As an early adopter of Unity Cloud Build, prolific developer Spry Fox has found work on its next game Alphabear moving forward at a tremendous pace. Spry Fox developer Andrew Fray explains just how the power of efficient builds helped the studio.
Like many teams today, Spry Fox isn’t based in a single location. It employs talent across several continents, because they value talent and creativity more than proximity.
But managing the build process and the multitude of iterations a game goes through during development is a huge challenge; something Spry Fox Developer Andrew Fray knows well.
Unity Cloud Build has handled the entire compilation and bundling process for Alphabear during development, automatically processing any changes the team pushed to their source control repository, and delivering the result as a new build sent instantly via email. In short, it meant changes to the art, audio and copy appeared in new builds in minutes, on-device, without the need to ask engineers to export a build manually.
“Having our builds in the cloud, and giving people the ability to fetch it from wherever they are, out and about, is amazing,” explains Fray.
“Being spread across different continents, I can’t just call everyone over to my desk to see a new build, or pass a device around the office. That’s just not possible. It can make it very hard to share builds with your team efficiently.”
Creating and sharing builds is at the core of game development: in order to test and gather feedback from teammates, beta players, clients, publishers and partners, game developers need to have a streamlined and effective method for building new versions and delivering them to the appropriate people. Otherwise, the process is not just merely time-consuming, but destructive to timelines and creativity.
“With our game Triple Town for mobile I needed to get builds out to the team,” offers Fray. “I needed to show them new features and get feedback quickly. Exporting the game could take some time, and that would be time looking at my machine not able to get on with my work. Once a day that might not be so bad, but then I’d be limited to feedback once a day. Really, as you iterate on a game, you want that feedback coming in all the time; it’s what helps you make a better game.”
For Spry Fox’s forthcoming word puzzler Alphabear, the team turned to the power of Unity’s currently-in-beta Cloud Build platform. “I’m even able to push a change, and then head out to pick my daughter up from school. It’s only just down the road, but I can already be testing the latest build on my phone when I’m waiting for her at the gates.”
But for Fray, Unity Cloud Build isn’t just about maximizing the potential of the school run; it’s about efficiency, simplicity and speed.
“When we look back at previous projects we’ve worked on that are comparable to Alphabear, Cloud Build has increased the speed and ease with which we’ve made the game,” he says. “We’ve been able to iterate so much faster, get feedback so much quicker, and have our artists more involved with the process by letting them see their output live on device.”
In the case of Spry Fox, the benefits of Unity Cloud Build have had an exponential effect which Fray is convinced results in a better quality game all round.
“The artists aren’t having to constantly ask the programmers to make builds, so the programmers have more time. And the artists themselves can iterate faster and build more confidence in the work they’re producing. It really benefits everybody’s work beyond the build process.”
Speaking with Fray it is clear Unity Cloud Build has introduced faster iteration, simplified the build process, given team members more time to focus on their core roles, and let Spry Fox continue working in the same way they always have.
And so it is that Alphabear is progressing smoothly and quickly, and a soft launch is imminent.
Unity Cloud Build is currently available as a free beta for Unity Pro users, and will in time be available for users of the free version of Unity.