Game Development Reference
There are two main types of ad hoc testing. The first is free testing , which allows the
professional game tester to “depart from the script�? and improvise tests on-the-fly.
The second is directed testing , which is intended to solve a specific problem or find a
Testing from the Right Side of Your Brain
Because it is a more intuitive and less structured form of testing, I sometimes call free
testing “right-brain testing.�? Nobel prize-winning psychobiologist Roger W. Sperry
asserted that the two halves of the human brain tend to process information in very
different ways. The left half of the brain is much more logical, mathematical, and
structured. The right half is more intuitive, creative, and attuned to emotions and feelings.
It is also the side that deals best with complexity and chaos.
For a good summary of Sperry's ideas on this topic, especially as it applies to creativity, see Chapter
3 of Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain(Tarcher/Perigee, 1989).
As the videogame industry continues to grow, there is continued pressure to offer bigger,
better, and more in every aspect of a game's design—more features, more user cus-
tomization, more content, and more complexity. At its best, ad hoc testing allows you
as a tester to explore what at times can appear to be an overwhelmingly complex game
Ad hoc testing also presents you with an opportunity to test the game as you would
play it. What type of gamer are you? Do you like to complete every challenge in every
level and unlock every unlockable? Do you like to rush or build up? Do you favor a
running game or a passing game? Do you rabbit through levels or explore them
leisurely? Ad hoc testing allows you to approach the game as a whole and test it
according to whatever style of play you prefer (for an expanded description of player
types, see Chapter 12, “Cleanroom Testing�?).
Just as familiarity breeds contempt, it can also breed carelessness on the part of testers
forced to exercise the same part of the game over and over. Battle fatigue often sets in
over the course of a long project. It's very easy to become “snowblind,�? a condition in
which you've been looking at the same assets for so long that you can no longer rec-
ognize anomalies as they appear. You need a break.
Ad hoc testing can allow you to explore modes and features of the game that are
beyond your primary area of responsibility. Depending on the manner in which your