Do you organize your projects?

Dutchmountain

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As I am on the point of starting a project I was actually wondering if you game developers use any kind of organization (or management) to keep track of the project? I do mean about the actual game mechanics like evenents and such, specially with long term projects (with possible work breaks). Maybe a 'simple' Excel sheet could help already? Any other tips / suggestions on this would be welcome too.
 

Cezar_cr

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I decided to start organizing it now, on my third project.
I mean, I am only organizing the plot, using a spreadsheet like you mentioned.

So far I feel very happy with the results.
I jotted down the main parts of the main story, from beginning to end. It has been a success because I am not going off track, creating hundreds of side quests, which was something I did a lot.

For the next project, I'll try to implement a column to keep track of switches that activate cutscenes and whatnot.

Some people have also used flowcharts successfuly.
 

Milennin

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Not really, but I always name every Switch and Variable I use, as well as use similar structure for my events across my games, so I don't really get lost, even if I haven't worked on a project for some time.
 

Ninjakillzu

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I use 2 word documents (one is for Google docs) and an excel spreadsheet.
 
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Before I start working on the game, I write up a game design document for all the major concepts and whatnot so I always have some general direction of what I need to accomplish for the project

While working on the game, I have a sorta throwaway RPG Maker project open on another monitor where I dump copies of a lot of events (message box layouts, sound effect and music volumes, branching choices, etc) that I'll have to reference or copy and edit elsewhere into the main game

I also keep a notepad doc on the other monitor that I use as a checklist for whatever I'm working on for that session. I make notes of little mistakes that I need to go back and fix, things that I can't execute the way I envisioned in the GDD so I make note to look up if there's a solution online, and whenever I finish a session I make sure to throw in some notes about what I want to start working on next so that I'm not completely lost

So it's kinda organized, but I'll admit a lot of it is pretty sloppy and if someone else were to look through it all they'd probably think I'm a nutjob
 
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I just started off this whole RPG thing not too long ago!

With my first project being kinda wonky n' all, it's been nice to learn some organization in terms of switches and variables.

I like organizing them sorta like having a "title" switch/variable that acts as a header, and is not used in-game.
Kinda like:

001 --Fun Variables--
002 blah blah fun
003 jdkfnkj

021 --Dungeon 1 Switches--
022 this thing
023 that thing

041 --SideQuest Triggers--
042 milk
043 etc


You get the picture.
It's been really helpful when I forget where I put my own progression triggers lol
 

TeiRaven

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Possibly my favorite organization tool of all time is Microsoft OneNote. The fact that I can click and drag pages around, arrange them in sections, collapse them when I'm not using them, etc, is huge to me. I can keep track of locations, the people in the locations, the puzzles in the locations, etc. You can link pages to each other, almost like a wiki. You can insert tables and spreadsheets, graphics, checklists, all kinds of things. Very very handy, and also free. Page with a list of variables? Sure. Page with a list of all the parameters to display your facesets consistently? Sure. Page with your list of things you need? Sure.

Second favorite organization tool is my folders and file names. Oh, SO MANY folders. I've always been a little excessive in my organization of folders, but I don't have time anymore to click through a tree of folders six deep to find one sprite. So I'm starting to use lots of prefixes in my file names, to reduce the number of folders--and even better, to keep it all organized once it's imported.

I have my PC sprites in a folder, I have my NPC sprites in a folder, I have my Object sprites in a folder. The PC folder is easy enough, there's only four of them and even if I give each one four different sprites, that's still only 16 files. PC_Ciela, PC_CielaGown, PC_CielaCheer, whatever.

My NPC folder has more prefixes. NPC_Royal_Celeste. NPC_Villain_Octantis. NPC_Shop_Leonis. NPC_Noble_F1. NPC_Common_M1.

My Object folder is similar. OBJ_Door_Wood. OBJ_Torch_Tall. OBJ_Crystal_Purple.

That way, when I import, I don't have to rely on purely alphabetical sorting to find something. If I blank on the name of a particular shopkeeper, I only have to look at the NPC_Shop_[xyz] section of the list rather than clicking on every name in the list that I can't immediately place.

This is a habit I got into from my Real Job as a registrar for a small museum. When I came into my job, there was a disjointed spreadsheet of inventory and a bunch of pictures jumbled in folders. It was so useless that I had to start from scratch. Now whoever comes after me has a spreadsheet with numbers that match up to the numbers in the names of the photos, so the next person won't have to start from nothing. Probably most useful if you're working in a team or, like me, only occasionally have more than a brain cell and a half and have trouble focusing it XD

Don't ask me about my "actual outline" though. That bit's a mess.
 

Eugherson

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Never have. Never will.
 

Dutchmountain

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Thanks all for your info and suggestions, it sure gave me some ideas already to keep things organized from start on.
 

TheoAllen

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On the design level:
I keep all the design drafts on the note. They are not final or detailed, but at least it should give me the general idea of the thing I want to do. The note is meant to trigger my creative idea rather than a detailed idea I want to implement. That means, not excel or anything. Just a note, a text file.

