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Feature: 'GDC: Backwards is Forward: Making Better Games with Test-Driven Development'

In another of today's Gamasutra features from GDC, High Moon Studio developers Noel Llopis and Sean Houghton introduced a unique build method called test-driven developme...

Simon Carless

March 22, 2006

1 Min Read

In another of today's Gamasutra features from GDC, High Moon Studio developers Noel Llopis and Sean Houghton introduced a unique build method called test-driven development (TDD) in this intermediate level lecture at GDC 2006. In it they discuss what TDD is, how others can use it in their development cycle, and the benefits of testing often - a primary focus of the methodology. This extract explains the basis for the system: "TDD is a cyclical, three-point procedure that moves as such: write test, write code, refactor, and back to write test. Llopis and Houghton are using TDD with C++ as well as Unreal code base. TDD is simple in both concept and implementation. “It comes down to one very simple cycle. You think of a very, very small feature and ... you write a very small test for that feature. We're talking about something very small,” said Llopis. Then, the programmer tests the piece of code. If it fails, he says, “you write some code to make that test pass. So now you have some passing tests. The next step is the crucial one for TDD: you refactor things,” changing the code in whatever necessary ways without changing its functionality. The whole cycle should take less than a minute, according to Llopis, stressing the importance of quick, small improvements. Although the process could take as much as three or four minutes, “if it takes ten minutes, it's not a good sign,” according to Llopis." You can read the full Gamasutra coverage on the matter, including detailed information on this neat solution (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless

Blogger

Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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