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Hey guys,

 

     We just recently launched our game studio and we are looking for a project organizer/manager. My Question is do any of you feel that Articy Draft is worth the asking price? The features are quite impressive and it does make the layout quite easy to follow, but in your view is it worth it? In the same sense are there any programs that are relatively close to Articy Draft without the price tag? Trying to find the best way for the entire team to be able to view the work and give input even when we aren't together. 

 

                                                                      Thanks Everyone  -Ethan Leslie

 

 

 

www.rev6studios.com

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In all truth what Articy Draft amounts to is an integration of common tools into a workflow.

Realistically you can accomplish the same tasks with a combination of graphing (Visio, yEd, OpenOffice Draw, etc.), document publishing (Word, WordPerfect, OpenOffice Writer, etc.) and content management (Subversion, Perforce, TFS, etc.) software.

The main advantage is that rather than using systems of citation/reference to establish conceptual links between related content, the application links it all together in a way that makes it easier to manage.  So you can easily bounce back and forth between related content, as well as keep changes to related assets in synch without extra steps.  If you pay the extra fees for API use you can have a tools developer code exports that can let you take content directly into your engine pipeline.

As for if it's worth the money; that really depends on the size and scope of the projects:

  • Large/complex projects that are heavily character or plot driven - Potentially huge time savings, a more coherent point of view for managing the project and potentially higher quality.
  • Small to medium size projects that are heavily character or plot driven - The time savings wouldn't be as dramatic, but it will likely be easier to manage the project and it could contribute to a higher quality product.
  • Other large/complex projects - Some potential time savings and ease of project management.
  • Other small to medium size projects - Less likely to have much effect toward time savings, easy of managing the project or quality of the output.

On the alternatives:

  • Chat Mapper - Does many of the same things, used by game developers that have produced well respected titles and it's not expensive really.  Complex branching dialog requires Lua scripting, but it's conversation simulator and the fact it will export standard screenplay document format for voice actors may outweight the learning curve.
  • You can just use different stand-alone 'off the shelf' products in a manual or semi-automated workflow as most already do.

Some applications you may be using anyway for the back-office (e.g. Microsoft Office suite) can fit some of the requriements for your development needs.  A recent survey indicated that a considerable amount of dialog-tree development for games has been done in Excel oddly enough, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

If you've got a good tools developer on staff you might see if they can integrate the pieces of your tool-chain into a more optimal workflow.  Such as plug-ins for your text editor, graphing or other applications that allow you to directly check-in/out documents from your CMS, browse and link to other files in the CMS from the documents.

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In all truth what Articy Draft amounts to is an integration of common tools into a workflow.

Realistically you can accomplish the same tasks with a combination of graphing (Visio, yEd, OpenOffice Draw, etc.), document publishing (Word, WordPerfect, OpenOffice Writer, etc.) and content management (Subversion, Perforce, TFS, etc.) software.

The main advantage is that rather than using systems of citation/reference to establish conceptual links between related content, the application links it all together in a way that makes it easier to manage.  So you can easily bounce back and forth between related content, as well as keep changes to related assets in synch without extra steps.  If you pay the extra fees for API use you can have a tools developer code exports that can let you take content directly into your engine pipeline.

As for if it's worth the money; that really depends on the size and scope of the projects:

  • Large/complex projects that are heavily character or plot driven - Potentially huge time savings, a more coherent point of view for managing the project and potentially higher quality.
  • Small to medium size projects that are heavily character or plot driven - The time savings wouldn't be as dramatic, but it will likely be easier to manage the project and it could contribute to a higher quality product.
  • Other large/complex projects - Some potential time savings and ease of project management.
  • Other small to medium size projects - Less likely to have much effect toward time savings, easy of managing the project or quality of the output.

On the alternatives:

  • Chat Mapper - Does many of the same things, used by game developers that have produced well respected titles and it's not expensive really.  Complex branching dialog requires Lua scripting, but it's conversation simulator and the fact it will export standard screenplay document format for voice actors may outweight the learning curve.
  • You can just use different stand-alone 'off the shelf' products in a manual or semi-automated workflow as most already do.

Some applications you may be using anyway for the back-office (e.g. Microsoft Office suite) can fit some of the requriements for your development needs.  A recent survey indicated that a considerable amount of dialog-tree development for games has been done in Excel oddly enough, but I wouldn't really recommend it.

If you've got a good tools developer on staff you might see if they can integrate the pieces of your tool-chain into a more optimal workflow.  Such as plug-ins for your text editor, graphing or other applications that allow you to directly check-in/out documents from your CMS, browse and link to other files in the CMS from the documents.

So if it is a larger project then you feel it will be worth it? I have a team of about 15 people right now and we are lacking in a central place for all of our information. I have messed around with the demo a bit and it seems rather nice. However I dont like the UI. Haha It seems like the best software usually has the worse UI available, Zbrush being the worse I have come across yet....

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When I say larger project I mean something along the lines of:

  • Dev Budget > $6,000,000
  • Team Members > 25
  • Assets > 10,000

When that's the type of resources you're intending to contribute toward the project, then the cash outlay and learning curve Articy Draft definately could make sense.

 

If you're a young studio that needs to stay 'lean and mean' regarding where you spend time and money, then the money is probably better spent other places (like content production tools, engine technology and talent).

 

Should you find the main driver is being able to have a central repository to do things like:

  • Make files accessible to multiple people.
  • Allow collaboration on those files.
  • rack who made which changes to what, revert to earlier versions when nessesary.

Then it sounds like you need some form of version controlled repository to manage your assets really, and you'd need to license one to really use Articy Draft as it's makers intend anyway. 

 

Just keep in mind that has to be administered by someone, so a team member will need to become your expert on that system and devote some time to it's 'care and feeding'.  There are ways to accomplish the goal without going to a version control system, so you need to consider if something simpler (e.g. DropBox, SharePoint, etc.) will accomplish what you need or not.

 

If you choose version control there's a lot of systems for doing that, but here's a short list:

  • Perforce - The premiere commerical offering in the space.
    • Ease of setup/administration.
    • Speed of operations on large repositories.
    • Integrations (UDK/UnrealEngine, Eclipse, Visual Studio, Max, Maya, MS Office, etc.)
    • Good professional support.
    • Most industry professionals are used to working with it.
  • Subversion - The premiere open-source offering in the space.
    • Multiple clients available (choose your preferred UI)
    • Integrations (Eclipse, Visual Studio, Windows Shell, etc.)
    • On-premise or a choice of hosting providers.
    • Open-source, but optionally purchase a support contract.
    • Huge community around it.
  • Team Foundation Server - Really nice if your tool-chain and target platform is well supported.
    • Automated Build Management
    • Project Management features.
    • Automated Testing Management
    • Automated Lab Management
    • Integrations (Eclipse and just about anything Microsoft related)
    • Hosted and on-premise available.

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