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Introduction to Asset Management with ionForge Evolution®


Welcome to the first article on here at GameDev.net about Evolution. If interest is high enough, there may be more where this came from. My name is Lucas Heneks, and I work at ionForge Company, the company behind Evolution. Any questions about the tutorial or Evolution in general can be sent directly to me at lheneks@ionforge.com. This article is really only going to focus on the very simple process of installing and setting up of an Evolution repository. It wouldn’t be hard to figure it out yourself, but this will help you get going faster. There will be a little at the end about actually using Evolution.

Let's get on with the show!

First Things First

First of all, you will need to download the software. You can do this at www.ionforge.com/downloads. You will be asked to fill out a form before downloading. One caveat: for the moment, only Windows versions of the client and server are available. Linux, Unix and Mac ports of the client are scheduled for sometime next year(2005), but the server will remain Windows only.

Next, of course, you need to install the client and server applications. If you are going to be using the same machine as both the server and a client, you will need to install both on that machine. If you are going to have a dedicated machine for the server, there is no need to install the client on that machine. Any machine that is not going to be a server does not need to have the server installed, including remote machines. When installing the server, you will be asked if you want to start the service right away. Click the check box to avoid having to restart.

Initial setup

Ok, now we are ready to set up your users. From the start menu, open ionForge\User Manager.Select New User from the menu as in this screenshot.

Enter the user's details and select at least one user to be a member of the administrators group as shown below. If you are not a part of a large development team, it is far simpler to just make everyone an administrator, because restricting specific users from accessing various assets will not be as big of a concern. For most of you reading this, that is what I recommend.

Then click "Create" and then "OK" in the dialog box that follows. You can keep creating users until you run out of licenses. If you are going to have lot's of user's divided into multiple groups, such as Developers, Testers, Artists, etc., create the groups first, then the users. If you need help doing this, let me know and I can talk you through it via email.

Now that you have some users, you are ready to get started using Evolution.

Adding or Creating a Project

Ok, time to open the client. Click Start\ionForge\Evolution. You will be greeted with the login screen shown below, except that the first time that you start, the fields will be blank.


Enter the information for the user you want to log in as. What you need to enter in the server field depends on whether or not you are logging in to a server on the same machineor a network machine. In the screenshot, you can see that I have entered localhost. Thisis what you do when the server is running on the same machine as the client. If you are connecting from the internet, you can give the name of the server, such as www.myserver.com or the IP address of the server. If you are connecting to a LAN machine, it will be the machine's network name, without the preceding backslashes. Once you have entered these three things, hit the unbutton.

The first time you log in to a server, you will be asked to set your working directory, as shown below.

Set Working Directory

The working directory will be the folder on your machine where the files you download will be stored. Select which ever directory you want.

Now you can set up your repository structure. If you already have a project started, you can right click on the root Production ( which you can think of as a controlled folder )and select "Import Folder". The root Production is the \ in the Production Explorer, circled red in the screenshot below.

Root Production

This will make things go very smoothly. If you don't have a project started already, you can start one up in Visual Studio or your chosen IDE, and then import it. When setting up project, I recommend having at least 2 separate directory trees, one for development, anode for release, much like Visual Studio does by default. All of the artists working files such as .3ds files and .psd files should be in the development structure, while the game exported files that the finished game will use go in the release tree. Release should only contain files that are used by the final product. You should be able to just burn the entire release directory on to a CD and ship that to reviewers, publishers and testers. I have created a simple structure to give you an idea of what I mean, but it is by no means a complete picture. For more information on this topic, see the book "Game Coding Complete" by Mike McShaffry. You can see my example in the next screenshot.

Sample Directory Setup

If you already had a project started, you will notice that the binary files are imported along with the source. With Evolution, you can maintain version history of any file, from source to Photoshop to wav. Any time a file is changed and checked back in, a new version number is generated. You can always retrieve previous versions of any file, even binary files.

Now that all the users are set up, and the project is imported or created, you are ready to begin using your new asset management system.



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