Women of GlobalStep: Meet Jennifer Schelling, Vice President of Marketing

In honor of Women’s History Month, in the following weeks we will be sharing stories of some of the amazing women who work at GlobalStep. Today, we are featuring Jennifer Schelling’s story, who joined in February 2022 as Vice President of Marketing. Jennifer is currently located in New York. What follows is a Q&A edited for clarity and length.  

Why did you choose to work in the video game industry?    

I did not actively seek a job in the video game industry, but I’m absolutely thrilled to have landed at GlobalStep. My husband is an avid gamer and he knows a tremendous amount about the industry. He will frequently hear me on conference calls and slip me a note with a question I should ask or a point I should make. I love having someone to help me understand the industry better and bounce ideas off of. 

But more importantly, my stepson Ryan lived and breathed video games. He would play games on the ride to school each morning – and then race home after school to continue playing. Homework and dinner were an inconvenience to him as they took time away from gaming each evening. Sadly, my stepson passed away suddenly in October 2020. When I was offered this job, there was no question that I would take it. I consider it a tribute to Ryan. A way for me to embrace and immerse myself in an industry that was so incredibly important to him. And I’m honored to do so. 

What is your background (in gaming, or elsewhere)? 

I spent 21 years with Cognizant in various roles within marketing. I have a passion for events and spent many years planning, organizing, and executing their largest annual C-level event, which drew 500+ attendees. My last role with Cognizant was managing Diversity & Inclusion marketing, which is a role you don’t see often. However, due to my extended time there, I was excited to share Cognizant’s story about our growth, the employee resource groups we established, and ensure that we recognized the many holidays around the world that celebrate diversity.   

Do you play video games? If yes, what are some of your favorite games? 

I grew up with two brothers playing games that were popular in the 1980s. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario Brothers were some of my favorites, but I never considered myself an active gamer. Now, with a full-time job and a family, I don’t make the time for playing games like I did in my teens. I’m currently obsessed with Wordle and Quordle, but I don’t think true gamers would consider those video games! 

Do you have a preference between PC, mobile, and other consoles? 

Any games I play are played on my mobile device. I play Wordle and Quordle first thing each morning and may play another game or two before bed. Most of the games I play involve words: word finds, word scrambles, crossword puzzles, etc.   

If you had to recommend other women to get into gaming, what would your advice be? 

The games industry tends to be male dominated. My advice to women would be not to be intimidated. One of my key takeaways through my work with diversity and inclusion is that women need to use their voice more. We have a different perspective than our male counterparts, and it’s important that the industry incorporate the thoughts and opinions of all genders. To the women interested in working in gaming: be confident, use your voice, and own your opinion.   

Who inspires you in life? 

That’s a tough one.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have so many amazing people in my life. My teenage girls (ages 18 and 16) inspire me with their energy and determination. They are both three-sport athletes. My older daughter is a college freshman who was recruited to play lacrosse. My younger daughter is a high school junior who was recruited to play lacrosse in the fall of 2023. Their diligence and determination on and off the field inspire me tremendously. 

My husband is also a true inspiration. When you have someone in your life who loves you unconditionally and who supports you every step of the way – no questions asked – it makes you want to be a better person. Through triumph and tragedy, he has shown me the meaning of family, love, and strength.   

Can you tell me about your role specifically? 

I studied marketing in college and have never deviated from marketing in my career. I enjoy marketing because there are so many facets to it. The events aspect of marketing has always been my passion, but I also enjoy all of the other facets: content creation, website design, social media, videos and podcasts, etc. Marketing is all about understanding the wants and needs of the consumer – and I very much enjoy learning how people think, understanding why they choose one product over another – and then creating a compelling experience that resonates with them. It’s incredibly important to love what you do – and I absolutely do. 

This piece is part of a series of interviews GlobalStep is conducting to showcase the talent and expertise of the wonderful women working at our organization. 

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Women of GlobalStep: Meet Elaine Soares, Director of HR in Montreal

In honor of Women’s History Month, in the following weeks we will be sharing stories of some of the amazing women who work at GlobalStep. Today, we are featuring Elaine Soares’ story, who joined in January 2022 as the Director of Human Resources in Montreal, Canada. What follows is a Q&A edited for clarity and length. 

  1. Why did you choose to work in the video game industry?

Actually, it’s the first time for me working in the gaming industry. I have a lot of experience in the IT industry, in Services and Digital Marketing. It’s a very entertaining and fast-paced industry. Through my previous work, I had several contacts and opportunities to collaborate with the gaming industry, which is very strong in Montreal. We worked with some very talented people. My previous director was a former employee at GlobalStep, so when she knew that they were looking for someone, she introduced us. And I think that more than the gaming aspect, it was the approach at GlobalStep that drew me in.

  • Can you tell me more about your background?

My background is not in gaming, though I really enjoy this industry and find it very dynamic.

Today, I’m in charge of HR in Montreal. My background is in psychology. I have an MBA in HR and I have been working in HR for the last 20 years.

  • Do you play any video games?

Truth be told, I don’t. But I do have a big gamer at home: he loves hockey! He just loves playing hockey on the PlayStation.

