Case Study:

EA Games

How RealEyes Developed a Custom Game-Testing Environment for EAGames

With 24/7 testing labs setup all across the globe, the amount of data and video content captured throughout the various stages of EA’s game-testing process had become overwhelming and difficult to manage. EAGames was looking for a partner that not only understood the gaming industry, but was familiar with the complexities of the testing process, had experience with live and on-demand video streaming, and could develop a less labor-intensive and more scalable bespoke solution. After evaluating EAGames’ existing workflow and the technologies being used, RealEyes was able to help EAGames reach their goals by executing the following:

  • Created an internal web application for viewing, streamlining and managing online game-testing sessions and data
  • Developed eight new components, including a chat feature, session scheduler, video annotations, and Labs Panel - all designed to improve the user and administrator experience
  • Made the new application available to their five global offices, each with 30 user stations

TIMELINE

5 months

PLATFORMS

  • Web, Back-End, Streaming Infrastructure

DELIVERABLES

Custom management application for game-testing sessions & data

About

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. EA develops and delivers games, content and online services for Internet-connected consoles, mobile devices and personal computers. EA has more than 300 million registered players around the world.

Challenges

In an industry constantly racing to release the next trending video game, developing an efficient and thorough game-testing process is critical. Video game development and deployment typically takes anywhere from 1-3 years and a majority of this time is utilized for testing the game itself. EA needed a solution that enabled them to view and manage their live and on-demand video recordings of their testing sessions, created by their game-testers in a lab environment.

About

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. EA develops and delivers games, content and online services for Internet-connected consoles, mobile devices and personal computers. EA has more than 300 million registered players around the world.

Furthermore, EA needed this solution to extract critical data from these recordings informing their developers about software defects, operational bugs, and other issues identified by game- testers. This type of documentation allows for comparing two instances of seemingly identical game-testing sessions, of which produced different results. Maybe most importantly, recordings provide a reference against which you can compare subsequent test execution runs (as you progress through future stages of game development).

The largest challenge was the functionality limitations of EA’s existing system, which was a combination of free and paid services, leaving them unable to add much-needed functionality that would better streamline their game-testing process and overcome scalability issues. Even more importantly, they needed to be able to better handle the complexities of real-time monitoring and on-demand video recordings. In order to remain a leader in the industry, EA recognized the current pace of their game-testing strategy was preventing them from pushing what their organization and the industry could achieve. With little time to lose, EA reached out to their trusted partner and solution expert, Adobe, for recommendations on who might not only provide them a solution, but would tailor one specifically for EA’s business needs. Adobe recommended RealEyes, given their experience solving complex video workflow problems and history working with similar tier 1 media and entertainment companies.

The Process

RealEyes tapped into its extensive streaming video experience and application development experience to devise a unique and comprehensive solution for EAGames. First, RealEyes designed a set of wireframes to show the UX and UI of the suggested application. The wireframes were collaboratively iterated upon with EAGames until they met the needs of all the teams. Once these were agreed upon, the team developed an interface to manage EA’s game-testing workflow. This video asset management system (VAM) was utilized for recording video content while incorporating scheduling functionality and the ability to live record, view and collaborate. In order to develop a solution for product owners and administrators, and authorized reviewers, RealEyes developed separate workflows unique to each user’s operational needs.

Then, RealEyes began to develop an entirely new solution for EAGames that allowed the company to record their game-testing videos and then stream the videos to a newly created application. Once the content was recorded, managers could edit the recordings and add notes.

After deciding on a combination of MongoDB, Express, AngularJS, NodeJS for an accelerated development and optimal application performance, RealEyes began implementation of the database structure and API.

This process involved meticulous planning to maintain the complex interrelationships and interdependencies between game-testing sessions, labs, channels and products.

RealEyes took their proposed solution a step further and automated the schedule of lab rooms and their respective game-testers. For example, once EAGames set up the room the first time, all they had to do was begin testing. The schedule automatically organized, named, and categorized everything, and users could just jump in hit start and begin testing. RealEyes included smart logic to help buffer the schedule if users went over their allotted time. Content was always associated in an intelligent manner, and everything was kept organized making searchability efficient.

On top of that, RealEyes created a chat functionality so testers could communicate with product owners, and clipping capability for users to more efficiently and clearly identify bugs. This not only increased storage availability, but reduced the time spent looking for bugs.

Each of these components required detailed attention to both functionality and UX display results. RealEyes’ design allowed for a responsive layout on all views and panels.

RealEyes built out an entire user management system equipped with three different levels, each tailored to the specific needs of Super Users, Admins and General Users. Different levels of user permissions allowed EA to easily and readily manage application data flow between teams and adjust their workflow on an as-needed basis. This was also an important component in order for EA to maintain secure access among users.

Functionality Enabled

Components of the overall application:

  • Home View
  • Login Modal Panel
  • Products View
  • Product Details View
  • Chat Feature
  • Product Edit View
  • Session Scheduler Subview
  • Labs Panel
  • User Panel
The Results

By drawing on their live streaming media infrastructure, video application and media workflow expertise, RealEyes designed a new solution for EAGames to streamline and manage their game- testing data across global offices, eliminating previous barriers to success by providing EA the right tools to continue beating out the competition.

Functionality Enabled

Components of the overall application:

  • Home View
  • Login Modal Panel
  • Products View
  • Product Details View
  • Chat Feature
  • Product Edit View
  • Session Scheduler Subview
  • Labs Panel
  • User Panel

By bringing together multiple complex systems with advanced web app development, live stream recording, playback, and unified media player development, RealEyes enabled EAGames to move forward with an all-encompassing custom solution that met all their business needs. This scalable new tool allows EA to streamline their workflow with better-quality, annotate video into meaningful clips and has completely changed how EA manages all of their products and test labs. This solution has been implemented worldwide and has had a dramatic effect on improving the value and efficiency of their game-testing process.

In this case, RealEyes was able to assess the client’s needs, select the right technology stack, and create a new & bespoke solution from the ground up that enabled EAGames to streamline their systems on a global scale and remain leaders in the gaming industry.