Google Play Guidelines

Last week I’ve read an article by Dominik Gotojuch from Robot Gentleman. He described the struggle with their game’s clones appearing on Google Play. The whole text is available on Gamasutra, here. If you’re a dev publishing on Google Play or App Store I sincerely recommend you read it.

 

In short: some clones of 60 seconds! were released on GP while the original game is not yet available for Android. Clones used some of original graphics from iOS version, charged users for downloading and then crashed at start. The problem was that Robot Gentleman tried to contact Google in order to remove clones, but reaching the company needed a lot of work and took waaaaay too much time. And to be honest, that is what surprised me the most.

 

OK, so since I don’t earn any money from any game published on Google Play, how this concerns me, a tester?

 

Well, as a professional tester I’m obliged to acknowledge the existence of Google Play Guidelines.

Google, as well as Apple and actually any other distribution platform provider, has established a set of rules that any developer wanting to publish an app has to respect. There are a lot of them, but for the purpose of this text let’s focus on the part called Core App Quality, which you can find here. Well, maybe let’s even omit the things like back button functionality or supporting landscape/portrait mode. Let’s focus on the fundamental basics: NO CRASHES!

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Yes, I know, I could write about copyrights and other more complex stuff, but that’s not the point of the article. I really need to write about those crashes!

Because if the app crashes at launch it’s worth nothing. You don’t need the guidelines to know that. You don’t need to be a developer to know that.

 

But as a tester I’ve spent countless hours testing the rest of those guidelines to make sure the game I was working on won’t be rejected. I’ve created numerous checklists basing on those guidelines. And all those double checks just before sending the build to Google…

Now I have another proof that it was actually worth nothing, as Google lets clone apps that crash at start earn money via their platform. And then if you spot such game it takes ages to contact Google and prove the ‘game’ should not be there.

 

So tell me, Google, why should we even bother by the rules you made but do not take any effort to follow them yourself? Checking if the application won’t crash at start takes as much time as to download it and tap the damn icon! Of course, my QA-concience would not let me pass a crashing application, but what about those developers who don’t care about quality assurance? Can they publish a buggy, crashing app on Google Play? Well, apparently that’s not a problem…

 

Yes, I know that it’s nothing new, such situations happened before and on other platforms too, but I just took this opportunity to, again. whine about not treating game testing seriously. Help testers by reporting shitty-quality apps!

Oh, and by the way, Robots are still fighting the system and 60 seconds! is still not available on Android, so don’t download the clones. Instead, follow them on Facebook or Twitter to be up to date with Android launch or just play the game on Steam or iOS.

Accessibility Game Jam part 2

Oh, what a jam that was!

I’m still overwhelmed by all that happened in those 2 days! We’ve learned so much, we faced so many new problems and, what the most important, gained a whole different view on many gamers problems. We had the opportunity to talk with gamers with disabilities and there even were such gamers among jammers.

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This is us learning some important stuff (photo thanks to PGG)

Around 15 games were made and presented. Usually game jams are just creativity boosters, but this time it was more challenging. The theme was ‘let’s change the game rules’ which actually made it even harder, because creating a game that can be played by people with different disabilities is hard enough and we also had to remember about the theme.

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I was surprised by lack of VR games, but it was due to the lack of VR devices, so we couldn’t actually skip this issue. But a lot of games that use eye-tracking were made thanks to the devices provided by sponsors: Tobii and TheEyeTribe. There also was a game that used buttons as a controller, which was pretty awesome as you need only one finger to operate it. And one team made their own controller which also was really easy to use by everyone since it can track any movement (palm, foot, any object).

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There were some games that focused on using colors to attract players, some that used sound directions on even a text game controlled by voice. At least 2 games were educational games for kids, and one of them helped kids to adjust the situation when they have to be in the hospital for some reason. Most of the games were very simple (still, it was a game jam) but some of them enabled various different difficulty levels.

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The theme was very serious, but after all it still was game jam, so we had to have fun and do some stupid things too ;)

I would like to thank PGG for this amazing idea. Make more of such jams and spread awareness. I know, all jammers will now think different about their games. I know I will have a bit different testing approach from now on.

Also big thanks for all the people who cheered for us, gave ideas, sent some materials and inspirations during this jam. That was really helpfull!