  • What would your advice be for women entering the video game industry?

I think that in order to enjoy working in this industry, you have to enjoy working in a very fast-speed environment. And, in an environment that requires a lot of confidentiality. It’s interesting, because while we’re working and collaborating with very big brands and hugely known franchises operating worldwide, we cannot publish that.

I think this is the perfect place for technical women who enjoy working in places where they feel comfortable preparing and organizing things ahead of time. If you want to be ahead of what’s going on, this is the place for you. For many employees, this is part of the motivation behind their work. When we are set to release something on the market in six months, many of our employees have already tested and are familiar with the game or product. It’s a very dynamic and exciting environment, and it’s very diverse, which is super interesting. In this industry, you have the opportunity to work with leading gaming industries worldwide, but you have to be conscious of confidentiality.

  • Who inspires you in life?

I could go for the big names, celebrities that I resonate with and relate to. But I’d rather talk about someone I am very close to, my father. I got my values from his example in life. He taught me so much. I also had some amazing bosses and colleagues I worked with, and they became amazing coaches and mentors, leading by example. On a personal level, my father taught me a lot, and on a professional level, I had two former HR executives, who were incredibly knowledgeable but also so very humble. They are now my friends, and part of my personal life. They were my bosses, and now, we are friends. We give each other advice and support each other. Today, I see them at global conferences, and it feels surreal that they used to be my bosses and managers.

  • What would you tell women who would like to explore a role or industry that is traditionally male dominated, like gaming?

Do not feel intimidated. It can be intimidating, stepping into an industry where the majority of employees are male. Don’t be intimidated. Forget everything that anyone might have told you. You are capable the same way as anyone else. So just go for it. And do not listen to the people who try to demotivate you.

  • Why did you choose your role, specifically? And what is different about HR in the gaming industry versus the industries you were working in before?

I think that the most important thing is to understand what’s important in this industry and which elements you should become more familiar with in order to be successful.

For me, I keep asking what do I specifically need to understand in gaming?  What is the best business acumen that I have to acquire in order to succeed with my expertise? If I do not understand the needs of my business partners, and if I cannot understand when a client has a last-minute request that arrives in my department, it’s just a cascade effect if it’s not handled properly.

I want to be able to adapt myself, my deliveries, my team, in order to respond to my business partners’ needs, and automatically, indirectly, we want to respond to our clients’ needs. Right now, we are talking about gaming, but before I worked for four years in a digital marketing industry, and I remember while being there, I knocked at the Deputy Director’s door, and asked to tell me about our industry. What do we do? What’s our challenges and who are our competitors? You know, just to contextualize our case. So that’s what’s important for us here.

I think that that’s the tip, bring the questions, knock on the technical doors and ask them. They are so generous, they love what they do. The same way that it is a pleasure for me to talk about HR, it is a pleasure for them to talk about gaming. Our deliveries, what we need, our challenges. The key, I think, is to bring the questions.

This piece is part of a series of interviews GlobalStep is conducting to showcase the talent and expertise of the wonderful women working at our organization. 

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NFTs, Blockchain, and the Future of Gaming

Breeding digital cats can earn their owners thousands of dollars? Gamers can earn a living buying, battling, and spawning digital monsters? By combining gaming, NFTs, and the blockchain, this reality is very much true. 

Cryptokitties and Axie Infinity are just two examples of how NFTs and blockchain are changing the world of gaming as we speak.  

However, it is still early dawn for these emerging technologies. Today, we’ll be diving deep into this topic and how NFTs and blockchain have massive implications for the gaming industry by enabling true digital ownership over virtual property.  

First off, let’s answer some questions you might have. 

What Is Blockchain?  

Also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), a blockchain is essentially a record that anyone can add to, nobody can change, and that isn’t controlled by any person or entity.  

The fundamental concept of blockchain is a ledger with multiple digital copies spread out over multiple locations. These locations are called nodes, which often refer to individual computers with copies of the ledger. 

This is why blockchain is decentralized: no one person or entity has control over the information kept in the record. The information is instead distributed among the many nodes making up the network. 

Blockchain also helps to track assets easily. An asset can be either tangible or intangible: in the former case, we’re talking about anything like a house, a car, or cash. In the latter case, we’re talking about intellectual property, copyrights, etc.  

What makes blockchain unique is that virtually anything can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network, which reduces risk and cuts costs for everyone involved. 

“The whole point of using a blockchain is to let people — in particular, people who don’t trust one another — share valuable data in a secure, tamperproof way.” 

— MIT Technology Review 

What Are NFTs? 

While most digital tokens are fungible (every token is the same as every other token), non-fungible tokens are all unique. Think of them like rare, one-of-a-kind collectibles. NFTs can be traded across different blockchain protocols and between users themselves. NFT transactions can be programmed onto both traditional blockchains (e.g. Ethereum) and NFT-specific blockchains (e.g. ERC721).  

The NFT standard is the way blockchain-based assets are represented digitally — therefore, NFTs can be used for anything that can be digitally represented (e.g. digital art, music, video game character skins, in-game assets such as weapons and equipment). NFT game items give gamers ownership over their virtual goods and allow them to trade freely via NFT marketplaces on blockchain protocols.  

