The best specialists are those that I myself have prepared: a course on testing games from the experts of Mail.Ru Group
In September, a new educational project of the Mail.Ru Group “Igrosfera Voronezh” was launched on the basis of the Voronezh State University . Two semester courses were opened for students in the format of free additional education: “Developing games on Unity” and “Testing game projects”.
Roman Gurov, a teacher at Igrosfera and a QA director at Allods, talks about a game testing course: how to choose a format, where to find motivated students, and how to grow future specialists from them.
Purpose: to find testers interns
Mail.Ru Group has been testing game projects in Voronezh for over a decade - Warface, Allods Online, Hawk, SkyForge and others. With the number of projects, the need for qualified personnel is increasing: about 70 people are currently involved in testing 12 projects. All projects are high budget mass games that collect more than a million registered users per week. Work on them requires deep knowledge and understanding of the game processes, so the need for specialists exists all the time.
In the Voronezh branch of Mail.Ru Group there is a clear idea of what an ideal candidate should be:
- excellent technical skills
- logical base
- attentive to the details,
- with a good understanding of the gaming market,
- with gaming experience.
There are few suitable specialists in the Voronezh labor market, promising young people from universities are being led away by other Voronezh IT companies. Therefore, it was decided to train specialists for themselves: to develop courses on the model of existing educational projects of the Mail.Ru Group . The company cooperates with five leading universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg ( Technopark in Moscow State Technical University na N. E. Bauman, Technosphere at Moscow State University, Technotrek at MIPT, Technoatom at MEPI and Technopolis at SPbPU) and prepares specialists based on their needs. Educational and trainee programs have been implemented for 7 years, and about 150 new interns annually enter various projects of the company.
Solution: start an educational testing course
Voronezh State University was chosen as the basis for launching the course - the largest university of the Black Soil Region, which this year marks its 100th anniversary. About 20,000 students study at VSU.
From April to June 2018, a pilot launch of a game testing course was held at VSU. It was conducted in an intensive format - a short course of 8 classes, during which students received a large amount of theory, while at the same time focusing on practical development.
Intensive consisted of eight lectures. Teachers sought to give students as much practice as possible: using the example of real projects, they showed internal processes, analyzed work situations, told them what skills were required to solve them. The program was designed in such a way as to show the versatility of the tester profession, break the stereotype that testing games is a boring and low-paid job, and show the guys that this specialty can be not only interesting, but also profitable in terms of earnings.
Another task that was to be solved during the course was the adaptation of potential interns already in the process of learning. To do this, the teachers introduced the students to the tools and business processes adopted by the company, as well as the corporate culture of the Mail.Ru Group.
The pilot launch confirmed the effectiveness of the selection and training of trainees: of the 28 students who completed the course, 15 were invited for an interview, six took the positions of probationers and three more for other vacancies.
Pilot Course Results
The main audience of the intensive were students of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Mechanics, the Faculty of Computer Science, as well as students from other universities, mainly from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th courses. As a result of the intensive, it was decided to launch a full-fledged educational project with semester courses in the specialties "Testing game projects" and "Developing games on Unity".
"Igrosfera": selection and training
Selection to the course “Testing game projects” included questions on motivation (interest, willingness to participate in the internship), as well as questions aimed at identifying the game experience: students were asked to describe which games and how long they play, which genres they prefer, whether they have beta testing experience etc. In addition, candidates were offered a technical task: to write a script for testing DLC (additional content for games), to indicate which points need to be checked before giving back to the players.
170 applications were submitted to the course on testing game projects, and 222 were submitted to Unity course. According to the results of testing, 70 students started training: 35 students in each direction.
The course "Testing game projects" consists of 16 lectures (44 academic hours), which cover various areas of testing: console, mobile and others. In addition, there are 5 homework assignments and about 60 hours of independent work.
- Introduction to Testing
- The main testing process. Test location in the software life cycle
- Test Design Methods
- Test Management
- Basic Tester Tools
- Testing sounds in games: SFX, music, dialogs
- Support Tools
- Test automation tools
- Automation of testing processes on the example of the project "Allods Online"
- The visual component of the games
- Game engines. Features, problems
- Interface Testing Features
- Features testing console applications
- Features of testing mobile applications
- The processes of working with features on the project "Allods Online"
- Boundary control. Final test on the basics of testing
As part of the curriculum, there are not only lecture classes, but also practical seminars that involve the preparation of test cases and test plans for the material studied. For example, students study the testing of visual materials, and then on the basis of their knowledge they test ready-made templates.
Communication is not limited to lectures and practical work: there are informal chats in which teachers answer any questions and help with homework. On the project site, guys can leave their feedback on the lectures.
Screenshot of the inner part of the portal "Igrosphere"
The training started on September 20, and on September 6, the Igrosfera Open Day was held: the students met the teachers, learned about the training programs and asked questions about the project. Recording broadcast is available in the group “Igrosfera” Vkontakte .
Igrosfera: a look into the future
In such a dynamic area as the gaming industry, one cannot stand still and read the same material to the course participants year after year. Already in the next semester it is planned to increase the number of courses and lectures. The game specialization of testers was chosen based on the needs of the Mail.Ru Group at the moment, but the company is growing and the range of tasks is expanding. One of the directions of development is mobile testing. It is also planned to divide the courses, for example, separately teach testing games for the console and mobile games.
Anyway, the launch of such courses is an excellent positive experience for the company and the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills from practicing professionals for students.