How to test Bandersnatch

(Rosie) #1

Ok, I admit to not having ‘watched it’ yet. I blame the kids.

Bandersnatch (incase you didn’t know!) is an interactive film available on Netflix.

Or wait, how can you watch it all? :slight_smile:

How have you found watching Bandersnatch? I’m sure you had your testers hat on at some points.

Did it work well? Find any interest problems?

There are so many paths, from what I hear. How far are you taking to watching it?

I’m curious to hear people’s thoughts around it from a testing perspective…

(Geoffrey) #2

(some spoilers below. Watch the show. It’s a fun story of 80’s programming)

I spent a couple of hours watching it. There is clearly some choices which have no significant impact (such as choosing the music). It’s designed to let you explore as many endings as possible as it will always prompt you to go back to a significant decision point.

I certainly didn’t find any bugs. Although with this show it would have been funny if there was a “function not implemented” outcome.

What I haven’t done is start it again from scratch to confirm some choices do not matter like the early prompts to throw tea on the computer or resist killing his dad.

(David) #3

I had quite a long conversation with my wife about it and how it could be tested. I suppose that as with all things it depends on how it has been implemented as I admit to not having looked to see if they have released how it is done behind the scenes. Also, it depends on whether it is implemented the same technically on every platform. This is relevant because on the kit I watched it on the load time after each decision seemed instant, there was no buffering waiting for a new video, skipping to a new part in one long stream would be different to test than loading new small videos each time you make a decision. If they’ve implemented it the same for every device/platform it would be different than if they’ve had to do it in specific ways to cope with intricacies of platforms. My wife initiated this conversation having remarked that a colleague couldn’t see why Bandersnatch would be difficult to implement. (Neither of them work in tech but I worked in TV streaming applications for a few years so knew that I would disagree with the colleague. ) She is very patient but I’m sure by the end regretted bringing it up at all.

(Will) #4

The first thing I did was pick “No” for understanding how the controls worked twice. It just started anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

(Boris) #5

There is pretty much “one choice” screens as you progress through the different scenarii. I find this annoying.
If there is only one option, why would you put a choice screen?

(Hazel) #6

There was a funny screen at the beginning for first-time watching, it told you how to interact. I accidentally clicked the ‘back’ button to go back to Netflix menu and then the screen did not appear again when I clicked ‘play from beginning’.
I had to go to a different profile to get that screen back.
1st Bug.

(Kate) #7

Is it bad that my first thought was “Is it frumious?” followed by “How do I check for frumiosity?”

(David) #8

I reckon the ‘not seeing the instructions twice’ behaviour could well be a feature. Suppose that’s the nature of Software, it’s so frequently subjective. If the product owners or team or business had a reason for it behaving that way they could have designed and even spent effort making it specially do that.

(Hazel) #9

I would agree with you if I watched the whole set of instructions and then it didn’t let me see them again. But I saw them < 1 time. So it’s not more than once it’s literally zero :confused:
A bug is something that takes value away from the user. Therefore a bug to me!

(Adam) #10

I’ve not watched it, but having grown up in the 1980s playing Spectrum games my first thought was “Okay, so Bandersnatch has finally been delivered, only 34 years late…” - I still remember all the hype Imagine Software put about in the press at the time about how brilliant their new games were going to be, and how little was actually delivered.

(Ken) #11

Worked my way through it a few times. At first myself and my partner tracked from key turning points in the arcs that trigger the second and third acts. Each conclusion leading you back to choose possible outcomes based on what current choices you had made to form the those final acts.
Then we worked from the beginning to the end using full flows. The whole process took about 3 hours, with the only thing not fully explored being the phone number variations.

I found it deeply satisfying to explore Will Poulter’s character and his role, as he was doing a spot on impression of Jeff Minter…only to find that the author of the titular novel is in fact the real Jeff Minter :smiley:

(Dan) #12


Watched it a few times now. I really like this movie and this type of movie! It’s gripping, exciting and infuriating, but I couldn’t turn away from the screen. Revolutionary!

I love the underlying theme of not being in control - and that certainly felt the case with many of the selections (the controls would default on the answer you were “supposed” to choose, and choosing certain paths eventually took you back to “reset” points to force you to choose the opposite selection).

I heard some people say that there are 6 endings, but I’ve also read that there were other endings filmed that even some of the actors in the film haven’t been able to trigger through their selections… And I have questions about what an “ending” means, as I feel like I got an “ending”, but then it took me back to a previous scene for me to be able to continue down a different path.

From watching it a few times, I managed to inadvertently kill 3 different people, ended up in jail twice, failed with the release of the computer game three times, but succeeded once, I also got some really silly scenes (like a mortal combat esque fight scene with the therapist)… But for all those times of watching, I never could bring myself to choose Sugar-Puffs over Frosties. I regret not going down the Sugar-Puffs path though, as I have a feeling there’s a chance it could have changed something major.

Lastly, out of a few times of getting rolling credits, only once did it also display an extra scene of being back on the bus, listening to the tape cassette, but this time with a ZX spectrum loading noise… Apparently this noise leads to a massive easter egg online, with a secret website where you can download the game to play on an emulator!

I’ve also been frustrated that I can’t download this movie on my device on the Netflix app (probably because it would be massive gigabytes… Or would it??). But it means that when I tried to watch it again on the train, some latency problems made it horrible… Especially when on a screen where I was asked to select an option, (I noticed that I also wasn’t able to pause the movie on these screens within the android Netflix app).

Anyway… Good movie!!
I was a big fan of adventure books, so this was right up my street, and I’m sure I’ll watch it again to continue exploring and discovering more paths!

(aj) #13

(Richard) #14

I’ve just seen this on Twitter…

(Juan) #15

I don´t understand the hype about this “bandersnatch” episode…I´ve seen it in computer games and books form many many years back (I´m NOT too old, I have a lot of experience :slight_smile: ).

It´s nice to see the concept implemented in a TV episode, but nothing more.

About the testing question…this is an easy one. All the paths are limited in number and posibilities so there should be no problem at all.
If you want a real challenge try testing in a distributed system like Mesos (DC/OS) or Kubernetes where the number of “moving parts” are so great that every day a new surprise will come to your door.
Very interesting job and sometimes very very hard to test.

(Andy Carrington-Chappell) #16

Quick reddit search and /r/bandersnatch :slight_smile:

(Tracey) #17

And down the rabbit hole I go again

(Alan) #18

The flow diagram is very helpful I imagine the creators wanted to limit the paths and make sure all paths converged on an ending. The questions I would ask especially knowing what’s occurred is using the reference to Choose your own adventure books a good idea? Netflix must be easy to sue at this point but what ways could the content put the company at risk. How risky is the pathing system built into netflix. There were significant architectural changes that had to occur to support this. How easy is this going to maintain in the long term? Does Netflix care? What ways would you “test” this without specifically targeting only the storyline/plot/mechanics?