Make Video Games Like a Pro

Hi, I’m Paul Miller and today’s topic is game testing. When you just starting making games, testing is typically not on your mind. There are so many problems to be solved before you have anything half-decent to test. When you grow in experience you will find good solutions to most of those development issues and testing for correctness and quality will become more and more important. In this article we will explore fundamentals of game testing.

In software development testing is an important and complex process. There are many books dedicated to teach you to do it well. There are lots of different types of tests used in practice. There are even whole agile methodologies built around them, like Test-Driven Development. It makes writing automatic tests almost more important than creating the code for testing in the first place. In games ensuring quality is especially involving since we have to check also if our games are fun to play which is a rather elusive concept. Video games are generally harder to test properly than regular software. At the other hand, game failures are less important than in many other, more critical fields.

Modern software houses take testing very seriously. Each major company has its own Quality Assurance team. These people test software and look for various flaws full-time. In a larger firm it may be a sizable group. Testing of normal software is often highly formalized and organized which has to be done a bit differently with video games. The problem with computer entertainment is that judging quality of a product is only partially objective. You can always count crashes of your game, but you can’t count how much fun people have. The result of this is that fully testing games for quality is to certain extent an art rather than science.

There are many different types of tests in use among software developers. When you first learn about it, it may be even a bit overwhelming. At the core games are programs, so you can use most industry testing methodologies directly or with some modifications. It’s useful to organize your thinking about testing and realize which game areas are most important to verify. I think those four areas are: reliability, interface, gameplay and performance. If you thoroughly validate these four elements, your game will not suffer from any major problems. Of course it’s easier said than done, but you have do it in order to deliver quality to your customers.

There are two main approaches to software testing: white-box and black-box. White box method assumes that testers have understanding of how the program works internally. White-box tests are often designed by programmers who implement the code to be tested. These methods are highly technical in nature. One popular type of white-box tests is code coverage analysis. The second approach is black-box testing. Here it’s assumed that quality assurance people don’t know how the program is built. They only judge how it appears to work. This type of testing doesn’t require programmers and regular users can do it with little training. One type of popular black-box tests is verifying functionality through running use cases which are designed according to program specifications.

Unit testing is the most fundamental type of program verification. It’s a variant of white-box testing. Unit tests are little automated procedures which check code for correctness at the most basic level. In structured programming individual functions are tested. In object-oriented programming individual classes are verified. It’s possible to design a more elaborate unit testing system. It may for ex. include metrics analysis, peer code reviews, code coverage analysis and other software testing practices.

Two another variants of popular software tests are integration testing and system testing. Integration testing is a module or component level method. The idea is to verify that interfaces of different parts of a program are compatible and that they are functioning as specified. These parts are modules in structured programming or components in object-oriented programming. They are integrated together and tested if they work correctly as a whole. System testing is similar, but in this case the complete software package is tested against specifications for ex. by running predefined use cases. Integration and system testing are variants of white-box testing.

Even most gamers are familiar with alpha and beta testing. Alpha tests are somewhat similar to system tests, but focused more on customer wants rather than raw specifications. Larger software houses have internal teams of full-time testers who run those alpha tests. These people typically write some kind of reports where they describe flaws they’ve found. Sometimes it may be less formal where testers are treated like customers and asked for their subjective opinions. Beta tests can be considered a form of external user acceptance testing. They are public and the number of testers is far greater than in any other phase of a project. Both alpha and beta tests are variants of black-box testing.

Aside from classic software testing video games must be also playtested. Playtesting isblack-box method which involves real players checking the game holistically. Playtesting is very important part of development. It’s especially crucial for highly innovative games which have unique gameplay. Game developers, who spend enormous amount of time on their game, can lose objectivity and fall in love with their own creation, like with their own baby. External players have typically a much more sober view of the game and they can rather easily find various flaws which are hidden from core developers. One of the classic examples is validating game difficulty. Developers play recent builds all the time and as a result they may tune difficulty far to high for the general audience without even noticing it. External playtesters can catch this problem very quickly.

