Saturday, 28 April 2012

Testing Testing Testing

After months of pain, suffering, late nights and refactoring you think you have finished your game. You have lived and breathed it and you want to see some return for your efforts. Up on app store or Google play it goes ... STOP!

As much as you, your girlfriend, wife, cat, gerbil etc have tested nothing beats fellow developers critiquing and testing your pride and joy. The challenge is crowd sourcing enough to get quality testers and thankfully for me my twitter followers and Ansca Mobile gave a great insight.

The benefit from getting testers from within the community is that they understand games, can spot things that normal people don't, know how to provide crash reports when the inevitable happens, as well as offer constructive criticism.

Astavoid was never developed to be the next best thing. It was developed to help me understand game development, understand the Corona SDK, understand the differences between iOS and Android platforms.

As well as finding bugs that I didn't find I went through a total of 9 iterations of testing with a team of 12 volunteers. I had a couple of very loyal testers as well as some great industry feedback from Matt Rix (Trainyard fame) and Keith Shepherd (Temple Run fame) to comment on the mechanics.

I learnt from these guys to look at similar mechanics of how the game works and apply it to those that are successful. An example of this is the change depth logic I had when entering beta was three depths that were controlled by double tap to move forward and one tap back. This to me was unique but as was pointed out to me could be cumbersome and not initiative. I was pointed to games like Jetpack Joyride as a hold and release mechanic that suited my game much better. As a result through this iteration process the game mechanics were refined and tested and I think a better more robust game has come out of it.

For iOS testing I used the excellent TestFlight to engage and manage my testers. I can't underestimate just how excellent this tool is and how it takes the hassle out of the process. Unfortunately at this time of writing the Testflight SDK isn't incorporated into Corona SDK to get the full benefit of realtime analytics and crash reports but was a huge problem to me given the people I had testing. Here is a short explaination of Testflight

What is TestFlight?
TestFlight is a free Over-The-Air platform used to distribute beta and internal iOS applications to team members. Developers can then manage testing and receive feedback from their team with TestFlight's Dashboard.

Wait! It's free?
Yes, TestFlight is free. The current features and SDK are part of the core functionality and will remain free to use. Our plan is to introduce paid features in the future that will be clearly labeled. Users will have the option to add these features or continue to use the service free of charge.

What apps does it support?
Currently we're only supporting iOS apps. TestFlight follows Apple's beta and internal distribution guidelines, so we primarily support Ad Hoc and Enterprise provisioned applications.

When will you support other platforms?
We will announce any official changes of the service before going live. We haven't made any announcements and currently we're only supporting iOS apps.

For Android its a slightly different story. I did look at thebetafamily but the depth of testers wasn't the same. The reason being is Android isn't anywhere near as strict over distribution as Apple so it just as easy to distribute via your own website. And this is what I did simply compiled by APK file for the various versions (Android, Nook and Amazon Fire) and fed back via my support email.

I guess the point of this post is to raise awareness of Testflight if you don't know about it, I didn't, and to really make sure you test as every 5 star rating is worth its weight in gold and not putting that cherry on the cake can be so damaging.


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