What Role are NFTs Play in the Gaming Industry? 

CryptoKitties, first released in November 2017, was one of the earliest blockchain gaming applications released out into the wild. It allowed users to breed and collect digital cats, each with their own unique NFT identifiers known as cattributes. Each cat had different cattributes based on its genetics (e.g., eye colour and fur length). CryptoKitties peaked at nearly $12 million dollars traded within its first month of release.  

Another early example of blockchain gaming is Spells of Genesis, which is an NFT-powered trading card game that was built using the blockchain platform developed by EverdreamSoft called BitCrystals. The mission behind SoG was to merge NTF technology with existing gaming mediums such as trading cards and role-playing games, forming one cohesive gaming system. NFTs, in this instance, are used to enhance the game itself by allowing players to make purchases with their NFT cards within the game (rather than using fiat currencies).  

As NFT adoption has grown among game developers, gamers have started to see NFT trading implemented directly into their favorite games. NFT-based projects that allow gamers to use NFTs to provide new avenues for gaming experiences have already been developed, such as blockchain-based player-vs.-player battles and NFT-storefronts where players can purchase NFTs from other gamers.  

One of these games is Thetan Arena. This is a blockchain-based game that allows users to battle each other for control of the Thetan blockchain. Players can use NFTs to represent their troops, and the victor of each battle will take over the NFTs of the defeated player. 

Moreover, NFTs can also be used to purchase in-game items and upgrades. Thetan Arena officially launched in November 2021. In the first seven days, it accumulated a total of 3 million registered users and has since achieved #1 on App Store in 11 countries with over 6 million registered users. 

However, it’s not just indie developers who are powering this new wave of games. More established video game developers are increasingly seeking to implement NFTs into their games. Game developer giant Ubisoft, for example, has been at the forefront of NFT adoption in the gaming industry. In addition to their “digits” NFT, they have also released a blockchain-based gaming ecosystem called “Quartz”.  

Quartz allows users to interact with each other and purchase in-game items from each other. NFT trading is growing in popularity among gamers as more NFT gaming applications emerge into the market. This includes non-fungible assets from “World of Warcraft,” “Diablo 3,” “Overwatch” and various popular video game skins traded using NFT protocols such as OpenSea and Rarebits. 

The Environmental Impact of Blockchain Technology 

A blockchain is maintained by a network of computers that uses a proof-of-work (POW) consensus algorithm to verify transactions. The POW algorithm requires a large amount of energy to operate, which has led to concerns about the environmental impact of blockchain technology.  

Several alternative consensus algorithms have been proposed in order to address these concerns.  

For reference, a consensus algorithm is a procedure through which all the peers of the Blockchain network reach a common agreement about the present state of the distributed ledger. In this way, consensus algorithms achieve reliability in the Blockchain network and establish trust between unknown peers in a distributed computing environment. Essentially, the consensus protocol makes sure that every new block that is added to the Blockchain is the one and only version of the truth that is agreed upon by all the nodes in the Blockchain. 

One such algorithm is Proof-of-Stake (POS). With POS, holders of the cryptocurrency can participate in the validation of transactions on the network. This greatly reduces the energy requirements needed to support a blockchain network. To address the concerns around energy requirements, Ubisoft is using the Tezos blockchain, which uses the POS algorithm, as part of their NFT implementation.  

The future of Blockchain Gaming 

The future of blockchain gaming is full of NFTs. Game studios no longer have full control over what gamers do with purchased in-game assets, meaning new gameplay features will have to be created to keep players engaged and increase NFT activity. NFTs will give gamers a way to sell, trade, and buy digital items in a decentralised manner — something games could never do before NFTs.  

NFTs allow users to create their own gaming content and sell it on NFT marketplaces by encoding NFT-specific rules into the actual asset itself (instead of relying on hidden rules within a centralised gaming application). NFTs are key to blockchain gaming becoming an industry standard in the future. 

In the future, NFTs might even be used to represent tokens in games themselves — turning a unique NFT into a rare item or unique perk, which could either give a boost or make a challenge more difficult within a game. This could lower development costs while increasing loyalty among gamers who own the same NFT.  

Additionally, NFTs may also implement onto physical gaming accessories (e.g. cards) that will transfer into the digital realm through integration with NFT-specific blockchain protocols. 

NFT-powered gaming has been causing a huge shift in not just how gamers interact with each other but also how they’re able to participate in the gaming world. NFT technology is opening up new methods of financial payment that will empower both gamers and developers for years to come.  

With all this potential, NFTs hold tremendous opportunity to enhance the gaming experience both fundamentally and aesthetically — at least for those who embrace NFT technology within gaming! 

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What is Mobile Gaming Level Design?

The art of level design has always been crucial to a game’s success. In mobile gaming, where both time and patience may be in short supply, it can make or break a title.  

So, if you have ever wondered about the secrets of success for mobile gaming level design, we’re here to break it down for you. 