Getting into testing is one the easiest jobs to get in the game industry. If you have no marketable skills at all, but you love playing games, you may have what it takes to became a decent tester. Spending all day long hunting for bugs and flaws is not the most glamorous jobs there is. As a quality assurence employee you will not simply get paid for playing games full-time. Testing a game is very different from a normal playthrough. In many companies the best and most valuable testers have some career options. There are some cases where a humble tester became a lead designer for some later project. Think about it. You can get an easy, entry level job in games and later even become a designer.

There aren’t any good books precisely about game testing, but there are many about general software testing. I recommend “Quality Code” by Vance to learn fundamentals of software verification. “” by Agans will teach you solid, universal principles of removing bugs from software and hardware. “Clean Code” by Martin is an excellent work about how to write code which is of high quality at the outset. “Game Design Workshop” by Fullerton is a good volume about playcentric game design.

I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of game testing. Constant verification of software is necessary to achieve high quality and strong sales. Next topic is game support. If you enjoyed this article: like it, comment it, share it and consider supporting me on Patreon. That’s all for today. Thank you for your time.

Asian Games TV viewership better than FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon

In line with the rise of non-cricket sporting events in India, the recently concluded Asian Games, clocked a viewership of 112 million over two weeks (August 18 -31) with an average per day viewership of eight million as per data shared by official broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt Ltd.

The numbers, provided by TV viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc), represent viewers across rural and urban India above two years of age across nine channels including Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3, Sony ESPN and state broadcaster DD Sports.

Viewership data for the last two days of Asian Games – September 1 and 2 September – are still not out. The 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang saw India’s best medal tally with 69 medals compared to 57 and 65 in 2014 (Incheon) and 2010 (Guangzhou), respectively.

Previous viewership of Asian Games were significantly lower at 40.9 million and 32.6 million in 2014 and 2010, respectively. However, these numbers, measured by TV ratings agency TAM, were for a different universe and hence no direct comparison can be made.

Daily viewership for the Jakarta Games has increased three times since 2014 from 2.6 million to 8 million. In comparison with the viewership of 2016 Rio Olympics and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier this year, Asian Games fall in the middle.

While Rio Olympics were seen by 201 million Indians, Commonwealth Games clocked 88.4 million viewers. Both these numbers are for live coverage and include Doordarshan’s sports channel.

In 2018 itself, Asian Games have trumped the overall viewership of both the FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon. Live broadcast of FIFA World Cup matches saw 110 million viewers while Wimbledon recorded 19 million viewers over two weeks. The Indian Premier League is of course far ahead — 530 million over 51 days.

“The spread of states from where the winners come and the variety of new disciplines in which medals have been scored is quite likely the reason for the rise in viewership in India,” said Harish Krishnamachar, co-founder, Sportoid, a sports consultancy firm. Of the 69 medals India won, athletescame from 21 states and Union Territories (UTs).

“Asian Games have a different kind of importance in the sporting landscape. Since national pride is involved, it has different kind of emotions attached that makes it stand out,” said Rajesh Kaul, head for the sports business and chief revenue officer (distribution) at Sony Pictures Networks India.

“The sports market in India is evolving, the overall audience taste for sports properties has changed phenomenally over the last couple of years. Five to seven years back we were a completely cricket dominated country now it is clearly moving towards a multi-sport viewing culture, added Kaul.

Most viewed events at the Asian Games included athletics, badminton and wrestling at 38.1 million, 29.2 million and 27.4 million, respectively. Athletics contributed 19 medals to India’s overall tally. While the shuttlers won a silver and a bronze, the wrestlers clinched three, including two gold medals.

    Epic Games slams Google for sharing Fortnite Android app exploit info

    Google essentially got slapped in the face when Epic Games, the developer of the super popular , decided not to make the game available through the Play Store, but via its own app.

