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When we play a game, we never think about how it has so few bugs. We just focus on the game. The reality is that hundreds of hours go into testing. While the life of a QA (quality assurance) tester might not be glamorous, GameDriver hopes to make it a bit easier.
GameDriver’s new testing software, works with 2D, 3D, and AR/VR games. It does local or remote testing for PC, consoles, mobile, single and multi-player games for Windows, MAC, Andriod, and iOS. The new testing suite is fully compatible with the Unity engine and also works with NUnit, Jenkins, MSTest, BitBar, and Oculus. If you don’t see your engine in that description, check back, because GameDriver plans to cover more engines including Unreal.
As well as releasing the new software, GameDriver announced they have closed the seed round of their funding. The company received a $2 million USD investment from lead investor Panoramic Ventures. This capital will allow for product expansion and company growth.
“Panoramic Ventures already has an active presence in test automation, so GameDriver is a seamless fit in our portfolio,” said Dan Drechsel, General Partner at Panoramic Ventures. “We’re excited to be a part of a milestone advancement in addressing the numerous challenges facing testing processes in the gaming vertical. GameDriver’s suite of automated testing tools is set to see extensive growth and an accelerated adoption rate and I’m thrilled to assist the eager team at GameDriver in this stage of the company’s life.”
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We had a chance to speak with Rob Gutierrez, CEO and cofounder, as well as Shane Evans, chief product officer and cofounder. Check out our conversation below and, if you’d like to see for yourself, visit them at this year’s GDC.
GamesBeat: What’s your personal history with videogames?
Shane Evans: I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember, starting with my Tandy-1000 PC and classics such as Centipede. Then I received my first console which was the original Nintendo and I have been hooked ever since. I always wanted to make games but lacked the technical ability, so when platforms like Unity began to emerge which lowered the barrier of entry, I decided to dive in and learn.
Rob Gutierrez: The first console we had in my house was an Intellivision in the 80’s and even as a kid I was hooked on technology. I later chose a career working with computers because it was a good way to combine my hobby with work. The most impactful game for me, though, was World of Warcraft. It was in Azeroth that Shane and I first met, formed a guild together, and first started thinking about game mechanics from a more strategic perspective as we took advantage of “creative uses of game mechanics” in raid encounters.
GamesBeat: What led you folks to the testing automation field for games? Was there a specific moment?
Shane Evans: It was while I was learning to develop a game in Unity as a hobby project, something I have very little talent for as it turns out. When it came time to test my creation, I looked around for what I had come to expect from my 10 years in software and that is completely standard for Web, Mobile, and most Commercial application development, test automation. At the time, I couldn’t find any tools for the tester beyond people telling me to “play the game.” And so I started looking to create a better way, and bring my experience in automated software testing to this space.
Rob Gutierrez: For about a decade I worked in sales and marketing with the HP / HPE / Micro Focus portfolio of automation tools for business software. Shane and I were in regular contact while he was working on his hobby project, and during a gaming session one evening he told me about the problems he was having with testing his game. We already had 20 years of combined experience in test automation and might be the people who could best do something about it.
Using Shane’s game, we began looking at what could be automated versus what couldn’t and then began market research to figure out why a product like this wasn’t on the market. We’d experienced first-hand how automation transforms software delivery, so why wasn’t someone already doing this? Shane reached out to Phillip, who he’d worked with before, to help determine if what we had in mind was possible and from there the vision of GameDriver developed.
What we discovered was that the problem of testing immersive experiences like games was different than in business. In video games, there existed a level of speed and precision that testing mobile applications or web applications just don’t see.
For example, if a tester is attempting to validate a web form, whether it takes one second or five seconds to lock in on an object doesn’t matter all that much. In a game, though, if the player has a skeleton charging at him wielding a sword and it takes two or three seconds for the player to find their shield, the scenario is broken.
Philip understood that the challenge was different from what had been made in the past and started working on it diligently, and at the same time completely re-imagined the relationship between automation, identifying objects to achieve a new level of precision and speed to the testing paradigm.
GamesBeat: You currently support Unity fully. Any plans to move more into Unreal?
Shane Evans: Yes! We designed GameDriver to be cross-platform and portable to any game engine. The HierarchyPath language, which is core to our capabilities and provides the interface for working with game objects at runtime has been tested with Unreal, and we hope to have something more to share on this front sometime in the near future.
Rob Gutierrez: Unity is only the starting point for the GameDriver platform. With a footprint of over half of all games and a very supportive community and partner ecosystem, it was a natural place for us to start. The same problem we set out to solve isn’t limited to Unity though, and our technology is remarkably transferable. Unreal is already in flight and we have no reason to believe we can’t support almost any of the proprietary engines out there too.
GamesBeat: How much time does your product save for the average company?
Shane Evans: On average, our customers save more than 50% of the time spent manual testing, with a few claiming more than 85%. More importantly, they are able to increase their test coverage to include more of the scenarios and platform testing that would otherwise be missed, simply by automating the repetitive tasks associated with day-to-day manual testing. This is particularly important in LiveOps testing, where rapid release cycles can put a tremendous strain on testers who need to ensure existing features are working, and that new features have the intended impact.
Rob Gutierrez: The efficiency gains are dramatic — 85% reduction in time spent testing. That’s only the start of why automation is needed in game development. As a project progresses, the amount of testing that needs to be performed to validate a build drastically increases but the finite resource of testers remains about the same. With GameDriver automation, the time investment in producing a test can be carried forward to help level the load at the end of the testing cycle. No matter how efficient they are, testers only have two thumbs to test with, and with the scope of games today simultaneously releasing on multiple platforms and hardware configurations, it’s impossible to keep up. By reducing the amount of redundancy in the testing process, GameDriver supports manual testers by repeatedly checking the minor details, leaving them more time to deal with the issues that require a human touch.