Maintaining an organised development environment | A guide for solo developers and collaborations

• Introduction

Keeping an organised development environment can be difficult when you don’t have all the plans layed out nice and tidy on a single interface that you (and your team) can view all at once and easily comprehend. I will be providing several methods on how to maintain an organised development environment by using third-party services such as Microsoft OneNote and Trello.


• Background

What is Microsoft OneNote?

Microsoft OneNote is a free-form information gatherer and multi-user collaboration tool. It allows presenters to project their information in a very abstract and unique way which can help organisation members comprehend vital information easily.

What is Trello?

Trello is similar to OneNote, yet very different. While both of these services have the capacity to organise information in a very readable way, Trello is very straight to the point, you have a board for a certain project which you can share with your team, you have lists in your board which divides the project into separate areas which makes room for task delegation and inside these lists and you can create cards for the even more specific information.

Note: Make sure to download OneNote and sign up/ login for Trello at this point before moving on.


• Getting Started

One day you’re just just minding your own business, doing usual things, or even brainstorming for a new game to come up with, then it hits you

“This seems like it would work”

Then you start messaging people who could potentially contribute to making your game a reality or just work on your own and take it solo. Then suddenly boom ideas start flooding your mind and you feel like you can’t keep up, you want to try them all, but will you (or your team) be suffice?

Things start to get messy and your group chat is just

“What now?”

No need to fear, OneNote is here!

OneNote is very good at projecting your projects at a full-scale, so take the opportunity to type down all of the ideas you (and your team) have come up with! Ideas are very hard to find, so once you have one, don’t hesitate to save it in a way that will help you recall it sometime in the future.


Project Projection with OneNote

Creating a Project Notebook

When you open OneNote for the first time, you will have an existing notebook called USERNAME’s Notebook, I don’t like messing with these premade stuff, so just straight ahead create a new notebook titled with your project name

Capture

Dividing your project into Sections

This is the first part of your game projection, this is where you will create areas of what will support your game’s structure and wholeness.

Capture1

In the image above, I have created sections that are essential to my project’s wholeness

• Introduction is for pitching what you plan your game to be, expectations long and short term and how you will go about its execution.

• Features is for listing down potential ideas than can fit into your game and ideas that your game needs to have because that’s what it mainly revolves around.

• Marketing is for listing areas on what your will spending your investments on and how you will initially gain them.

• Legal is an optional section for those who go through the process and protect their assets. I am not very familiar with this, so I’ll not go into detail.

• Timeline is for creating a list of objectives that must be completed within a certain time frame. For instance, you want the advertisments to be done by the third quarter of the year so that when the game is ready to be released, pulling up the hype won’t be so difficult and crammed.

These are all personal areas of game structures, it is possible that you may have your own areas, or additional or have worded them differently.

Dividing Sections into Pages

Before you start getting into the even more specifics, you need to divide sub-areas of Introduction, Marketing etc. first, mainly because these are too general to deal with.


If you have followed all the things I have said so far, your notebook should look like the image above, but not quite.

I have created four pages in “Introduction”, these are the essential parts of your project as these will provide the first impression to your members and serve as a guide for you in the future.

Disclaimer: Examples are just a very basic guide on how to compose a pitch per section. These examples are a rephrased copy from my project that I am working on. You may add and omit to your heart’s desire as long as your pitch is still comprehensive. Examples are limited to avoid limiting areas of development and pitch descriptions.

Introduction

What is [Project Name]

  • For the initial impression on your proposed project. Describe your project as comprehensive as possible and cover as much as you can to avoid things like “You didn’t mention this before”. A good project pitch should contain a simple introduction of the project followed by its specific details such as genre, audience, impact etc.

Short Term Goals

  • What you expect your game to look like at the start of your project

Long Term Goals

  • What you expect you game to look like near the end or after your project’s completion.

Execution

  • How will you tackle your objectives? Will you work weekly or daily? How will you consider an objective completed? Etc.

Examples:

New Project is a [Genre] game that is particularly focused on players that like [Areas of Attraction].

I expect New Project to be a very productive environment after a short time mainly because I have a very special approach to my members.

Upon completion, my project will have gained a lot of hype and is will only need polishing to avoid major issues when fully released.

I plan to take this project on a daily basis with at least 3 hours of development per member. An objective is considered complete when it meets all of its minimum requirements.

Features

Potential Ideas

  • This is will utilised for ideas that hit you anytime - anywhere that can potentially contribute to your game’s success.

Production Ideas

  • Approved ideas that your game will primarily revolve around

Delegation(Optional)

  • I’ll add this part for those who won’t use Trello, but I highly reccomend to use it for the best outcomes. Delegation is for assigning tasks to certain members accompanied with deadlines.

Examples:

Potential Ideas:

  • Flying Cars
  • Superman
  • Super powers
  • Iron Man Dies

Production Ideas:

  • Night Clubs
  • Magic Wands
  • Sports Cars
  • Racing
Marketing

Advertisments

  • A list of advertisments to run for your game and how much investment to spend per advertisment.

