Software Testing in Role-Playing Games

Hi all,

So, since I’m a gamer on the slack group (with thousands of other software testers around the globe), I naturally joined #recreationalgaming, our channel for chatting about games of all types.

Since we’re a bunch of software testers and gamers, the topic of video game testing comes up somewhat regularly, and some of us throw out our guesses, and in a few cases, small experiences.

One of these conversations focused around RPGs (role-playing games) and spilled over into the general chat and one of our fabulous admins, @heather_reid, asked the community for Resources For Games Testing.

Unfortunately, many NDAs in the industry make sharing testing techniques difficult, so I wanted to put out a call for any information we can get on testing one of my favorite types of games (some of my favorite games include the Pokemon series, Earthbound, and Tales of Symphonia).

Here’s some questions I had, and feel free to ask more below!

  • Do methods like personas get used? (The narrative gamer, the min-maxer, the ‘never played a video game’ player, the gamer with fine motor control issues)

  • If you use personas, do you have a hard time sticking with them? I think I would struggle with acting like a new to games player, but would be okay trying out being a min-maxer, even though I’m a narrativist.

  • What happens if the demographic shifts? Maybe you start getting questions on your forums from a group of senior citizens who have taken a liking to your game, when you expected 20-30 year olds.

  • How does this differ from other game testing? Most RPGs aren’t competitive (or even cooperative!), so is security and watching for hacks less important than, say, a shooter or a fighting game?

  • Do any game mechanics cause particular issues? Is testing Real-Time Combat or Turn-based more interesting?

  • Have you found a favorite bug? What was it, and how did you find it?

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This might be of interest


Having, many years ago, been in a lot of Beta testing rounds for various online flash based games I would say roles are really important. For example, the noob gamer wants good usability while the pro gamer wants good functionality.

For personas, you want multiple accounts so you can ensure a min/maxer does not get too much of an advantage. There has to be some advantage to it but it should not be OP. The new to games (noob) player is important to see if the game needs moderators, better usability or forums.

Demographics are impossible to guarantee and any good game adjusts to its player base. I think it is the most important thing a growing game can do is to bring the content players want regardless of their age.

Security and watching for hacks is a must if it is online based regardless of it being multiplayer. It can ruin the game performance or worse data.

I find turn-based the easiest to test because I can map out my testing using common software testing techniques.

My favorite bug was in a game where if you did not move you were automatically logged out after five minutes. I found a corner I could walk into that caused my char to run in a circle and stay online while doing auto battles = level up while you sleep!


This blog post came up on my Medium feed today and it’s a really interesting read!

A note of forewarning: the language in it may leave a bit to be desired (potential not safe for work) but some interesting points are made.

In the first example, the voice announcements! When I watched the video I thought nope nope nope would not play that game. For me that would fall under the annoying level of bug category as an inexperienced games tester but the writer makes a valid point, it’s actually super distracting for a user. So while it doesn’t technically stop them proceeding with the game from a software point of view, it could from a user experience point of view which is another layer I hadn’t totally considered.

Accessibility of the game play is also discussed

It is already a test of your fine motor skills to press down on the mouse wheel button without also rotating the wheel, but imagine trying to do that in the heat of battle.

I’ve just recently started to play RPGs again and I’m particularly drawn to this line of the post

Remember the old RPGs where you can talk to every bit part character you encounter? It seems like they all have something to say to you, and furthermore, it’s so important for them to say what they have to say that they will repeat it to you as many times as necessary.

It is so frustrating to get a wall of text (that I have issues processing anyway) that the character will not repeat again. I guess this goes back to the accessibility aspect also and the writers reference to Nielsen Norman Group

Do not make the game more difficult by lack of realism. It is not realistic that a person would not be able to ask for directions to be repeated.

So as someone reintroduced to RPGs and who has never tested a game before, I found that this post gave me some thoughts about how I might approach your questions above @tybar and maybe they might do the same for others :slight_smile:

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Is the voice on Megaman Nolan North? Sounds a bit like when he does Blaze in Blaze and the Monster Machines. If it is, I forgive the voice.

You remind me of a mate of mine who used to work at a Government nuclear research establishment. They had a massive (for the 1970s :slight_smile: ) Cray supercomputer installed, which used up so much of the IT budget that they couldn’t afford monitor terminals and had to rely on old ASR33 teletypes. Then someone installed a copy of Space Invaders on it, which you had to play using the teletype - which would then print out each screen in succession. Playing a game was a long and noisy process, so someone else wrote a bit of code which got the computer to play itself on your behalf. You always lost. but your highest score was usually upwards of 150,000 or more…


Not an RPG, but in Spider-Man on the PS4, on the map screen, when the whole game is open (maybe before?) if you select the northernmost section of the map,and scroll to the bottom of the ‘task’ list, then select one of the map sections below to either side of Central Park, the task list ends up with duplicate tasks, as the northernmost one has 1 or 2 more.

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