Leveraging DevOps for Game Development

Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
Last updated on December 11, 2023

Making games is exciting and challenging, and having the visibility to keep everything on track for release can be daunting. As development budgets inflate, timelines increase, and teams grow larger, developers are pushed to find new ways to improve efficiency and productivity. DevOps can simplify and streamline your game development process and give you that end-to-end view of your project. Whether you’re an indie studio just getting started, or a AAA studio with several games in development, investing in DevOps tools and practices can improve your production pipelines. 

As the conversation around crunch and burnout continues, and as studios struggle to find enough workers, DevOps can be a valuable tool for improving workflows.

What is DevOps in Game Development?

DevOps is a set of tools and practices, combined with an overall culture and philosophy, that is designed to help improve productivity and efficiency by merging and integrating project management, development, and operations teams. While there is no single definition for DevOps, this article from the Project Management Institute gives a good overview.

Typically DevOps is used with Agile practices, which allows for fast iteration and feedback, along with full visibility across the software engineering lifecycle. DevOps tools manage work item tracking, version control, and CI/CD and build pipelines. 

DevOps in game development typically takes advantage of cloud storage and computing to improve communication and collaboration among team members. It can also involve  Test-Driven Development (TDD) to speed up iteration and improve development cycles. DevOps practices can be leveraged to create repeatable processes for game launches, updates, and patches.

The Benefits of DevOps for Game Devs

Improved Project Management

An effective DevOps strategy is always grounded in planning and task management. Game developers can benefit from project management tools that include cardwalls, task boards, and milestones. DevOps practices also work well with Agile sprint planning.

In a DevOps environment, developers and producers work together to break work down into smaller and more manageable chunks, improve regression testing, create emergency contingency plans, and a host of other methods to improve productivity and eliminate waste.

A suite of reporting and task management tools gives project managers valuable insights into their teams, and real-time progression tracking through UIs that visualize task schedules can help managers improve workflows.

Increased Efficiency Through Automation

One of the key principles of DevOps is iterating on development processes to improve collaboration and increase efficiency. In a DevOps environment, teams work more effectively when they communicate openly and are aware of what other people are working on. When developers are no longer siloed, they can better contribute to the team’s overall goals and receive earlier feedback about what impacts their decisions will have downstream.

DevOps also prioritizes automation whenever possible. Game DevOps automation can be implemented across a wide range of areas, from process workflows to automated builds and deployment. Source code management solutions provide automated security and increased performance, along with cloud-based version control that allows for easy roll-back to previous versions.

Better Scaling and Less Overhead

As your game development project grows, so does your need for tools and infrastructure. In a DevOps environment, developers can quickly respond to changes in scale and adjust accordingly. Cloud storage makes it easy to increase your storage space, with some platforms allowing up to 100 TB or beyond.

In addition, leveraging hosted DevOps tools can give smaller studios a head start with tools that can easily scale as the team grows. While an on-prem or dedicated cloud instance requires a significant resource investment, leveraging tools like Perforce hosted on Assembla allows teams to stay lean and agile. According to Ben Hymers, Cofounder and Technical Director of Two Point Studio, “We considered hosting ourselves, both in cloud (AWS) and locally. As a small team, we didn’t want the burden of having to maintain such a critical service. Production-level reliability/redundancy, monitoring, logging etc are all difficult and time-consuming, and we didn’t want to take time away from developers to look after Perforce.”

Stronger Collaboration

Cloud-based project management tools empower globally distributed teams. Along with the optimized performance that a cloud repository brings, it can also allow for easy communication with wikis, message boards, and FTP tools. Group chat and video calls, along with integrations with popular software such as Slack, will eliminate much of the loss of collaboration that can come with a remote team.

Source code repository tracking tools also allow developers to track changes in the code. If another developer makes a change to the code, you can quickly see who made the changes and where. This makes it easy for developers to ask questions and address any concerns.

Transitioning Teams to DevOps

An effective transition to DevOps requires a clear understanding of your studio’s current needs and your long-term goals. Another consideration is flexibility and support for extensions and integrations. Every studio and project is unique, so being able to choose the tools and practices which best apply to your current goals, with the ability to adapt as your needs evolve, is very powerful.

Assembla DevOps Tools

Assembla is the only platform that offers SVN hosting in the cloud, and we have been hosting Perforce in the cloud longer than any other company. The Assembla team also includes our own DevOps team that continually monitors network access and traffic to your server and conducts necessary maintenance.

Source code repository hosting from Assembla includes Perforce, SVN, and Git, along with a suite of tools and features for code management, project management, and security that enable game developers to effectively manage their end-to-end development in a single, cloud-based solution. We also have native integration for popular game engines such as UE4, Lumberyard, and Unity3D, in addition to other industry standard productivity and automation tools.

Trusted by major video game publishers like SEGA and industry veterans such as John Romero, co-founder of id Software, Assembla provides a faster and more responsive development environment than an on-prem setup, especially for developers with large files and 4K assets. It also allows for up to 100TB of storage under our custom enterprise service.

When you house source code on Assembla, your software engineers will spend less time working on their infrastructure and more time making games.

Start a free trial of Assembla to see how our platform can empower your developers.

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Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone is an instructor at Miami University in Ohio for the Computer and Information Technology department, specializing in process and DevOps. Prior to teaching, Allison worked at Microsoft for 18 years, first as a Technical Writer, then as a Program Manager and Director at Xbox. In her last role she was a regular contributor to MicrosoftGameDev.com.

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