Free or cheap
Easy to use
Fast set up
Atlassian Jira Software
List everything about your project in one place.
Prioritize each item. Define related tasks.
Sounds like a Product Backlog.
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. There you go then.
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 while, it’s great. For this particular purpose, which is creating the Product Backlog for my solo 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 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 the 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 important and what’s less so. Because if everything’s important. 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 several columns. Each column represents a step in your workflow (ex: to do, in progress, done). 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 task I should probably 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’ll move to the Board. This way I get a clean, focused list of tasks without the overwhelming view 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. Love it.
Now I have a game engine, a code editor, a version control system and a Jira Software to plan the project. Let’s f****** gooooooo!