Being a game tester is one of the coolest jobs out there right now. Not only does it serve as a great entry point into the video game industry, but it also provides an interesting day to day activity sheet that is never the same with two different projects. The role involves some genuine challenges, consequently making the job satisfying unlike most non-gaming related jobs out there. If you are reading this, then you probably know that game testing is a rewarding job, and you are most likely interested in the nitty-gritties of it. So, lets discuss one of the fundamental elements in the role of a tester. Testing Scenarios.
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There are various aspects of the job one needs to learn in order to perform well in a QA role. Topics like Various types of testing, Test cases, Case severity, Case priority and of course Test scenarios all play a major part in your role. While the application of all other elements remains much the same depending on the games’ context, test scenarios is the most dynamic. This is due to the very nature of how games are made and what genre it is based on. There is a vast array of genres present in the gaming sphere, and modern games usually tend to blend different genres in the pursuit of concocting something new and original. As such, scenarios that were applicable for your previous game may not be applicable for the next game you test.
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To understand this better, let’s get down to the core of what a game tester does over the course of his shift. First and foremost, testing a game is not the same a playing a game. While it takes an individual with a deep understanding of games to play the role of a QA, not everyone that plays a game will make a good tester. Thanks to various studios inviting gamers to “playtest” their yet to be released game, the role of a game tester is often romanticized as someone who plays games for a living. But there is so much more to a games QA than just playtesting.
Being a tester is to understand the core design, mechanics and systems of the game based on the genres it represents. As a tester it is important that one can dissect each and every aspect of the game that can be seen and heard from the moment the game is launched till it is closed. From here the basics boil down to ensuring the game works as intended and is in line with the creator’s vision for the game, by creating test plans and executing test cases, finding bugs/issues and reporting them in a professional manner while using platforms like Jira or Mantis to track those issues.
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Testing Scenarios falls right in between these core tasks. They are derived from the requirements of the client for the project at hand. Based on the requirements, test scenarios are determined based on what functionalities need to be tested. These further drills down to validating each and every functionality through detailed test cases. For example, testing combat mechanics in a turn-based RPG, would mean dissecting every system of the combat that the game has to offer and identifying scenarios within the (combat) functionality. This would typically involve scenarios like all factions getting their turns correctly. Weapon damage data accuracy, effects of any magic elements in combat and so on.
For another example, let’s go with a racing game. Once again, there are various elements to test here, like different types of cars, the racetracks, world map etc. If we were to test various race types, then each race type will have its own scenarios that further boil to test cases involving, races triggering correctly, lap counts, AI behavior, soundtrack, damage values (if applicable), player and AI data at the end of the race, just to name a few.
And these are just scratching the surface of the various test scenarios. Considering the number of genres and the various elements each of them represent there could hundreds and sometimes thousands of scenarios depending on the scope of the game. Some of the common scenarios are derived from components like UI, cinematics, audio, login credentials and network stability (in case of a multiplayer game).
In a nutshell, Test scenarios help make sure none of the elements are missed in a particular component of the game, and that elaborate test cases are prepared for functionality testing of those components.
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As overwhelming as this may sound, a person with passion for games will feel right at home working on test scenarios. Writing them up is always interesting as it varies from one game to another, and this uniqueness brings with it some interesting challenges. And therein lies the fun aspect of the job. In decoding each game’s design and identifying Test scenarios. It is like a game of its own. But this is just one aspect of a QA’s role. If you want to know more about how life is as a game tester, do check out our latest podcast where we discuss just that. And remember to check back for more insightful blogs and podcasts on Testing and video games in general.