Game Development Reference
occasions! However, once this has been accomplished, the operations that lead to
these crashes can themselves be automated, freeing up time for humans to find more
of the playability, balance, and “fun�? issues in the game.
A fundamental decision you need to make is whether your automation is going to be
done on a large or small scale. If your vision is to automate virtually all aspects of test-
ing in your company, you will have to take a great many factors into account.
First, large-scale automation will involve a fundamental shift in the way the entire
company operates. And for some, this factor alone will mean large-scale test automa-
tion is not feasible.
Second, large-scale automation is a long-term investment that may not pay off in the
first few games you create once the system is in place. Very long game projects can be
an exception, as well a single titles that must be ported to multiple platforms. All key
people in the company will need to understand that the payoff may be far off in the
Third, test automation is a form of software development. Although this is widely
agreed upon, it is also surprisingly frequently overlooked when companies discuss the
topic. Automation is not going to be a simple matter of buying an off-the-shelf prod-
uct or tool that is simply thrown into the development mix and “magically�? reduces
the time it takes to identify and fix bugs, or to improve playability.
If you intend to go large-scale, you are clearly going to need somebody in your compa-
ny who can act as a key evangelist for test automation. Without someone at a sufficiently
high level who can act as the visionary for the process and who can get behind it and
make sure that interest in the idea doesn't wane when there are no immediate “upfront�?
advantages, the automatic testing program is likely to fail and fall into disuse.
If you are considering a small-scale roll-out of automatic testing tools and programs,
your risks are considerably smaller. Start the process by selecting test automations that
are likely to give fairly immediate rewards, thereby buoying up support for automation
within the company, while only incrementally increasing cost or development time.
If you are not committed to a long-term investment, large-scale test automation is probably not
right for your company.