Automating XNA Performance Testing?

Posted by Grofit on Game Development See other posts from Game Development or by Grofit
Published on 2012-01-18T11:20:51Z Indexed on 2012/03/18 18:24 UTC
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I was wondering what peoples approaches or thoughts were on automating performance testing in XNA. Currently I am looking at only working in 2d, but that poses many areas where performance can be improved with different implementations.

An example would be if you had 2 different implementations of spatial partitioning, one may be faster than another but without doing some actual performance testing you wouldn't be able to tell which one for sure (unless you saw the code was blatantly slow in certain parts). You could write a unit test which for a given time frame kept adding/updating/removing entities for both implementations and see how many were made in each timeframe and the higher one would be the faster one (in this given example).

Another higher level example would be if you wanted to see how many entities you can have on the screen roughly without going beneath 60fps. The problem with this is to automate it you would need to use the hidden form trick or some other thing to kick off a mock game and purely test which parts you care about and disable everything else.

I know that this isnt a simple affair really as even if you can automate the tests, really it is up to a human to interpret if the results are performant enough, but as part of a build step you could have it run these tests and publish the results somewhere for comparison.

This way if you go from version 1.1 to 1.2 but have changed a few underlying algorithms you may notice that generally the performance score would have gone up, meaning you have improved your overall performance of the application, and then from 1.2 to 1.3 you may notice that you have then dropped overall performance a bit.

So has anyone automated this sort of thing in their projects, and if so how do you measure your performance comparisons at a high level and what frameworks do you use to test? As providing you have written your code so its testable/mockable for most parts you can just use your tests as a mechanism for getting some performance results...

=== Edit ===

Just for clarity, I am more interested in the best way to make use of automated tests within XNA to track your performance, not play testing or guessing by manually running your game on a machine. This is completely different to seeing if your game is playable on X hardware, it is more about tracking the change in performance as your game engine/framework changes.

As mentioned in one of the comments you could easily test "how many nodes can I insert/remove/update within QuadTreeA within 2 seconds", but you have to physically look at these results every time to see if it has changed, which may be fine and is still better than just relying on playing it to see if you notice any difference between version. However if you were to put an Assert in to notify you of a fail if it goes lower than lets say 5000 in 2 seconds you have a brittle test as it is then contextual to the hardware, not just the implementation. Although that being said these sort of automated tests are only really any use if you are running your tests as some sort of build pipeline i.e:

Checkout -> Run Unit Tests -> Run Integration Tests -> Run Performance Tests -> Package

So then you can easily compare the stats from one build to another on the CI server as a report of some sort, and again this may not mean much to anyone if you are not used to Continuous Integration. The main crux of this question is to see how people manage this between builds and how they find it best to report upon. As I said it can be subjective but as knowledge will be gained from the answers it seems a worthwhile question.

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