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 provides 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

To create a new project, go to the left menu and click on New then select Project from the submenu. Alternatively, you can press the “P” key on your keyboard. 

A dialog box will appear to help you configure your project through a series of steps.

Select workspace (Studio only)

To begin, choose the workspace in which you will create your project. This action is reserved for Studio workspace administrators who can opt to place their projects in either the personal workspace or the Studio workspace.

Module configuration

HacknPlan offers the ability to enable or disable various modules and features for each project. By disabling unnecessary features, the user interface becomes simpler and more intuitive. The available pre-set options are as follows:

  • Lite: This is the simplest preset, and gives you a basic task management system with kanban boards for those who don’t want anything too complicated.
  • Documentation: This preset disables the task management system and keeps the game design documentation. If you want a project for just creating a dynamic design document, this is your preset.
  • Agile: This preset enables most of the features except those which are more intended for classic project management, such as individual work item dates or the Gantt chart.
  • Full suite: This activates all the modules and features in HacknPlan.
  • Custom: You can create your custom module configuration by enabling or disabling the specific features one by one for better integration with your project needs.

Project template (Studio only)

If you are using HacknPlan Studio, you have the option to use an existing project as a template for your new project. This way, you don’t have to start with an empty project. You can select the information that you want to copy to your new project:

  • Master data: Categories, stages, design element types, tags and roles. This one is mandatory.
  • Users: Adds all users from the source project to the new one.
  • Game Design Model: Copies the design model for the new project.
  • Boards: Recreates your structure of boards and milestones in the new project.
  • Work items (tasks and user stories): Copies all the tasks and user stories to the new project (but not its status, just the basic information).

Tip: Studio users that work with many small projects can create a base project with a skeleton and use it as a template for quickly creating new ones.

Project information

After that, you are asked to complete the project information:

  • 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 completing a work item. The currently supported values are hours, days and, for those who use relative estimations, points. The days metric requires you to enter the number of hours per day too.
  • Logo (Personal Plus & Studio): premium users can upload a picture that will work as an icon for the project on lists.
  • 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.

The project structure

A HacknPlan project is nothing but a big collection of work items (tasks & user stories). The task is the main entity in the system, the minimum work unit, and everything revolves around it, while the user story is a work item resembling a feature that can contain tasks inside. Boards, milestones, design elements, and categories are just ways to group work items by certain criteria, which in this case would be time, concept and discipline, respectively. In order to be able to manage work items and all these groups and relations, HacknPlan provides several tools or sections, available throw a collapsible left menu:

  • Dashboards:  This group of sections gives you a quick overview of the project, milestone or board in different contexts. It displays metrics, lists of ongoing items, upcoming events and recent activity. The My Dashboard section is ideal to get a grasp of what you, the logged user, are working on. Studio users get two additional dashboards, one for the boards and one for the team.
  • Boards: HacknPlan allows you to create multiple kanban boards as a way to keep track of your work in progress. It also provides sub-boards by task category and other filters. This is where you will spend most of the time, picking items, moving them to different status columns, and closing them eventually. Boards can be also grouped by Milestone, an entity that represents a long-term goal in your roadmap.
  • Backlog: The backlog is a place to put work items are not in a board yet, they still need to be enriched, sorted and prepared. Here you can create a list of items to organize them in the future.
  • Game design model: Define a tree structure that represents the features and concepts of your game, elaborate them by adding text, pictures or links, and attach work items 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.
  • Reports:
    • Metrics: This section gives you insights into 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 work items. You can change the scope to get metrics by board, milestone, design element or for the whole project.
    • Burndown chart (Studio): Scrum lovers will enjoy this one to see how their Sprints are going.
    • Worksheets (Studio): An overview of how much time your team logged during a specific time range.
  • Planning:
    • Calendar (Personal Plus & Studio): The premium accounts have a calendar section where they can look at the events from milestones, design elements, and work items, 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.
    • Gantt Chart (Studio): A classic Gantt chart with information about the project.
  •  Administration: Configure your project and customize your categories and other classification elements.

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 work items among different boards and 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 boards 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 board or milestone to see how is it going. Producers and project managers will make more use of the dashboards and the additional Studio sections like the Burndown or the Gantt chart, depending on their management style.