Most of the games you can find here (not all of them for some unfortunate reason). I hope some of those projects will be further developed and will change the game rules for some people. Thanks for everyone who tried to change the world a bit with us this weekend. You are the real MVPs!

 

Accessibility Game Jam part 1

I’ve totally neglected the site, so it’s high time to change the attitude. Let’s roll with some news!

I’m currently in Poznan (Poland) taking part in Accessibility Game Jam hosted by Poznanska Gildia Graczy (Poznan Gamers Guild). We started few hours ago with a set of talks about the problems people with different disabilities have to face while playing games. Speakers provided us with extreme amount of knowledge. We use different technologies like VR or eye trackers to make games, but now we also know how to use them to help everyone have some fun gaming experience. We received a set of guidelines to help us make games accessible for everyone and now we are thinking how to make use of it.

I find the topic quite difficult, really challenging and super interesting. We usually don’t think about players who can use only one hand, who are autistic or colorblind, but the talks opened our eyes and I can hear hundreds of innovating ideas all around right now!

What new can I learn from this that I could use in QA? That’s a challenge for me too, but I have a plan! Without contact lenses I’m like half-blind, so we will use this for testing games for people who have trouble with their sight and probably some VR projects. Also I can try using earplugs for testing games for people with hearing problems. That’s my ideas for now, I’ll probably figure something out to be more helpful. Also, I’ve gain so much new knowledge that I can use in later projects and I’ll for sure remember about accessibility in games from now on.

I’m off to learn more. I’ll let you know how it ends, but I know we’re gonna make some awesome stuff here! Maybe you have some ideas we could use?

 

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You do your job, we will ignore it

Today is Tester’s Day! So today’s article will be about tester’s struggles.

Every time some important production is launched and it turns out to be a huge fail because of the huge amount of bugs and UI issues (latest example: No Man’s Sky)the first question that comes to my mind is ‘do they even have a QA department’? And that question appears even though I’m a tester. Of course, the next thought is that they just have a shitty producer because even a junior tester or even an intern would be able to find such obvious issues, so it had to be the producer who decided on not fixing them. But that thought appears only because I work in game dev for so many years now. I know exactly how it works.

Yesterday a big publisher sent me an e-mail saying ‘you found bugs that were already found by our testers’. Well, ok, those bugs were so obvious that I can’t imagine noone reported them earlier. But the bigger issue here that the game is already in stores! So I, and their testers reported those issues and nobody cared to fix them? They are really majors! Then I went further and started to read comments on Google Play. Players were complaining and giving the game bad scores and reviews because of the same bugs! Publisher learnt nothing out of it.

So that is basically the way the industry treats testers. Just do your job and we will ignore it. But we do have a QA team! Then, when the game is out, players look into the credits and see your name in QA section. And you’re ashamed because you know the game should be bugless, because the producer decided to ‘waive’ the issues you have found. Players will always think that it’s testers fault. Often even your boss will think the same. Testers are always to blame.

But then, all we can do is to do our job the best we can. Another tester will never think you’re no good because you’re in the credits of a shitty game. We know how it works. So now I’m on a quest to explain this to the game industry. To show that testers should be valued and respected part of the game development. I have no idea how to do this yet, but I’ll figure it out. I’m opened to all suggestions, though 😉

Anyway, since it’s Tester’s Day, I wish all software and game testers a lot of patience, respect from your employers and no crunch! And it’s Friday, so just grab a beer and chill 😉

The summary of the first experiment

So the Slavic Game Jam has ended. For the last two days, I’ve been trying to regain my energy, but it’s kinda hard after a week of intense crunch. Anyway, it was worth it.

The experiment turned up better than I expected. Being a tester during the game jam can work out. At the very beginning, I didn’t have much to do, so I was just talking to some people, listening to their ideas and sharing mine. But as soon as some games started to by playable I started my work.

I found some major bugs in few games, so I was able to help the teams not to screw up during presentations. But actually, more teams wanted me to just play their games and give some feedback using my experience. That’s not the main point of my job, but during a game jam you don’t have much time to fix bugs, so I focused on the feedback. And this was a pretty good decision. A lot of my comments and advices were actually used to upgrade the games.

