Bit Fry Game Studio Scales to Meet Their Release Date With Perforce Helix Core

Founded in 2013, Bit Fry’s goal was to deliver a high-quality arcade experience for mobile. What started as a simple game quickly evolved into a gaming franchise. After their hit game Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, Bit Fry embarked on their follow up title.

To meet their release date, teams needed to accelerate. Perforce was a critical partner in this journey.

Unite Cross-Functional Teams in One Depot

Secure Game Assets & Version Everything

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Perforce has been a big boom for collaboration,

flexibility, and iteration. You can share files very easily and have access to what you need.

 

Challenges Scaling Development

With teams constructing over 137 players and counting, Bit Fry needed to scale, fast. Their teams were struggling to get the files and feedback they needed. Sync times were long. Builds took forever. Desperate for a solution, Bit Fry looked at moving to Git.

But unlike Perforce Helix Core version control, Git cannot easily handle the large files and binary assets required for game development. It also lacks workflow support for non-code contributors, including game animators, designers, and artists. Instead of moving to Git, Bit Fry contacted Perforce professionals to optimize their environment.

Chris Kuffert, Engineering Director at Bit Fry explains, “I'm very glad we didn't switch to Git at the end of it. The biggest reason was I don't know how effectively it could handle locking of files. It is not as simple as Perforce Helix Core.”

How Perforce Helix Core Outperforms Git

File locking, exclusive checkouts, and support for creatives helped Bit Fry iterate and test more. It prevented team members from overwriting files and binaries, which would have been a time-consuming and costly mess. This is because nothing can scale like Helix Core. Teams could access everything they needed without the wait. And build times shortened, allowing for more frequent testing.

“We're now at a point where we not only have five consistent builds running, but also the opportunity for all our engineers to run a subset of builds on shelved code. That has increased our velocity immensely,” according to Kuffert.

With Helix Core, sync times went from 18-28 minutes down to just four or six. Developers could check in code more frequently and artists could upload their assets without delay. Because with Helix Core, teams can version everything in one central depot, making it easy for Bit Fry to enhance collaboration across disciplines.

Bit Fry Studio

Unite Cross-Functional Teams in One Depot

Before, Bit Fry’s teams were collaborating, but not inside their tools. Builds required artists to contribute assets, but it would take up all the available bandwidth, slowing everyone else down. To avoid this nightmare, they would avoid pushing changes. This would impact developers causing feedback delays. Assets and code were left sitting outside of the server.

Perforce helped to remove these barriers by setting up their architecture on-premises. Teams could push changes and files more frequently. Bit Fry immediately noticed a change in how their teams worked. Their depot grew exponentially, bumping up to three terabytes.

As people connected remotely, they were still able to get what they needed. Teams could grab rigs and characters from other areas of the game to repurpose. Central storage of assets eliminated searching through emails and hard drives for files, promoting game asset reuse and increasingly velocity.

Mark Strelow, Director of Animation, noticed his teams were able to easily get what they needed. “Our art directory contains all our animation assets. If someone's working on a Maya file, they'll do it straight in Perforce [Helix Core]. And it’s ready for anyone else to grab.”

His animation team experienced improvements as well. The power of Perforce helped them version quickly without any added complexity. It just worked. Animator SJ Belen explains, “I don't need to know how all this stuff works. It’s super simple. I can check out a file, get the latest files, and check them back in.” She goes on to add, “Since they’ve made the change, I don’t get yelled at anymore. We can start syncing assets whenever.”

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Secure Game Assets & Version Everything

Security is a critical issue for game development companies, especially as they grow. Perforce helped Bit Fry balance the need for access and safety. Iron-clad access controls built into Perforce Helix Core protected their valuable assets down to the individual file level. With Bit Fry’s source code and secrets protected, outsourced teams and other contributors could get access to only what they needed.

Keeping assets secure means protecting and efficiently storing all subsequent versions. With Perforce, team members could look back in time to know when, where, and how something evolved.

Maintaining a chain of custody over digital assets ensured the final game was high-quality. It also allows teams to review past iterations and make them even better. According to art Direct Sean O’Toole, “Perforce keeps things organized and retains our entire history.” This is a huge win for development teams and designers alike.

For Belen, “Perforce has the iterative submission style, so you could have an old version in the depot that someone's worked on before the current one that maybe doesn't work. You can go back in the files and find one that works.”

No matter the file, Perforce Helix Core versions it and keeps it protected.

Perforce Support Available Whenever, Wherever

When Bit Fry came to Perforce, they were in the middle of a major release. “Our contract was expiring with our hosted solution, so we had to switch by the end of the month. But we also had to submit a delivery by the end of that month, and nothing is going to budge. Perforce Support was tremendous,” said Technical Director Alexander Brooks.

Perforce Professional Services were vital to ensuring teams had no downtime as they moved to an on-premises solution. The switch happened right in the middle of the week, with absolutely no disruption.

All assets in the depot were migrated with no data loss, no loss of logs, and no delays to development. Brooks gave his seal of approval, “There cannot be an hour of downtime and there wasn't. We were good to go.”

Ultimate Rivals

Bit Fry Dream Team + Perforce = Winning Combination

With Perforce in their corner, Bit Fry can continue building hit games. “Perforce has really opened us up to a process that keeps assets up to date and the game stable, without sacrificing developer time, which has been massive for us,” according to Brooks. And for creatives like Sean O’Toole, “Perforce makes our jobs a lot easier.”

Want to see Bit Fry in action? You can check out their latest release Ultimate Rivals: The Court in the Apple store. If you want to learn more about how Bit Fry made it work, check out our recorded webinar Level Up Indies: How to Scale Your Studio. We sat down with a panel of Bit Fry team members — from engineers to animators — to learn how an indie studio moves up to build bigger and better games.

How to Scale Your Studio (Like the Pros)

Are you a small team with big ideas? Don’t wait to migrate to the best tools. “If you spend the time and effort learning how to do it or set it up yourself, you're setting your company up for more success and more flexibility.” — Just take it from Alexander Brooks.

Start using the industry-standard, Perforce Helix Core version control, free. You can discover why 19 of the top 20 game development studios trust Perforce.

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