On the implementation level:
I somewhat organized my database, but not to the point I want them ordered in the database list. I reserve several slots for actor related. For everything else, I just add a new item on the fly. However, due to an insane amount of it, I began to actually use a prefix to categorize them instead of reordering.

The raw files:
Of course, I also draw and edit images for the project. For easier access, I put all of those raw files inside the game folder. Tileset edit files go to the tileset folder, etc. Only when I want to publish my game, I exclude them.

The backup:
I often only backup the data files on my dropbox rather than the entire project. I consider that it is the core of my project and gets corrupted. I don't need to backup the resources files. If the resource is missing or corrupted, I can just use another resource as a placeholder. However, once the data files are corrupted, it is basically the end.
 

Kupotepo

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*Warning* I am really disorganized. Please take this writing as a grain of salt.

For a short game, I just use one document.
For a kind of long game, I use excel to keep thing together by linking several of the docs together. However, if you like to write a lot and make your world alive, Campfire Pro is for you. Try it.

For the switch and event, I tries my best to be descriptive as possible. If I think I will forget due to the complexity of events, I write it down in the excel.
 

h0tWalker

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I organize my projects in a few different ways, and always look into more ways to keep it down to detail. Call it over ambitious, but when I studied game design I ended up working with a lot of documentation.

High Concept Document
Don't really do lots of these, buts its a document describing your document in a short and easy way, often referred to as an elevator pitch. Short description of the game, sometimes nice to have at hand.

Game Design Document
I usually keep one at hand as the games production manual. It lightly touches on story, gameplay and mood of the game. Then continues on with the technical bits like screens (title screen, options, etc.) controls, mechanics. It also keeps track of sound effects and such. Not really that important if your one person, but I like to keep one to have it all organized, with a changelog that I update regularly, so that if I ever get a partner on a project, he/she knows what's done and not.

Can also add in story, characters and lore here, but I prefer to organize it in a separate document or Campfire, which I'll come back to.

Word/Excel
The two previous points are already made in Word. Additionally, I like to organize story bits, notes and even weapon / armor lists in word/excel. Lore and characters are nicely tucked into their own document for ease of access. Armor and item lists are thrown into Excel to get a nice grasp.

Aside from this I also like to create a list in excel on variables. Sometimes you use one variable for multiple purposes. So since the variable name can't have a long name, I like to note down the number, name and all the uses of the variable so that I don't forget it.

Let's say your making a quest, and you want it to have some impact. Depending on how you want to create the variable, you can use a point system through the quest to get the end result you want, meaning you need to note down the point system in excel, or you can have pre-set values.

Variable:
1. | Quest: Kitten Rescue | 1=ignored cat | 2=rescued cat | 3=rescue/help cat| 4=rescue/return cat

Makes it easier to keep track of and not forget what the different variables does. Probably unnecessary and others might have a better tip, but until I find a better way...

Campfire
I gotta say I love this software. It makes managing and organizing characters, story and lore a dream. It used to be a mess or a lot of separate documents. While it still stands true to some extent, this software makes it so easy to create new characters bind them together in terms of relationships. You can create timelines managing the story to a great extent and even manage character arcs.

If you want more, the Pro version has world building included, managing religions, cultures and more. If you just love to sit down and write stuff, then I'd totally recommend this

Trello
Trello is a management resource that's used online. Its basically a way to organize what you need to do with post it notes, a method known as Scrum. You have a whiteboard that is separated into a few different categories from left to right.

Each card is like a check list, or as some like to say, shopping list. One card might be "Main Characters". If you have four main characters, you have four check marks that needs to be done. As each character is done, you check it off, and once it's complete, you move over to the next card. You can have a card with a lot of tasks on it, or a few, the decision is up to you. Now then, onwards to categories.

One category might be "Tasks" followed by "In Progress", "Blocked", "Complete" etc. That's usually my setup. Tasks has all the cards I need to complete in order to finish my project. the current card I'm working on is in the category "In Progress". I have "Blocked" dedicated to tasks that I can't continue working on, or that can't be worked on until I've completed a certain task. And the last one is self explanatory.

Why use Trello / Scrum?
It's an easy way to work together with people on the same project, checking off what's done. That aside, dividing the one goal of creating a game into several smaller goals helps replenish energy as you work on your project, as you can actually see your progress. That's why having milestones is a much better approach, and especially having multiple cards. It really helps visualizing the progress and not just have it in your head, that way you can actually feel the joy and get that surge of motivation you've been lacking while grinding out your tasks.

Note: Saw a guy on the forum use a software that does the same as trello, just offline. Can't remember the name of it though :(

Cell_101
The famous Cell_101 map that is in most old games was a great inspiration. I have access to all items on this map that I want to test, every event that re-occurs in the project is here. All fishing type events, all different trees that you can chop, all crops you can farm, etc. (if said project has those). That way its easy to access and bring onto the next map. Keep it organized by creating a tiny forest, or different surfaces for what the different events does. Or, if you wanna be fancy like me, create a little island where everything fits in, though this is just preference and can quickly make you side track and waste time :D

Misc
As others already mentioned, keep good and clean file names.
NPC_RoyalGuard_001
NPC_RoyalGuard_SV_001 (SV for SideView battle) etc.

split items into categories in the database
---Potions---
Potions
---Herbs---
Herbs
---Quest Items---
You get the idea, same for switches

Conclusion
While I've mentioned a lot, I still feel like I've forgotten something. I just mentioned everything I've used or done. All of the things I mentioned was things I did when studying game design at a school, and since I like to keep things in order and nice and tidy, as well as people jumping in and out of projects, it was important to have things organized and accessible for everyone entering and leaving without spending time looking for things, or doing things others already had done.

