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
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.
You can create a new project in a few different ways:
- Click on the Create entry on the left menu when not in a project, and then click on Project from the submenu.
- Click on the project dropdown on the header of the application, and click on Create project.
- Press P on your keyboard from anywhere in the application.
A project creation dialog opens up that will guide you through a series of step to configure it:
Since the major update of 2018, HacknPlan allows to enable or disable many modules and features on a per-project basis. Disabling features you don’t need simplifies the user interface and makes it more intuitive. You can choose from the following presets:
- 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 a better integration with your project needs.
Project template (Studio only)
If you are using HacknPlan Studio, you can use another project as a template of the new one, so you don’t start with an empty project. You can choose to copy the following information to the new project:
- Master data: Categories, stages, element types, tags, roles… This is one is mandatory.
- Users: Adds all users from the source project to the new one.
- Boards: Recreates your structure of boards and milestones in the new project.
- Game Design Model: Copies the design model to the new project.
- Tasks: Copies all the tasks and user stories to the new project (but not it’s 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.
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 a 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:
- The 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.
- The 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 which represents a long-term goal in your roadmap.
- 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 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.
- The 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.
- Administration: Configure your project and customize your categories and other classification elements.
On the other hand, premium users can have some special sections:
- Advanced dashboards (Studio): Two special dashboards to get an overview of specific boards, milestones or users. These dashboards are perfect for admins of bigger projects.
- Gantt Chart (Studio): A classic Gantt chart with the information about the project.
- 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.
- Burndown chart (Studio): Scrum lovers will enjoy this one to see how their Sprints are going.
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 in order to see how is it going. Producers and projects 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.