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They don't. At least artists are really bad at it when naming their files. I've had to constantly rename assets received from artists to give them some sort of consistency, even after telling them how to name it.

But yeah, Perforce version control is pretty important. It's almost designed to help manage assets, especially large ones. And it's free for under 20 users, I think.

Beyond that, you might want to include the level, screen, and/or date for the assets in your naming structure. Pretty much every company, and sometimes every project, uses a different structure, though.

I worked on a commercial MMORPG project for a while. The game assets were hosted on an unversioned asset server instead of in Perforce. The same asset server was shared by every branch and release of the game client, which made backward and forward compatibility a major hassle. None of the artists understood what the big deal was. I feel like I should write a post-mortem of that project some day.. :)

Kotaku has a great post-mortem on the development of Bungie's Destiny game, including fantastic horror stories about the design tools:

  “Let’s say a designer wants to go in and move a resource node two inches,” said
  one person familiar with the engine. “They go into the editor. First they have 
  to load their map overnight. It takes eight hours to input their map overnight. 
  They get [into the office] in the morning. If their importer didn’t fail, they 
  open the map. It takes about 20 minutes to open. They go in and they move that 
  node two feet. And then they’d do a 15-20 minute compile. Just to do a 
  half-second change.”

I don't know how much I trust that source. Maybe they were talking about lightmap baking but any system that incurs more than a 2 minute cost for testing a tweak is going to kill any chance build a meaningful game.

Game design is built upon rapid iteration and anything in the way of that will kill your title.

Have you played Destiny? :D

Now I understand why players complain about Destiny being too slow with adding any new features.

I've used Perforce at multiple companies, but Subversion is a great alternative today. A lot of people's Perforce-vs-Subversion biases were formed years ago, and since then (as a result of pressure from git and all the other alternatives available today) Subversion has added a lot of really great features.

PlasticSCM is a newish alternative. I can't vouch for it, but it looks really good. It tries to give you the best of Perforce and DVCS in one package. It also cleanly solves some problems that are hard to solve in Perforce (e.g. X-links https://www.plasticscm.com/documentation/xlinks/plastic-scm-...).

We have tried out plastic but lost our changes on a few occusions because the tool came to a state where you simply couldnt merge. Stashing in those cases also failed. It was terrible. Losing your changes should never ever happen especially for a quite pricy solution.

We are now using git lfs which so far works like a charm.

Does subversion have good proxy support? It's been years since I touched it but that was one thing that saved our bacon with Perforce and distributed teams.

when I was an intern at microsoft, I worked on a tool lionhead had built for artists, which used perforce to store different versions of art assets.

It was incredibly helpful. Lionhead had some good tech going on to solve this exact problem OP describes.

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