Note: Damn I wrote a lot, sorry about that ^^"
 

jenova3new

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I usualy Separate them to 7 category

1.Design Side (Event Scenario, Game Base Concept,Progress Note,Etc)
2.Story Writing Side & Concept (Dialog, Event Scene Table,etc)
3.Graphical Side (Character Model, UI, Sprites, Paralax, CG, etc)
4.Audio Side (BGM,SE,Voice,etc)
5.Technical Side (Script Guidelines, Battle Design, etc)
6.File Management & Backups
7.Budgeting Notes

ofc all 7 is linked with each other, and i usualy put some number or codes for most part

1.Design Side is usually included along With game Design Document, and i put the progression note on the back page, for the other part, i usually put a number on which page the information was, ex Story Writing Chapter 1-12 on folders\note1_12.txt

2.Story Writing Part is Written Separately with each other, as more idea come to my mind, i will write the story on numbered separated document, and re-check them if they can be included into the story

3.As Graphical Works is worked by multiple people, i usually put some excel document and list all of the works for each separated people that i work with, tied strictly with budgeting notes (LOL)

4.for Audio Side, it's kinda simple, since there is not much works other than put a list for BGM that i buy from DLsite, or some Original BGM i commision from composer, voice works also included in this

5.the part i most hate, as a lot of bugs always found here, i usually commision programmer/scripter to fix and make the script i need , so i can focus on other thing

6. i use mostly GDrive for backups, but i store the backups on physical external drives monthly, each backup is around 40 GB, including Raw files

7. No Comment.....(Duh....)
 

TheouAegis

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I do keep track in a text file of what variable/switch do what, because if i spending time away from my project for too long, i always get trouble when come back on it later
 

AlexTalia

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Before I started working with the game, I compiled a document containing all the basic concepts and more of the game design. So I always have a general idea of what to do when implementing a project. I usually use google documents, work time reports for convenience, and other tools like evernote, etc.
 

misterdovah

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I use Trello to organize my ideas: Plot, Scripting (The story) in topics, Characters, Locations, Itens... and any other categories I can use furthermore.
Sometimes I project switchs and variables that I can use as well (and name them according to their function:

mission1_talktothelady
mission1_saidyestothelady
mission1_saidnotolady

And such...
Excel is nice to create DataBase I believe. Google Docs is great to create story and share with others (specially if you are a team).
I am flirting with Articy Draft... maybe one day.
 

KenKrath

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As I am on the point of starting a project I was actually wondering if you game developers use any kind of organization (or management) to keep track of the project? I do mean about the actual game mechanics like evenents and such, specially with long term projects (with possible work breaks). Maybe a 'simple' Excel sheet could help already? Any other tips / suggestions on this would be welcome too.
I typically create a rough draft with the basic resources given with RPG Maker, then go back and painstakingly recreate all things with better graphics, events, grammar etc.
 

Aesica

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If by organizing projects, you mean "keep a list of various important things, such as quest variable timelines, then yes. In larger projects, this is pretty essential unless you want to watch the whole thing fall apart.

When I say variable timeline, I mean that I typically use a variable (well, 1 per quest "chain" anyway) with a value that increments as progress is made. For example, here's a side quest timeline variable, with the first number being the expected value going into the event and the second variable being what the variable will be set to after the event is done:

Code:
0-5:  Intro cutscene
5-10: Talk to the village elder to learn about the goblin attacks coming from the forest
10-15: Travel to the forest and see a minor cutscene
15-20: Slay the goblin king
20-25: Return to the village elder for the reward

Not tracking this externally would be an absolute nightmare.

Other minor organization things I like to do:

- Quest journal information as it relates to the above-mentioned quest timelines
- Treasure locations
- Monster locations
- Item exchange chains (bring me the herbs, get the meat. Give the meat to the next guy, get the toolbox, etc)
- Shop inventories if using a lot of them
- Any other minor systems that might require tracking
 

Ryisunique

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Well, I had something called Cosmic Everyday, which was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I just found out that the developer abandoned the project. It had a bad bug and hadn't been working anyway.

Edit because things got deleted by a reloading page.

I'm using a combination of documents and a program called Trebly. The documents have short outlines, and I haven't gotten far enough to need to track Switches and events too much to worry about those yet. Trebly is a screenwriting program. Another game is written in there. I write out what the gameplay is and it's a logical format to read it in.
 
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kaukusaki

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I'm programming games for other companies now so i HAVE to document everything.
I was using microsoft products (project and one note) but since i had to scale things down for more space (and all my M$ products were from 2003 lol), I use open source software (libre project and all my notes organizer)
 
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