About Red Hammer Studios

Red Hammer Studios was established in 2003. Since then a lot of things have happened and this page shows and tells something about the people that made it happen and the events that they have been through.

Timeline

Workflow

It takes a bit of effort managing a project the size of RHS: Escalation. To be able to sustain a steady release plan and waste as little time as possible we had to refine our pipeline and develop a lot of our tools ourselves.

Over the years we have tried a lot of issue and project management web platforms before finally settling on Phabricator. It helps us with the day-to-day running of the organization. It allows us to track and assign tasks, run an internal wiki and discuss matters in a more focused manner. It is also in charge of all of our SVN repositories. There are two repositories for each mod. Once contains the development files, while the other the already built pbos. To allow the public to report issues it was chosen to run MantisBT as most Arma power users are already familiar with it via the Arma 3 feedback tracker. Those 3 tools solved the centralization of information problem. Now it was clear where the data and the tasks were.

Next we had to solve the automation problem. We noticed a very long time ago that a huge percentage of the time was wasted on building test versions, distributing them to testers and solving bugs related to localized builds. So it was clear that something had to be done to eliminate this flaw. We needed to get the test builds to testers faster, more frequently and with little to no effort. In the world of software development automation is done through the use of Continuous Integration tools. One such tool is Jenkins-CI. With some custom tooling we were able to set it up in such a way that it would scan the development repositories, figure out which packages changed, repack the necessary pbos and commit them to the test repository. All this done automatically at least once a day, or on demand. Testers could now have centralized up-to-date files within minutes of the changes being made by developers. Below is a histogram of builds for both mods starting November 2014. Overlayed are the release dates for all versions.

This proved to be absolutely cruicial to ensure that tasks and issues were dealt with very fast. Developers were now completely focused on making addons. Before this system existed it would have been literally impossible for someone to build and distribute the entire mod to everyone nineteen times in a day.

The last step was to automate the release pipeline. Manually it would take us around 4 to 5 hours every time a release had to be made (and had to be coordinated between a few members). So we took a step back to Jenkins and though about what we could do. It struck us that if we gave the users a single one click wget tool, it would allow them to synchronise their local files with an FTP server. So Jenkins was made to automatically dump latest test repository contents to this server, sign the files with new keys, separately pack them into zip archives and start seeding a torrent file as well. With all this set up the release timeframe went down to around 10 minutes per mod.

Credits

Below you can see a composition sankey diagram of the Red Hammer Studios team based on their function, and everyone else who have so generously contributed to the project. The members are listed alphabetically. The thickness of the line represents the number of year the person has been with the team.

And many many more. Sadly, too much time has passed to remember everyone who has contributed to this project.

Click and drag the globe around to see where we all come from.