Why Does Game Testing Matter?

Have you ever been battling a final boss, and suddenly, your character falls through the floor? Or have you tried to decipher a confusing menu system that makes you feel like throwing your controller across the room? These are the kinds of issues where game testing becomes crucial. But what exactly is game testing, and why is it so important?

Game testing is the process of meticulously evaluating a video game to identify and eliminate bugs, glitches, and other issues that could hinder a player’s experience.

Thorough game testing is crucial for everyone involved. Here’s how:

Building a Strong Reputation

A bug-free game is not just about player satisfaction; it’s also a testament to a developer’s commitment to quality. A strong reputation built on delivering exceptional games attracts players, investors, and partners, paving the way for future success.

Balanced Gameplay

Game testings can uncover balancing issues, ensuring that no weapon, character, or strategy is overpowered, leading to a smoother and more enjoyable gameplay experience.

Great Investments

A well-tested game ensures player satisfaction, the key ingredient for a successful game launch. Happy players translate to positive reviews and strong revenue streams.

Beyond Bugs: What Testers Look For

Motivation and Usability Testing

Testers assess the user interface (UI)’s intuitiveness, ease of learning the controls, and clarity of the game’s instructions. They ensure a smooth and frustration-free gameplay experience.

Story and Dialogue

In some cases, testers might also provide feedback on the game’s narrative flow, dialogue quality, and overall pacing. They identify inconsistencies, plot holes, or awkward phrasing that might affect the player’s immersion.

Level Design and Balance

Testers play through levels to assess difficulty, fairness, and overall flow. They ensure the game offers a satisfying challenge without feeling frustrating or overwhelming.

Game Testing Phases

Game testing typically goes through several phases, each with a distinct purpose:

Alpha Testing

Alpha testing occurs after the game’s core mechanics and features are taking shape but before it’s feature-complete.

  • Players identify bugs that disrupt gameplay flow, pinpoint balance issues between different mechanics or features, and ensure everything works cohesively.
  • The game visuals might still have placeholders, and overall polish might be lacking.

Beta Testing

Beta testing is the final major hurdle before a game’s release.

  • In Beta testing, players test the game in a near-final state, uncovering bugs that might arise due to the wider variety of player hardware and playstyles. Beta testers also provide invaluable feedback on overall game balance, enjoyment factor, and the user interface’s intuitiveness.
  • The game at this stage should be feature-complete, visually polished, and relatively stable. Beta testing helps ensure a smooth launch experience for the general public.

Pre-Alpha Testing

In some cases, the developer team might do pre-alpha testing. Pre-alpha testing is the earliest stage of testing in video game development, happening even before alpha testing. It’s essentially the point where the game is barely recognizable as the final product.

Here’s what pre-alpha testing is all about:

Focus on core mechanics

The main goal is to identify and fix critical issues with the core gameplay loop, like movement feeling unnatural or combat not functioning properly.

Rapid iteration

At this stage, things can change quickly. Mechanics might be tossed entirely or reworked based on testing results.

Internal testing

Primarily done by the development team itself. Programmers, designers, and QA testers might be involved in hammering out the foundation of the game.

On some occasions, pre-alpha testing might become public, even though it’s not typical. Here’s a few reasons why:

Community Building and Hype Generation

Sometimes, developers strategically leak pre-alpha footage or allow a limited number of fans to participate in testing to build hype and excitement for the game early on. This can be a great way to generate buzz and get fans invested in the project.

Feedback Gathering from a Wider Audience

While internal testing is valuable, pre-alpha testing with a wider audience can expose developers to a more diverse range of player experiences and preferences. This can be particularly useful for online games where a large and varied player base is expected.

Transparency and Early Collaboration

Some developers choose transparency and involve the community early on in the development process. This allows for early feedback on core mechanics and design choices, potentially shaping the game in a way that resonates more with the target audience.

Pre-Alpha Testing in RIFTSTORM

RIFTSTORM is a game from Confiction Labs with Agate as the co-developer. This year, it has carried out 2 public pre-alpha tests.

Overwhelmingly Positive Response

The response to both pre-alpha tests was overwhelmingly positive. Over 5,000 players participated in the first test. Players dedicated an average of 1 hour and 39 minutes, but some players spent more than 50 hours in the intended 3-hour playtime for the pre-alpha build, demonstrating their deep engagement. The global reach was impressive, with players hailing from across the globe, with the top 7 countries including the US, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, France, and Poland.

Participation soared in the second pre-alpha test, reaching over 22,000 players and over 672,000 unique visitors who explored the game on Steam. A dedicated group of 165 players exceeded the intended 5-hour playtime, logging over 15 hours each. Players collectively poured in a staggering 22,032 hours of playtime, showcasing their enthusiasm for the game. The global reach expanded further, with players from a remarkable 110 unique countries participating.

These pre-alpha tests provided valuable insights to the RIFTSTORM development team. Based on player feedback, the team meticulously balanced and adjusted buffs within the game. The positive reception for new character introductions during the tests demonstrates the effectiveness of public pre-alpha testing in shaping the game’s content. By involving the community early on, RIFTSTORM is well-positioned for a successful launch, offering a polished and engaging experience that players worldwide will enjoy.

Game Development Process in Agate

As a company that has been around for 15 years, Agate continues to improve its game development processes to be able to complete projects on time. In general, the game development process at Agate is carried out in 5 stages:

  1. Prototyping
    Transform your game ideas or existing IP into a playable build
  2. Pre-Production
    We shape the future of the game, from the narrative, contents, art direction, in-game mechanics, and so on.
  3. Alpha Test
    Release a limited version of the game for testing to a select group of users.
  4. Beta Test
    Release the completed game to the public with some expected tweaks and bug fixes.
  5. Post-Production
    Full game release with support in marketing materials and post-production content

Understanding that every project is unique, we are capable of tailoring the development pipeline to best suit client needs. This adaptability is what enabled us to incorporate public pre-alpha testing for RIFTSTORM, gathering valuable feedback from a wider audience.

Do you want to turn your ideas or existing IP into a fully developed video game with proper game testing?
Look no further than Agate!

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today and learn more about how we can help you take your project to exceptional heights.