When it comes to the success of a mobile game, ensuring your player community doesn’t run out of levels to play is critical. When a player is hooked on your game but there are no more levels to play, retention and monetization will take a hit. This is why level design is such a crucial part of a game’s development and one of the biggest drivers of its success. 

Let’s look into how game-changing level design can be for the success of your mobile game. 

What Are the Different Types of Mobile Gaming Level Design? 

There are three main types of level design: procedural generation, hybrid, and handcrafted levels.  

Procedural generation is a great way to create new content that takes less time than creating manually designed levels, but it might not be very desirable by players as they will get bored quickly if the level is too repetitive or doesn’t feel unique enough compared to other games on app stores.  

Another type of mobile gaming level design is the hybrid model, where the editor generates the levels procedurally with the specials, blockers, and patterns selected and later the same levels are fine-tuned by the Level Designer manually for difficulty ramp up before publishing to live. 

Handcrafted levels, on the other hand, can take more work upfront but give you better control over how difficult each level should be for your specific player community so as not to frustrate them or bore them either, depending on their gameplay preferences and skill level. If done well with just the right level of difficulty, handcrafted levels can keep players hooked for a long time. 

Whatever strategy you decide to use when creating levels for your mobile game, balancing difficulty and fun is key to keeping players engaged for the long haul! 

Balancing Difficulty and Fun 

Unlike traditional games, level design is very often built into monetization and retention strategy of a mobile game. When creating levels, it’s crucial to find the right balance between difficulty and fun: if they’re too difficult or not enjoyable enough, players will quickly lose interest.  

You don’t want the level to be so difficult that players get frustrated and quit, but you also don’t want it to be too easy where it’s not challenging or interesting. Balancing these two factors is key to keeping players engaged in your game. 

A thoughtfully designed mobile game should contain puzzles and surprise elements to keep the players motivated, engaged and rewarded when solving them. 

Monetization Strategies: Boosters, Bonuses, and Power-Ups 

As noted, you should also consider how the level design will affect monetization strategies for your game. For example, if you are selling power-ups or other boosters in your game, make sure the level design encourages players to purchase these items from you.  

An effective strategy to encourage the purchase of boosters and power-ups is to introduce the use of a free booster in a level that cannot be completed without using it. The level in effect becomes a demo of the booster, showing the player how it works.  

This strategy increases the likelihood of a booster/power-up being purchased in the future. Conversely, creating levels that can only be completed by purchasing a booster/power-up will be seen by players as a pure money making strategy and will increase the likelihood of player attrition.   

You could also add bonus levels which are unlocked after completing the main game. These could offer a different gameplay experience altogether or provide rewards such as coins or gems that can help players progress further in the game.  

GlobalStep has been working with some of the biggest names in mobile gaming for several years, helping them to increase capacity and deliver new levels for their player community. We work closely with Game Design and UX teams to create a tight feedback loop on level creation to ensure they are high quality and achieve the right blend of fun and difficulty.   

If you are interested in speaking to one of our level design experts, reach out to us at sales@globalstep.com.  

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Top 5 Criteria for Measuring QA Team Success

Quality Assurance teams think of software developers as individuals who drink highly caffeinated beverages while conducting frantic bug hunts under tight deadlines. In reality, the truth is much different.  

QA teams work as the support backbone for the development team, and the best ones drive the quality of the product through thorough process-driven functions. The value these teams provide often goes unnoticed, but they are at the foundation for driving operational agility and meaningful customer interactions. 

So how do we measure success? Is it about how many software bugs a team reports or about the quality of those bug fixes?  

Not too long ago, the number of bugs in your database was the primary indicator of your game’s quality. As games have become more and more complex, so have the criteria to analyze and measure quality. It is also important to note that time and effort (and to be frank, cost) of testing games has risen accordingly. 

So, with all this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 data-driven criteria that any QA manager needs to know to keep their team operating at optimum velocity.  

1. Bug Acceptance Rate

This is a  great barometer to track QA team reporting. It will showcase valid bugs and reduce duplicated and invalid ones. It provides an excellent high-level overview and synopsis of how your QA team is doing. The Bug Acceptance Rate is a one-stop KPI that is open for both the QA management and the Development team to view how the bugs are being reported. It shows the QA team understands the product and the development priorities.

2. Qualitative Bugs

It is not always about the quantity of bugs; however, it is primarily about the quality (important and critical) of bugs. What percentage of bugs matches your severity criteria? How many reported bugs are there on stop-shipment issues? A great QA team will find critical issues to the usability of the product and match against development priorities. This stops the dev pipeline being clogged up with low severity issues. 

3. Task Productivity

This shows the time the QA team takes to complete the assigned tasks, such as regressions, and test cases. With good test planning, the QA team clearly understands what to do and when to do it by. This is easily trackable and can be used to hone productivity over time.

4. Task Accuracy

It is essential to complete the tasks accurately. When testers are familiar with the tasks, they tend to mark it as a pass without thoroughly checking it and mismarking them. This should not happen; a QA team should always perform such tasks diligently. A great QA team will have processes to help each other be diligent in task completion, including regular peer-review and management oversight. This extra oversight is easily trackable and provides a direct report on task accuracy. 

