How to make a schedule?

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aliciarune
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How to make a schedule?

#1 Post by aliciarune » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:08 pm

A few days ago I got some helpful advice on a thread on how to make a schedule. I think it's good advice and am going to try it for NaNo. However I know that once I try it, it may not be the right way for me, so I was wondering if anyone else had some advice on how to go about making a schedule for your team? Also do you think a schedule is needed for a successful game? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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Re: How to make a schedule?

#2 Post by Mammon » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:50 am

I'll be lurking around here for anwers too, I can use all the info I need including on what is too much planning. I've already made an account for 4 different online tools that are just for making and maintaining flowchart schedules... Help me... (Might we both be talking about the advice from ANCOR and Windchimes?)

From what I can tell, it is pretty important when trying to adhere to a project with a deadline to have a team schedule to make sure that everyone would know what needs to be done when, in what order and when others will be doing something. I can already see problems like the programmer twiddling their thumbs only to have to suddenly do everything in the last stretch because the artists gave all the assets at once. Or that someone takes another 10minutes more than needed and uploads something at 21:10 while the person waiting for that update doesn't check their mail after 21:00, resulting in a day delay. But then again, I'm a pessimist and a worst-scenario kind of guy.

While the above probably won't ever happen, it's for the best to have a proper system so everyone at least has an idea of what the others do and when they can expect to do what (if their start is dependent upon someone else's completion of a task), and to have a comprehensible system of communications. I've already looked a bit into Windchimes's suggestions, but haven't really come to any decisions yet. My game plan:(The below is not tested in practice, so don't take it at face value!) Edit: This is.

-A place for files and storage, shared by all members of the team. Everything going through the team leader/manager and being dependent on their reaction speed would be a nightmare. Dropbox worked well for this.
-A schedule with the tasks and deadlines visualised and comprehensibly designed. I've checked Gantt charts, Trello, HacknPlan and draw.io but none really stand out until I've tested their limitations. Ended up never using this...
-A chat for the team for quick replies, hin and fro discussions, idle conversations etc. A bit like visualised in 'How Visual Novels Changed My Life' by Traumendes Mädchen, although I have no idea how to use 4Chan so probably not that chat. I've seen Ryver mentioned, but assume that there'll be teammates who're already accustomed with other chat formats. Used Discord and one tip: Either make a special channel for each member so they won't miss any messages aimed at them buried underneath conversations, get them into your friends lists immediately for PMs, or both.

(If anyone has suggestions or experience to share :D )
Not sure if this level of organisation will truly be neccesary though...
Last edited by Mammon on Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: How to make a schedule?

#3 Post by indoneko » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:39 am

Or that someone takes another 10minutes more than needed and uploads something at 21:10 while the person waiting for that update doesn't check their mail after 21:00, resulting in a day delay.
You might want to use Facebook or other app that connects directly to your team member's cellphone. You'll know when they get online, and any team member doesn't need to wake up all night waiting for certain files from another member.
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Re: How to make a schedule?

#4 Post by Zelan » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:35 pm

Mammon wrote:-A chat for the team for quick replies, hin and fro discussions, idle conversations etc. A bit like visualised in 'How Visual Novels Changed My Life' by Traumendes Mädchen, although I have no idea how to use 4Chan so probably not that chat. I've seen Ryver mentioned, but assume that there'll be teammates who're already accustomed with other chat formats.
Discord and Skype are both pretty popular, although Skype seems to be dying out somewhat. There's also just Google Docs - if everyone has a Google account and is on the same document, there'll be a chat window.

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Re: How to make a schedule?

#5 Post by Alcor » Thu Feb 09, 2017 5:40 pm

aliciarune wrote:[...] I was wondering if anyone else had some advice on how to go about making a schedule for your team? Also do you think a schedule is needed for a successful game? Any advice is greatly appreciated.
*pokes @Windchimes* heyyyy you should do that post-mortem you were talking about

I didn't make myself a solid schedule last year, but I'll be drawing one up this year. I think a schedule is essential for a team project and helpful for a solo one, and how detailed the schedule is will probably vary depending on the scope of the project. From my experience, here are a few tips to think about when planning and setting deadlines:


- Don't overdo the project. Feature creep is real, and once you start piling up on extras, it can be hard to stop. It's generally better to finish the essential parts of the game first and add extras later. It's also, well, generally a questionable idea to make a huuuuuuuuuge game in a month? Not speaking from experience or anything (*COUGHWINDCHIMESCOUGH*iloveyoubutyourprojectsaremasochisticinscale)

- Have a designated team leader or decision maker. While it's a lot of fun to discuss things as a team, it's just not feasible to have everyone agree on every little detail. Someone will probably need to make some executive decisions, such as eliminating assets when necessary, etc. A team leader/director is also essential to making sure things are on track.

- If making a team schedule, everyone should make sure that they're fine with their deadlines, workload, etc. If at all possible, it doesn't hurt for people to have some wiggle room between deadlines, just in case they fall behind. (Then again, we're talking about NaNo... there probably isn't a whole lot of wiggle room anywhere.)

