List everything about the game in one place.
Prioritize each item.
Define related tasks.
Sounds like a Product Backlog.
Free or cheap
Easy to use
Fast set up
Atlassian Jira Software
If you are to do good work, you need to focus on what’s important.
Because everything can be done. Just not at the same time.
Why Atlassian Jira Software? Why not just Trello?
Trello is great. Simple, slick…wait. Atlassian acquired Trello. Oh well.
All the team collaborating, wiki editing, task managing, bug tracking, continuous integrating you’ll ever need, beautifully designed and integrated in one word: Atlassian. From Jira Software to Bitbucket via Confluence or any other software from Atlassian…Nothing but great products.
I’ve been using Jira for years. I’m a big fan. For my current purpose, which is creating the Product Backlog of my one-man video game project called “All hands on deck!” (Ahod! – a 1v1 phase-based spaceship battle game) a simple Trello-like board is probably all I need. Turns out Atlassian has acquired Trello anyway and Jira’s Scrum and Kanban boards are really similar to Trello Boards with the extra Jira slickness.
Plus there’s a FREE Jira Software Cloud option. What’s not to like!?
To set up the Product Backlog I’ll use the Kanban Board template.
What’s a Product Backlog?
Borrowing from the Agile toolbox, I’m going to create a Product Backlog.
Backlogs are a collection of prioritized items that make your game from the player’s perspective. These are called User Stories and describe a piece of the experience you’d like your players to have. They’re broken-down into Tasks (3D modeling, code, sound, UI etc.)
“From the player’s perspective” to ensure you never forget who you’re making your game for and what the end goal is: creating an interactive experience. Not a bunch of 3D assets and some lines of code.
“Prioritized” to push you to make up your mind about what’s very important and what’s less important. Don’t tell me everything is very important. Because if it’s the case, it also means nothing is important.
This will outline the roadmap to completing the game while being able to adapt to changing circumstances.
What’s a Kanban Board?
Kanban Boards are made of columns. They represent a step in your workflow. And columns are made of cards. They are the User Stories, the Tasks, the Tests etc. you need to do to deliver the game.
In the Backlog I’ll put every half-baked idea, thing I don’t want to forget about or probably should do at some point so it’s all in one place. Then, I’ll prioritise each item, define them as well as I can (maybe estimate them as well) and pick a few related tasks to focus on. Those I will move to the Board. This way I get a clean, focused list of tasks without the overwhelming effect of a large unstructured backlog.
I will complete the work in the Backlog by priority and get them through a workflow (eg. a series of steps – google Kanban methodology to learn more) simply composed of 3 basic steps for now: To do, In progress and Done. I can always update the workflow (eg. add steps) as needed:
Simple and efficient. What’s not to like.
Now. Let’s fill this thing with great ideas and crappy ones and find the right tools for the job so we can make them happen.