5. Fix Failed Bugs

This helps the development team understand how sticky their fixes are. The result is a quicker time to market for game developers and publishers. As someone once said, behind every great developer, there is a great QA team, and nothing shows this off better than a low fix-fail rate. It is the true representation of a QA and Development team working in tandem to create a great product. 

If you have any questions or wish to understand how GlobalStep can use these KPI’s to help your Development teams produce better product, get in touch with us at: sales@globalstep.com






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The What, Why and When of Usability Testing

We all know that a reduced or sub-par end-user experience will impact your bottom-line. But how can you ensure your products work as intended and can provide a high level of confidence your customers will love? 

Confidence in your digital products will remain high when you engage with Digital Assurance services, and we’d like to discuss one aspect of that: Usability Testing. 

Software development teams are often the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to make apps people will love. You don’t need to go at it alone, though. You need a partner that can provide the peace of mind you deserve. This is where GlobalStep can assist. 

Below are some key considerations for Usability Testing. Keep in mind that Usability Testing is part of any broader Digital Assurance initiative responsible for ensuring your confidence in your digital products. 

What is Usability Testing? 

Usability testing is traditionally a method of testing an app, website, game or software’s functionality and observing how users interact with the product. More specifically, it helps identify the “goals” a user will want to achieve within the product. 

Recording how users interact with a product and moving through the product to achieve the desired goals ranges from written statements to in-person observations. 

Essentially, testing will be focused on specific goals or across the entire product. Before starting the test, our team will work with you to create a clear plan to cover all aspects that need testing, and it will deliver the answers to your goals.  

This can range from looking at an onboarding process (Goal: Do our end-users enjoy a seamless and faultless on-onboarding flow?) or it could be the First Time User Experience (Question: Do our users understand how to use the product after using the product for the first time?).  

It might also mean executing an ad-hoc test across the entire product (Question: I need to know if the product works as an end-user expects it to) or providing feedback on ease of use (Question: I need to know if the end-users find the product friendly to use). 

As our usability testing uses trained professional testers, we will also pick up functionality bugs and will test against test cases to ensure the product also works as you expect it to. 

Why do you need Usability Testing? 

How do you know what experience your end-users have when they pick up your product? Best practice means you will already have analytics built into the product. Analytics does a great job of visualizing aspects like where users travel, whether they drop-off at specific points, and what areas are “sticky”, among others.  

The problem is that the data is anonymous and leaves you guessing why a user followed that path, quit the app at that point or why they spent all their time in one area. 

Usability testing will reveal those answers… and many more. 

Our usability test reports will allow you to understand why end-users took specific actions or behaved in a certain way on their journey to achieve a particular goal. Armed with that information, you can tweak, amend or even pivot the design to relieve the specific pain point. 

GlobalStep’s experience

Our Usability testers have a strong pedigree of identifying facets of the user experience leveraging expertise from testing in the Interactive Entertainment industry. Identifying areas that hamper the quality of the end-user journey is a regular feature of our testing.  

GlobalStep aims to leverage this experience for Usability Testing for apps and softwares across multiple domains. Best practices gathered through numerous engagements are also leveraged to provide excellence in usability testing. 

Usability testers can also contribute to finding functionality bugs in their testing. In fact, these functionality bugs might also be an unseen factor that you haven’t spotted in the user flow. Bugs are reported daily by our teams so you will always be able to react quickly. 

Alongside the usability testing, we can also run specific functionality test cases. Thus, besides understanding how your end-users want to operate the product, you can rest assured that it also works in a manner specified by you. 

When to use Usability Testing? 

There are quite a few times through the development cycle where usability testing is fundamental. Testing should be scheduled multiple times through the development of a product to ensure you always have a great understanding of how end-users are interacting with your product. 

Prototyping 

  • – Find early-stage issues and stop them from being baked in through early stages of product development. 
     

Feature Development

  • – As new features are developed, pass them through to the usability and functionality test team to test and ensure that they work as required. 
  • – Make sure that new features fit within any design constraints or premises. 
  • – Don’t leave testing until all the features are completed! 
     

Soft launch or just before the main release

  • – As your product gains more traction in the marketplace, it will attract more users. 
  • – Pay particular attention to FTUE and any purchasing points – these are going to get a lot more attention now! 

Post-release

  • – Gone are the days when we would release a product and let it live or die from the first release. 
  • – Regular updates to add features, fix bugs or improve the end-user experience will need validation – both from the functionality and usability perspective. 

Hopefully, this should provide some guidance on how to get started on the journey to increase your confidence in your digital products. In the meantime, if you have any questions or wish to speak with a GlobalStep QA expert, please get in touch with us. 

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8 Books Everyone in Game Development Should Read

Whether you’re a game developer or in the gaming industry, there is some essential literature you have to get your hands on if you’re interested in game development. While the online world offers countless online courses, masterclasses, and tutorial videos, these books are essential companions to get a deeper understanding of the magical process of video game creation.

We compiled a short list of the fundamental books every game developer and passionate gamer should indulge in. Whether it is for you or someone you love, any of these books would make a great investment or equally fantastic holiday gift.

