Unreal Automation: Boosting Efficiency and Quality in Game Testing

QATestLab
7 min readSep 22, 2023

Test automation is a critical part of the game development process. It helps ensure that games are free of bugs and meet the expectations of players. Unreal Engine provides a number of features and tools that can be used to automate tests.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of test automation on Unreal Engine, as well as the challenges involved. We will also provide tips for automating tests on Unreal Engine effectively.

What are the benefits of test automation on Unreal Engine?

Test automation on Unreal Engine can offer a number of significant benefits, including improved test coverage, increased test accuracy, reduced time and costs, the ability to test complex systems, and more.

Let’s look at these advantages in more detail.

1. Efficiency

Automated tests can be executed quickly and repeatedly, allowing developers to catch issues early in the development process. This reduces the time and effort required for manual testing and accelerates the development cycle.

2. Consistency

Automated tests provide consistent and reproducible results, eliminating human errors that can occur during manual testing. This ensures that tests are executed the same way every time, leading to more reliable test outcomes.

3. Regression Testing

Game development is an iterative process, and new features or changes can introduce unintended bugs. Automated tests can easily perform regression testing, ensuring that previously working functionality remains intact as new code is added.

4. Continuous Integration

Test automation integrates seamlessly with CI/CD (Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery) pipelines. Developers can set up automated tests to run automatically whenever changes are committed to the game’s codebase, helping detect and fix issues early in the development cycle.

Check out our case study on test automation for the address book contacts storage system.

Collaborating with the client’s in-house team, our test automation engineers developed automated scripts set for regular verification of the site functioning and configured the environment for running tests according to schedule.

Learn more

5. Faster Feedback

Automated test results are generated quickly, providing immediate feedback to developers. This allows them to address issues promptly, leading to faster bug resolution and a more efficient development process.

6. Cost Reduction

While setting up test automation initially requires an investment in time and resources, it often leads to cost savings in the long run by reducing the need for extensive manual testing and minimizing the risk of post-release bug fixes.

How to Automate Tests on Unreal Engine?

Since test automation in Unreal Engine is a rather complex process, it is better to reach out to specialists experienced in this field.

Our test automation specialists have highlighted the following steps for test automation on Unreal Engine. You can find them here.

Challenges of Test Automation on Unreal Engine

There are a number of challenges associated with test automation on Unreal Engine, including:

1. Employing diverse approaches to script creation based on the testing methodology and the chosen framework.

Unreal Engine supports various scripting languages, such as Blueprints and C++, for game development. When creating automated tests, the choice of scripting language can greatly impact the approach. For instance, using Blueprints might require visual scripting techniques, while C++ may involve more traditional coding. This diversity means that automation engineers must adapt their scripting approach based on the specific testing methodology and framework they are using.

2. Difficulty in devising test scenarios without a deep understanding of the application under test.

Testing a build on Unreal Engine can be challenging without a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics, user interactions, and level design. For effective test automation, testers usually need to know how the game character (or any other game component, if it is not trivial) is programmatically organized in order to understand what parameters they need to monitor.

For example, if a tester is writing a test for a game character’s jumping ability, they need to know how the character’s jumping ability is implemented in the game code. This includes knowing what parameters control the character’s jump height, distance, and speed.

Once the tester knows how the game character’s jumping ability is implemented, they can write a test that monitors these parameters to ensure that the jumping ability works as expected.

QA specialists also should know what game components they can access and how the interaction between characters or objects is organized (in cases where they contain some non-trivial, custom mechanics). This is important because it allows the QA specialists to write tests that verify the functionality of the game components and their interactions.

Without this understanding, creating comprehensive test cases is difficult, and tests may not cover critical gameplay aspects, leading to incomplete test coverage and potentially missing critical defects.

3. Utilizing numerous specialized software modules for gathering and processing the generated test data.

Unreal Engine provides powerful tools for performance tracking, programming AI behavior, and a flexible interface for creating test flow algorithms. Automated tests often necessitate specialized software modules or plugins to interact with and control these aspects. For instance, a performance automated test might require a custom AI controller module to simulate certain behaviors, while performance tracking is conducted using another module. Hence, managing, integrating, and processing the outcomes of these modules within the testing framework can be a complex task.

