Every game developer looks forward to the day they can release their product for the public to enjoy. However, once you’ve finished building, there’s one more phase you have to go through: testing. And we’re not talking about gathering people to play your game, but the part where you check for playability, look for bugs, and just generally sift through the content yourself. It has to be ready before other people see it.
If you’re at this point in your game development project, here’s how to get started.
Setting your priorities
For an initial test, you’re not going to be able to go through all the features that you want. This is why it’s important to set your priorities. We recommend ticking all the options and features that will deem the game “playable.” For example, are there game-breaking bugs that can prevent the player from progressing? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare had a bug that crashed the game every time the user loaded up multiplayer. These are the things that beta testers should not have to go through later on, since you’ll want their input on other things like customization, preferences, and level of engagement.
Looking out for pre-beta bugs
You don’t need to catch them all, but certain bugs have to go before it reaches actual players. Game crashes and holes in the terrain are usually caused by errors in coding or the engine used, which can be caught by in-depth static analyses. This means scanning through your entire program and pinpointing where an error may be in the code based on the rules you’ve applied. You can look into the static analysis tools on Medium and see what offers you the best results. Other bugs you should be looking out for are camera mishaps, UI errors, and the occasional quest block.
Testing it under different conditions
Not everyone can afford to play games on equipment as powerful as yours. As such, when conducting your pre-beta test, it helps to run it on a less powerful computer. One way to do this is to create a PC where you can switch up the graphics cards or CPU chip to how the game runs on different performance levels. The computer parts and accessories on Adorama show the wide gaming options available to the public, with the price of individual graphics cards ranging from $239.99 to $579.99. Most gamers won’t have a computer dedicated to gaming so make sure you test your game on similar specs to a regular home PC. Remember, the more accessible your game is, the bigger its potential audience will be.
Hiring beta testers
When everything checks out (or the game can be played on a weaker PC from start to finish without crashing), then it’s time to hire your beta testers. Just remember two things: ensure that your beta group is made out of your ideal player-base and that they test it on different devices. The former is there to see whether or not your game clicks with your target audience. They can advise on things they want to see, like a different UI or smoother transition. Of course, you also have to see if there are any device or OS-specific bugs that you have to watch out for. You can visit sites like Alpha Beta Gamer and IndieQA to post your beta request. Depending on your budget, you can have anywhere from 10 to 100 testers.
Testing is one of the most important parts of game development. Not only does it ensure the quality of your game when it comes out, but it’s also a good way to promote it before its release. Go through each of the steps carefully.
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