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I'm about to start the first real phase of my game development which will consist of the acquisition of information, resources and the definition of where I want to go and what I will need for that. I just want to make sure that I'm prepared as best as possible before I actually start development.

I don't like the thought of using Microsoft Word or Excel for my project management... I already worked with MS Project but I don't think it fits my needs.

I need a software where I can easily maintain project steps, milestones, important issues, information about technologies and engines I use, as well as simple notes and thoughts I just want to write down.

I usually prefer a whiteboard for stuff like that but unfortunately it's not a persistent way of storing. ;) Also writing it down the old-school way is something I can think of, but only for quick notes...

Which software do you use for that?
Are there commonly used programs?
Is there any free software at all?

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See also: This approach that I use that utilizes the file system without extra software -- it's not a direct solution to your problem (hence my choice to reference it here in a comment instead of posting it as an answer), but perhaps it may be helpful to you to some degree at least? gamedev.stackexchange.com/questions/15519/… –  Randolf Richardson Sep 9 '11 at 16:43
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9 Answers 9

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I absolutely LOVE Redmine.

http://www.redmine.org/

So simple, free to install if you have a server to put it on. And the interface is just so clean, a lot of plugins etc. to extend it but just the basic bug tracker, time tracker, calendar, wiki and SVN integration makes it a no brainier for me. Especially great when you start working with multiple people, expanded team or beta testers. Just give them accounts with bug tracker permissions and wait for the feedback =]

Check it out!

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Redmine looks great, thank you! I'm not sure whether I should use Redmine or Trac. I tested both and they seem to be very similar. –  Exa Sep 28 '11 at 11:02
    
I decided to go for Redmine. It has everything I need, is easy to use and maintain, has it's own authentication system and connecting my svn web server was as easy as taking candy from a child. Thanks for that! –  Exa Sep 28 '11 at 13:43
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Bitbucket is a free alternative to the paid private repositories found on Github. It is a bit harder to use, but you won't pay a penny.

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I've only started developing games myself, and I have to say I'm a big fan of pen and paper to begin with, nothing like writing stuff down to clarify it in your mind. Then I do transfer into something like word/excel and one note (nice for taking snippets of web pages and graphics and the like). Then look at some sort of UML software for proper planning (plenty of free options out there), and www.unfuddle.com for version control with both documentation and code.

But I'm a firm believer that pen and paper is very important in the process, even with music production, I have an A4 notebook for every project I do.

I also would be lost without my whiteboard.

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I will never stop using pen and paper to write down thoughts and ideas. :) But for the whole project it wouldn't be enough of course. Thanks for the link, but Unfuddle isn't free and the free version is very limited. –  Exa Sep 27 '11 at 10:45
    
We're using unfuddle for version control, but we've recently started using trello, www.trello.com for planning, keeping track of ideas, goal setting and that type of thing; you should check it out. it's ease of use is it's simplicity! it's AWESOME! watch the introductory video, you might find it useful. We do. –  bot_bot Sep 27 '11 at 20:53
    
It's made by Fog Creek Software: youtube.com/watch?v=aaDf1RqeLfo –  bot_bot Sep 27 '11 at 20:57
    
It looks very nice and I like the proper "Google"-style. But I don't think it will be kind of interface I want to use for my project. Thanks anyways! :) –  Exa Sep 28 '11 at 11:05
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Recently I started with a team a game project and during the design phase of the game we decide use some tools that may help you on the long run.

For the project management we use Rally: http://www.rallydev.com/ that it's oriented to agile methodologies like Scrum, you can track tasks, milestones, defects of all the members of your project, calendar activities, backlog, etc..., and it's on web so it's very easy to update.

For programming specific task on the personal schedule we use Google Calendar, for project hosting we use Google Code, and for exchange big files and other stuff the best option is Dropbox.

