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How to Organize and Plan Game Design?

One thing that always seems frustrating is trying to determine the best way to plan a game, document where I am, what still needs done, what I've finished and making sure I haven't missed anything. I generally tend to have ideas when I'm nowhere near a computer, which leaves me to mentally remember my ideas, write them down somewhere, or type on my phone.

Making a game has many phases, and it becomes difficult tracking each milestone unless you have a way to manage your work in general. I have used Word, Excel, OneNote, and even looked at purchasing something. After doing some extensive research, I landed across one that seemed to compliment my needs and workflow, and of course my favorite part, it was free!

Say hello to Trello!

Trello is a completely FREE and is actually really easy to use. To me, it looks and feels like Pinterest when you first open it up and start. You start be creating a list (or several) and then you name it for what it will be intended for.

So say you create a list and call it "Gray-boxing", after that you click and add a card, or task in a way to that list. You create the card "Test Environment", and click on the card. In the card you can type up a description, add a due date, create checklists of items and even give it a custom label.

I generally work on between 1-2 lists at a time, and each one represents a certain phase of the project. Using labels you can show your progress to see what you have left to do. Say the color "Green" means complete, "Yellow" means in-progress, and "Red" means problems? You can customize them to whatever you need.

Another nice feature I enjoy is the comments section. As I brainstorm and work through each section, I will type up what did, tried to do, couldn't figure out and what I have left to do. This comes in handy if you step away from something for an extended period of time and need to reboot your brain when starting up again.

A handy feature that I don't use all that often is the attachment feature. You can add other documents to a card, so if you need to add an image or document for reference you can do that as well.

Now, one of my favorite things about this is that it is a mobile and desktop app. So if you have a random idea, see a picture of something that gives you inspiration and don't want to forget about it? Just open up the app, type all the content, upload a photo and close out. The next time you log onto your computer to start working you will see everything that was added from your phone.

I will say that what can be confusing or depending on your preferences, is that fact that its built to be similar to Pinterest. You have a board, in that board you have lists, and in those lists you have tasks...So depending on how many tasks you have going on it can get really busy and confusing to find where you are. For a simple game that might not be a big deal, but if you have maybe 3 projects and if you want to utilize this for other tasks, say Marketing, Blogs, etc, you will have a lot of boards to go through.

If you are a busy person or bursting with ideas, you may have 20 boards to look through by the time you get everything created, and it could continue to grow! Depending on how your mind works, this may not be a problem, others it may get complicated.

I have about 5 boards for general management that allows me to constantly update and review my weekly items, and then I have a board for each game that I am working on or getting ready to work on. Thankfully, if you end up scrapping a game you can archive a board and not have to see it to clean up dashboard.

Once I finish working on something, I begin converting all of my notes, images and tasks into a word document to provide a simple layout to view later and do minor updates, but any active project I tend to keep them in Trello.

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