The Gamer’s Brain by Celia Hodent

Written by Celia Hodent, a UX expert with a PhD in psychology who has been working in the entertainment industry for over 10 years — including at prominent companies such as Epic Games (Fortnite), Ubisoft, and LucasArts — this books revolves around the importance of User Experience for the success of a video game.

User Experience is about understanding the gamer’s brain: human abilities and limitations to anticipate how a game will be perceived, the emotions it will elicit, how players will interact with it, and how engaging the experience will be.

Designed to equip student readers as well as professionals, this book offers useful insights about cognitive science and user experience guidelines and methodologies.

The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell

This book was written to convey one simple message: you don’t need to have technological expertise to understand the fundamentals of game design.

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses shows how basic principles of psychology that work for card and board games are also key to making a top-quality video game.

At the heart of this book is the belief that magic happens when you can view your game from different views and perspectives, also called lenses.

This book gives readers one hundred of these lenses in the form of questions the reader has to ask themselves to make the game better. Anyone reading this book will get inspired to become a better game designer, understanding the art of how to do it.

No-Code Video Game Development by Michael Kelley

We all remember those times when not being able to program meant not being able to make video games. Today, if you can draw a flow-chart, you can become a game developer.

No-Code Video Game Development using Unity and Playmaker teaches you how to substitute flow-charts for code. This book comes with free resources such as Unity Packages, Playmaker Templates, Animations, Materials, and more. Readers will also learn game design documentation and theory, mecanim, UI, and Particle Systems, among others. By the end of the book, you will be equipped with all you need to design your own video game, all without code.

Programming Game AI By Example by Mat Buckland

This book is about the so-called bread and butter AI techniques used in the video game development industry. It leads the reader through the process of designing and programming a game while using the C ++ programming language. It covers techniques such as state- and goal-based behavior, individual and group steering behavior, inter-agent communication, team AI, search, path planning, scripting, fuzzy logic, and many more.

Foundations of Game Engine Development Volume 1: Mathematics and Volume 2: Rendering by Eric Lengyel

The first volume is a great book for anyone interested in the 3D programming world. It’s a relatively short book, but it manages to explain and cover everything in a very concise manner. The last chapter looks into Grassmann algebra, a subject not easy to find everywhere else. The second volume explores the subject of real-time rendering in modern game engines. It goes deep into color science, world structure, shaders, lighting, and visibility methods. The book also discusses advanced rendering techniques including volumetric effects, atmospheric shadowing, ambient occlusion, motion blur, and more. A special focus is placed on practical implementation, including code.

Mastering iOS Game Development by Miguel DeQuadros

In this book, readers will learn an easy and fun approach to game development, with step-by-step instructions of each block of code. The topics explored range from easy to advanced for a fast-paced and enticing ride.

This book was written for those who have already created an iOS game and want to hone their skills in. A good understanding of the basics would be helpful to make the most of it.

Readers can expect to learn how to create a complete game with advanced techniques thanks to in-depth, hands-on instructions, as well as how to multi-task and improve performance optimization in their game playing experience. It was written by Miguel DeQuadros, who boasts over a decade of experience in iOS game development using xcode. He has released over 10 games to the Apple AppStoreMaster player movement.

The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985-1993 by Jordan Mechner

Before becoming a best-selling video game franchise and a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, Prince of Persia was an Apple II computer game created and programmed by one individual, Jordan Mechner.

This one-of-a-kind book gives readers an insight into his precious journals, which span from the time he lived in his parents’ home to the fast-growing 1980s video game industry. He talks about his personal struggles that helped him conceive the story of the Prince of Persia, which later became one of people’s favorite games of all time, making its way into the homes of millions of people worldwide.

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6 Ways to Ensure Your Android App Won’t Be Rejected by the Google Play Store

It is indisputable that quality and functionality are the main reason for an app’s success. In today’s digital world, the average mobile user spends a quarter of their day on their mobile device. During this time, they spend 90% of the time on apps. 

When it comes to mobile apps, Android is by far the leader.  The Google Play Store boasts nearly 3.5 million functioning apps to download, making it the largest application repository in the world. Android has become increasingly meticulous and dedicated to ensuring only the highest user experience to Play Store users. In fact, roughly 55% of the total apps submitted for review never make it to the Play Store for public downloading.  

Google’s Android’s approval process for Google Play Store is something every app developer should know. This is fundamental to ensure that the money and work put into launching an app doesn’t go to waste. In this regard, Android Google makes it easy to understand why some applications don’t make the cut. Let’s dive into the top six. 

  1. 1. Bug-ridden or Unfinished Versions  

It is no secret that Google and the Android team employ some of the best engineers in the world.  Their demanding standards ensure that only the highest quality applications make it to the Play Store. Inaccurate or misleading information, as well as bugs and incomplete apps, contribute to a big percentage of the total rejections. Some of the factors that make an app complete are a built-in support link, version history, company information, and documentation. 

How to Avoid This? 

