Speed up C++ Game Development with Visual Assist for Visual Studio

Claudia Fernandes
Claudia Fernandes
·
Last updated on November 6, 2023

Ever since we brought Perforce to the cloud, back in 2012, we’ve been close partners with hundreds of game studios. Working with them, we’ve learned that 1) game devs are always working on tight deadlines and 2) game projects keep getting larger and slower, compounding the problem.

That’s why we think you’ll be happy to learn about Visual Assist, a productivity extension for Visual Studio made by our friends at Whole Tomato. If you’re a game dev who uses Visual Studio, codes in C++ or C# and wishes there were more hours in a day, Visual Assist (VA) is a game changer. It provides powerful context-aware suggestions, instantaneous refactoring solutions, and minimal loading time even in large projects, ensuring you code better and faster. 

Visual Assist helps you code 20% faster and saves you hours in development time. Keep reading to find out how.

What does Visual Assist do, specifically?

Visual Assist provides a set of intelligent refactoring, navigation, code inspection, correction, rebuilt UIs, highlighting and generation features for C++ and C# development, along with tailored features that help game devs make the most of Visual Studio’s integration with Unreal Engine and Unity

In other words, VA improves Visual Studio for C++ and C# by offering the following features:

  • Code Navigation: Jump around huge C++ source files with ease. VA provides a smart interface so you can look where you want to go and jump to it directly—regardless of the size of the project.
  • Code Refactoring and Correction: Modernize code semi-automatically with refactoring features based on Clang Tidy’s code inspection checks. VA can also easily rename and restructure complex C++ code without affecting the code’s behavior.
  • Code Generation and Assistance: Get timely prompts wherever and whenever you are in your source files. VA is smart enough to recognize and suggest the most likely actions based on what you have selected.
  • Code Understanding: There are special formats and languages close to C++ that your IDE might not understand. This includes Unreal Engine syntax, shader files, and the like. VA fills that gap and provides the necessary syntax highlighting and basic editor features so you can work as efficiently. 

Visual Assist’s Top 5 Productivity Features for Game Development

Support for Unreal Engine

  • Tailored Support for Unreal’s Extended Language: VA’s parser fully understands the context of Unreal extended code language and adjusts syntax highlighting and indentation accordingly. 
  • Context-Aware Dialogs & Documentation: The documentation for Unreal Engine C++ is often in the code itself. Visual Assist understands Unreal’s extended code language, so it will show comments and dialogs from base classes and U*Macro specifiers. 
  • Powerful Code Parser: Visual Studio’s code parser struggles with large projects, such as game development. With Visual Assist, you can code without all the incorrect red squiggles & save memory for other tasks. 
  • Smart features all around: Visual Assist reads U*Macro specifiers & we’ve used that to make our features smarter. Goto, Goto Related, Find References, Rename & Change Signature have all been extended to support implicit methods.
Visual Assist options

Learn more about how you can make the most of Unreal Engine with Visual Assist or watch the Webinar Improving your Unreal Engine development with Visual Assist.

Support for Unity: Shader Files

In 2023, Visual Assist began support for Unity development. They kicked things off by adding shader files to their list of supported languages. Whole Tomato calls this the “first of many Unity-specific” features and they plan to expand support by adding user requested features.

Unity shader files

Powerful Search Function

Forget the file explorer: VA lists all the projects in the solution in a single dialog menu. It’s supported by a powerful context-aware search function so you can even find associated files by merely typing in a related file or string — an extremely useful feature for game projects.

Visual Assist open file in solution

Advanced Symbol Filtering and Sorting

Easily sort through thousands of symbols with advanced filtering and sorting. From the same dialog, you can copy the symbol, jump to it, or even find all references to it.

Visual Assist find symbol

Enhanced GoTo Implementation

Although the built-in commands are sufficient for some projects, the Visual Assist version of GoTo Implementation generally provides better accuracy and functionality. Specifically, the Visual Assist version:

  • works on files outside a project
  • works on symbols within comments
  • goes to implementers of interfaces, in addition to interface definitions
  • provides a consistent interface across all versions of Visual Studio
Visual Assist GoTo Implementation

VA & Assembla 

Together, Visual Assist and Assembla form a dynamic duo working to improve game developer productivity. While Visual Assist accelerates and improves your team’s coding efficiency, Assembla manages the infrastructure that hosts the source code and assets, liberating your team to focus solely on game development.

Assembla manages the infrastructure that hosts the source code and assets, liberating your team to focus solely on game development.

Try Visual Assist for Free

You can Download and try Visual Assist for free for 30 days. If you decide to purchase a license, you’ll be able to keep your settings and build. Visual Assist is easy to remove at any time with the Visual Studio IDE Extension Manager.

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Claudia Fernandes
Claudia Fernandes
Claudia, Assembla's Content Marketing Manager, brings over 7 years of experience in crafting content for global SaaS companies. She is enthusiastic about DevOps, cloud computing and the intricacies of the software delivery pipelines. She loves to learn from the experts at Assembla and guide readers through the ever-evolving SDLC landscape.

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