Hack N’ Plan – Just for video games

Hack N' Plan: Video Game Specific Project Management

Product Summary:

The HacknPlan software is a specifically designed for game development and this tool brings nuances of the game design industry and project management into one niche specific application.

The HacknPlan application was heavily influenced by agile technologies and as such, centers on something called the 'Kanban Board'. The Kanmban format is widely used in knowledge work process or manufacturing where work is divided into three divisions namely, "waiting", "work in progress", and "completed work".

Video game design is complex and involves a massive amount of individualized work. The HacknPlan application tries to take this into account by simplifying the progress board to provide clarity. The milestones or iterations of the project plan which result in a playable state of the final product.

How to use:

This is a fifteen minute long video that provides step by step instructions on setting up a HacknPlan project, adding milestones and some amazing hair care tips for maintaining epic levels of volume in your locks.

The HacknPlan application can handle as many projects as you can throw at it. However, the company suggests that you focus on a 'one project - one game' structure for each new endeavor. Additionally, the software can be used as a multi-stage manager if parts of the game seem varied enough in scope to warrant their own project to track. The "pro" version of HacknPlan provides a much clearer connection between multi-project games.

A basic project in the personal level adaptation of the application has these components to each project:

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 timely information 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.
Professional versions of the software provide additional tools like a project studio that enhances administrative features, a team section for group or collaborative administration, milestones section for advanced temporal data on your goals, and an advanced calendar for organizing milestones.

Tool
Advantages:

Clear advantages from a novice's viewpoint:

  • The system is specifically designed for game developers

  • Simple enough to use even is the game development team is small or only one person.

  • Interface is not cluttered with lots of visuals, milestones are visually minimized.

  • Project progress board is based on a popular format, kanban, which allows for easier transfer of knowledge when moving from other project management apps to this one. 

  • While lacking all the features, the company offers a free or personal version of the software to work with for learning purposes.

Tool Disadvantages:

Possible disadvantages with this platform:

The software is niche specific. While still possible to use it for other projects, this software is designed around the needs of a single industry.

Depending on how one likes their kanban board, the oversimplification of the milestones may require unneeded drilling down through links and buttons to get to needed information about timing and schedules.

Like most software packages, one will pay dearly for the most used or prized aspects of the software package. 

Not a large amount of training available online. A simple YouTube search revealed only a handful of videos that talk about the use of the software. They are all made by indie developers that while providing a nice service, do so with out a much regards to onscreen professionalism and hygiene.