15 Years!

Project Management Basics: Part 1

Creating a game is a lot of work. There can be as many people working on a big game as many movies! There are writers, sound engineers, musicians, artists, voice actors, and even a few programmers! Keeping track of all of these people is work for another member of the team: the project manager. This person needs to keep track of what everyone else is working on, who is waiting on things from other people, and how much work is left. Keeping track of all of this is called project management. Imagine a wall full of notes with things like “laser blast sound”, “power up theme”, and “dialog for cut-scene #5.” Maybe each of these notes has notes for when it is due and who is working on it. That wall fills up pretty quickly!

Even for a small project like your OGPC game, a project manager could come in very handy. Every time you think of something else that needs to be done, tell the project manager! That way you don’t have to remember it all, and someone else can make sure that it gets done. Most teams probably won’t have someone volunteer for this job, but what if you could all share the responsibility? Even better, what if you didn’t need a wall of note cards?

Instead of note cards or lists in a notebook, you can use a tool called a Kanban board. In its simplest form, it can be a simple table on a wall with sticky notes. To start with, you only really need three columns in your table: To Do, In Progress, and Done. Then, in each column you place notes with the items from your list of things to do:

At first, everything will be in the To Do column. Then while you are working on something, move it to In Progress. Finally, move it to Done. Now, anyone in your group can take a look to see how many things are left to get done and you’ll know how close you are to finishing! Each item can be assigned to be a team member, and you can even write notes on it. If you change your mind about doing something, you can remove it, or maybe make a new column called Changed Mind. Now, just like a project manager, you can see what the progress is on the game, and you’ll know how close you’re getting!

It may sounds like a lot of work to use something like this, but the good news is that your even a small team can benefit from project management with a Kanban board using some cool free websites! Since it’s online, everyone on the team can always see what’s left to do, and if someone has extra time they might even be able to help get more done.

To get started, register for a site like Trello.com or Taiga.io. Create a project, then start making your cards. Make sure that everyone on your team can login (make your own accounts, don’t just share them), then you can “claim” a card by assigning it to yourself. Drag the card between the columns as you get work done, and you’ll be well on your way to a more organized project and a better game in the end!