The Boring Stuff...Management!

I've been asked a few times what I do for project management as an indie developer. Specifically, what I use for certain tasks. I figured this would be as good a platform as any to talk about what I'm doing on Zombie Gauntlet Live.

So without further adieu, here's the wonderful project management processes for Zombie Gauntlet Live!

Project Planning/Task Management

As you see in the screenshot above, for ZGL I've been using good old Google Sheets to manage the project. Since it's just me and not a full team (anymore) this is a quick and easy way to keep track of the things that need to me done.

There are plenty of other options out there for this. Some free and some not. I have a Jira server that I set up as well, but I'm not the biggest fan of Jira and because I'm working on this by myself (even though I sometimes use 'we' in blog posts) Google Sheets is all that I need. If I had a team working on this game, I don't think the Sheets would be as appropriate and would probably explore other options for planning and tasking. (like Jira)

Still, this is a pretty big upgrade to my project planning method for the last two games I did (Astro Fighter Alpha and SqueezeShapes!) - a whiteboard.


Here's another common thing you see in game development - a bug management database. This is also something Jira may be able to handle with a bunch of custom forms. (but I still don't like Jira - it's visually appealing, but it can be tricky to view and read all the information you need to dig out of it).

So I use a free application called Mantis for bug tracking. (on the right side of the screenshot). It's pretty ugly, there's no question about that. But it's well supported by the community and has a lot of bolt-ons to do different things you may want to do. In my case, I added an email scraper that will scrape a mailbox and use that data to create a bug.

There's some other good options that I looked at. There's a Google App that worked pretty well, but it had a monthly cost associated with it that limited the number of projects you could have on it. Mantis was free and easy to configure, which makes it tons more appealing than a prettier application I have to pay for.

Source Control

Any game developer without source control is asking for trouble for a million different reasons. If you don't use it and your computer crashes, all your work is gone. GONE! Source control also does 'versioning' so you can feel free to demolish a level or code and still have the ability to go back to a previous version if you've broken it beyond recognition.

For ZGL and my other projects I use SVN. (Not including Mad Mallard which used a service called Unfuddled.) Like Mantis it's a bit clunky. Also like Mantis though it's free. There are some other great options (like Perforce GIT, etc) but I had some experience using SVN when I was working with SmallLab Learning so I went with that. - but I miss the great Compare and Merge functions that came with Perforce!

Game Design Documents

Some years ago I wrote a whole article on different ways to write game design documents. Well worth the read if you've got time.

So what am I currently using for ZGL? Nothing. Besides the notes I put in Google Sheets, the rest of the GDD is in my head. Why? Well I'm building it by myself so I didn't see a reason to take the time to write the GDD. If I was working with a team, that would be different. I'd have a full GDD written for the team to refer to. Lately I've still been using the old standby, Word. Google Docs is also a great option as well. But for now, no GDD for you!


For reading what's arguably the most boring blog post to date. Some of you will find it interesting though, and I welcome any comments or suggestions you may have regarding how I've been managing this project and how you may manage your own!


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