Collaborative app test #1: Playcanvas

Playcanvas is a web based game engine with a strong focus on real time collaboration. Its development started in 2011 with a beta launch in 2013 so it's a relatively fresh player in the real time collaborative field. Reading Playcanvas CEO's Will Eastcott interview makes it very clear that we all have the same ambition for multi user editing:

Will Eastcott, CEO of PlaycanvasWhat is your favourite aspect of PlayCanvas’ service?

[...] For me, it’s the collaborative nature of the tools. It was the killer feature of Google Docs that completely blew me away. We’re doing the same thing for game developers. It really is a revelation once you’ve experienced it.

Indeed Playcanvas offers what we call here "real" real time collaboration - a collaborative experience similar to the standard set by Google Doc (as opposed to "collaboration" that turns up to be limited to manual sync or just file sharing). In Playcanvas you can have your lightning artist and level designer working at the same time on the same map while the texture artist checks in context how that wood color fits with the art direction. Getting rid of the rigid production pipeline that has become associated with video game creation has the potential to be a decisive improvement for the whole gaming industry.

That's why we wanted to check how well Playcanvas addresses the challenge of handling real time collaboration. Our goal on Real Real Time Collaboration is to assess the state of the art regarding the difficult challenges that this feature implies for tool developers.

To do this we ran a series of test we initially determined to be relevant to assess one collaboration engine ability to get an adoption similar to the one enjoyed by google docs (read more about it in this methodology post). The goal here isn't to rate anything but to observe how it behaves as a reference for our (and your!) technological watch. You can see the result in this video:

Tl;dw: a first time user of Playcanvas is likely to enjoy an easy, stable and satisfying collaboration. Its design spares the user the need to learn anything specific to real time collaboration. Moreover the low latency to display edits performed by collaborators makes it both easy to understand and immediately satisfying. While several features could use some improvements (and most of them are indeed worked upon already by Playcanvas team) we consider it already can be a blessing for your production pipeline, provided you don't require the extensive features provided by the "big guns" like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine.

"Real" Real Time Collaboration label

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