Helix Core Is Ravn Studio’s Versioning Solution

One of the many challenges facing any game development studio is ensuring that everyone is working toward the same business goals. To ensure deadlines are being met, Norwegian-based Ravn Studio uses Helix Core for version control.

This powerful tool enables the development and business teams to collaborate and communicate. It enhances visibility of information across the entire organization regardless of data volumes, locations, or number of users.

How Ravn Has Benefited

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Scaled implementation beyond anything they'd previously imagined

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Added changelists without adding extra risk

Implemented jobs feature removing need for third-party tools

I wouldn't want to work without version control ever again. It has become an integral part of the way we work

and ensures everyone is working on the right things and not colliding with one another. Moving to Helix has been a major help in achieving what we want to do faster and better. The performance is unbelievable."

 

Development Environment

Ravn is an award-winning game development studio with a growing world-wide presence. Rooted in TV production, Ravn now provides a full range of interactive content across various media. Ravn's gaming portfolio contains "Snakeball" for the Sony PlayStation, "Angel Crash" for the PC, and a variety of Nintendo DS games targeted at a younger audience.

Currently, Ravn's development team consists of nine people based in Drammen, Norway. While some development is outsourced to other countries, the majority of development work is done in-house using home-grown tools. Art assets are created using a variety of industry standard programs.

 

Helix Core Keeps Up Collaboration

Ravn operates in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced market. It is essential that projects met their deadlines and customers are happy with the results. Version control is critical to that goal because it helps everyone understand the bigger picture. Teams can access the very latest information and ensure they are working on the most up-to-date version. Different levels of permissions can be applied to limit access to secure files

Morten Brenna, lead programmer, explains:

"Versioning encourages a more collaborative atmosphere and ups the level of communication between different camps. For instance, my job is very different from the administration team's job, so version control helps us to appreciate each other's issues."

 

Outgrowing SVN

Prior to using Helix Core, Ravn was using open source-based version control system Subversion (SVN). Although this worked well in the early stages, the company found as projects expanded that performance was affected. Morten began to look around the market when they saw Helix Core in action at a customer's site.

"The customer has a much bigger database than ours, and we saw Helix Core scaling to meet their requirements without any problems. We said to ourselves, 'We want Helix!' Since getting Helix Core, updating the database has gone from taking half an hour or more to just one minute. It works like a charm."

Managing an Ever Changing World

Ravn's primary driver for choosing Helix Core over SVN was performance. But, Morten found other benefits:

  • Built-in bug tracking with Helix Jobs
  • Ability to manage changelists and sort file check-outs
  • Visibility into version history in order to assemble the final build

"For instance, when we do a final gold master candidate build, we continue to improve the product, fix bugs, and so on. Essentially, we assume the builds will fail on submission. Changelists make the turnaround shorter when the builds actually do fail. If there is only a small fix required to pass, we only want to include that one fix and re-submit as soon as possible, and not get all the rest of the fixes as they introduce extra risk. Some fixes are large, requiring multiple files from multiple people, so batching up and naming the check-ins correctly becomes very important." 

 

Merging SVN Databases into a Perforce Solution

With Helix Core, Ravn now has just one database for all of its project. While they were using SVN, they had one dedicated server per project. Morten and his team know that Helix Core is able to meet escalating future demands.

"We are very confident in the scalability of Helix Core because we have seen it in use in much larger settings."

Morten concludes, "I wouldn't want to work without version control ever again. It has become an integral part of the way we work and ensures everyone is working on the right things and not colliding with one another. And moving to Helix Core has been a major help in achieving what we want to do faster and better. The performance is unbelievable."

For Ravn, version control is not just about eliminating the risk. It helps the company achieve its business goals more effectively, and enables them to compete on the world stage.