Setting up a project

 

HacknPlan allows you to create as many projects as you want. The system is designed in a way that works better when everything in your game is managed under a single project (at least in the Personal version, the Studio version will provide better multi-project management), but you could also split your game into several HacknPlan projects. An example could be a game with a custom engine or level editor, in that case isolating the tools and the game could be convenient.

Creating a project

In order to create a new project, click on the “Create” button on the personal projects panel of the front page of the HacknPlan application. You can also create it by either clicking on Projects->Create project from the top menu or pressing “P” on your keyboard. A new creation dialog is open with the following fields:

  • Name: The name of your game.
  • Description: A brief description of what your game is about. This is just a small text for informative purposes, especially when you are working on several small projects, not meant for detailed or formatted descriptions.
  • Cost metric: This value indicates which metric you would like to use in order to estimate and measure the cost and effort of making a task. The currently supported values are hours, days and, for those who use relative estimations, points. Note: The hours and days will be soon replaced by a more advanced time-based metric that will automatically display minutes, hours or even days depending on your hours per day relation.
  • Logo (Personal Plus & Studio): Premium users can upload a picture that will work as an icon for the project on lists.
  • Template project (Studio): The Studio plan is better prepared for teams with multiple projects. You can select one of your existing projects as a template for the new one, and you can choose which data you want to be transferred:
    • Master data (categories, design element types, platforms, and roles)
    • Users
    • Game design model
    • Milestones
    • Tasks
  • General info: This is an advanced description field with markdown support that will be displayed on the project summary page. It’s useful to put general links, guidelines or other useful information related to the project.
Tip: Studio users that work with many small projects can create a dummy project with a basic setup and use it as a template for quickly creating new ones.

The project structure

A HacknPlan project is nothing but a big collection of tasks. The task is the main entity in the system, the minimum work unit, and everything revolves around it. Milestones, design elements, and categories are just ways to group tasks by certain criteria, which in this case would be time, concept and discipline, respectively. In order to be able to manage tasks and all these groups and relations, HacknPlan provides several tools or sections:

  • Summary:  This section gives you a quick overview of the project and allows you to manage your team and the milestones you created. It also displays some metrics about your progress, how many tasks you created, completed and how much time or points you estimated and used.
  • The boards: HacknPlan provides a kanban board per milestone as a way to keep track of your work in progress. It also provides sub-boards by task category. This is where you will spend most of the time, picking tasks, moving them to different status columns, and closing them eventually.
  • The metrics: This section gives you insights about how your project is going, how much effort you put into each type of issue you work on and how well are you estimating your tasks.
  • The game design model: Define a tree structure which represents the features and concepts of your game, elaborate them by adding text, pictures or links, and attach tasks to those elements, like a dynamic version of a GDD. This not only gives you information about the design of the game but also a high-level overview of the progress of the project from a conceptual point of view.
  •  Administration: Configure your project and customize your categories and other classification elements.

On the other hand, premium users can have some special sections:

  • Project (Studio): Dedicated section for the project, which includes an overview, metrics, activity log and administration features.
  • Team (Studio): Dedicated section for the team, including the actions in the Summary section for Personal projects, plus extended information per user (pending and completed tasks, metrics, activity…).
  • Milestones (Studio): Dedicated section for milestones, with advanced information and metrics.
  • Calendar (Personal Plus & Studio): The premium accounts have a calendar section where they can look at the events from milestones, design elements, and tasks, such as when a milestone starts or when the deadline for a design element is. Besides this, they can also sync the calendar with the Google one, so you can view other events there too.

When you are in a planning session, you will mostly work from the game design model section, designing your features and general concepts and envisioning the high-level roadmap of your game, and will probably distribute many of those tasks among different upcoming milestones. You will also take a look at the metrics section to evaluate the estimation of your pending work and see if it’s viable over time.

However, once your planning for the near future is done, you will start your milestones and will focus on the short term, on achieving the next goal. And the kanban board will be your home then, keeping track of the progress of the tasks, commenting, adding screenshots, enriching them… You will also take a look at the metrics of the current milestone in order to see how is it going.

 

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