¿Qué hizo Preguntados para llegar a varias plataformas a la vez?

Etermax decidió utilizar Unity para simplificar el desarrollo, tener acceso a herramientas flexibles y poder publicar su producto en iOS y Android de forma simultánea.

Etermax: un caso de estudio del desarrollador Unity

How does a highly successful studio decide to move from a dual-track, native-code development path to a single cross-platform tool? Founded in 2009, Etermax is a major studio best known for its spectacularly successful Trivia Crack game (Preguntados in Spanish markets), which has over 500-million unique players. Read on to find out why they consolidated their development on Unity.

  • El proyecto

    Unificar a los equipos en una sola plataforma de desarrollo y mejorar un juego líder en el mercado

  • El objetivo

    Eliminar flujos de trabajo redundantes y aprovechar el conjunto completo de herramientas para artistas de Unity

  • Plataformas
  • Personal del proyecto

    Preguntados: 40 (antes de Unity); Preguntados 2: 15 (con Unity)

  • Empresa

    Más de 220 en Buenos Aires (oficina central), Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; y Berlín, Alemania

5 millones de descargas en una semana no es poca cosa

Al principio, Etermax desarrollaba las versiones de Preguntados para iOS y Android de forma paralela, utilizando código nativo para cada una. Sin embargo, el costo de mantener varias rutas de desarrollo era bastante alto. Con el paso del tiempo, los beneficios de utilizar Unity, con su sistema de "un solo código fuente para diferentes salidas", así como su popularidad entre algunos desarrolladores de Etermax y otros estudios de juegos, se convirtieron en argumentos muy sólidos para hacer el cambio.

Los resultados:

  • Un lanzamiento muy exitoso con 5 millones de descargas en la primera semana. Uno de los 5 juegos de trivia con más ingresos brutos en los Estados Unidos.
  • Un solo código base que se puede exportar rápidamente a diferentes plataformas: móvil, web o PC
  • Los equipos de menor tamaño y la mayor velocidad en el proceso de creación de prototipos facilitan un desarrollo más eficaz y creativo
  • Los recursos prefabricados (prefab assets) y el sistema de animación de Unity ofrecen una gran cantidad de ventajas artísticas y beneficios que permiten ahorrar tiempo
  • El acceso a la tienda de recursos (Asset Store) de Unity, donde hay miles de recursos gratuitos o con precios muy económicos que permiten a los creadores ahorrar cantidades esenciales de tiempo y esfuerzo al utilizar Unity 
Los diferentes beneficios que ofrece Unity

A los usuarios les encanta la Fábrica de Preguntas

CEO Maximo Cavazzani got Etermax started with a series of word games, the most successful of which – Aworded Crack (formerly Angry Words) – was the Apple Store’s Best Game of 2012. They also partnered with Mattel for a mobile version of Pictionary. “After three successful games, we started thinking about doing a trivia app, and Trivia Crack was born, launching in Latin America in 2013.”

But to sustain interest in a trivia game, there’s a huge challenge generating fresh content, especially localized content. “If you live in Mexico, for example, you don’t want the same questions as people who live in Spain,” Maximo said. Brainstorming inspired a unique approach: design the game to let regional users create content and contribute their own questions and answers. Named the “Question Factory,” this feature was hugely popular and Trivia Crack became Apple Store’s most downloaded app for 60 consecutive days starting in December 2014.

Due to this kind of success, Etermax has become the fastest-growing game development company in Latin America. And Cavazzani is quick to point out the reason for their phenomenal growth: “Etermax is not a gaming company – it’s a ‘great idea’ company.”

La dificultad de mantener dos versiones independientes

Aunque las versiones de Preguntados para iOS y Android se lanzaron al mismo tiempo, el departamento de desarrollo de Etermax estaba totalmente dividido, pues un equipo utilizaba Xcode y el otro utilizaba Android Studio. Etermax tenía que encontrar empleados con experiencia para cada plataforma, los equipos nunca estaban coordinados, había errores diferentes en cada plataforma y, aunque los productos finales parecían casi idénticos, era como si hubieran sido creados por dos empresas distintas.

Además, algunas funciones que requerían sensores hápticos, como la ruleta, eran difíciles de programar en el código nativo. Este tipo de problemas provocó que Etermax comenzará a pensar en dejar atrás sus herramientas nativas y adoptar una nueva herramienta de desarrollo multiplataforma.

Según Pablo Iacopi, director técnico (Technical Owner) de Etermax, "Primero probamos libGDX, que era una buena biblioteca de código abierto, pero nunca estuvimos totalmente seguros sobre su compatibilidad. Por otro lado, la curva de aprendizaje era bastante pronunciada y era necesario ensamblar nuestra propia interfaz gráfica de usuario (GUI)". También consideraron utilizar React Native, lo que les permitiría basarse en la compilación de código existente para cada plataforma y utilizar una lógica de capas común para los nuevos elementos, los cuales se podrían exportar después a las diferentes plataformas. Sin embargo, esta solución no permitía unificar el desarrollo adecuadamente, que era el objetivo principal de Etermax.