4. The organization of the test flow varies significantly depending on the testing platform.

Games developed with Unreal Engine can target multiple platforms, including PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. Each platform has unique hardware and software capabilities, input methods, and performance characteristics.

Test automation must account for these differences, meaning that the test flow, scripts, and input methods may vary significantly between platforms. Ensuring that tests run seamlessly on all targeted platforms adds complexity to the testing process.

5. Transforming the collected data into a comprehensive report.

Automated tests generate a wealth of data, including logs, screenshots, and performance metrics. To make sense of this data and effectively communicate the test results, it must be transformed into comprehensive reports. This can involve data aggregation, visualization, and categorization.

For example, performance data might need to be presented in charts to identify bottlenecks, while screenshots can be used to highlight visual defects. Creating automated processes to handle this data transformation can be time-consuming.

Despite these challenges, test automation can be a valuable tool for improving the quality and reliability of Unreal Engine games and applications. By carefully planning and implementing your test automation process, you can overcome the challenges and reap the benefits of test automation.

Tips for Successful Test Automation on Unreal Engine

Firstly, one must begin by planning and defining your testing strategy. This involves setting clear goals and priorities and understanding the scope of your testing efforts. Decisions need to be made regarding which aspects of the game will be subject to automated tests.

Once your strategy is in place, the next step is selecting the right testing tools. This is akin to choosing the appropriate tools and equipment for an expedition. You need to align your tool choices with your testing objectives to ensure they’re fit for the journey ahead.

With tools in hand, the creation of test cases takes center stage. Like an artist creating a masterpiece, you must design these cases carefully. They should cover critical gameplay scenarios, consider edge cases, and encompass performance benchmarks. Ensuring that these test cases are structured in a way that’s both maintainable and modular is vital.

Prioritization becomes key as well. Just as adventurers tackle the most challenging paths first, identifying and prioritizing critical test cases is essential. This ensures that high-impact issues are caught early in the testing pipeline.

As you dive deeper into the testing landscape, continuous integration and continuous testing become your guiding principles. Integrating automated tests into your development pipeline ensures that they are executed automatically whenever there are code changes, providing a constant checkpoint on your journey.

Despite careful planning, there will be hurdles along the way. To navigate these challenges effectively, you must closely monitor and analyze test results. Regular reviews and prompt investigations into failures are necessary. Clear procedures for handling these issues are vital to maintaining your course.

Success in this endeavor relies heavily on collaboration and communication. Building a strong partnership between developers and automation engineers is crucial. Effective knowledge sharing and open lines of communication help ensure a successful test automation journey.

Documentation plays a pivotal role as well. Keeping thorough records of your test cases, test data, environment setups, and execution procedures is akin to maintaining a detailed journal of your expedition. It allows for better organization and knowledge sharing.

Lastly, every setback and failure should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Learning from test failures and issues is integral. By implementing preventive measures, you can avoid encountering similar problems in the future, ensuring that your testing journey becomes more refined with each iteration.

Wrapping up

Test automation on Unreal Engine can offer a number of significant benefits, including improved test coverage, increased test accuracy, reduced time and costs, the ability to test complex systems, and more.

However, there are also a number of challenges associated with test automation on Unreal Engine, including:

  • Employing diverse approaches to script creation based on the testing methodology and the chosen framework.
  • Difficulty in devising test scenarios without a deep understanding of the application under test.
  • Utilizing numerous specialized software modules for gathering and processing the generated test data.
  • The organization of the test flow varies significantly depending on the testing platform.
  • Transforming the collected data into a comprehensive report.

Despite these challenges, test automation can be a valuable tool for improving the quality and reliability of Unreal Engine games and applications.

Here are some tips for successful test automation on Unreal Engine:

  • Begin by planning and defining your testing strategy.
  • Select the right testing tools.
  • Design test cases carefully and prioritize them effectively.
  • Utilize a CI/CD pipeline to automate the test execution process.
  • Integrate with monitoring tools to track the progress and results of your tests.
  • Regularly review and update your test suites.

We must note that although test automation can be a complex undertaking, it is a valuable investment for any team that is serious about developing high-quality Unreal Engine games and applications.

Fancy learning more about our approach to Unreal test automation and how it can benefit your game? Contact us to dive deeper into this topic.

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QATestLab

QATestLab is an international provider of independent QA and testing services with 15 years of cross-industry experience. https://qatestlab.com/