Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
can be more than it would cost to pay human testers. Furthermore, the reality is that
code written for the purposes of automating testing is like any other code. It may not
work right and comes with its own set of bugs. It's very possible for automated testing
to add significantly to both the cost and development time of a game. Cost overruns
and missed deadlines are common in the game industry. The threat of higher costs
and further delays without any guarantee (some would argue) of clear benefits makes
it hard for many managers to approve a large-scale automated testing program. To
have a fighting chance, your test automation strategy must address the areas of the
game that can provide the best return on the automation labor and code investment.
Reusability of automated test code from one game to another is also a factor that has
deterred many managers from approving automated testing programs in their com-
pany. Unlike other software businesses, the game industry is famous for creating new
code with each new title. Even when the “same�? engine or core code is reused for a new
game, that engine or code is often modified, repaired, and improved upon. Those
changes could prevent some or all of the automated test code from working with the
new title. Maximize your automated test reusability by providing functions that hide
the game code details from the automated tests. For each new or revised game, only a
few functions should have to change in order to re-enable the use of your existing
automated test library.
The Human Factor
It is extremely unlikely that even the most cleverly written test automation code will
ever replace the need for actual human testers playing your game. For instance, it
would be an impressive algorithm indeed that could automatically determine whether
a given part of a game was sufficiently “fun�? to play. Similarly, human focus group test-
ing is going to remain crucial to gaining key feedback about a game's playability and
balance. Even aspects of game mechanics, personal opinions about the design of inter-
faces, and so on are all likely to be determined by human testers for some time to
come. In addition, human testers are likely to continue to out-perform even the most
cleverly written test scripts when it comes to the creative “let's see if I can find a way
to break this�? mentality. The knack or instinct for finding new ways to break the game
sets good testers apart from the merely average ones. It is a uniquely human charac-
teristic to think of new and ingenious ways to press a combination of keys and but-
tons in a way the designer and programmers of the game never thought of to find that
the code can crash in the most spectacular of ways and on the most unpredictable of
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