    Google warned Epic that doing so could potentially put Android users at greater security risk, but the game developer brushed it off, insisting on going it alone for several reasons — including not having to give Google a cut in-app revenue and “embracing open platforms.”

    Well, now the worst has happened. Despite having no obligation to do so, Google recently discovered an exploit within the Fortnite installer app that allowed malicious apps installed on one’s Android phone to hijack the download process so that instead of downloading the game from Epic’s server, it could download and install something entirely different, which could potentially leave the device open to attacks.

    SEE ALSO: What You Should Know About ‘Fortnite’ Addiction

    Here’s a quick run-down of what happened:

    Google first discovered the vulnerability inside of the Fortnite installer app on Aug. 15 and immediately notified Epic. Details for the exploit weren’t public yet. Within 48 hours, Epic patched the Fortnite installer and deployed it to all Android users who installed the app. 

    Here’s where things get a little ugly. Even though Epic quickly released a patch for the installer app, it asked Google not to disclose the details of the exploit until after 90 days. Not only would there be more time for users to update their installer apps, but hackers also wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the bug.

    However, Google’s bug disclosure guidelines explicitly states the following:

    “This bug is subject to a 90-day disclosure deadline. After 90 days elapse or a patch has been made broadly available, the bug report – including any comments and attachments – will become visible to the public.”

    Despite Epic’s request for Google to wait the full 90 days before disclosing the exploit, Google abided by its own guidelines and shared the details.

    Per a Google rep posting to an Issue Tracker thread on the bug report:

    “…now the patched version of Fortnite Installer has been available for 7 days we will proceed to unrestrict this issue in line with Google’s standard disclosure practices”.

    Naturally, the Fortnite developer wasn’t happy about Google’s decision at all. Epic provided Mashable the following comment from CEO Tim Sweeney:

    “Epic genuinely appreciated Google’s effort to perform an in-depth security audit of Fortnite immediately following our release on Android, and share the results with Epic so we could speedily issue an update to fix the flaw they discovered.

    However, it was irresponsible of Google to publicly disclose the technical details of the flaw so quickly, while many installations had not yet been updated and were still vulnerable.

    An Epic security engineer, at my urging, requested Google delay public disclosure for the typical 90 days to allow time for the update to be more widely installed. Google refused. You can read it all at

    Google’s security analysis efforts are appreciated and benefit the Android platform, however a company as powerful as Google should practice more responsible disclosure timing than this, and not endanger users in the course of its counter-PR efforts against Epic’s distribution of Fortnite outside of Google Play.”

    Ultimately, who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong? Honestly, neither company is. 

    Google is right that Epic’s decision to not release Fortnite through the Play Store leaves the app more vulnerable. As my colleague, Mashable tech reporter Matt Binder, previously made clear: Android users need to disable certain Android security permissions in order to install Fortnite and there’s no guarantee they’ll remember to turn them back on after doing so.

    Maybe Google really is upset at the idea of not getting any revenue from the massively popular game (apps listed on Google Play pay a share of their sales to Google), as Sweeney implied. But the Android gatekeeper maintains that its speedy disclosure of the exploit was done in the name of user security.  

    Following Sweeney’s statement, Google had only this to say in response to Mashable’s request for comment: “User security is our top priority, and as part of our proactive monitoring for malware we identified a vulnerability in the Fortnite installer. We immediately notified Epic Games and they fixed the issue.”

    And it’s true, Google does have a responsibility to ensure that users are safe. Otherwise, third-party developers could give the entire platform an even worse reputation.

    That said, if Google truly cares about protecting its users first and foremost, it should have been more flexible on its bug disclosure deadline so as to not tip off hackers so quickly. That’s why Epic asked for 90 days to begin with.

    The disagreements between Google and Epic should not be overlooked. Google may wish to have nothing to do with Fortnite after being shunned by Epic Games, but their paths will inevitably cross because of the Android platform.

