As I said in my first blog, I hope to begin writing something about once a week. However, I missed last week, and don’t have much time to write up anything overly elegant for this week. The reason for my lacking time – organization!
As I am quickly finding while starting this gaming company, if there is one trait an indie developer must have, its organization! As an indie developer, you wear a number of hats – from story writer, to level artist, to legal counsel, to marketer, to team manager, and basically whatever comes up. Not to mention you’re often the piggy bank for the little adventure, which means working a full-time job ‘on the side’ to make ends meet!
With all the tasks laid out in front of you, an indie developer can quickly drown and give up if you’re not organized!
So, with that said, I thought I’d quickly go over how I’m approaching this in case someday another indie developer stumbles across this post. And don’t worry, if you’re not a developer – this might still be of use if your mind is a messy, dangerous place to live, like mine.Google Docs
Screw a dog - these are an indie developer’s best friend. With the ability to create folders, Word documents, and Excel documents (just to mention a few of the basic functions) – Google docs have all the resources necessary to stay organized.No Such Thing as ‘Too Many’ Documents
Putting your thoughts done somewhere is invaluable in this field – worse thing you can do is come up with that Eureka idea, only to lose the details when putting on the next indie developer hat.
Personally, my first step was to create a ‘To-do’ Excel document (I’ll get into this more later). After I had this to guide my general actions on any given day, I just started creating individual Word documents for all the random thoughts that shot through my head just in case they were of value later.Folder Organization
After doing this however, you may quickly realize as I did, that your Google Drive gets quick hectic – this is where folders are handy obviously. You’re not an infant, so I won’t continue to go over the basics of how to organize, but I will give you an idea of how I’ve broken down my Drive in case you wanted a starting point.
- Company Docs
- Meeting Minutes
- Company resources (ebooks, etc)
- Finances (receipts, purchase agreements, etc)
- Marketing (Conferences, Conventions, Kickstarter, Web Ads, etc)
- Official Docs (Operating Agreement, contract templates, signed contracts, etc)
- Misc. (random ideas / thoughts)
- Web Media Related
- Web site statistics (IMPORTANT!)
- Youtube (contains my tutorial scripts, etc)
- Social Media (Twitter, Reddit – I just write out ideas here before sending out to the world)
- Game Title Development
- Storyline / Lore (background of players & world)
- Quests / Plot (specific game-play details)
- Art (concepts, written ideas, finished works, etc)
- Code (written ideas, finished works, etc)
- Research (ideas for game & supporting research)
As I said, this is the way I tackled my idea organization, but to each their own.Sharing is Caring
The beautiful part of using Google Drive verse something on your personal hard drive – you can share easily! Again if you are anything like me, you’ll realize you can use help on your project. With that said, you may or may not, want to show everything you’ve put together to your new team members.
Google Docs give you the ability to choose to share everything, just a few folders, or even just a single document. On top of that, using Google Docs allows you to collaborate on the same document with another individual at the same time. HINT: This is a great way to troubleshoot code with someone!To-do Document
So this one is obvious enough right? Think of what you want to do, right it down, done.
Well, I’ve made my template document a bit more complicated in order to keep myself even more organized, which is why I used spreadsheets rather than a Word document.
Here are the categories used in my spreadsheet:
- ID (basic reference number for reference between tabs
- Sub-ID (used only for the ‘Business / Financial’ and ‘Development’ tabs)
- Task Overview
- Title Involved (Useful if planning multiple games at the same time)
- Proposed Deadline (a basic goal for when you want / need to be done)
- Category (for me, this is “Business / Financial” or “Development”)
- Anticipated Man Hours (in Days)
- In Danger (this is an IF statement used to highlight row yellow if current date + “anticipated man hours” is equal or greater than the “Proposed Deadline”)
- Overdue (this is an IF statement used to highlight row red if current date is equal or great then ‘Proposed Deadline’)
- POC, or Point of Contact (this is who you should contact / nag if you are ‘In Danger’)
- In Progress (this is a manually entered value of ‘Y’ or ‘N’)
- Complete (this is a manually entered value of ‘Y’ or ‘N’)
- Notes (this is a section to write any details about that task that you might forget)
My spreadsheet also contained three tabs:
- Business / Financial
I know all of the above might seem like overkill, but it has saved me multiple times! This keeps me focused on my goals, prevents me from getting sucked into one particular task and missing out on others as a result, and just makes your life less hectic. Try it, I promise you will be surprised by how much weight this takes off your shoulders (and if you are serious about duplicating it and have questions, post them below, and I can give further details).Meeting Minutes
This is so easy to overlook (believe me, I shrugged it off at the start, too – don’t)!
Meetings are great place to go over new ideas, and elaborate on current thoughts, and disband the crap ones. Unfortunately, even in a 30 minute conversation, you can easily cover too much material to remember by the time you get out. Do yourself a favor and be organized by just jotting down ideas that are mentioned, the count on votes so you can go back later to see “Did we ever make a decision on that?” Meeting minutes are just a simple time saver in the long run.
Not sure how to make them? Google it (or for those of you that hate Google, you can ‘Bing’ it – its ok, we all have our weaknesses, I forgive you.)Summary
Hopefully this blog wasn’t a complete waste of you ‘wanna-be’ developers out there, or even the random scatter-brained reader. But if you haven’t tried the things I mentioned about, I strongly encourage you to at least try them out and see if they hurt or help – and then just leave me a note below if it made a difference!
“Terraforming you mind, one blog at a time.”