- More essential assets should probably come first. This probably sounds way too obvious, but it really helps to make the more important assets earlier in the month (when morale is higher). (I personally tend to get carried away with nonessential details, so I have to remind myself of this often...)

- When making a schedule, remember to leave extra days for programming everything. Programming sprite expressions/animations often takes longer than expected, and it was what delayed me by a day or two last year. And if programming GUI... if possible, check that it works fine on both PC and Mac (and ideally Linux as well).

- Communicate fairly often with the team. My greatest motivator last year was the team, and my favorite part of the NaNo experience was chatting up a storm on Skype with my team members. (Of course, we got work done while chatting... more or less.) If your team doesn't talk every day, maybe set up some schedule for everyone to check in every week or something?

- Find ways to keep each other motivated! Enthusiasm is really high the first week or so of March, but by the third, people may be feeling tired, uninspired, etc. Keeping morale up is pretty important!

- Don't be afraid to downsize. If assets are coming along slower than you'd like, scale the project down! Some games release a demo for NaNo for finish the full version later, so that's always an option. Or just... make something small, but get it done. (That's pretty much what I did last year. OTL)

- And most importantly, unexpected things do happen. People may be be unable to finish all their tasks by their deadlines (and in more extreme cases, may even drop out of the project). Be flexible, be prepared, and be willing to help.

That... got a lot longer than I thought it would. Sorry about that! I hope it helps, though ;_;
Mammon wrote:My game plan:(The below is not tested in practice, so don't take it at face value!)

-A place for files and storage, shared by all members of the team. Everything going through the team leader/manager and being dependent on their reaction speed would be a nightmare.
-A schedule with the tasks and deadlines visualised and comprehensibly designed. I've checked Gantt charts, Trello, HacknPlan and draw.io but none really stand out until I've tested their limitations.
-A chat for the team for quick replies, hin and fro discussions, idle conversations etc. A bit like visualised in 'How Visual Novels Changed My Life' by Traumendes Mädchen, although I have no idea how to use 4Chan so probably not that chat. I've seen Ryver mentioned, but assume that there'll be teammates who're already accustomed with other chat formats.

(If anyone has suggestions or experience to share :D )
Not sure if this level of organisation will truly be neccesary though...
I think that's a pretty solid game plan! All three components you mentioned are pretty important in my opinion. I will mention that different people have different ways of managing their schedules, deadlines and whatnot, and some (like me) probably won't check sites like Trello/HacknPlan that often? As long as they're clear with their schedule, however, it shouldn't be a problem.

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Re: How to make a schedule?

#6 Post by Mammon » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:14 am

indoneko wrote:Facebook
Ah, Facebook! *Hides under rock*
Zelan wrote:Discord and Skype are both pretty popular, although Skype seems to be dying out somewhat. There's also just Google Docs - if everyone has a Google account and is on the same document, there'll be a chat window.
I've heard things about Skype, that there's a line in their agreements about them owning/having rights over anything that is uploaded to their cloud, although I do not know the validity of those claims. I don't think they'd even bother stealing anything I would upload there, but I've met people who'd prefer not to use it because of that reason. But considering the many alternatives and how pesky and obnoxious Skype can be at times when it refuses to close etc...

Discord seems interesting, being designed for gamers and being both useable on computer and Phone. I found an app called Chatzy that could do the same but this seems both more sophisticated and developed. Only problem is that the song 'Discord' gets stuck in my head every time I hear that word. :lol:
ALCOR_etc wrote:I will mention that different people have different ways of managing their schedules, deadlines and whatnot, and some (like me) probably won't check sites like Trello/HacknPlan that often? As long as they're clear with their schedule, however, it shouldn't be a problem.
[/quote]Depending on one's task, checking the schedule may indeed be rather irrelevant. If you're the composer f.ex. you've got the songs and you've got the time table. If you know how much of what and when, and give the programmer the .??? of the file format in advance, no one will need to wait for you as long as you reach your deadline. But if you're the sprite artist and the design of a sprite isn't done yet, the CG artist won't be able to start with the CG of that character yet. So the possibility for them to check the sprite artist's schedule and seeing when the sprite outlines should be finished would be useful maybe.
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Re: How to make a schedule?

#7 Post by aliciarune » Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:54 pm

Hey guys, thank you for the advice. It's really helpful =). I admit scheduling can be something hard especially if your teammates are in different parts of the world, but it also helps keep a game in order. I'll start trying once I can.

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Re: How to make a schedule?

#8 Post by Katy133 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:13 pm

Habitica has been helping me so much with getting organised! It's a productivity/time-management app/website that "gamifies" your projects to help motivate you. It's also a great motivation to checkmark tasks and it lets you clearly see a list of your past accomplishments.
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Re: How to make a schedule?

#9 Post by RosyInk27 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:09 pm

This post has been a godsend. This is the first time I've ever worked with a team and I feel terrified being the one making the major decisions.
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