Is and how does the role of a QA engineer differ in the gaming industry versus the software development industry? What does it mean in gaming and is it possible to automate video games?.
What are the daily challenges of QA engineers and how can they be overcome by developing and using different tools?
If you are interested in the answers to these questions, have a passion for video games and are interested in a QA engineer job, continue reading. In the text that follows, we dealt with the role of QA engineers in gaming.
To get the most reliable information from the field, we were helped by the team from Nordeus, the leading gaming company in Serbia whose games are played by millions of users around the world, and we are guided through the role by Mladen Mladenović, a QA engineer in this company.
What is the role of a QA engineer?
As the name suggests, the main role of a QA engineer is to ensure the high quality of the product he works on. In the past, in software development, it was tied exclusively to the very end of the process, that is, to the last stage of development.
At Nordeus, however, Mladen tells us, QA engineers are not only involved but actively participate in all phases of game development with the goal of improving quality at every stage of the product - from the very idea to its implementation.
Whether it's developing a new feature in an existing game or releasing a new game, QA engineers are present from day one - from the generation of the very idea to the moment it reaches the hands of millions of our players around the world.
The word testing is always associated with the work of a QA engineer. As the entire process of software development, as well as the roles in it, changed over time, so did the share of other roles in the team in the testing process.
Although QA engineers manage the testing process within the team, at Nordeus testing is carried out by all team members working on the game, and the QA engineer's role is to influence the way other team members think about the quality of both their work and the product by providing them with adequate tools, development environments and knowledge of how to use them - explains Mladen.
QA engineers mentor other team members to test their code and deliver products, in this case, games, of the highest quality. For this reason, in addition to QA engineers and game developers who work closely together, graphic designers, game designers, product managers and all other roles within the game development team are included in the testing process - Mladen points out.
Working on tools and test environments allowed the testing process to be fast, and the involvement of the entire team at all stages of development allowed them to make the testing process itself extremely efficient.
Is it possible to automate video game testing?
To further demonstrate the differences between QA engineers in the gaming industry versus other software development industries, we'll look at automation.
The great variety of graphics and graphic components, the complex interaction with the game of the end users, the variety of situations in which the game can be found, are just some of the reasons why the automation of video game testing is more complex than the automation of testing other software.
Video game development is a multidisciplinary process, requiring a combination of visual art, design, music and many other fields, yet they are ultimately a software product. Therefore, if it is possible to automate software testing, then it is also possible to automate video game testing - explains Mladen.
QA, he adds, brings an extra dimension to problem-solving—in addition to solving problems, the job of QA engineers is to spot them before they happen. How is this achieved?
There are many ways, and on concrete examples of games developed by Nordeus, which are vividly presented to us by Mladen, we will see below those who deal with semi-automatic tools as well as automation of video game testing.
At Nordeus, we spend most of our time in test automation developing tools to speed up the testing process itself, regardless of whether that process is automated or performed manually.
How does testing HEROIC: MAGIC DUEL look like?
QA engineers at Nordeus have developed a tool that sends a command from a computer to be executed on a game installed on the device. Suppose he wants to test the behavior of different cards in the game in this example. At the beginning of the video clip that we provide below, we see that all the cards are locked. After the command is called and executed, all cards become unlocked. With this, we got that the person testing, instead of playing the game for hours and unlocking card by card, by calling the given command gets it immediately. That's thanks to the semi-automatic tool. See how it looks in practice in the video here.
What does the automation of "testing" look like in the game TOP ELEVEN-BE A FOOTBALL MANAGER?
First, the app is automatically installed on multiple mobile devices. After that, automatic tests are started. In the video we provide below, we can see how the automated system simulates a user moving his team's players on the field. After each change of the player's position, the current image is taken from the device and compared to the reference image set by the QA engineer. If there is any difference between the two images, it is automatically reported to the developers.
This way, QA engineers on the Top Eleven game do not have to manually go through graphical changes in all parts of the game. Any new visual change will be automatically captured and reported.
The image we see is a test of the in-game Store screen. In the upper left corner, we can see the reference image, that is, we see what the system expects to appear in the game on a given screen during testing. In the upper right corner, we see what that screen looks like in the version of the application being tested. In the images below, we notice that the difference between the reference and the newly created image is colored in red. We conclude that the problem is that the "GET" button was not loaded adequately.
This button appears in many different places within the game. Manually testing all these components would take too much time, and thanks to automated tests, they can now easily find this and similar problems in a fast way while the QA engineer is busy with other activities. See how it looks in practice in the video here.
As we can see from the previous examples, automating video game testing is challenging and brings with it various problems compared to the rest of the software development industry.
However, Mladen emphasizes, automation of video game testing is absolutely possible and semi-automated tools, in addition to facilitating daily testing, also play a major role in a fully automated system.
Sounds interesting? If you want to get to know everyday life and the role of a QA engineer in gaming, watch this Nordeus video.
The company is currently looking for a Junior Software QA Engineer to help them deliver the best mobile soccer experiences to millions of players through their games. If you want to participate in all phases of game development with the aim of improving quality in all phases of development, check out the open positions they offer on Joberty.