Global entertainment leader accelerates video game builds with Hyland solutions.
Game builds are clearly Electronic Arts' most critical digital asset. The builds must be readily accessible to those who should be working with them — and no one else. By integrating with EA’s existing game builds servers, their content management application offers a highly efficient, scalable solution that provides secure and reliable game build access and delivery throughout the entire game life cycle.
Reliable, secure delivery
EA is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment, providing blockbuster video games, content and online services for game consoles, PCs and mobile devices. To satisfy the constant demand for new games from over 300 million registered players around the world, EA developers must work around the clock. At any given moment, about 70 different global teams will be hard at work on multiple game builds in various stages of the development cycle.
“With the latest generation of game consoles, our games are have become much more complex, and so have our challenges of providing secure, reliable access to game builds," said Steve Scivally, the director of EA’s release and preservation management (RPM) team.
EA’s custom-built internal application for secure game build delivery had become outdated and was unable to scale any further.
Agile tracking of video game builds
The RPM team concluded that Hyland's Nuxeo Platform went above and beyond other evaluated solutions to provide some critical benefits, including:
- Support for an agile development and release model that is capable of keeping up with EA’s fast-moving, concurrent development activities
- Accelerating development while reducing required time and resources. With Nuxeo Platform, Scivally and his team don't have to build basic components. Nuxeo Studio, part of Nuxeo Online Services, maximizes application configuration while minimizing the need for custom coding, greatly reducing time and resource requirements.
- Freely defining “content” to match the business context. Document management tools typically have rigidly defined electronic documents, folders and cabinets. In contrast, the Nuxeo Platform provides a schema-flexible content model that allows developers to define virtually limitless custom content objects, with flexible metadata and complex fields, to match the organization’s needs.
- The RPM group’s first Nuxeo Platform-powered application, Shift, was named after its goal to simplify the shifting of content around EA.
The Nuxeo Platform enabled us to build our application to manage video game builds in seven months, versus an estimated 12-13 months for a solution developed in-house. We accelerated our time to deployment by nearly 50%.
Maximizing game security
Shift is currently in production and actively used by 600 to 800 unique users per day, from EA’s development, certification and release management, QA and testing teams around the world.
By integrating with EA’s existing game builds servers, Shift offers a highly efficient, scalable solution that provides secure and reliable game build access and delivery throughout the entire game life cycle.
Creating a new game build and access controls
When a new game build is done, it's submitted automatically into Shift using an automation tool. For example, when EA’s Stockholm location creates a new build for Battlefield, custom metadata fields are automatically populated in Shift, including information relating to access controls and the locations of the build content: source code, artwork and audio assets.
Upon validation, Nuxeo Platform retains the information provided in a custom document type (content object) for that build, with a life cycle status indicating it is available for access. Notifications are then automatically sent to everyone involved in the process.
Builds are categorized by title (e.g., Battlefield), game system platform (PlayStation, Xbox, PC), content type and language.
A full audit history for each game build is maintained, logging all user activity, such as when a build was checked in or out and by whom, and any modification of permissions.
“We also extended the Nuxeo Platform audit service to also capture every aspect of each event, including key custom elements to identify any new values created and what previous values were replaced," Scivally said.
Shift fully utilizes Nuxeo Platform’s out-of-the-box access control resources, as well as some custom security policies. For example, “only QA teams can update the life cycle state of a game build from alpha to beta, preproduction and, eventually, final release of the game," Scivally said. "Nuxeo Platform allows our Shift application to have fine-grained security, by business role, down to the metadata level.”
Of course, there are always valid exceptions to security policy. Shift utilizes approval workflows to enable workers to submit a request to access a game build not allowed by their access permissions. The submission, including an explanation from the requester, is routed to the content owner defined in Shift. The owner will approve or deny the request.
“Shift ensures the approval request process is as efficient and responsive as possible, while fully documenting who approved special access, where and when," Scivally said. "Our Shift application provides fast, reliable and responsive access to game builds with complete security, while also helping expedite our time-to-market for new games.”
Innovations by EA
Since the Shift application’s original launch using the Nuxeo Platform Document Management module, EA has since upgraded to the Nuxeo LTS 6.0 release with Elasticsearch, utilizing more of the full Nuxeo Platform and enabling more robust workflows.
In addition, the development team has built management of the Shift application within Nuxeo Platform, using another custom document type called site, which is structured to hold metadata about the technology infrastructure. Now, operators use the same application to manage the infrastructure inventory worldwide. Today, all 26 of EA’s key physical and virtual sites are managed worldwide by the Shift application.
Tracking and repurposing archived games
The EA RPM group recently deployed a second Nuxeo Platform-powered application, Vintage, for managing released game titles archived for preservation.
Vintage is our archive library of finished products. The Vintage application utilizes the same logic and custom content model used by Shift to manage long-term storage of EA’s intellectual property.
“It’s important to note that Vintage is actively used by new game development teams to utilize some or all of the existing code from a finished game," Scivally said. "They might use the code to work on a new sequel to that finished game, create a modified version of a finished game or help build a brand new game all together.”
Summing up the benefits the Nuxeo Platform has provided Electronic Arts, Scivally said:
“Our Nuxeo Platform-powered content management applications (Shift and Vintage) are more mission-critical to the success of EA than ever. The flexibility of the Nuxeo Platform has kept pace with our increasingly larger and more complex game builds. Our selection of the Nuxeo Platform to create applications to quickly and securely deliver our game builds has proven to be a very good decision.”