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You really need to look at GitHub it has everything you need: https://github.com/features/projects

They are pretty cheap as well: https://github.com/plans

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I've used Assembla for a while and it's very powerful, especially if you're going to be working with a team (small or large) at some point. It provides many tools (SVN/Git/CVS, milestones, tickets, wiki, a file archive and many more).

The only downside is that unless you choose one of their community/open source packages (which prevent you from making your "space", as they call it, private) that come with a subset of the available tools, you need to pay a monthly fee depending on the options you want.

It's up to you to decide if the community/open source packages fit your needs or if you can/want to afford one of their monthly plans. I personally use an 8$/month plan for a serious game project I'm working on and it's really great (includes tickets, SVN, milestones, wiki). All tools integrate very well with one another. My friends and I also use assembla for our common open source projects and class assignments as it makes managing a software development team a real breeze.

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BaseCamp is nice, if you're willing to pay the money after the 30-day trial (about $12 / mo. -- I do this). It's very flexible, does time-tracking, has revision control on documents and so on. I also really like their to-do approach, and the use of Textile for quick formatting when typing up docs and messages to teammates. More friendly when working in teams, than google docs is. It ties in with various bug tracking solutions and with source control (Subversion, not sure which others but almost certainly Git as well at this stage), and the solution as a whole for project management ties together really well and intuitively. I've used Jira in teams as well, and it sucks by comparison -- way too heavy IMO. I understand it also integrates a sort of chat solution when you pay for the add-on called CampFire(?). But skype does that just as well.

But if not, I definitely agree with KRB that google docs is the cheapest, most effective option for a solo or a 2-4 person team even. You get revision control on docs, and easy sharing.

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There's a free version of base camp that works well, though it has fewer features. It's perfect for basic stuff though. –  thedaian Sep 8 '11 at 19:59
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I personally use Wiki software. My two favorites are PMWiki (for its simplicity) and Trac. Trac is especially awesome because it is a Bugtracker (where you control Milestones), a Repository Browser and also has a wiki for anything you can imagine. So you have everything in one package, for free!

You'll probably need to install something like XAMPP to use it locally. But it will be much more power if you could host it on your own server.

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+1 for Trac. It has its drawbacks, but at least there is basically zero setup to do and you can immediately start being productive instead of playing with options forever. –  Sam Hocevar Sep 27 '11 at 14:18
    
Trac is really awesome, thanks! I tested it and it works very well. I tested it to run on my server and it would be perfect for a project where multiple people work on. I just don't know whether to choose Trac or Redmine, cause they seem to be very similar. –  Exa Sep 28 '11 at 11:04
    
It seems that Trac wants me to handle user authentification via my web server... Redmine has it's own user management system. –  Exa Sep 28 '11 at 13:11
    
I've never heard of Redmine. I'll give it a look. In the mean time, have a look in TracPlugins: trac.edgewall.org/wiki/TracPlugins maybe you can find something there. Personally, if you use Trac with a repository, then you can configure it to have the same accounts as the SVN repo. At least that is what I do. –  pek Sep 28 '11 at 17:00
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Google Docs are really nice when handling this type of info. You can share them with anyone you wish to include on your project. Google Docs Demo In real time you and your buddies can edit the same document! I do this currently with my design team.

Also you may like the idea of creating your own Wiki for your game to keep track of all the information. Free Wiki Hosting

Have you thought about how you will organize and keep track of your code when you start that? I would suggest using some type of version control such as Git Version Control in combination with possibly GitHub.

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I use Google Docs for my stuff. Actually I use Google Apps, which is a group of Google tools that includes Docs in addition to handling email for my domain (It's the free version). This way I can use them all together and integrate my documents into a wiki. It's not exactly a wiki, but it's quicker to edit and maintain. For example: spread sheets into "wiki" wiki.ageofgolbins.com –  Byte56 Sep 9 '11 at 2:04
    
Oops I intended to link to a page with a spread sheet: here –  Byte56 Sep 9 '11 at 2:33
    
@Byte nice man, looks good. –  KRB Sep 9 '11 at 5:21
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