local machine. Using HeadSpin, you can maintain a unified perspective for all testing procedures, regardless of their complexity. Reach Out!

FAQs

Q1. What is the first phase in game testing?

Ans: The first phase of game testing starts with Alpha testing. Here a closed group of testers runs tests on the game. These testers include the development team, management, and a small group of selectively chosen users. Alpha testing aims to identify significant bugs and test gameplay mechanics. 

Q2. How do you conduct compatibility tests?

Ans: 

  1. Define the platform on which the organizations wish to launch the game.
  2. Create a compatibility library.
  3. Verify the various environments, software, and hardware under different configurations to understand game behavior 
  4. Begin a testing environment and start testing for compatibility across multiple networks, mobile devices, and platforms—report bugs for fixing.
  5. Repeat till you can find no bugs.

Q3. What are good device cloud solutions?

Ans: 

  1. AWS Device Farm
  2. Kobiton
  3. HeadSpin
  4. SauceLabs
  5. Xamarin Test Cloud

Game Testing Challenges And Essential Metrics

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