Unity Version Control (Plastic SCM) vs. Perforce Helix Core
When Plastic SCM (now Unity Version Control) was acquired by Unity in 2020, game dev and VFX studios already using the Unity Engine started considering it more seriously for version control. Why? On the surface, Plastic SCM is an attractive solution. It offers a friendly UI for artists and handles the basics of version control at low scale. But what happens when your projects grow and get more complex? Does Plastic still hold up?
Read along or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.
- What Is Plastic SCM?
- Plastic SCM vs. Git
- Plastic SCM by Unity vs. Perforce Helix Core — Game Development & Beyond
- Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core Overview
- Plastic SCM by Unity vs. Perforce Helix Core FAQs
- Verdict: Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core
What Is Plastic SCM?
Plastic SCM (now named Unity Version Control) is a commercial version control tool. It is a full version control stack platform developed by Codice Software. Plastic SCM is now owned by Unity and is a part of Unity DevOps.
Plastic SCM offers a cloud-hosted option that removes most of the friction of getting started. Plastic SCM also offers an intuitive interface for artists and designers, as well as visual branching and merging features. Its integration with Unity is also an appealing benefit, and it will only get better over time, since Unity now controls both sides of the equation.
Unity started out by building their own versioning system, “Unity Collaborate,” but later shifted their focus on acquiring Plastic SCM.
Is Plastic SCM Free?
Plastic offers a free cloud hosted option for up to 3 users and 5 GB of storage. This option is great for small teams working with small files. However, any users who work with large digital assets will quickly overrun that storage limit.
Who Uses Plastic SCM?
Teams who outgrow Git and use Unity as their preferred real-time development platform/game engine are likely to take a hard look at Plastic SCM.For some Unity users, it is convenient to have a game engine and version control system that is managed by the same vendor.
Plastic SCM vs. Git
Git works well for versioning text-based assets. It is good for users who prefer a decentralized workflow that allows individual developers to download repositories to their PC and work offline from the central server. Git is also the system that most software developers learn first, so there is a ubiquitous nature to it.
Where Git starts to fall over is working with large assets (i.e., 2D/3D images, videos, and audio files). Git users experiencing scale issues usually attempt multiple strategies, such as breaking assets into multiple repositories or enabling Git Large File Storage (LFS).
Plastic SCM claims to speak the “Git network protocol,” which makes it “fully compatible” with Git. Plastic SCM does a better job managing large files than Git does because it doesn’t require a separate add-on like Git does. Plastic SCM also offers a UI for artists and designers called Glueon. Furthermore, Plastic SCM offers more granular authorization options than Git does.
Plastic SCM by Unity vs. Perforce Helix Core — Game Development & Beyond
If you are starting to build the next great game or immersive cinematic experience, you’re eventually going to need to push the bounds of scale and performance. And if you start with a tool that cannot scale with you, you’re eventually going to have a migration project on your hands. Just ask virtual production studio ICVR.
"In working with Unreal Engine, Perforce was the obvious choice for us over other solutions like Plastic SCM. We rely heavily on Perforce's file locking ability for team collaboration with binary files, integration with our Jetbrains Rider CI/CD pipeline, and use with Unreal Game Sync to make compiled custom engine builds available to all team members, especially artists and other less technical roles.”
— Ihar Heneralau, CEO/Co-Founder ICVR
It's important to have tools that can support your team both now and in the future. Start here and learn more about Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core.
Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core Overview
Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core: How do they compare? See the chart below to compare the main features of these two version control systems.
Perforce Helix Core
Yes — Work offline! DVCS is available for Helix Core.
File Commit Restrictions
Yes – Plastic SCM uses a per-changeset model that requires the entire workspace be up to date before being allowed to commit. This introduces unnecessary delays and restrictions.
No – In Helix Core, only modified files are required to be up to date before being allowed to commit. This allows game developers to quickly commit changes to an image without having to update the entire project every time they want to submit a change.
Yes – Scroll through your history to understand how your code evolves.
“Workspace Types” for Different GUIs
Yes – “Regular” workspaces for non-Glueon vs. “partial” workspaces for Glueon are not compatible with each other.
Nope — Keep it simple!
Manages Large to Huge Repos
Not Really — Plastic SCM’s own performance tests conveniently top out with a repo that is less than 8 GB, which is tiny in the modern game development world.
Yes — Helix Core was built to scale and can manage 100s TBs and millions of files in a single repo (without the wait).
Stores Large Files (Binaries)
Kind of — But this severely impacts performance.
Yes — Helix Core can handle everything with the speed required for high-performing teams.
Locks to Avoid Merge Conflicts
GUIs for Developers & Designers
Yes —But they are completely disconnected. You can’t work on code and digital assets in the same workspace since they require different GUIs by persona.
Yes — Use Helix Visual Client (P4V) for code, binaries, and even Git files. Use Helix Sync for drop and drag version control, no matter your toolset. You can easily switch back and forth between them and work in the same workspace.
Yes — Using Perforce Streams, developers can make task streams.
Detecting Merges & Showing History
Yes — Stream and version browsers show all merge and version history, plus how files and streams have changed over time.
Merge Process and Automation
Yes — Streams light up red and green to show copy/merge events that are available, easily guiding the user through the merge process.
Graphical Model and Manage Stream/Branch Workflow
Yes — But there are limitations.
Yes – The Stream Graph allows you to create streams and determine the relationships between them. This helps automate the flow of your code and digital assets. You can even drag and drop to re-organize how you work.
Compare Perforce Helix Core vs. the competition. Or simply download our Plastic SCM Migration Toolkit.
