Game news The end of bugs in video games? Microsoft wants to avoid the cases of Cyberpunk 2077 and Dying Light 2
No Man’s Sky, Fallout 76, Anthem, recent video game history is full of pages listing jobs released in unsatisfactory conditions. Bruised, even cracked, they are smashed a little more on social networks with large reinforcements of murderous video clips posted by annoyed shoppers. While the gears of the video game industry sometimes appear to be tightening, many safeguards are still in place to avoid industrial disasters. On the part of developers, publishers and producers, the hunt for bugs and miscellaneous problems is essential. Contrary to popular belief, the verification procedures are numerous. From the alpha to the post-release patch, let’s go back to the steps that normally ensure the smooth development of our games.
Bugs tracked by professionals
With titles like Fallout 76, Anthem, Cyberpunk 2077 or Dying Light 2: Stay Human, recent video game history has put the spotlight on projects that deserved more time – or experience – to get out in acceptable conditions. If they are the misfortune of players sometimes forced to wait for a patch to continue their game, they inspire the joy of content creators who expose them on social networks, hilarity in general. Despite the multiple safeguards put in place, the video game industry often gives the impression that its gears are running.. On the part of producers, publishers and developers, hunting for bugs and various technical problems is crucial. No actor wants to be the cause of an industrial disaster that will be mocked around the world for a cracked code.
In the world of video games, however, the verification procedures are numerous. Furthermore milestones frequent, we count the indestructible TRC, for “Checklist of technical requirements“. This mandatory submission lasts an important week and is used to bring to light strictly technical malfunctions related to the stability of the product during specific events ranging from prolonged pause to profile management. It also ensures that the Trophies / Achievements are unlocked or that the texts are displayed without errors in the different selectable languages. However, this certification is not there to track down bugs that would ruin the gaming experience. This task is instead entrusted to the QA testers, who, throughout the production phase of a title, take care of detecting what is not working and alerting the developers able to correct the problems. encountered during the assignment of said bugs. The Playtesters, for their part, aim to raise awareness of game design errors such as too many enemies, eccentric rules, difficult to read levels or poorly positioned checkpoints.
Artificial intelligence to the rescue
Despite all the procedures put in place by publishers, big games continue to suffer releases disturbed by more or less significant technical problems. The day one patch, which was once just a patch, has become increasingly essential to prevent a job from breaking completely when launched. Players regularly feel betrayed, taken for beta testers forced to report bugs if they want a satisfying experience. When faced with broken apps, buyers indulge review the bombings while asking for a refund. A situation that could be avoided in the future according to Matt Booty, the boss of Microsoft Games Studios. Interviewed at PAX West 2022, he outlines his views for the next few years. “One of the biggest differences between a game and a movie is if you’re working on a movie and you’re told: “let’s edit this ending, let’s edit this, let’s cut this scene.”, Normally does not interrupt the beginning of the film. But in a game you’re about to release, a designer might tell you “i have this little feature, i will only change the color on this thing“. And now the first 10 minutes of the game no longer work properly.
Whenever something new comes into a game, the whole game needs to be tested back and forth. Matt Booty, Director of Microsoft Game Studios
With these words, the gentlemanGamesMicrosoft points out that it is easy for a designer to interrupt a game by modifying a feature or simply wanting to fix another malfunction. Midway’s former world vice president goes further. “There is a lot going on with artificial intelligence (artificial intelligence) and machine learning (machine learning) right now.“explains Matt Booty. He continues:”what I always say when I come across people with artificial intelligence is: “help me understand how to use an artificial intelligence to test a game“.
I wish I could run 10,000 instances of a game in the cloud. So there would be 10,000 copies of the game running, with an AI spending all night testing the game and sending a report in the morning. It would be a transformation. Matt Booty, Director of Microsoft Game Studios
Although some players have mistaken the manager’s words for science fiction, it must be acknowledged that machine learning has made great progress in recent years. Additionally, on August 6, 2022, Lucas Pop explained having used original testing processes in this direction for his Papers Please game. He used a debug function to one day load, stamp documents, shoot attackers to make sure there were no memory leaks. ‘The creator added that this system has been improved on the occasion of the porting of his famous software to mobile devices thanks to a real “virtual player ” ”. The script was thus able to play up to the 20 endings of the game starting from the title screen, win all the coins or even play a few minutes in Endless mode.
Creating this system required at least a good month of initial work and a fair amount of maintenance. It’s been a long time, honestly, but developing and using it has allowed me to find and fix countless bugs in the game. Lucas Pope, creator of Papers Please, Return of the Obra Dinn
It remains to be seen to what extent artificial intelligence will be able to help studios improve complex games set in gigantic open worlds and whether this evolution will really ease the workload of QA testers … or replace them, at term.