Achieving Speed and Quality with Mobile Game Development

When it comes to mobile game development, speed is everything. From the business owner to the consumer, everyone wants developers to build and deploy their apps overnight–without the errors common to time-sensitive projects. But is it possible to meet the need for speed without losing your audience to bugs and glitches?

Wrapped up in their demand for quick access to gaming apps, users also want a perfect product from day one. Developers are aware that mobile users can be fickle, and they certainly don’t have the patience for errors in your launch. Trying to balance the demand for a quick turnaround with the need for perfection can be extremely stressful, but it’s possible with the right strategy and tools.

The Answer is Agile

The traditional approach to mobile game testing involved QA and performance testing towards the end of the development cycle, typically as the final step before launch.

The problem with this method is that it takes significantly longer to fix bugs at this late stage (when other pieces of the application have likely been built over these bugs) then it would if they had been discovered much sooner in the development lifecycle. In this scenario, developers are asked to fight fires rather than proactively prevent them in the first place. This can add a considerable amount of time to the SDLC if not managed properly.

Agile development and testing, on the other hand, focuses on better integrating testing and QA into production and throughout the development lifecycle in order to deliver higher quality applications on-time, on-budget and without launch day difficulties.

While there are many facets to Agile development, we will focus today on testing methodologies.

Test Automation – a Cornerstone of Agile and Continuous Delivery Development

Manual testing is time-consuming, error-prone, and simply not realistic in today’s rapid-release software development landscape.

In order for Agile development to be efficient, it requires a high level of automation. The sheer number of regression and functionality tests that may need to be executed after every code change or update necessitates a fully automated approach to testing combined with prompt feedback to developers.

Let’s Explore a Few of the Most Common Testing Procedures

Smoke Testing

Smoke Testing should be performed before more advanced testing and is used to verify that an application’s primary features function as they should. The goal here is to catch glaring, high-level code issues that could severely impact the app’s basic functionality.

Regression Testing

Regression Testing involves repeating a test after any change or update to code. The goal here is to catch problems that are a direct result of a recent software change. By comparing the same test before and after a code change, developers can pinpoint exactly where an issue began.

Functional Testing

Functional testing is the kind of game QA testing that likely comes to mind when you hear “game testing.” It’s the process of testing a game from the user’s perspective – essentially playing it through to test for ease of use, graphics and UI functionality, etc.

While we often think of this kind of QA testing as manual, Functional testing can, and should, be automated where possible.

Performance Testing

Performance testing does exactly what you’d think – it tests the speed and overall performance of a game, with the central goal of pinpointing bottlenecks. It provides a starting point from which regression tests may be performed and gives developers an idea of how their game will actually perform in the real world.

Performance testing is extremely important, as most players will leave and never come back again if a game doesn’t perform at a high level.

When performance testing, it’s extremely important to test a variety of device types and ecosystems (not everyone has the latest iPhone, for instance) and from all major locations around the world where your game may be played (if it’s internet-based).

Performance and Load Testing – the Dynamic Duo

Performance testing is multi-faceted and encompasses three primary testing procedures: baseline performance testingload testingand stress testing. While all three are very closely related and build off of each other, there are some distinct differences.

While performance testing aims to pinpoint the most glaring bottlenecks and barriers to seamless game functionality, load testing takes it one step further to help determine if performance stays constant under the stress of an increasing load. Load testing is the process of incrementally increasing load to essentially observe and analyze the application’s reaction. How will your app run once it’s a smashing success and users are pouring in the floodgates? Will response times spike? Will it crash?

And finally, stress testing is the process of purposefully overwhelming the application to the point of collapse to observe how the system responds to a failure.

You have to be prepared for these scenarios, and the right testing service will keep you ahead of the game (literally). Find a performance and load testing software that offers a solution for agile, continuous integration testing so that it can be integrated seamlessly into your existing dev stack.

Bringing it all Together

The trend towards rapid app development has many developers pulling their hair out. While this process will never be easy per say, a Continuous Integration approach to game development can make the process more efficient. Agile development is meant to create better software, faster — in part by streamlining and automating the production/testing lifecycle. Agile aims to enhance the fluidity between Production and Testing, so that both are used together incrementally to create a better end product. Simply put, Agile helps developers to create efficiently, but without the errors commonly associated with a rush job.

Performance Testing services like Apica can help you meet your development deadlines and become The Next Big Thing of mobile gaming. By utilizing load and performance testing, you can release the perfect product to your audience (and then turn around and do it all over again!).