UPDATED 16:52 EST / DECEMBER 18 2023

Chris Lee and Zach Blitz AWS ITPS December 2023 CLOUD

Three insights you might have missed from the ‘Enabling Global Collaboration in Game Development’ event

There’s no shortage of excitement in the gaming industry, with audiences and gaming culture continuing to evolve and massive projections of growth, to the tune of $321 billion by 2026, according to PwC. As that dollar figure continues to increase, so does the need for innovative infrastructure and compute at scale.

What comes next for the game-making industry was a key area of interest during last week’s AWS Industry Technology Partners Showcase: “Enabling Global Collaboration in Game Development” event. It’s an exciting time in the industry, especially given what’s taking place with next-gen cloud, according to theCUBE industry analyst John Furrier.

“It’s still early days in game development. Certainly, as the collaboration increases, democratization, participation, the customer could be part of the production process themselves. All kinds of new dimensions are changing,” he said.

Analysts for theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, spoke with industry executives to discuss use cases for optimizing workflows for software developers and application deployments. They explored how the Amazon Web Services Inc. ecosystem supports software supply chain innovations and how global collaboration is enabled in game development. (* Disclosure below.)

Here are three key insights you may have missed from the “Enabling Global Collaboration in Game Development” event:

1. Cloud is changing the game.

With collaboration, democratization and participation all in the cards, game development in the cloud is growing in scale. That trend started to take place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Zach Blitz (pictured, right), head of core technology at Epic Games Inc.

“I think about game development in the cloud in two facets: Everything that’s in the game server, and then everything that’s outside of the game server,” he said. “I think Amazon specifically has done a lot to help with things that are outside of the game server.”

Those initiatives include AWS’ GameLift, which streamlines game server management. Coming out of the pandemic has forced game developers to think differently about a number of important questions, according to Chris Lee (left), general manager and director for rendering, game and geospatial technologies at AWS.

“What does hybrid mean for us? How do we want to set up better ways to work, and how could we leverage the cloud to do that?” Lee asked. “We see some definite trends there with more customers today asking about and looking for solutions from AWS, from our partners, to be able to achieve better outcomes in this remote environment.”

The dynamics around the game development workforce have changed in recent years. That primarily concerns the advent of games as a service, which allows developers to launch a minimum viable product and implement changes based on player feedback.

“I think when you were shipping a box product and you … had two years to ship and a 10-month sprint towards the end of that release date with a real fixed release date, the crunch was really intense, and you got into these cycles with devs where they were just burning out pretty rapidly,” Blitz said. “I think the mindset now is a little bit more optimistic in that games as a service provide the opportunity both on the backend and the frontend for us to take a one-step-at-a-time approach.”

Though dynamics around the games development workforce have changed, what hasn’t is a need for organizations to find the right talent for positions with high skill levels. One company seeking to help companies do that is Arch Platform Technologies, according to Laura Teodosio, chief executive officer of Arch.

“One of the things they want to be able to do is go around the world to find their talent, but keep all of their infrastructure consistent,” she said. “They want to be able to make sure that no matter where people are working, they’re working in a facility that has all of the tools and all of the data that their teams are going to need. Arch helps them do that by building these connected facilities all around the world on top of AWS data centers.”

Here’s theCUBE’s complete video interview with Zach Blitz and Chris Lee:

2. Innovations in development are targeting increased productivity.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about improving game development velocity through optimizing safety pipelines and developer productivity. Game development teams have a unique challenge when compared to more classic development teams, as they have to work closely with teams of artists, game designers and other professionals, according to Yegor Naumov, senior product marketing manager for TeamCity at JetBrains s.r.o., during an interview with theCUBE.

“That leads to artwork being a large part of the pipelines. And that leads to large sizes of the repositories, files, projects, which brings additional challenges,” Naumov said. “There’s obviously also a high reliance on vendor-controlled core software, such as game engines.”

That’s where TeamCity comes in. It’s a general-purpose continuous integration/continuous delivery software platform that allows companies to build, test and release pipelines and orchestrate the whole process of what happens after a developer makes a code change and commits it to a repository.

“I like to think of it as a platform that, through improving team productivity, allows you to increase the velocity of the release cycles for the teams,” Naumov said.

For Incredibuild Software Ltd., reducing build times and increasing developer productivity is also a priority. The company crushes long build times sometimes by as much as ten times or more, according to Duncan Huffman, director of product marketing at Incredibuild.

“Obviously, for large projects like games, that can be the difference between getting out on time and having a delayed project,” he said.

The company does that by implementing a couple of strategies. It does standard distribution, using spare processes, laptops, servers and cloud instances to expand the capabilities of machines at build times.

“But we also do caching. We enable your system to store data so that you don’t have to build more than once. You only build what changes,” Huffman said.

The combination of distribution and caching at the same time is the advantage of using something like Incredibuild, according to Huffman. Companies can use any part of the platform.

“You can use just the distribution if you need it, or both. We have some on-prem product,” he said. “Depending on where you have those extra resources or where you need to spend that time, we can speed up your builds.”

Here’s theCUBE’s complete video interview with Yegor Naumov:

3. Don’t forget the impacts of generative artificial intelligence.

Generative artificial intelligence is impacting every industry, and that includes gaming. The scale of the products being created right now involves a massive proliferation of assets, and efficiency has never been so important, according to Brad Hart, vice president of production management and chief technology officer of Perforce Software Inc.

“Your staffing would be about one developer to one digital artist, and that has shifted to now really three designers and artists to one coder, trending very quickly to five artist designers to one coder … that’s where the generative AI comes in,” he said. “People are using it today for storyboarding and prototyping.”

Although companies may struggle to find talent to meet its deadlines to ship, the pressure doesn’t end there. Once games ship, companies need to patch, update and deliver additional content packs that roll out constantly throughout the year, according to Hart.

“You need to be able to keep up with that content. There’s two things that help,” he said. “You have to make the team that you do have as efficient as possible. Their workflows, their ability to reuse content that’s already been created that they own.”

That might mean that a team has previously created a soccer game that has crowd noise that can be reused in an NFL game. It’s going to sound the same, and companies may not be able to afford the time it requires to recreate it, according to Hart.

“I need a tool like what we do with our Helix DAM product, which allows you to catalog all of your assets and reuse them across teams to save you time to hit the ground faster,” he said. “You’re always working on unique new content to get your production out quicker.”

Here’s the complete video interview with Brad Hart:

To watch more of theCUBE’s coverage of the “Enabling Global Collaboration in Game Development” event, here’s our complete event video playlist:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the AWS “Enabling Global Collaboration in Game Development” event. Neither Amazon Web Services Inc., the sponsor of theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

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