Welcome to the HacknPlan documentation!
This guide will give you an overview of the features included in HacknPlan and will help you setup your project easily. Before we start, we recommend you to register into the application if you didn’t do it yet and play with it while you read this guide. We will also propose some tips about how to organize your work to get the most from the tool, especially if you don’t have previous experience with project planning, but if you already have your own workflow we encourage you to play with the tool in order to make them work together.
A bit of context
HacknPlan is a project management system for game development, and although it does not follow a specific one, is heavily inspired by agile methodologies. This is the reason why the application revolves around the kanban board as the main tool to track the progress of your tasks. Defining meaningful, small and well-defined tasks from your functional requirements, and then putting them on our board, will help you easily check the status of the project and keep everything under control.
However, if we think of a project with the scope of a game, having everything in just one board would become a mess to manage. We believe the board should contain a limited amount of tasks in order to provide clarity, otherwise, the excess of information could make you lose sight of what is important and, even worse, commit mistakes. HacknPlan is designed to encourage incremental development as a solution to this problem: we divide the work in Milestones (or iterations) that contain a limited amount of work to be accomplished within a period of time. Ideally, the outcome of every milestone would be a playable version of your game.
So, basically, our project contains several milestones, and each one of those milestones contains tasks. At the same time, those tasks can be assigned to members of the team, so you can easily see who is working on what.
What about game development?
As you can see, everything explained above is pretty generic and can be applied to any kind of project. How is HacknPlan oriented to game development then? Up to now, we have covered how to organize your work in terms of size (work divided into tasks) and time (tasks assigned to milestones). However, something as particular and complex as a game development project has different angles to look from:
- Technical point of view. Game development is very multidisciplinary, more than any other software development field, being closer to others like cinema (art, music, writing, sound design…). As we have organized our data based on size and time, we could have a myriad of different task types all together on the same board, being confusing for the team members that are working on just one of those disciplines. How to fix that? Generic tools out there solve this problem just by using plain tags or forcing you to create and manage different boards manually, but we thought game development would benefit from a more ambitious approach. We have designed a categorization system for tasks, where we assign tasks to disciplines (categories) and then we automatically create a board per each one under the same milestone. This way people working on these categories can focus on their work, but also navigate through all the other categories with a single click, including a global one to take a look at the big picture. We provide a default set of game development categories and sub-categories ready to use, and you can enrich those adding your own ones.
- Conceptual point of view. We have time, scope and technical contexts for our work. But again, there is another way to organize it which is very helpful for keeping sight of the bigger picture: game design concepts. “How many textures are left for level X?”. “How many hours did I plan to invest in art for this character Y?”. These are very interesting questions to answer when you are managing a game development project, formulated around some game concepts, level X and character Y in this case. As well as technical categories, these concepts are covered as plain tags or epics in other tools, but we wanted to build something that fits game development better: the game model. The game model is a tree structure of conceptual elements that can be used to build a hierarchy of game-related concepts which tasks can be assigned to. Why a tree? Because it allows you to define interesting structures like worlds with levels inside, towns with other locations inside, menu structures, characters, mechanics… The possibilities are endless. You will learn how to use this tool in next chapters of the guide.
Well, that is enough context, let’s start creating a project in HacknPlan!