One way to ensure that your app is complete and bug-free is by investing in comprehensive testing to ensure all bugs are taken care of before submission. Underestimating small bugs can result in time-consuming resubmissions and launch delays. Carefully review Android’s Document for App Developers to ensure all the information and content in your app is tested and correct. 

  1. 2. Carefully Test and Fix – App Crashes  

App crashes are also responsible for an application’s failure to make the cut. All major application repositories have a low tolerance for app crashes. Therefore, making sure your app runs smoothly before submission is key. 

How to Avoid This?  

A great solution to this problem are repetitive testing and a practice called “regression.” An app needs to be tested in different scenarios to identify potential small bugs and crashes. This means testing your application on several devices instead of just one. Luckily, major quality assurance and testing companies have a multitude of consoles and devices in their arsenal to conduct extensive testing across platforms. 

  1. 3. Inconsistent User Experience   

Though Apple has stricter interface guidelines, Android’s shouldn’t be underestimated either. One of the reasons why some apps don’t make it to the Play Store is because of poor or inconsistent interface. It is of crucial importance that your application is tested vigorously on different platforms to ensure it is flawless and functional before submission. 

How to Avoid This?  

Ensure that you follow Android’s human interface guidelines. With Android, you’re lucky to have more freedom with interface designs, unlike Apple. However, ensuring your app follows all interface guidelines is a must.  

  1. 4. Long Loading Times

Would you spend seconds waiting for an app to load? The ideal loading time of a mobile app is just two seconds. According to VMware’s Aptiligent division, about 48 percent of consumers will delete or stop using an app if it is slow. Apps that take longer than this amount of time to load are usually pretty good candidates for rejection.  

How to Avoid This? 

One way to avoid this problem altogether is by designing apps that value simplicity and functionality at their core. As mentioned earlier, testing vigorously across platform is another way to ensure everything works and flow perfectly. Applications that perform too many functions but have glitches or take longer to load have higher chances of being rejected. 

  1. 5. Intellectual Property Infringement 

As you may guess, Google’s position on intellectual property rights makes it clear that any application impeaching on IP rights (such as trademark, patent, or copyright) will not make it on the Play Store. Similarly, impersonating a brand or existing app will also result in a ban upon submission.  

It is imperative that your app needs a fulfills a unique function or delivers a unique experience, also called unique selling proposition (USP). There are exceptions, however: if you partnered with an existing app, you can show documentation upon submission in order to be accepted on the Play Store 

  1. 6. Neglecting User Privacy  

Android wants to “build the world’s most trusted source for apps and games.” So, not valuing your users’ personal data can be a very costly mistake. Confidentiality is at the heart of the matter for major application providers. Following Android’s User Data and Privacy Policies are therefore a must for every application trying to make it on the Play Store. You should never access user information without informing the user in clear and explicit terms, as this can have harmful consequence on the submission and overall success of your app. 

How to Avoid This? 

Be as clear and upfront as possible about the permissions and information your app requires. It is always good practice to allow users to choose the data they are willing to share with you and which they aren’t. It is also best to avoid sharing and capturing personal user information without notifying the user. 

Ready for Launch 
These are just some of the reasons why apps may be rejected by the Play Store. There are many more criteria that could cause your app to be rejected, including copyright infringement, similarity to other applications, usage of private APIs, external payment gateways, and others.  

An experienced testing and Quality Assurance Services provider like GlobalStep can help you navigate successfully through Android’s guidelines as well as support you in conducting comprehensive QA and testing to ensure your application is free of bugs, maximizing your chances of approval and success in the Play Store.  

  

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GlobalStep Celebrates Opening of New Office in Bucharest, Romania

Some say that Bucharest is the best city for gaming in the world.  While that may be up to debate, it is undisputedly clear that Bucharest and other major cities in Romania have become a magnet for major game studios.  

Indeed, last year, the industry grew an impressive 19%, according to the RGDA (Romanian Game Developers Association).  

In early 2021, GlobalStep announced its expansion in Bucharest. And, last week, due to growing client demand, GlobalStep celebrated the opening of a new office of in downtown Bucharest.  

Why Bucharest?  

Bustling with a strong gaming culture and a rich esporting scene, Bucharest has developed a vast ecosystem of developers and publishers supporting all aspects of the game development lifecycle. 

Some key factors have contributed to this:  

English Speaking Technical Talent.  The labor market research firm Brainspotting reports that Romania, with just 20 million people, ranks in the top 10 globally in number of certified IT specialists — 95,000, about half of whom are software developers. And almost 90 percent of Romania’s IT professionals speak English.  

Education Focus. With 49 public and eight private universities, Romania has been in the top three in the IEEE Design Competition every year since 2001.  

Strong Economy and Infrastructure. Romania is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU and has consistently been one of the top performers over the last 20 years. The country also routinely ranks among the best in Internet speed, which allows for deployment of work from home or through a hub-and-spoke model where colleagues can have the can meet in person for training, business planning and social gatherings.  

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Six Reasons to Invest in Mobile Games Testing

The world of mobile gaming has long been on the rise, and the pandemic certainly speeded up the process. With almost 100,000 and 385,000 games available on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Play Store respectively, mobile gaming is taking the world by storm. In 2020 alone, there have been $80B mobile game downloads, $100B App Store were spent on games, and $240B were spent on ads. 