To sum up, that was an awesome idea and amazing experience. I’m looking forward to some other game jams I can take part in. I will also try to convince other testers to attend this kind of event, because there’s always something to do, even if you’re not making your own game.

I want to thank the organizers and all of the participants for this opportunity and experience. You’ve done an amazing job, be proud of yourselves! love you all! <3

 

Now, off we go to Innogames Jam in Cologne! \o/

What am I doing at Slavic Game Jam?

I’ve discovered the awesomeness of game jams pretty late, probably because I’ve never even thought about making a game on my own. A few months ago the company I was working for sent me to Pyrkon (fantasy convention in Poznan, Poland) where I was supposed to be one of the judges at the first game jam made during this event. And that was the moment I felt in love with it!

 

The magic of game jams lays in people. 24/36/48 hours of constant integration with people who are super friendly, super creative, more or less talented, but super positive! Working together, eating together, sleeping together, getting involved in all kinds of crazy shenanigans together. It actually feels like a giant slumber party!

 

So now I am at Slavic Game Jam in Warsaw. There are around 300 people making games here. So what did I come here for? No, I’m not a judge this time. And I still didn’t learn how to make games. I do, what I do every day. I test games.

 

I’m almost sure that I’m the only professional tester who came here to test games, not to make them. I decided that I will test any game being done around here if anyone wants it. Since it’s only been 6 hours I don’t have much to do, but I managed to check what Threef has done so far. One bug, but 100% repro, and he’s already fixing this, so I guess it can be helpful to have a tester around, even during game jam.

 

Slavic is kind of an experiment for me. If it works out I’ll be doing this more often for sure. I’ll let you know how it went later, but I’ll also be posting updates to facebook and twitter so stay tuned 😉

If you’re at Slavic feel free to find me and give me your work to test. I’m in room 3.12.

 

My first jam was a life changer for me. I was there when I started creating the idea of Rudy Dziobak. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, who had, and still have, a huge impact on my life. Today I’m here with some of them and many more awesome humans, so I’m sure it’s gonna be even better! 🙂

 

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So many awesome people in one pic

Photo by: Sos

Why your friends are not testers?

Made a game and gave it to your friends or family to review? Awesome! They will tell you what they like in your game and what not. They will surely tell you if your game sucks or if it makes their life better.

Of course all this depends on peoples’ characters. For instance, if your mom is typical MOM, she will tell you that you’re brilliant, cos you made a real game all by yourself. She has no knowledge about any video games, but she loves it. Moms are usually the best at cheering, and even though it’s super nice to listen to the compliments, we can’t relay on such opinion.

Showing the game to your partner is also risky. If your relationship is still fresh the feedback will be all positive. Also some of your friends may not want to hurt your feelings, or may say the game is cool just to encourage you. Some people may be jealous and say your game is shit just hoping you’ll leave it. Every person is different, so you must be carefull who you ask for the opinion.

But playing a game and giving an opinion is not testing. It won’t show you where you made a mistake. It won’t find you holes in logic or physics of your game. Your friends can find some obvious bugs like crash at start or corrupted graphics, but those are the things you can easily find yourself.

Your friends will play the game the way it should be played. You say: go there and murder little baby panda, they’ll do it even though they don’t like it. If you say that little baby pandas must be murdered, bacause that’s what your game is about, they will play it without thinking why there are so many little baby pandas driving taxis on the streets of Sao Paulo. In your universe you can do whatever you want, but I saw a game in which Cuba was labeled as Hawaii. Seriously, it’ NOT a feature! Don’t fool yourself!

Only a person with any exp in testing will check if the little baby pandas driving taxis can drive through the river, order a Happy Meal at McDrive without driving into the reastaurant and killing everyone inside or if the cars’ plates are actually brazilian, not mongolian. A tester is not a person who tells you if your game is cool or not. He can, but it’s not the main part of his job.

If you want your game tested, find a person who will be able to list all your mistakes. Who will break your game into pieces and try to save all the pandas instead of murdering them. Who will try to go left instead right. Who won’t play it just to win but try to find all the possibilities to play it the other way. In the end you will have more work to do but it’s worth it. Trust me, I know how to save little pandas!

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