Crytek Relies on Helix Core to Maintain Code Quality for Its Virtual Reality Game Development

Crytek, an independent video game developer, publisher, and technology provider, has witnessed vast improvements in their CRYENGINE game engine development pipeline since implementing Helix Core. The version control and collaboration platform has helped Crytek achieve rapid release cycles, complete traceability, and a single source of truth.

Why Crytek Relies on Helix Core

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Single Source of Truth

Rapid Release Cycles

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Traceability and Quality Gates

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Integration with Jenkins for CI/CD

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Streamlined Binary Management

Helix Core reduced release timelines tremendously.

“Before, it could take up to  a few hours. I had to download a copy of the source code, get all of the relevant test SDKs, strip out a hardcoded list of files, and then start the whole process over again."

 

As your chalked hands move up and over the jagged cliffs that overlook the pristine beach, frothy waves crash against the limestone formations that jut out. The lush vegetation rustles as you brush against it. Beetles skitter away as you leap from one ledge to another, gaining points with every lean, crouch, or physical jump. One false move, and you’ll plummet to certain death.

It’s this attention to detail that rivets the fans of Crytek Studio’s first virtual reality (VR) title, “The Climb.”

But it’s also what makes the task so daunting for the developers and designers pioneering the next wave in gaming technology.

To create a seamless virtual world, developers and designers have to create heavily detailed virtual objects. These objects display at frame rates three times faster than average video. And the images run once per eye.

Venturing into the world of VR may be inevitable, but it definitely isn’t for the faint of heart.

Taking Gaming to New Heights

Crytek has spent nearly two decades perfecting software product development for gaming. CRYENGINE, their AAA game engine, has been used to develop games on the most popular platforms, like PlayStation, Windows, and Xbox.

Crytek is a big believer in the transformative potential of VR/AR in gaming. That is why CRYENGINE actively supports all VR hardware technologies, including:
•    Oculus Rift
•    HTC VIVE
•    Open-Source VR
•    PlayStation VR

Known for pushing the limits of both gameplay and technology, Crytek’s evolution has turned to VR. The company developed the award-winning titles “The Climb” and “Robinson: The Journey.”

Maintaining the quality — and quantity — of their product code has never been more crucial to the global studio. To do this, the studio uses Helix Core, the enterprise version control platform from Perforce. With the help of his team, David Kaye, CRYENGINE Lead System Engineer at Crytek, has achieved efficient version control organization. The faster release cycles, support for testing, and single source of truth aligns with Crytek’s product development roadmap.

Better Stability With Helix Core Allows for Faster Release Cycles

Crytek began using Helix Core more than 10 years ago to fill a gap in their development pipeline. At one time, version control was an afterthought for Crytek.

As their product grew, along with demand and the number of users collaborating, an enterprise-grade versioning tool was essential to keep their workflows organized. Helix Core, with its proven industry success, was the perfect solution.

“We’ve been able to version digital assets and store them more efficiently. It’s meant we can be a lot more experimental. We can move a lot faster with the work that we’re doing, and we can branch things up and test them. If they don’t work at first, we know it’s not a problem because of [Helix Core],” says Kaye.

“Stable development doesn’t sound exciting, but it just makes everyone’s work better. Development has become a lot more convenient with Perforce. It’s less hassle and less stress to branch and merge,” says Kaye.

Helix Core Branching Features Help Enforce Stricter Quality Processes

Crytek relies on Helix Core to help maintain control over its testing environment, ensuring only the highest quality code makes its way into the release branch. 

“When anybody wants to submit changes to our main development branch, they have to run it through our trial system to compile and test it,” says Kaye. “We have strict requirements on submitting code to branches. Some organizations let you submit code instantly, but we put barriers in place to maintain quality.”

That’s also because a single change to the engine can block entire game development teams. There is so much at stake, and so many developers, managers, and admins to keep track of. It’s imperative to streamline process and change management to ensure that no errors make their way into a release branch.

Improving Developer Productivity With Helix Core and Swarm

Crytek improves developer productivity by using Helix Swarm, a collaborative code review tool included with Helix Core. Swarm’s Jenkins integration automatically fires off builds and tests when a developer initiates a review. This eliminates the need for custom tooling and multiple Continuous Integration (CI) services.

“We make fairly extensive use of pre-submit triggers. Even for simple things like ensuring the code review has passed or users aren’t submitting identical files,” said Kaye.

Release Timelines Reduced Tremendously With Helix Core

The release process itself has never been faster for Crytek.

Crytek uses Helix Core to feed an accelerated, automated Continuous Delivery (CD) release workflow that is supported by two separate build farms. They also implemented an automated system for real-time testing of their main development branch.

“I can do the final source code release in about half an hour,” says Kaye, adding that he suspects, in time, he could even get it down to as few as five minutes.

Virtual Reality

Crytek is uniquely positioned to compete in the VR market. The trend toward augmented reality carries a significant data burden to support. Within a given VR system, studios must manage four- to eight-fold increases in asset file size, compared to traditional console products.

No version control solution is better equipped to support this vast quantity of data than Helix Core. With preferred asset management features and performant WAN speed, there’s simply no platform solution better in gaming than Helix Core.

It’s a competitive edge that is paying off. Both of the studio’s VR titles have garnered accolades for their innovations, including Best Presentation for “Robinson: The Journey” and Best VR Experience for “The Climb” at the German Computer Game Awards (Deutscher Computerspielpreis, DCP) in 2016.

Together, Helix Core and Crytek empower development studios to bring their unique visions to life.