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Plastic SCM vs Unity Collaborate - my experience

Discussion in 'Unity Collaborate' started by Rich_A, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Rich_A


    Nov 22, 2016
    I switched from Unity Collaborate to Plastic SCM about a week ago. Here's my experience so far:

    The good:
    • No need to download and maintain another Unity asset, it seems to be either integrated into Unity, or comes with the base Windows download for the standalone Plastic SCM application
    • Integrated with the editor: see which files are changed, etc.
    • Branching
    • 'Professional grade' version control, with all of the advantages that that entails
    • Cloud hosting and storage built in. No need to manage your own cloud storage.
    • No 'checking for changes'.
    • Downloading an existing project via Unity Collaborate seemed to take hours just to uncompress the download, compile all scripts, etc. This stage seemed to take only minutes in Plastic.
    • Seems to handle giant files just fine, no need for separate art storage buckets.
    The bad:
    • No Unity-specific documentation, just a few old Youtube videos.
    • Need to setup ignore settings BEFORE you begin to use Plastic, otherwise your wannabe-ignored files will remain in the project forever.
    • Even though all remote users had the full project (40gb), we couldn't figure out how to integrate the project with the local version, so everyone had to redownload the project, costing us about 2 days of productivity. Support was unhelpful.
    • Generally a very steep learning curve
    • This could be solved via proper ignore settings, but Unity projects have about 25% of the project as 'cruft' metadata by size, which is compressed or ignored by Unity Collaborate, but not by Plastic.
    • Unity Collaborate seemed to provide basic scene merging, examining which gameobjects were changed and only flagging conflicts at that level, otherwise allowing the scene to be merged.

    Who is Plastic SCM good for?
    Teams of 2-10 people, who are working on a commercial product, need branching, and can deal with the steep learning curve. Teams who don't want the intellectual overhead of managing Git, and want a version control software specifically designed for games and integrated with Unity.

    Vs Git
    I havn't used Git, but my third-hand knowledge of it is that you need to manage your own storage, your client, and there are difficulties with scripts and art in the same buckets. You pay more to use Plastic, but all of this is handled for you. However, Git might still be better for bigger teams, with the economies of scale to manage their own version control in-house.

    So, who is Unity Collaborate useful for?
    In my opinion, its useful for a solo developer as an upgrade to using Dropbox to manage your backups, and with some basic revisioning. That's it. I would NOT recommend using Unity Collaborate for anything more complex than that, including for more than one person working on the project. All up, I've lost about 2 man-weeks of work due to Unity Collaborate faults over the project life of my title, that could have been avoided if I used better version control in the beginning (less the time needed to set it up and learn it).

    The basic scene merging that Unity Collaborate provides is also nice, but a professional studio should really be managing its project structure and file access regime in order to minimise conflicts anyway.

    Summary: If you have any of these things planned:
    • Post-release major updates to your title
    • Multi-platform releases
    • More than just one person working on the project
    Do not use Unity Collaborate, instead invest the time in getting Plastic SCM setup in the beginning.

    Going forward, I would recommend Unity just retain Collaborate as a basic backup system. I don't see the point of having a more sophisticated Unity Collaborate product, when there are already good professional-grade version control products out there. Instead, Unity should just extend its partnership with Plastic SCM and make it the official solution for any teams that need something more sophisticated, and provide proper written documentation for users.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
    newlife and Marc-Saubion like this.
  2. newlife


    Jan 20, 2010
    Thanks for sharing your experience, very useful.