Razones por las que eligieron Unity

A number of Etermax developers had Unity experience, and Etermax was aware that Unity was an increasingly popular platform that a number of their industry peers had enthusiastically deployed. “Seeing that other companies had gone with Unity gave us a lot of confidence, and we trusted our own developers who recommended it, so we gave it a try,” said Gonzalo Huertas, Etermax’s VP of Engineering. In fact, their lead developer for Trivia Crack 2 was a Unity expert.

They developed some prototypes to test speed and performance, and the results were conclusive. Gonzalo noted, “For the developers with Android or back-end experience, moving to C# was quite simple, and for the other teams, the switch to Unity was also very straightforward. We chose Unity to streamline our processes. Instead of continuing to develop on two different code bases, we now have just one development workflow and now we can effortlessly output to many different platforms from the same code base.” In addition, Unity integrated design tasks so developers could later modify graphic elements without importing from other tools.

Importantly, switching to Unity enabled faster prototyping and smaller, more responsive teams, which fundamentally changed the company’s philosophy of game development. According to Pablo, “In the past, we’d polish a game as much as possible to produce a production candidate. Now, we make a minimum viable product (MVP) and then gather extensive metrics. That helps us create a much richer game.”

Los recursos prefabricados (prefab assets) y el sistema de animación ofrecen muchos beneficios

Working with Unity 2018.3, Pablo revealed that: “One very big Unity feature for us is being able to nest Prefab Assets because that simplifies building the visual interface considerably. And it’s not just for characters – we have a lot of common widgets in different scenes that we can update automatically.” By building a widget as a Prefab Asset, Etermax can make a single code change and update all the nested assets simultaneously. He added, “Unity’s ability to build a glyph atlas at runtime – its dynamic font feature – really helps us with Chinese and Japanese character sets.”

Dimensionally, Trivia Crack’s decidedly flat 2D design works. Picking objects is easier in 2D, screen locations are very accurate, and the entire UI feels clean and simple. Etermax leveraged the rich and expanding Unity Animation System, letting them animate 2D sprites, manage different clips, and use the rules/timeline to transition from one animation to another.

Gran velocidad en el juego: trucos para mejorar el rendimiento

Despite Trivia Crack 2 being packed with most of the original game’s features and new game modes, it loads fast and feels instant. Pablo shared some of their tricks: “We started adding a lot of functionality to Trivia Crack 2 and suddenly the initial load went through the roof. That led us to investigate how Unity’s performance tools could help us. We started to measure what we were doing in that load, and basically now we distribute the game load only when and where it’s going to be used rather than indiscriminately loading everything all the time.”

The company actively shares its experiences and learnings with the Unity community. You can find articles about their Unity performance tricks and more in their Engineering team’s blog.

¿Cuál es el siguiente paso para esta empresa de "grandes ideas"?

Etermax is planning to replicate the unified and streamlined workflow of Trivia Crack 2 into other company titles, many of which get millions of DAUs, and refactoring some of them with Unity seems to be in the plans.

Unity’s broad capabilities allow them to experiment with other game genres and diversify their catalog; some of these experiments are 3D games that feature their well-known Trivia Crack mascot.

And perhaps foreshadowing exciting things coming from this innovative studio, a recent internal Etermax hackathon integrated Unity and Vuforia capabilities to create augmented-reality (AR) promotional collateral.

And now that Etermax has streamlined and accelerated its development processes with Unity, that leaves just one non-trivial question for this trivia-loving studio: What new Etermax game are we all going to get hooked on next?

Gonzalo Huertas, VP of Engineering, Etermax

"Elegimos Unity para simplificar nuestros procesos. En lugar de continuar nuestro desarrollo en dos bases de código diferentes, ahora tenemos un solo flujo de trabajo de desarrollo y podemos publicar fácilmente nuestros productos en muchas plataformas diferentes desde la misma base de código".

Gonzalo Huertas, VP of Engineering, Etermax
Pablo Iacopi, Technical Owner, Etermax

“One very big Unity feature for us is being able to nest Prefab Assets, which simplifies building the visual interface considerably. And it’s not just for characters – we have a lot of common widgets in different scenes that we can update automatically.”

Pablo Iacopi, Technical Owner, Etermax
Pablo Iacopi, Technical Owner, Etermax

“One very big Unity feature for us is being able to nest Prefab Assets, which simplifies building the visual interface considerably. And it’s not just for characters – we have a lot of common widgets in different scenes that we can update automatically.”

Pablo Iacopi, Technical Owner, Etermax
Gonzalo Huertas, VP of Engineering, Etermax

"Nuestra confianza aumentó al ver que otras empresas elegían la plataforma de Unity, además de que nuestros propios desarrolladores la recomendaban, por lo que decidimos probarla".

Gonzalo Huertas, VP of Engineering, Etermax
Pablo Iacopi, Technical Owner, Etermax

"La capacidad de Unity para crear un atlas de glifos en el tiempo de ejecución, es decir, su función de fuente dinámica, nos ayuda mucho con los conjuntos de caracteres chinos y japoneses".

Pablo Iacopi, Technical Owner, Etermax

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