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  1. #1
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    [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    For those of you who like to consider different ways of presenting testing or to see how others have done so, you might check out my game The Quest for Test.

    This is an example of the thinking aspects of testing being placed in the context of a game. The type of game may be an "oldie" to some of you. It is based on the concept of the old-style "text adventure"; a genre that also goes by the name Interactive Fiction.

    A work of Interactive Fiction is basically a computer program that accepts text input from a user and produces text output in reply. This back-and-forth generation of text leads to the creation of narratives that the player directs. Obviously my game is a bit more specialized in its concept than you would find in various other works.

    If you want a little more information on the genre of Interactive Fiction itself, check out:

    Introducing Interactive Fiction

    A Beginner's Guide to Interactive Fiction

    For those of you who like to understand the theory behind concepts, you might check out:

    Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction

    Above all: have fun. I am happy to receive comments, criticisms, and suggestions about the game. I am also interested to hear from those who think this is a viable idea; to wit, using games and game theory to teach testing concepts. You will note that my game allows you to beta test it, so you can test the test game, as it were. Source code is provided and I have found Interactive Fiction is particularly good at considering various test cases that you would apply against a system that has branching logic, various states, and various race conditions. As I said - the overall idea is fun. However there is nothing wrong with considering how that fun can also be turned towards learning.

  2. #2
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    Re: [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    Jeff,
    what an excellent idea [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] I often use games/ Scenario based learning in my training and teaching programmes. I find it an excellent way to learn.
    I believe, as does de Bono, that this can be a great way to learn. The biggest challenge I find, being English, and working in the UK is breaking our natural reserve to get the right level of interaction to make this approach successful.
    I must admit I had never made the leap to abstract it a level and leave the game on a computer and check the course of events after, even though this is what a do in useability testing. As always a creative feat of Lateral thinking seems logical once it has been made, by some one else.
    I will give this a go, when i am off site and can download, and post general comments on this forum and send the link on to others i know who will have an interest but are not on this forum.
    ------
    Regards,
    Neill McCarthy
    Agile Testers of the World UNIT!

    For more contextual Musings visit http://www.testingreflections.com/ and now at http://www.sqablogs.com/neillmccarthy/
    ---

  3. #3
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    Re: [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    Made me think of this week's StickyMinds.com article.
    web site | [url=http://www.ebookworm.us/[/url]

    [i]...Sound trumpets! Every trumpet in the host! / Sixty thousand, on these words, sound, so high the mountains sound, and the valleys resound.</i] (The Song of Roland)

  4. #4
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    Re: [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    Excellent article. The article says: "As they detected flaws in each other's instructions, the group began to appreciate that crafting accurate instructions is not as straightforward as they had initially imagined."

    It is interesting because an Interactive Fiction game (from many years ago) called Suspended had you directing a series of robots around a complex that was about to be destroyed. One robot could only respond to audio signals. Another could only respond to tactile sensations. Yet another could only see, but not hear or touch. It was quite clever in that you had to utilize these robots together (combining their strengths and offsetting their weaknesses) to solve the puzzles (and save the world as we know it, of course).

    As to the article, I think the same thing applies to how we think about testing and how logical people think they are (in terms of how they approach and solve problems). These tasks, while seemingly "straightforward" to some, turn out not to be such when analyzed.

  5. #5
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    Re: [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    Originally posted by neill_mccarthy:
    I often use games/ Scenario based learning in my training and teaching programmes. I find it an excellent way to learn.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">I agree. I used an example very similar to The Quest for Test in a testing course that I gave at a community college. Essentially what I did was took the game from conception (business case) to requirements to design. Then onto coding (although most of this was, of course done already by myself, unless we were covering some aspects of unit testing and coding for testability) and then testing of what was coded. I found people responded extremely favorably to learning in this context.

    This even works well when creating games in the "graphical adventure" (as opposed to strict "text adventure") milieu. With Interactive Fiction, however, I found it was easier to come up with game requirements/concepts (like, "the NPC must react to the player") and the flesh those out in terms of what kinds of things should be coded and thus tested. Works of Interactive Fiction are basically complex state machines and, as such, are amenable to showcasing various concepts. One such is building the game for various platforms. If you look at Inform, it supports everything from modern PCs, to Palm Pilots, and even the Commodore 64/128 (emulated or actual). So you can get into compatibility testing and platform-based concerns. Also, since these games are state machines impact analysis needs to be done if you are going to add "one small feature". So change requests can become a part of the process.

    I have become more and more convinced, as time goes on, that game theory, when distilled, is a practical way to showcase various concepts of testing. Game theory, in case I am being obtuse in this context, is basically a mathematical method of decision-making in which some form of competitive situation is analyzed to determine the best course of action for an interested party. Obviously the applications are often in the context of economic theory or even military planning, in terms of decision making. Here "competitive" can simply mean a person "competing" against time or against an application or even against a mode of thought. The "interested party", in this case, would be the tester. More importantly, however, game theory is a distinct approach to the study of human behavior. (In fact, psychologists refer to game theory as "the theory of social situations".) Game theory also looks at how people strategize about situations. In other words, in all respects, it is relevant to people who consider themselves testers.

  6. #6
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    Re: [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    Jeff/Charles,
    I agree this was a good article which works with the ideas in game theory. I have been working with the ideas of game theory and transactional analysis and NLP within testing over the last couple of years.
    Alan Richardson who has an excellent paper on the NLP meta model and its application to testing, at www.compendiumdev.co.uk , and James Lyndsay who has some excellent "games" for exploratory testing sessions training, at www.workroom-productions.com , can be thanked (or blamed) for my interest in these approaches.
    I believe there is real value in utilising patterns and modes of thought from other fields into the test domain and re-framing them to apply them to the context of testing. I believe this is the real value of the "context driven" school of testing. It is by the use of a variety of methods that we can create a series of robust models and patterns that we can adapt and successfully apply across a range of contexts.
    I believe it is this, in part, Brain Marick is moving towards in his example driven approaches:
    http://www.testing.com

    Jeff, I have passed the link for the game onto a number of Rabid testers in the uk, I suspect we will be beta testing soon [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    ------
    Regards,
    Neill McCarthy
    Agile Testers of the World UNIT!

    For more contextual Musings visit http://www.testingreflections.com/ and now at http://www.sqablogs.com/neillmccarthy/
    ---

  7. #7
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    Re: [ANNOUNCE] The Quest for Test

    A public thank you to those who participated in the beta. You have given me a lot of ideas for how to not only improve the game but also how I might better showcase some elements. As some of you found, yes, there are "inserted" or "seeded" defects in the game. If you took my course, you would find that some requirements (from a story-board requirement format) are not fulfilled.

    Eventually, if this kind of thing proves moderately successful "at a distance" (as opposed to in a classroom setting) I will make a sort of Test Training format out of the concept and make that available in some fashion.

    And, no, to those of you who asked: there are no plans for a The Quest for Test: Part 2. That said, I can see the first game being updated. After all, that was the point of the beta test period. And certainly there may be other examples of the Interactive Fiction genre that I will try to craft that will force certain types of thinking. For example, I am working on one now that, via very specific puzzles, teaches people the difference between all-pairs and all-combinations and also the basis of things like orthogonal test casing.

 

 

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