In the latest in a series of interviews with speakers from this August's GDC Europe, David Press, technical director at EVE Online
developer CCP Games, discusses the importance of automated testing in
MMOs, and why implementing such a system became a "now-or-never
decision" for the company.
Before joining CCP, Press worked at EA Chicago as a graphics programmer on Def Jam: ICON
and an unreleased fighting title. In 2007, he left for Atlanta, Georgia
to work at CCP as a graphics programmer, and then moved on to become a
systems programmer, and later a technical director.
In anticipation of his GDC Europe talk, "Orchestrator: A Postmortem on an Automated MMO Testing Framework,"
Press explains the various game elements an automated testing system
should or should not test, and how CCP implemented such a system for its
World of Darkness MMO.
What are some of the advantages of automated MMO testing?
Most MMOs are very large projects with numerous interacting game
systems, and it is simply infeasible to have manual testers constantly
testing every nook and cranny of the game. Automated tests allow
developers to get wide test coverage before they even check in their
changes and they can be run on a changelist-by-changelist basis so that
narrowing down bugs is trivial.
At what point did CCP realize that automated testing was necessary? What were the driving actors behind the decision?
For the World of Darkness project, we started unit testing
within the first year of active development, and system testing came in
during the next year. We knew that it is nigh impossible to bolt
automated testing onto code that wasn't written with it in mind, so it
was a now-or-never decision.