Is it still necessary, one might ask, to go through every step of the game development and post-production process, when the industry is booming anyways? When it comes to Quality Assurance, the answer is a resounding yes.  

Before diving into the reasons why Quality Assurance is essential to a mobile video game’s success, let’s look into mobile gaming in general.  

How Does Mobile Gaming Differ from Other Types of Gaming? 

While gaming has been around for quite a while, mobile gaming takes it to a whole new level due to unprecedented accessibility. Think about it: not everyone has a Nintendo Switch or an Xbox, but most have a mobile phone nowadays.  

Mobile games are widely accessible to a range of customers, and they shatter any stereotypes based on age or demographics. Gaming giant King, for example, boasts an incredibly wide range of players, from children to seniors, across all demographics. Even e-book pioneer Amazon offers several games on their Kindle devices, making gaming even more accessible to people who might have not been interested in it before. 

Given the hyper-competitive nature of mobile gaming and the growing importance of reviews and social media, it’s extremely important to ensure that the final product is flawless and ready for play to be enjoyed even by the most avid of players. 

The Evolution of Mobile Gaming 

Some of us might still remember the first ever mobile games launched in the App Store. Compatibility and Functionality Quality Assurance was of course not a huge deal at the time due to the limited quantity of devices and lack of advanced graphics.  

However, just five years ago, Apple already had over 30 uniquely configured touchscreen devices such as iPhones, iPads, and iPods. This shift made compatibility testing essential in order to ensure that a game works properly on every single device.  

Furthermore, games like Pokémon Go have taken mobile gaming to a whole new level, offering unprecedented virtual experiences never-before-seen in the world of smartphones. Functionality Testing might have been overlooked when simpler games were born, but it certainly is a must now.  

Pokemon Go, as well as Madden NFL and other interactive and immersive mobile games, are part of a category of mobile games called high fidelity. Games qualify as high fidelity when it has advanced graphics and high vertex counts, as well as sophisticated gameplay such as AI-controlled characters. 

Similarly, system upgrades happen a lot more frequently, and it is yet another reason to test the compatibility of a game or app with different devices.  

The Main Reasons to Invest in Functionality and Compatibility Testing 

There are six reasons why you should always invest in Mobile Gaming Compatibility and Functionality Testing for your mobile game. Here are the most important ones: 

  1. 1. App ratings: it is no secret that most users will check out an app’s ratings on the Play or App Store before making a purchase or downloading a free video game. A game with poor ratings is certainly less likely to be downloaded, and this can hinder the popularity and success of your product. Many games with previously good ratings have seen their success quickly fading due to lack of compatibility with newer devices or updated operating systems. Similarly, certain devices have lost popularity due to the lack of compatibility with some video games, such as Blackberry phones. 
  1. 2. In-app purchases: When making in-app purchases, a user is investing money into the game, and having their progress erased due to a bug can hinder a product’s success. Even though most video game companies will refund a user who lost their progress due to a glitch, it’s still a long and sometimes tedious process having to go through customer support and ask for a refund. Compatibility and Functionality Testing can definitely spare this nuisance from happening. 
  1. 3. Bugs: Functionality Testing helps to identify bugs in every stage of the product’s development. A seemingly ready app can in fact have small glitches and bugs here and there, and FQA teams will work with developers to find and correct them. 
  1. 4. Multiplayer Cross-Compatibility: Multiplayer games are becoming more and more popular, and Compatibility QA can help determine whether a product is ready to be launched and enjoyed by consumers with different platforms and devices. A game that works on one device sometimes doesn’t work correctly on another, and Compatibility QA will identify device and network specific issues that would otherwise make multiplayer features unplayable. 
  1. 5. Ads: Most games and apps exist thanks to ads, and it’s important that they don’t disrupt the user’s experience. FQA can assure that ads work properly when running a video game, all the while without worsening the player’s experience. 
  1. 6. Testing Different Updates: While newer platforms and devices offer new updates almost weekly, some players and users prefer to keep an outdated operational system due to personal preference. Compatibility QA ensures the correct functioning of a game across different updates, giving customers who prefer older versions an equally satisfying game experience.  

Mobile Game Localization  

Apart from Functionality and Compatibility Testing, another important aspect of game development is Localization. While bugs and glitches certainly impede a player to have the best user experience, another aspect that can hinder a product’s overall success is the lack of proper translation and content accuracy.  

Mobile game localization ensures that all the text and written content in a game is properly translated, respecting the nuances of a language and its culture. There is arguably nothing more off-putting than playing a game targeted to a certain demographic and seeing mistranslated or nonsensical written content in it. Puns, jokes, and double meanings are as important as the main text within a game. Mobile game LQA Testers make sure that everything in the game is properly translated, making sense to a native speaker as well as all other users.  

In conclusion, all aspects of Quality Assurance are crucial to the success of a mobile game. While in the past it could have been overlooked, the sophisticated nuances modern technology offers are certainly in need of thorough LQA, FQA and CQA services to succeed in today’s mobile gaming market. 

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