Gaming Laboratories International has invested heavily in recent years in tools and processes to create efficiencies for their customers. The company has raised the bar with its automation testing, as Patrick Cottingham explained to Casino international.
Automation is positively impacting a number of industries and gaming is one of them. GLI has developed processes to make game testing quicker, simpler and yet also more expansive. Patrick Cottingham, Client Services Representative, explained the process to Casino International.
Casino International: What is GLI’s automation service, Patrick?
Patrick Cottingham: GLI has a history of reinvesting in its test methodologies and exploring new methods for creating efficiencies and increasing quality for our customers. Thisstarted with the need to expand testing capabilities for complex games, skill-based games, and things of that nature. As we were able to integrate this across more games, the real value of these efforts became clear. What we saw was thatthis expanded GLI’s testing coverage and improved the quality of testing, while decreasing test cycles. This was because we were able to run this overnight, and on weekends. Put simply, it achieves what conventional, traditional manual methods cannot.
It’s paramount for us as a company to drivequalityand to be conscientious of our customers’ needs. We have seen a dramatic effect on turnaround time, which directly impacts overall cost, so we can reduce that for our customers.
CI: What is testing coverage exactly?
PC: Testing coverage means, what parts of and what pieces of the game we are able to test. So, you have regular gameplay, then free games which can be triggered; then you have specific features of games which are baked into the game itself, andyou can trigger mini-gamesas well. Expanding our coverage with the ability to automate this process dramatically reduces turnaround time which speeds up time-to-market for manufacturers while improving product quality.
CI: Is there any issue with automation on the GLI side, with the organisationsGLI is answerable to?
PC: Ultimately, our job is to find the issues. By increasing coverage and scope, we are able to certify a game that is compliant with all regulations for the manufacturers, the regulatory bodies, and the casino operators.
CI: There is a constant evolution in a company like GLIbecause you are responding much faster to technology than regulatory bodies are able; how much of what you do isyou being ahead of the curve and helping the regulatory bodies learn about new applicable technology?
PC: We do have an active dialogue with regulatory bodies. We maintain strong relationships and provide them with regular feedback; especially with new technology. We make adjustments to our processes based on their feedback to us. At our recent Regulators Roundtable event, we demonstrated our solution for tracking reel-stop positions on a physical-reel game, as opposed to a virtual-reel game. We usually take screenshots of forced outcomes and compare them against the manufacturer’s expected outcomes, or par sheets. We couldn’t previously do that with physical reels, so the solution that our automation team developed is that we would use advanced solutions such as optics and other scanning mechanisms to create new methods of evaluating results.
CI: Does automation mean it’s the same test for everyone? Different jurisdictions have different requirements surely – is it possible to tailor this?
PC: That’s correct. We have created something that is completely adaptable. Any manufacturer’s product, regardless of platform, can be tested in our automation facility.
We can automate different jurisdictional requirements as part of our automated testing depending on what our customer needs. Our software tells us what we need to change accordingly in order to test varying denominations and progressive levels, for example.
CI: What if there is an issue with manipulation of the machine by a player – could the knowledge you have of potential reel outcomes in a pure environment be used to help an operator or manufacturer prove deception?
PC: This ties into one of our GLI Roundtable demos. We have an automated process focused on Game Recall. Say we have a challenge in the field and an operator is challenged for a payout. When theslot attendant enters into the attendant menu to replay the games; we are able to automate this process by triggering the games, capturing the outcomes and comparing the actual outcome to an expected outcome.
CI: Why would a supplier care about automation testing?
PC: There are immeasurable benefits. First and foremost, though, by increasing scope,it has a direct impact on increasing the quality of testing. Manufacturers want a quality and compliant product in the field, andby increasing scope and coverage we flag any potential issues that may arise.
It also reduces testing cost because we are able to decrease the testing time because it can be executed overnight, on weekends, and through holidays. That frees up the test engineer to come up with unique and specific test cases and contribute to our repository of test cases so we can leverage those across other manufacturers’ products.
CI: How long does testing a game end to end take for a single jurisdiction?
PC: It depends on a few factors – as games across suppliers vary in complexity, that can increase testing time, but in general we have seen test automations create significant time to market efficiencies. Technically, with test automation once we have located the interface ports, the whole process takes just minutes. The lengthy part can be writing the scripts to interface with the game; but even the most complex game scripting typically doesn’t take more than several hours.
CI: Why didn’t you do this sooner?
PC: It’s important to remember there are no off-the-shelf tools for this, especially these custom tools we have created like our automation interface board. We have developed our own proprietary software, verification tools, and a separate program running on a standalone computer that takes all of the data, compares it against the expected result, and reconciles it in a matter of minutes. That’s all built and developed in-house.
CI: How many issues do you find when testing, generally?
PC: We average over 20,000 issues detected annually, and that number is rising because of expanded testing coverage. We have a repository of over hundreds-of-thousands of issues that we can refer back to for special test cases. The products are always changing and evolving, and we have to adapt to that.