According to Statista, the global video game market was estimated at $155.89 billion in 2020. Their forecasts show that it will grow by $112.92 billion by the end of 2025. These numbers reflect the degree of user involvement in the gaming industry and the interest of companies in its development. Absorbing interactive digital content, many people do not even think about how long and difficult paths the studios go through: from generating ideas and concept planning to the final release of games and add-ons.
Whether it’s an AAA project or a simple web app, developers still give their best. The coding process requires team involvement as well as design and graphics. But even perfect code and a greatly rendered world do not solve the main problem of game development, bugs. To identify and eliminate them, it is necessary to involve additional forces interested in the result. Such specialists are called the QA department, testers, bug reporters, etc. Their task is to detect each serious mistake and prevent it from remaining in the next development sprint. Their work is evaluated on the final release.
We often receive questions about game testing automation tools and how the testing process works. Today the ZappleTech expert team shares 5 helpful tools for solving these problems. We will consider methods for finding bugs in video games because there are some little differences from classical testing.
Table of Contents
Video game testing: techniques, problems, and challenges
The QA team uses well-known working tools, universal scenarios, and standard methods when testing programs and web apps. This combination practically eliminates the chances of bugs getting to the final release. In game development, the situation is more interesting. The concept of video games, and even more so, their modern format, implies a complex creative process and a large number of non-trivial problems that may arise during development. To track them and eliminate QA, testers use both native tools built into the engine and third-party game testing automation tools.
Testing methods: goals and objectives
The QA process is similar to that in software and web apps. There is one difference only: a disproportionately large amount of data to test. The sizes of modern games vary up to several hundred gigabytes, the lion’s share of which is occupied by graphic content: textures, models, videos, or images. The rest of the data is code, libraries, and scripts: all this is called the back-end and contains the functional part of the project. The testing process begins with its verification.
- Functional testing. This method helps to check the health of each back-end component, from the start and exit buttons to scripts and the relationships between them. Usually, it is done by standard tools or third-party utilities like Selenium.
- Combinatorial testing. In this technique, the goal of QA is to search for bugs in the finished code from the early development stages. During the test, various combinations of input data are considered for compliance with the final result described in the test case.
- Exploratory testing. Creative thinking and an unconventional approach are used here. No pre-formed conditions and tasks. It is an effective method that detects specific bugs and errors at any development stage, which would have gone unnoticed in the case of classical testing.
- Compatibility. It is a trivial but necessary test, where the software is examined on different systems. It is very costly to assemble stands, so some technical characteristics are emulated in a virtual environment. Based on the results, “horrific” system requirements are formed as well as the recommended hardware and OS for the good operation of the game.
- Clean room method. It is used to “catch” bugs and find their source. If it is impossible to trace the cause of the problem by conventional methods, testers try to localize it to study it in more detail and eliminate it.
- Game testing. It is a pleasant side of game development, in which QA specialists arm themselves with controllers and plunge into the wonderful game world. This method detects visual content problems, script failures, or incorrect variable values. This custom scenario identifies non-standard troubles with a non-linear approach to the gameplay, eliminating them before release.
- Regression tests. As with software or web apps, regression testing is launched after each sprint, simultaneously with the main one. Its goals are the same: to prevent new bugs during code modernization, i.e., track, localize, and eliminate them.
These 7 techniques are actively used in game development of all formats and volumes. The ZappleTech team uses them in their work as well since they are equally effective in detecting bugs in AAA projects and small web apps with 2D/3D gameplay. Some of them require manual interaction only, while others can be automated. Contrary to popular belief, it does not free QA specialists from routine but speeds up the tedious process and shifts their attention to priority tasks. There are many game testing automation tools, some of which we will discuss below.
Game testing automation tools: 5 ways to optimize routine
Although the principle of testing video games is not fundamentally different from working with apps, there is still a difference, and it lies, as usual, in the little things. Well, and some tools too. Usually, developers use their own utilities based on the product engine to run all kinds of tests. Still, their functions are often not enough for deeper code analysis or identification of low-level problems. All tools from this top are popular among testers of all levels. Our ZappleTech QA specialists also mastered them and now actively use them in practice.
Unity Automated Testing
Unity is not a desktop and mobile video game engine only, but also a powerful Development Kit used to develop and test products. Its indisputable advantage is the ability to connect third-party frameworks, create your own, and work in the cloud, which quite well optimizes identifying non-working elements. Scenarios are written both in the format of user interaction with the interface and at a lower level through the forced launch of individual code elements. Due to the tool’s specificity, Unity Automated Testing is used for projects of its own engine, which, by the way, are now quite numerous on the video game market.
Unreal Engine Automation System
Similar to Unity, Unreal Engine is used for creating many AAA projects, and more recently, MMO universes. Its DevKit consists of ready-made libraries, textures, scripts, models, and other elements. It allows even novice developers to join the work with some limitations. So, speaking about the game testing automation tools system in UE, the mechanics here are not much different from other utilities. Basically, using the built-in automator, it is possible to look for performance problems considering graphics and user scripts. In fact, tests can be carried out both in the background and in the game, which increases the chance of detecting atypical bugs related to rendering or in-game functions.
This kind of mobile game testing automation tool is used equally successfully in QA for apps and video games. Its toolkit allows working both with code and visual elements. In the gaming industry, it is used to test mobile apps developed for iOS and Android. By analogy with other utilities, Appium can test products using user scenarios that imitate human actions.
This popular game testing automation tool is used primarily for testing web apps. As practice shows, its capabilities go beyond the usual tests of APIs, software shells, frameworks, and code. With the development of cross-platform and cloud gaming, Selenium helps QA specialists find and localize game bugs. This unique set of features works with JS and Python and supports all browsers and internet platforms.
LumberYard and LY Test Tools
Game engine from Amazon. Its rich functionality allows developing AAA projects and testing them in a native environment. Thanks to the built-in tools containing a lot of utilities and editors, it provides easy checking of the product for errors. Custom scripts simulate the actions of real players in a virtual environment, while background analysis looks for problematic code blocks and saves logs in a convenient detailed form. It is useful for QA teams working with projects on the LY engine. Now its descendant, Open 3D Engine, is being actively developed, which may soon partially replace its older brother in terms of functionality of built-in game testing automation tools.
These programs and tools are profiled but very viable in testing video games at every development stage. While the native utilities of game engines are mostly limited to their environments, Selenium and Appium are cross-platform and multifunctional products. They are used in developing software, web apps, and games.
Our experts have been working with tools for many years and are constantly monitoring updates. If you need advice on QA issues, please contact our managers. We also provide services for testing your products, join at any development stage, and make projects perfect.