Sports Interactive Relies on Helix ALM and Helix Core For Timely Releases and Secure Source Code
Sports Interactive (SI) implemented Helix ALM to support its burgeoning game development company more than 10 years ago. As the studio enjoys continued success, Helix ALM suites remain an essential part of game planning. Since implementing Helix ALM, they’ve also added Perforce version control — Helix Core.
Helix ALM helps Sports Interactive
Optimise workflow, tracking, and planning
Complete projects on time
a lot of Perforce technologies already and we’ve taken on a few new products in the last year. We’ve been Perforce fanboys for a long time.”
Replaced Excel for Bug Tracking and Never Looked Back
SI is a London-based game developer founded by brothers Paul and Oliver Collyer in 1994. The company grew quickly and steadily, and now has a staff of more than 130. The studio develops the globally-popular football management simulation Football Manager (www.footballmanager.com).
The studio was established at a time when it was industry practice to use Microsoft Excel for bug tracking. Marc Duffy, SI Development Director, recalls the struggles this created.
“We were working with a publisher at the time which used Excel spreadsheets for all of its bug logging and it was an absolute nightmare.” – Marc Duffy, Development Director
The team needed a two-way exchange with the person who was experiencing the bug. Excel’s inability to send information forwards and backwards impeded communication and stalled the development process. So SI sought out a solution that would provide the bidirectional tracking it needed.
SI selected Helix IM, then Test Track, to proficiently track bugs and exchange clear, up-to-date information. With the introduction of Helix RM and Helix TCM, the team eventually chose to implement the entire Helix ALM Suite.
The addition of Helix RM allowed the SI team to revisit their entire workflow, how they track features and how to plan workflows. In choosing to add Helix TCM, Duffy notes, “We were relying on people using Excel to create and track test plans. So, again, we've looked to find the right piece of software to do this job for us.”
Today, Helix ALM is so ingrained in the studio, it’s hard to remember a time they weren’t using it. Duffy says “it's absolutely essential to how we go about planning for our games each year. Even though there's lots of competition out there, we love the fact that it's got a Windows client rather than those which use the web-based version.”
A Fit So Right With Version Control
ALM isn’t the only Perforce software helping SI effectively build games. The team also uses Helix Core Version Control. Helix Core is a version control tool trusted by a majority of game development teams (in fact, the majority of the best games of 2019 were built on it).
Integrating the Helix ALM suite with Helix Core, SI has full traceability — from requirements to source code to tests to bugs. This gives the team a single source of truth that they can trust throughout development.
Tim Attale, who joined SI as Head of IT less than a year ago, comments that, “In my first few weeks, I realised how important Helix Core was. I was lucky enough to attend Perforce on Tour, which was fantastic for me as someone that was relatively new. I got a good feel of the system itself and what’s coming up in the future.”
Helix Core protects their source code and digital assets, providing peace of mind that it will always be available and working. Its functionality also lends to better productivity.
Duffy explains, “There's a very good command-line interface to Perforce which we make use of quite a lot. We have Python scripts that do merges for us that tell us if there's code in one branch that isn't in another, so we can look at what we need to merge over. We use it to run reports, see how many check-ins people made in this particular period of time in a particular depo. That powerful sort of communal interface is very useful to us on a day-to-day basis.”
“Source code is our crown jewels – Helix Core gives us that security.” – Marc Duffy
To anyone who is looking to buy a similar product, Duffy advises using the transition as an opportunity to evaluate workflow.
“Take an overview of your processes to make sure that when you take on the software, you’re actually getting the most benefit out of it. So, whatever the feature set is at the time, whatever functionality you have, it's an opportunity for a company when switching products to actually just review how you do things.”
The Power of Perforce
Duffy, Attale, and Technical Director Svein Kvernoey agree that timely releases and source code security are well worth their investment in Perforce Software. Additionally, they’ve found Perforce support staff to be reliable, and to genuinely have their best interest at heart.
Helix ALM gives teams powerful control over the entire development lifecycle. Integrated with Helix Core, it provides SI the workflow efficiency needed to work with global teams to release games on time.
Learn more about increasing the productivity of your team with Helix ALM and Helix Core.