    It’s possible Google will discover vulnerabilities in future versions of the Fortnite installerm or even other app installers from other companies that decide to follow in Epic’s footsteps and not offer their apps in the Play Store. Will Google have to monitor and perform security audits on all of those as well in order to protect Android users? Hard to say, but it’s sure gonna be interesting to watch from the sidelines.

    If anyone’s laughing at this turn of events, it’s Apple. The company’s closed platform means all apps must be released through the App Store. By not allowing apps to be officially released in any other way, Apple has guarded itself against the issue Google’s now facing.

    With additional reporting by Adam Rosenberg. 

    Sport und Psychische Gesundheit: Bewegung bewirkt Wunder im Kopf

    Sport und Psychische GesundheitBewegung bewirkt Wunder im Kopf

    Von Hanna Spanhel 

    Sport setzt im Körper vielfältige Mechanismen in Gang – und soll daher zum Beispiel  bei Stress, Schlafstörungen und Niedergeschlagenheit helfen. Foto: skumer/Adobe Stock
    Sport setzt im Körper vielfältige Mechanismen in Gang – und soll daher zum Beispiel bei Stress, Schlafstörungen und Niedergeschlagenheit helfen. Foto: skumer/Adobe Stock

    Wer regelmäßig Sport macht, kann dadurch sein Risiko senken, am Herzen zu erkranken. Was manche nicht wissen: Auch die Psyche profitiert von körperlichen Aktivitäten. Das zeigt eine aktuelle Studie.

    London/Stuttgart – Manchmal war es eine Überwindung, gerade dann rauszugehen, wenn es ihr besonders schlecht ging. Doch das Laufen half, sagt Anna, 27. „Danach habe ich mich jedes Mal besser gefühlt.“ Anna war jahrelang schwer depressiv, mehrmals in der Klinik und in Therapie. Noch heute geht sie joggen, wenn sie merkt, dass sie wieder in ein Tief rutscht. Doch hilft offenbar nicht nur Menschen, die psychisch erkrankt sind: Einer neuen Studie zufolge geht körperliche Bewegung ganz allgemein mit einem besseren psychischen Wohlbefinden einher.

    Forscher von den Universitäten Oxford und Yale.

    Für die Studie befragte das Team mehr als 1,2 Millionen Menschen in den USA über Jahre hinweg mehrfach danach, wie oft sie sich innerhalb der vergangenen 30 Tage schlecht gefühlt hätten. Diese Angaben verglichen die Wissenschaftler mit den Angaben der Teilnehmer zur körperlichen , dem Alter oder dem Beruf. Im Durchschnitt fühlten sich die Teilnehmer demnach 3,4 Tage pro Monat schlecht. Diejenigen Menschen, die regelmäßig körperlich aktiv waren – und dazu zählten neben Sport auch Hausarbeit und Rasenmähen – hatten anderthalb schlechte Tage weniger als jene Teilnehmer, die kaum aktiv waren.

    Besonders stark ausgeprägt war der Unterschied der Studie zufolge bei den Menschen, bei denen in der Vergangenheit schon einmal eine festgestellt wurde: Aktive Menschen aus dieser Gruppe berichteten von etwa sieben schlechten Tagen pro Monat, bei den körperlich nicht aktiven Studienteilnehmern waren es knapp elf Tage – ein Unterschied von vier Tagen.

    In manchen Studien ist nicht klar, was Ursache und was Wirkung ist

    Der Zusammenhang zwischen Sport oder körperlicher Bewegung und seelischer Gesundheit wurde in der Vergangenheit immer wieder untersucht und diskutiert. So veröffentlichte ein Forscherteam der University of New South Wales vor wenigen Monaten eine groß angelegte Studie zu der Frage, ob Sport dabei helfe, Depressionen vorzubeugen. Das Ergebnis: Bereits eine Stunde sportliche Aktivität in der Woche reduziere das Risiko, an Depressionen zu erkranken. Die Wissenschaftler hatten über mehrere Jahre hinweg Daten von mehr als 250 000 Menschen aus unterschiedlichen Ländern und Altersklassen ausgewertet. Andere Studien zeigten in der Vergangenheit, das moderater Ausdauersport dabei helfen kann, besser mit Stress umzugehen, leichter einzuschlafen und seltener niedergeschlagen zu sein.

