How to Write and Test for Bugs in Video Games

July 14, 2022
Ishaq Ali

 

 

A game tester’s job at its core is to help make the best version of the game the developers are trying to create. This involves various tasks like identifying test scenarios, preparing an enhanced test plan, executing test cases, identifying bugs and many other steps and activities. One of the key things in the list of activities is reporting the identified bugs using the client’s preferred platform. While this may seem like a simple task on the offset, there are a few key things that need to be considered and practiced.

Identifying Bug Type and Adding Relevant Tags

As a tester some bugs are easy to distinguish (whether it is graphical or gameplay related, for example), while others can be a little tricky. A tester should know what to categorize a bug like in scenarios where the final score is incorrect after completing a stage. Whether to categorize it as, UI, text, gameplay or anything else will depend on various factors including the type of game. The tester should be aware of all these factors and tag them appropriately, so it reaches the right place. It would be ideal to get the list of people from the client at the beginning of the project, who are responsible for certain departments in the development of the game. This will avoid unnecessary delays due to the bugs being assigned to the wrong person.

Arrive at Proper Conclusions

The beauty of game development or testing is that no two projects are the same. Thanks to the various genres, various engines used and the various platforms available to publish those games. So many aspects of the game could shift in priority based on the type of game, and sometimes even the state of development. But the one thing we need to understand is that every genre offers the same experience to the end user but in a different way. One can keep this in mind to help deduce the type of bugs more easily. While there are some universal rules on how to distinguish the severity of an issues and its priority, a quick clarification with the client is ideal before the start of any project, so the tester can be on the same page as the clients to determine the weight of an issue.

Related Read: Think Games are Easy? Delving into a Gamer’s Psyche

Reproducing Bugs and Arriving at Proper Steps to Reproduce.

Identifying the reproduction rate of the bug and arriving at proper steps to reproduce the bug is vital in any bug report. The tester should try to reproduce the bug a set number of times to establish the reproduction rate. This needs to be noted in the description of the bug or right before adding steps to reproduce it. When listing out the steps to reproduce, the tester needs to avoid vague statements like “Reach the area where this happens”, and instead use proper chapter or scenario numbers/names if available. Every step of navigation after launching the game needs to be covered, so the developers can easily arrive at the identified bugs.

Summary and Description must be Easily Understood

This is perhaps the most important aspect for bug writing, the actual writing bit. And it’s not just about good English. While error free spellings and grammar is a must, equally as important is how simple and to the point the sentences framed are. The Summary of the bug should ideally be no longer than a short sentence, while the description of it contains all the necessary information of that bug. The key here, to re-iterate, is that it is all written in simple and clear English, such that anyone not familiar with the project is able understand the issue. This helps avoid any back and forth between developers and tester on clarifying this and thus avoid any delays in resolving the issue.

Add all Supporting Attachments

A well written bug is the one with the most relevant supporting documents. These could be anything based on the issue. Screenshots and videos will help gameplay and graphics related bugs. But crash logs and user logs are a must for issues like crashes and freezes. The tester assigned for a particular platform should have the expertise to retrieve the relevant attachments, be it on mobile platforms, PC or consoles.

The Right Build

In most cases testing is done in the most recent builds provided by the client. And based on the project and its phase in development, there could sometimes be an influx of builds coming in the same day. It is imperative that the bugs identified on the right build and reported using the right build number. And one of the key principles is to report any identified issues immediately without any delay.

Be Proficient in the Client’s Platform of Choice.

There are various platforms used globally to report and track bugs, and each client will have their preferred platform. These platforms are usually customized to the client’s needs. Jira, for instance is extremely versatile and tend to look vividly different between each project even from the same publisher sometimes, based on how they customize it for those individual projects. The tester is required to well-versed with the platform and be familiar with its various options and quirks in ordered to be as efficient as possible. The good news though, is that you just need to understand the basic flow of the tool being used, and it becomes quite easy to master it with time.

We hope this was helpful. Want more of such informative posts? Sound off in the comments.

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Ishaq Ali
Ishaq Ali, Lead Tester at iXie gaming. Joined iXie in February 2018. Extremely passionate about gaming and has been a gamer since days of the SNES and the original PlayStation. Is a connoisseur of story driven single player games, Fighting games, and occasionally ARPGs. Prefers videogame conferences and showcases over cricket.

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