Synapse Games frees up resources with Unity Cloud Build
Synapse Games is a small indie studio that’s hugely successful. Their games, Tyrant Unleashed and Global Assault, are consistently amongst the highest grossing in Android stores and with two additional games on the way, they’ve got a lot to do. By using Unity Cloud Build to generate and share builds automatically, the team was able to simplify their build process, free up resources, and “focus on the fun part,” as Studio Founder Alex Reeve puts it.
“Unity Cloud Build has sped up our build process from about 45 minutes of engineering time or more per build to essentially zero minutes.” Alex Reeve, Founder, Synapse Games
“Our old build process hurt us,” Reeve says. “It took up extremely valuable engineering time: Before Cloud Build, we were a very small team with only two Unity engineers, and every time we needed to initiate testing, the build process would halt [game] development time.” Distributing builds for internal testing also slowed things down considerably, as revision and change tracking was completely ad-hoc, and almost never tracked effectively. “Builds were made infrequently, which made it harder for QA to identify when a specific bug or crash started appearing,” he continues.
Cloud Build streamlined the process for Synapse Games, making it faster, continuous, and best of all, automated. “It constantly streams builds based on SVN updates, with no additional engineering resources,” Reeve says. “Distribution of builds has also become very fluid—‘Share’ links make it easy to distribute builds to a large number of developers internally. Project and QA leads all have direct access to the project.”
All Cloud Build users have access to build management tools, which are easy and useful to the entire game development team. For QA, Cloud Build provides easy ways to view details about particular builds and compare them to one another. “QA now has a much more granular access to builds, making it much easier to see when certain bugs or crashes first started showing up,” he says. “Combined with the changelog, this helps QA communicate with project leads and engineers about specific potential causes of the problems.”
Since developing with Unity Cloud Build, Synapse Games has been able to expand from Android-only to iOS. “I spend a lot of time developing on Windows and play testing on my iOS device; this was almost impossible before, but with Cloud Build it’s a trivial step,” Reeve says. One of his team’s favorite features is that Cloud Build is inherently multiplatform, and can build to iOS, Android, and Web all in parallel: “Unity Cloud Build has sped up our build process from about 45 minutes of engineering time or more per build to essentially zero minutes.”
“Cloud Build sped up the build time in terms of labor,” Reeve says. “Builds are continuously available so we never have to pause for a big build step, and we also never have to spend the engineering resources on it.”
Synapse Studio now builds all its games through Unity Cloud Build. Reeve described the evolution from their old processes to Unity Cloud Build as “incredibly easy.” “We thought we were going to need a complicated post-build script, but… we never needed it. It only took us a couple of hours to get everything set up and get our first build up and running, and we’ve never looked back since. We had very high expectations… looking back at how it revolutionized our development process, I’d say it far exceeded even those high expectations.”