    Doch ganz so einfach sei es nicht, sagt Ulrich Hegerl, Vorstandsvorsitzender der Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe. „Menschen, denen es psychisch schlecht geht, haben häufig nicht den Antrieb, Sport zu treiben.“ Lustlosigkeit und Zurückgezogenheit seien Kernsymptome der Krankheit. Doch in Studien wie jener, die nun veröffentlicht wurde, werde oft nicht klar, was die Ursache und was die Wirkung sei: „Es könnte theoretisch genauso gut sein, dass Menschen, denen es gut geht, insgesamt motivierter sind und deshalb häufiger Sport treiben“, sagt Hegerl.

    Zudem müsse man zwischen einer negativen Befindlichkeit und einer tatsächlichen Erkrankung unterscheiden. Denn dass Sport zum allgemeinen seelischen Wohlbefinden beitrage, sei sicher richtig. Ob es aber auch bei Krankheiten wie schweren Depressionen helfe, sei wissenschaftlich schwer zu beweisen. „Es gibt aber Hinweise darauf, dass körperliche Aktivität im Zusammenhang mit Depressionen positive Effekte hat“, bestätigt Hegerl. Er selbst höre durchaus immer wieder von Betroffenen, dass Bewegung ihnen helfe. Man empfehle Patienten daher durchaus, Sport zu treiben, sagt der Direktor der Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie am Uniklinikum Leipzig.

    Nur: Bewegung könne die medizinische Therapie von Depressionen oder anderen psychischen Erkrankungen keinesfalls ersetzen, warnt Hegerl. Eine Depression sei eine ernsthafte, mitunter lebensbedrohliche Krankheit. „Es ist gefährlich zu denken, Sport könne eine medikamentöse Behandlung oder Therapie ersetzen.“ Vielmehr müsse Bewegung bei einer Erkrankung eher ein Zusatz zu einer Behandlung sein.

    So ist körperliches Training beispielsweise Teil der Nationalen Versorgungsleitlinien Depression – und wird von Ärzten und Therapeuten deutschlandweit als sogenannte therapiestützende Maßnahme empfohlen. Wichtig ist dabei auch die Regelmäßigkeit. Deutschlandweit haben sich unter dem Dach der Deutschen Stiftung Depressionshilfe regionale Lauftreffs gegründet, zu denen sich regelmäßig Betroffene treffen. Mit positiver Resonanz: „Der regelmäßige Termin gibt Struktur und wirkt gegen Antriebslosigkeit“, sagt eine Sprecherin der Stiftung. „Außerdem wirkt die Gemeinschaft stärkend.“

    Der Grund dafür, dass körperliche Aktivität sich ganz allgemein durchaus auf das psychische Wohlbefinden und auf die Stimmung auswirkt, liegt wohl vor allem im Gehirn. Denn beim Sport werden dort bestimmte Botenstoffe ausgeschüttet – zum Beispiel Serotonin und Dopamin. Diese häufig als Glückshormone bezeichneten Stoffe können dabei helfen, Stress und Angstgefühle abzubauen und die Stimmung aufzuhellen. Hirnforscher gehen sogar davon aus, dass regelmäßiges Training den Hormonhaushalt des Körpers dauerhaft beeinflusst: Sie soll dazu führen, dass der Botenstoff Dopamin mit der Zeit langsamer abgebaut wird.

