Timelines, Assessments and Test Plans: A Case for QA Planning – Part 1

QA Planning Simplified

QA Planning during game development is a meticulous process that requires putting together the work of multiple departments and can be tedious at best, and a literal nightmare at worst. What’s more, once you’re nearing a testable build, there are many hurdles and blind spots concerning Quality Assurance that can prove very costly for the ill-prepared who want to make a timeline. 

A surefire way to get a solid overview of testing risks and to plan contingencies is to conduct a QA assessment with an experienced tester(s). When it comes to QA, it’s rarely too early to get involved! An experienced team will easily identify future problematic test areas, and this will allow thorough planning with minimal blind spots and unforeseen expenses. 

So in the spirit of saving some budget (and a few grey hairs), as well as alleviating some mental bandwidth for your QA planning, our team sat down to discuss some great practices when it comes to planning your QA so that you can take a few lines from our book to save some money in yours! Let’s explore how to effectively plan your QA, step by step. 

From your first assessment to planning your QA Blueprint and contending with the multiple facets of testing in the most efficient way possible, this is a guide on strategic and mindful planning! 

The Testing Trinity: QA Assessment, Testing Timeline, and Test Plan

Before delving into the intricacies of QA tests, it’s crucial to craft a comprehensive planning assessment. This serves as your roadmap, guiding the development team through a structured and efficient testing process. 

QA Assessment 

Start by putting together a list of your game’s components, as well as a desired timeline of QA milestones, and transmit this information to someone who will be in charge of assessing their current state and risks of impacting your testing timeline. This is normally done by playing a testable build, taking note of key elements that will be factored into your timeline such as their current state. 

Often done by a QA lead or senior tester, this process involves sifting through your game’s components and evaluating their overall state and likelihood of causing unforeseen expenses. You’re given a detailed report after a playthrough (partial or full) on their state, and overall risk factors for budget consumption. This small step will save much money and toil in the long run, especially when working with smaller development teams where unforeseen events jeopardize your timeline that much more. A QA assessment will also allow for solid Testing Timeline planning, allowing you to plan your budget with a contingency for every facet tested. It’s also a perfect time to put that Game Design Doc to good use and to ensure it’s well-written! 

QA Testing Timeline 

While that’s underway, start crafting your testing timeline, staying mindful of possible synergies between areas of testing. On top of that, have backup plans. Always have backup plans. Plan A often doesn’t work, and so having multiple fallback plans will ensure everything is accounted for. Delays are all too common in QA, and this is one of the most important practices to incorporate in your planning. Expect the unexpected! 

On top of contingency plans, factor in delays in certification submission. You never know what types of bugs an efficient QA team will find, so planning a few weeks between tests and certification will allow for some much-needed bug fixing and regression testing. 

QA Test Plan 

Once that’s done, it’s time to start fashioning your test plan! If you don’t have one at hand, any QA partner worth their salt should have ample resources to facilitate this (such as generic test cases), as onboarding generally allows for some Test Case creation. If you have some project-specific cases and a Game Design Document (if you don’t have one, it’s high noon to get it done) on hand, it will save that much more time. We’re not going to delve into the intricacies of Test Case creation as it warrants an article (or more) on its own. 

Putting it all Together 

So you have your assessment on hand, a solid timeline with contingencies, and a thorough test plan, it’s time to get things underway! For part 2, we’ll have a rundown of a few important components of game design, and how to efficiently plan tests for each. We’ll discuss possible synergies (this will come in handy for fallback plans) and will provide rough time estimates for some of them. This will be an overview mind you, but you’ll be able to get a solid start regardless.  

See you in two weeks for part 2! 

Contact | Huwiz

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