The four most useful tools of a Video Game Tester
A Game Tester is a bit like a craftsman: he works with tools. And although his product is not clearly palpable, it is very real, concrete and central to the project: Quality.
A professional video game tester is not a beta tester. He does not JUST play the game. Instead, he uses all his skills and tools to hunt down bugs.
Mastering the tools of the profession will make a tester a more valuable employee, and it will also make the job more challenging and enjoyable.
I give here a quick overview of a Game Tester’s best tools.
They will be covered in details in future posts.
1. Bug tracking system
Each time a bug is found the tester needs to create a new item (or “ticket”) in a bug tracking system of some sort.
The system can be anything from an excel spreadsheet to a advanced Software Development Life Cycle tracking tool that will be used by just anybody in the company.
Some Game Tester might see the tracking system as a necessary evil because logging bug reports can be seen as a chore.
I personally see it as a great way to get recognized for doing a good job.When you think about it, bug reports are one of the only tangible items created by testers. Bug reports are your main showcase as a tester. So they better be top notch.
In my experience, the less you hear about your bug reports, the better they are, because it means people don’t need to come speak to you to understand the bug you reported.
2. The test case
Before you test a game, you’d better know exactly what and how to test it. A test case tells you just that:
It is a precise description of a verification to perform. It usually cntains three sections:
- Description: Explains what we are trying to verify
- Steps: Each step in chronological order- required to reach the state in which we can perform the verification
- Expected result: The result that we should expect to observe, provided the game works properly
And now an example:
Validate the sequence order in which the player goes through game levels in hardcore difficulty mode
From the main menu
- Navigate to option menu and enable the hardcore difficulty mode
- Start a new game
- Complete the game
The player should go through the following levels (in order):
- The house
- Rainbow Island
- Nightlights City
- Destiny mountain
Unlike this simple example, writing Test Case can actually be a quite challenging and interesting task because of the need to cover many combinations of states, settings and behaviors of the game in as few as possible test cases.
3. The checklist (or test suite)
As seen in the previous paragraph, a Test Case typically aims at performing a very specific verification in a game, and it’s typically executed in just a few minutes by a tester.
A checklist is a collection of Test Cases put together with a specific goal in mind.
The goal can be to validate the physic engine of the game, localization (text and voice translation), game mechanics, etc.For very small games, a checklist can even cover all the aspects of the game an validate the whole thing.
Another important advantage of using a checklist is traceability. As the same verifications get done version after version on a game, the checklists are archived with the result of each Test Case. Later, It allows to know exactly on which version of the game a bug was introduced.
4. Your thoroughness, skills and experience
The most important tool you will use while testing video games is your mind.
While Bug Tracking system, checklist and Test Cases are always required in one form or another in any QA team they exist more to organize the work than anything else.
Curiosity, thoroughness and investigation are the skills that will make the difference between a good tester, and a poor one.
And if you use these skills in an organized way, writing relevant Test Cases, putting together consistent checklists, and creating crystal clear bug reports, you’re sure to meet success.
It’s amazing what a mix of skills and organization can do (yes, this is all in Minecraft):