    Zu viel Sport allerdings, auch das zeigt die neue Studie,ist auch nicht gut: Menschen, die mehr als drei Stunden täglich aktiv waren, fühlten sich demnach häufiger unwohl. Die Forscher vermuten dahinter zwanghafte Züge.

    Indie Games Are On The Rise, Bringing Innovation and Creativity to Gaming

    Over the past few decades, video game popularity has soared along with its media attention – particularly the topic of whether violent video games lead to increased violence in the real world. Most research, however, concludes no direct, definitive link between them.

    Although, there may be another link less explored: are video games – specifically, “indie games” – making people more creative?

    Indie Games and Creativity

    It’s actually possible to learn many transferable skills from video games that can help us in the real world.

    For starters, working on something challenging gives us energy and amps up the dopamine reward centers in our brain which is one of the strongest drivers of work ethic. This can dramatically boost both our motivation and willpower.

    In addition, multiplayer games can teach us how to work in a team with other players, how to be a successful leader, and how to confront difficult problems head-on.

    Finally, playing games – particularly indie games, which often provide a very unique set of problems that differ from mainstream games – often challenge us in new ways and requires us to find creative solutions and workarounds to problems that we encounter.

    For example, a quick YouTube search for ‘Minecraft’ shows tutorials on how to build huge, complex structures from building blocks. Some people have even designed their own games within the Minecraft world.

    Meanwhile, indie games like Terraria allow users to build structures to support non-playable characters and help them in their quests. They can also create their own power-ups and armor structures which require either in-depth research or trial-and-error-based creativity to master.

    Ultimately, this can provide significant boosts to our creativity, which we can then apply in our everyday lives.

    Indie Gaming and Decentralization

    Blockchain seems to be a technology with the potential to shake up pretty much every industry imaginable – and the gaming industry is no exception.

    Game Protocol is the platform leading the charge in decentralized gaming. It focuses on building a thriving community that allows fans to fund developers and benefit from their success.

    At the same time, developers can work together to share ideas and create the best games possible. The GameStarter crowdfunding platform is designed to make crowdfunding easier, faster, and more accessible for all.

    It allows developers to raise money for their ideas in as little as 48 hours and access the funds instantly. In addition, unlike all current mainstream gaming platforms that take a significant 30% cut from developers, Game Protocol will take only 10% commission in return for developers using their platform to leverage sales.

    Such a platform could prove to be a huge milestone for the industry, taking the $91 billion video game market by storm, and ultimately making the development of indie games easier than ever before.

    The platform is already advertising some of the games that will soon be available to users. One example is the Special Guns project, a first-person shooter that will be released on Game Protocol after being successfully funded. The funding goal for this project is 200,000 Game Protocol Tokens (GXT).

    The Increasing Popularity of Indie Games

    Over the past few years, indie games have become popular. Unlike publishers such as Ubisoft, Blizzard, and Sony, who don’t usually experiment and tend to use one format for games which they know will sell well, indie game developers are much more likely to strike out and create something unique.

    Of course, in some cases, this doesn’t work at all, and the game flops. But in an increasing number of cases, it turns out to be a huge hit.

    Stardew Valley, the RPG farming simulation game that was designed by a 28-year-old first-time developer and released in February 2016, was one of the biggest success stories of the year.

    In the few years the game has been available, it has amassed over 80,000 Overwhelmingly Positive reviews on Steam. It was estimated that within a year of the game’s release, its single developer had earned in excess of $30 million.

    Similarly, Don’t Starve, the open world ‘uncompromising wilderness survival game’, and Don’t Starve Together, the multiplayer version of this title, is another game that has witnessed huge popularity and stood the test of time, receiving Over 45,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam since its release back in 2013.

    The Future of Indie Gaming

    With the rise of crowdfunding platforms like Game Protocol that allows fans to give money directly to developers for creating content they love, getting funding for indie games will be easier than ever before.

    As a result, it’s likely we will see a significant rise in the number and variety of indie games available for users to play over the coming years.

    Cover Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

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