Sponsoring

  • A list of promotions for your game and how much investment to spend per promotion

Game Passes

  • A list of game passes and details such as price of game pass, how much is earned, expected sales, when to put a gamepass on sale/discount etc.

Developer Products

  • A list of developer products and details similar to game passes.

Miscellaneous

  • Other areas to spend your budget on such as uploading audio assets, game trailer etc.

Examples:
Gamepasses:

VIP

  • 100 R$
  • 70 R$ Earned
  • 50, 000 Expected Sales

Premium

  • 500 R$
  • 350 R$ Earned
  • 10, 000 Expected Sales
Timeline

First Quarter - Fourth Quarter

  • A list of objectives to accomplish in the assigned quarter of your development

Examples:

First Quarter

  • Create User Interfaces

    • Loading Screen
    • Store Screen
  • Script Loading Screen

  • Start game mechanics scripts

Second Quarter

  • Create Map
  • Create Map Aesthetics
    • Trees
    • Grass
    • Waterfall

Third Quarter

  • Create Gamepasses
  • Create Developer Products
  • Prepare Advertisments and Promotions

Fourth Quarter

  • Test Gameplay
  • Polish any unsure areas
  • You may activate advertisments at this time

Post Development

  • Activate Advertisments

But then, someone messages your group chat

Alpha: I’m gonna do X

Bravo: Me too!

Charlie: I’ll start later

You: Ehem…


Task Delegation with Trello

(This can be done using OneNote, but to avoid information overload, let’s break it down into Trello)

Trello is more of a “I’m pretty sure you know what X is” because placing long text in trello is a pain in my opinion. Explanation is done in group chats or OneNote, not trello. Trello as I’ve mentioned is supposed to be straight to the point, you have to ensure that your OneNote projection is extensive and comprehensive to avoid confusion in Trello. You can add members to a board and assign them to different cards with to-do lists, you can even set deadlines! Being chill in a development team is fine, but if it’s too chill to the extent that a member fails to meet a deadline, things need to straighten up. Deadlines should be reasonable at all times.

If deadlines seem tight, but reasonable, be open to negotiations. Another point is to not be affraid to set deadlines, if it’s a new project, failing to meet deadlines can be fairly common, but eventually you’ll get used to your working environment and things will be almost(hardly) do-able.

Creating a Trello Board

Creating a board is fairly simple, as soon as you have logged on to Trello, you will see this screen


Go to the left side and click “Create a team” and name it your project’s name

Then you will see this screen

Click “Create a new board…” and name it “First Quarter”, you will create new boards when you complete previous ones and they will be named “Second Quarter” - “Fourth Quarter”

After you created the first board, you will see this screen, but I went ahead and added some things…


Create a new list and name them as so:

  • Scripting
  • User Interface
  • Audio
  • Marketing
  • Modeling
  • Building
    etc.

This is for easy navigation and monitoring. As you can see in the image above, the scripting list has three cards, you will create yours and name them after the nicknames of your members, but you may also use their real name for formality. You will notice that Alpha has a “May 23” and a “0/3” on his card, this is because he has a list of three objectives to accomplish that are due on May 23. You can do this by going to a member’s card and navigating to the right side


You will notice a lot of buttons, but we will be focusing on “Checklist” and “Due Date”.

Creating Objectives and setting Deadlines for a Member

  1. Go to a card and create a list named after a member
  2. Click “Checklist” and name it “To-Do”
  3. Add a reasonable amount of objectives to accomplish, note that all the objectives for a quarter should not be in one checklist!
  4. Click “Due Date” and set a date when the list of objectives should be accomplished.
Examples



When a member’s list of objectives is complete, it should show this:
image

So be ready to repeat this process several times :slight_smile:

Adding Members to a Team

When your Trello team is all set up, you may start adding your team mates to it. You can do this by going to your team’s main page and going to the “Members” tab as seen below:


Your team mates will need a Trello account with a verified email in order to be added to your team. Once they have an account or if they have an existing account, enter their current trello account’s email and click “Invite to Team”. If a member accepts the invitation they will be listed in the “Guests” tab found on the left.

Adding Members to a Card

Once you’ve added all your team mates to your Trello team, you can now add them to their respective cards, you can do this by going to a member card and clicking the “Members” button found on the right as seen below:


• Author’s Note

This is the first time I’ve written something like this, I usually get messages from developers for help, but I wanted to make this one public. I feel like the need for an organised development environment is highly needed as this is one of the causes of games not being completed or falling behind expected release dates. Creating a way to recall the very reason why you’re doing something is one way to boost your productivity and the organisation of information is just a bonus :wink:. In the right hands, these services can do way more than organising a development environment.

• References


Note:
It has come to my attention that there are several typographical errors in this post and I am in the process of correcting them.

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