How to launch games that don't crash (often)
How to launch games that don't crash (often)
Building and supporting a video game project is challenging. It is a complex and intricate process that balances difficult time constraints and ambitious goals while keeping a highly engaged and demanding user base happy.
Game developers need every advantage possible in the development and support process to succeed.
One of the best ways to ensure that a game is successful is to make sure that every shipped version of the game project contains as few crash-causing defects as possible. This is as true for the high-stakes process of shipping a brand-new game, as it is pushing a patched version for a mature game.
Nothing sinks a game as quickly as a buggy version getting into the hands of a game's users.
In this article, we'll discuss how integrating crash and error reporting into the game development workflow can dramatically improve the stability of the shipped game projects by helping developers and teams catch major bugs before launch, identify important fixes once shipped, and receive early alerts for critical issues for games in production.
Track crashes in development
Automated crash and error reporting simplifies the process of finding, fixing, and tracking crash-causing bugs during development. Automated crash reporting provides a debugger-like output for every instance of a crash captured, which is super helpful for fixing crashes or errors that occur during development, QA testing, or an early beta release.
By creating a comprehensive list of crashes, reporting enables developers to efficiently manage their defect tracker and address issues occurring before the game's launch. This means that fewer issues slip through the cracks, and fewer bugs make it into production.
Moreover, developers are given the information they need to quickly fix bugs during development when they are easier and cheaper to resolve. Crash reporting achieves this by providing critical information about the defect behind the crash - even highlighting the exact line of code responsible for the issue - which removes the need for the time-consuming process of replicating the defect before being able to work on the fix.
Find the most critical bugs
The second way crash and error reporting empowers developers to support games that crash minimally is by highlighting which bugs are most important to fix.
This is particularly useful after a game is launched, and the team is racing to put out fires. Crash reporting from BugSplat not only automatically collects game crashes, but it also groups those crashes by the underlying defect, which means teams can quickly evaluate which defects are causing the most issues for their users and should be prioritized to fix first.
Armed with this information, teams can quickly and decisively act to address the handful of bugs causing the majority of issues for the user base (often times 50%-90% of crashes).
Note on game engines: BugSplat's crash grouping feature provides advanced and automatic crash grouping that is specifically tailored for game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine. These engines often output large amounts of engine-specific data in their crashes, which muddies the water when trying to understand and group by the underlying defects causing the crashes. BugSplat solves this problem by providing smart tools that help identify and group the actual defects causing game crashes. This makes it easy for game developers to quickly identify the root cause of any crash and address it accordingly.
Fix bugs before the users can report them
Other than launching with few bugs, the best way to gain a reputation for stability is to fix bugs quickly. The best way to do that is to get alerted as soon as there's a new issue popping up in the game project.
With these early alerts, as well as comprehensive data on the crashes, developers can quickly fix the root cause of the issue and ship a patched version before end-users have a chance to complain about the problem on support forums, Twitter, or Reddit.
Track crashes everywhere
Crashes and errors are an issue no matter where they occur, and with modern game projects being deployed on an increasingly broad spectrum of platforms and devices, it can be hard to keep track of everything.
This allows for a comprehensive view of the game's real stability and enables informed decisions regarding support by viewing the actual issues affecting the game. This versatility enables developers to prioritize fixes that help the maximum number of the audience and also ensures a consistent experience across different devices.
Developers who want to support stable game projects should take advantage of crash reporting to save time and costs during development, identify and fix critical defects post-launch, and stay ahead of hidden bugs through early alerts.
BugSplat works with game developers of all team sizes to help improve their support workflow and support awesome games.
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