Plastic SCM by Unity vs. Perforce Helix Core FAQs
Unity's Plastic SCM claims… a lot. But does it check out? Go in-depth on some of our FAQs to see how we compare in:
Does Plastic SCM Perform Better Than Helix Core?
Unity's Plastic SCM lays out a performance scenario that they refer to as “medium.” It makes sense that it would avoid comparing “large” and “extra-large” scenarios since they cannot scale like Helix Core.
Their “medium” test only involves a repo that is 7.16GB in total size. Helix Core would label this test “small” (if not “extra-small”). This test was run on a Windows environment. Our Helix Core install base is approximately 50% Linux, 50% Windows. It is known that Helix Core runs faster on Linux, in general. In addition, this performance comparison was run against Helix Core version 2018.2. Recent changes to Helix Core have resulted in material performance gains on both “sync” and “submit” operations on Windows servers, for example.
But performance is just one of the reasons that multiple customers try Plastic SCM (because they believed the hype) only to come back after it could not scale to their needs.
Does Plastic SCM Have a Better Artist GUI Than Helix Core?
Plastic SCM has a GUI — Glueon. It is positioned as being highly user-friendly. But not everyone on a team, especially artists and designers, wants to learn a new tool. To avoid version control, some team members may even start using email or DropBox instead.
Helix Core has been serving teams of developers for years. But our tool Helix Sync — the free desktop client created just for non-coders — allows everyone to version their way. No more unsecure sharing methods.
How Does Helix Sync Work?
Helix Sync is an ideal solution. Creatives can simply drag and drop assets to version them in a secure Helix Core server. It’s easy to get started.
- Connect to a Helix Visual Client (P4V) workspace.
- Create using the tools you love — Maya, 3ds Max, Photoshop, and more.
- Drag and drop assets into a local folder to version and simply “upload” your changes. Learn more >>
Artists get to keep their own workflow while still getting all the benefits of Helix Core.
Helix Sync — Designed for Creatives
Helix Sync — a desktop client for Helix Core — was created just for non-coders. Designers and artists can use their preferred tools and simply drag and drop files to quickly version any type of asset.
No more unsecure email or DropBox. Studios can protect and reuse digital assets with the performance required to manage ever-increasing file size. With Helix Sync, teams get a single source of truth for all digital assets, leading to faster builds and seamless collaboration.
Add Helix Sync for free today.
Studios can protect and reuse digital assets with the performance required to manage ever-increasing file size. With Helix Sync, teams get a single source of truth for all digital assets, leading to faster builds and seamless collaboration.
Does The Plastic SCM Branching Mechanism Beat Perforce?
Plastic SCM does offer standard branching capabilities like task branching, diff, and 3-way merge tools. They claim to handle complex integration scenarios like move/rename + readd better than Helix Core, but that is not true, and never has been. Helix Core gracefully handles merges for the world’s largest and most complex codebases. In continuing to deliver on its best-in-class capability, Helix Core’s latest release delivered improvements to the namespace merge algorithm.
Because with Streams, developers’ lives are easier. It helps them code more instead of dealing with overhead. The structure is built in to support complex branching for development and releases (no matter your branching strategy). Plus, this foundation is flexible enough to adapt to how your team works.
📘 Related Resource:Complete Guide to Version Control Branching
How Perforce Streams Works
When a developer creates a branch, Streams sets up their workspace automatically. It knows what files are available, and developers can see which ones are being worked on (and by whom). Streams creates and shows the flow of change between branches.
Your team no longer needs to rely on naming conventions to determine how branches are related. And forget about documenting branching strategies on a whiteboard! Because with Streams, you always know where your code needs to go.
Using the Stream Graph, developers can visualize how code is propagated. They can quickly check to see if they have the most recent changes in the parent branch. If there are updates available, new code can be merged down. Then changes can be copied back up after testing in the child branch. This helps keep your branches stable.
Does Plastic SCM Work in The Cloud?
Plastic SCM offers a cloud hosting solution, which removes some of the ongoing maintenance requirements of a version control system. However, any customers that need to work at scale quickly find that they need to move from their cloud offering to their enterprise offering.
With Helix Core, you can get everything you need in your preferred cloud. The Enhanced Studio Pack is available in the AWS and Azure marketplaces. We also have machine images available in the Google Cloud Platform and DigitalOcean marketplaces.
📘 Related Resource:Learn more about Perforce Helix Core cloud options.
Perforce Invites Game Studios to Design Partner Program for Helix Core SaaS
Perforce has invited its game studio customers to partner in designing a future SaaS offering for its industry-leading version control software, Helix Core. The first release of Helix Core SaaS will be hosted on Microsoft Azure.
What About Plastic SCM by Unity vs. Perforce Git Solutions?
Plastic SCM offers a two-way sync with Git because Plastic SCM “adheres to the Git protocol.” Developers can push and pull and to Git, it just looks like another client.
Perforce also offers solutions for Git users. Use our Helix TeamHub Git code hosting & collaboration solution to take advantage of unique to-Perforce Git functionality like multi-repo code reviews and the new hth-cli command line offering. Licensed Helix Core users also have the option to continue using their preferred Git hosting and collaboration solution and simply mirror Git assets into Helix Core using the Git Connector. As an added bonus, Git clients can be configured to use a dual-remote strategy, where changes are pulled from Helix Core but pushed to the central Git server (and then mirrored back into Helix Core).
Verdict: Plastic SCM vs. Perforce Helix Core
Plastic SCM can’t compare with Helix Core because as studios scale and teams grow, Plastic SCM slows down. From scale to performance, it’s clear why 19 of the top 20 AAA game development studios trust Helix Core.
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