I’m Jonas. I’m part of the Idle Miner Tycoon QA Team for one and a half years now and I want to tell you a little bit about what we do and how we work.
So what does QA actually stand for?
QA stands for Quality Assurance.
What is quality then? Short answer: it really depends on the product you are working on.
Take a car for example. One of the aspects of quality you would take into account is whether it runs for a long time with few complications.
While crashes in a car can be fatal, crashes in an app aren’t usually life-threatening, yet still incredibly annoying and can kill the fun. Stability can, therefore, be a direct sign of quality.
Take speed as another example. A car that only runs 20km/h is not that fun and so is a game with extensive loading times.
Obviously, there are many more aspects of quality, such as experience and usability. If you are driving your car through the rain and just can’t find the button for the windshield wipers, that’s dangerous. In an app, listening to music and being unable to figure out how to turn off the app’s music can be almost as frustrating.
In the end, quality is about meeting the customer’s requirements. These depend on the product as well as on the customer.
To apply this to our context, and understand how we do QA for Idle Miner Tycoon, it’s important to understand how we develop games.
Traditionally, games are developed following a gated waterfall model. Every team finishes their part of the work on the product before it is passed on to the next team. For QA that means that most of the development is done in advance. Once finished, QA starts the testing.
This approach to development doesn’t really suit a “games as a service” title like Idle Miner Tycoon — a tight LiveOps schedule and weekly updates, require us to develop lean and agile: All teams work closely together and in parallel. As soon as the Devs finish the smallest part of the feature, QA already starts testing.
So what is a QA Tester’s role?
It’s ensuring the quality of the product throughout the entire development. Not only at the very end, when it is actually shipped to the players, but all the way throughout the process.
It’s about stability. One of our company’s first guidelines was to “move fast and break things”. That sure worked well during the initial stage of our games with only our family and friends playing, but nowadays with millions of players, stability becomes increasingly important.
Weekly updates present so many opportunities for things to break. With every new release, we have to do extensive testing to ensure that core gameplay, monetization, performance and data are all still working.
QA is about innovation. It’s not enough to merely sustain what we’ve done before, but also about shipping new things. QA is part of the development process in that we help find edge cases in design already so that developers don’t have to find them later. We provide feedback, context and represent the player perspective in design meetings, playtest sessions and push for bugs to make it into the sprint.
The bottom line is:
It’s all about shipping an excellent product.
Obviously, QA can’t do all of that alone, but together with all other game teams, we deliver. In the same way that we can assist in the design of the game, other teams can assist in maintaining excellent quality.