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Our experience with managing over 69GB of assets (~120.000 files) used to be a nightmare. We would make assets in-house or ask for help from other artists and end up putting everything in the project's folder. A new project, a new folder, more assets. Seems pretty straightforward right?
But what do you do when you want to reuse assets between projects?
A decent amount of sprites, textures, music, and sound effects can be used in more than one game. It goes without saying that it can speed up the development process quite a lot, even if modifications need to be added into account.
This was the case with our game Shipn't which was made in only 4 days. Roughly a whole day was set aside to just find and organize the assets we needed.
So wouldn't then it make sense to have the assets as organized as possible? Nobody wants to dig into an oak-sized tree of folders for that one character spritesheet, which you would be lucky to remember you have it.
And then we had the problem that thumbnails don't work for file formats which we use a lot such as: .PSD, .AI, .FBX, and more.
Finding a solution
Our first attempt was to use Directory Opus (folder management replacement for Windows 10) to help with the thumbnails and for more powerful searches, and while that worked for some, it was still missing a few file formats and the trees of folders would still be there with who knows what hidden assets and gems we'd need.
The second solution we tried was Adobe Bridge, the image management software by the gigantic Adobe.
It was horrible 😡
The UI looked and felt clunky like it was some program you'd expect in 2010. The tags which we use to categorize assets were really hard to apply to images especially at a comfortable speed, and the program crashed occasionally.
How can such a big company have such a low quality product?
Eagle and first impressions
The search continued for the perfect asset management program and to our luck (the same luck that made us discover Articy Draft actually...) we found Eagle on a website with Top 10 or so file management programs.
Eagle was one of the few that was not open source (sorry we got really bad experience with open source software) or discontinued and whose website looked amazing, truly a good first impression that made us continue with our research for the product instead of going back to the Top 10 list and keep scrolling.
The official YouTube tutorials proved to be yet another strong buy point for us since we could see up front what the program was capable of doing and how to do so, before even downloading the demo.
We were a bit skeptical about the lack of a subscription and just a cheap flat price of around 30$. How can the company be sustainable if they charge so little and only once per customer 🤔 🧐 but we're hoping that just as Bootstrap Studio (program we're using to make websites with a one time payment option), they will manage just fine.
The last bit we researched before checking the demo was what would happen if they shut down, luckily it was easy to find: the company promised they would release the program for public domain on GitHub or something similar.
Before fully committing we ran all sorts of tests on the time-limited demo. In comparison to how we used to organize our assets it seemed that Eagle would be a great improvement.
The first step after importing everything was to setup the tags and tag groups. The tags are a super important feature of Eagle which we use the most. They allow to quickly search for assets which follow the specified criteria.
These are the tags that we use for audio assets:
Relieving our workflow
After tagging assets we ended up with some search filters for what we need. For example, if we're working on a cute animal game, with the filters available we then have all the sprites required, starting from entities, to backgrounds, effects, and music. All of that at the click of a few buttons.
A big issue for us were the duplicated items. We couldn't get the time to manually check that the sprite sheet we purchased didn't have the same frames in between animations (such as idle and the initial frames for walking, running, etc.)
With Eagle when you import in the same place it will do a byte check and find if there are any identical assets.
This saved us roughly a few GB since we had about 4000 duplicated files.
We store our libraries on external SSDs and when we have to change from our office Windows PCs to our handy Mac laptops, plug out - plug in, that's it.
One thing to note here though, you will need a program to read either NTFS on your Mac, or APFS on your Windows computer. We chose the first one, with Paragon for Mac (and like so, the Snapshot feature will not bug us either since the SSD is formatted as NTFS).
Assets found, now what?
Once we have our assets, we either drag and drop them to our game engines or export them to the computer. The hierarchy is saved so any further organizing done via folders will be identical in Eagle as it is on our Desktop.
Apart from the kick-ass website which includes a very fluffy manual and the YouTube tutorials, the support that Eagle has is amazing!
We contacted them with some really stupid questions at times, what we thought was a bug and so on. They replied the same day or the next one. Every. Single. Time!
We're very impressed by that 🥰.
We just scratched the surface of what Eagle can do, and this is exactly what this blog was meant for: a quick overview.
The software is amazing, we've been using it for a few months now and it helped us enormously.
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