Where do your ideas live?

I’ve been using Trello to organize my thoughts for games I’d like to develop in the future, but I don’t love it for this purpose. It’s great for tasks and lists, but a little clunky for whiteboarding and brainstorming. Once I have a project in development, Trello is super, but it’s not great for the initial, fuzzy, mushy, who-knows-what early stages.

What do you all use for organizing and expanding on your ideas?

Hi Ethan,

Paper and pencil is usually at hand and then when something feels like it has merit, or I start to run out of paper, mind mapping software and also endless canvas graphics software which can be used with my pen/tablet.

I would agree with you, Trello can be a useful tool but for the right purpose. On a related note, if you havent already, you might like to check out HacknPlan.

Thanks for the HacknPlan link. I hadn’t seen that, but I think I’ll start exploring. I don’t fully understand all of the features in there, but I hope it’ll make sense and work for my needs.

Basically I’m a hobbyist, and I don’t ever really plan to do more than that with Unity, but even at this level, I can see the need for a system to keep ideas neatly organized and in one place. If the system also includes a game design specific framework, that much better.

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Hi Ethan,

Your very welcome and I think you would probably like it, although it may take a little while to dig through the features as it has quite a lot.

They offer a free service as well as paid, so there aren’t any real hurdles to giving it a try.

If you use source control at all (Git), theres a product called GitKraken which is very nice to use, but the main reason I mention it is because they have recently added what they call Glo Boards, effectively Trello (lists and cards), but wrapped up nicely into the product and wired to the repository.

What a great topic!

I started out jotting down project ideas in a notebook. I sat down at a cafe for a long time and wrote out several lists of potential projects I’d like to make. (I do all of my design work away from home.)

Once I had my next project idea in mind, I made a mindmap on my phone using an app called MiMind. I broke my project into four main branches: Aesthetics (look and feel), Mechanics (stuff in the game), Dynamics (emergent gameplay experiences), and Extras (optional non-core features) and just started brainstorming from there.

I posted it up and people were interested, so I signed up for Rick Davidson’s Finish It course on Udemy. His lessons guided me toward breaking down the project into steps and establishing a project schedule and a work routine. (Highway Hunter will be done by Halloween, by the way.)

Once you have actionable steps and have them in sequence, any to-do list can be used to track it. I’ve been using a simple checklist app called CheckList. I’ve been considering using Google Tasks instead once I have more projects since that supports Tasks (Projects) and Subtasks (steps). Seeing a list of all my completed projects on my task list may be something I want at that time.

Over the last few days I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect todo list app for my phone. One that can support my gamedev task workflow but also help me organize my life on GTD principles. Its hard finding something that can do both in just the way I want without using two separate programs. The closest I’ve found so far is 2Do, which is the one I am testing now.

I have also been looking into Evernote. Since its very open ended, I can probably make just the exact workflow I want, but I haven’t yet figured out how to make it do some of the tasklist-related stuff people have claimed its capable of doing. It could be that those functions are no longer available, are not in the free version, or just not available in the app.

For now, my top recommendations for android apps to organize your gamedev projects are 2Do and MiMind for task management and brainstorming.

Update: Just a quick warning. In a few days, something has used up all of my userdata storage on my phone. I have plenty of internal storage and sdcard space, but the userdata partition is full and my phone is throwing warnings. I suspect the problem is Evernote.

Update: Even though Evernote Free is supposed to be saving everything in the cloud and I really haven’t used the app much, deleting Evernote left me with over 2 GB of free space in my userdata. I’m not sure I can recommend the app for mobile use.

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After trying Checklist, Todoist, Tasks, Goals, and one or two others, I am very happy with 2Do. I have heard Things may also be great, but I have no reason to try it now.

In 2Do, I setup “Lists” for Home, Work, Health, and Game Dev. In Game Dev I setup “Highway Hunter” as a Project. And in there I added my action steps (created as part of the Finish It course) as tasks. I gave each one a due date at the end of a week and a duration of one week. This gives me an “in progress” task during that week that is included on ,“Today’s tasks” but separate from the regular tasks due that day.

This is so great. As I program each feature of the game, I can checkmark each one I finish. If I make a lot of progress, its easy to scroll down to Next Week and get started on those tasks early. (This was a problem with some other todo apps)

Having “in progress”, “due today”, and “overdue” categories in my Today’s Tasks view is great. I also like that its easy for me to check all the tasks in a given project and that the project view has a progress bar that advances as you complete it’s tasks.

I am considering starting projects for things normally considered “goals” in goal or habit tracking software such as “Wake up early” or “Eat a healthy dinner”. I would set these up as projects under Health and give them recurring tasks due every day. (Those examples might be too simple for a project, but something like “Lose Weight” could be a good project with several basic tasks.)

The one hiccup I’ve had with this software is that I can’t rearrange tasks manually. Tasks are arranged by priority and I can’t just switch two items in the same priority. This is a common problem among all todo apps but CheckList really had me spoiled with their drag and drop rearrangement features.

This means that when I look at my Highway Hunter project, those tasks may be listed all out of order based on the order them in. This means I have to be a little more organized and enter them in proper order if I want that particular list to look good. This only matters for looking at the whole project, which I should never really have to do once my tasks are properly scheduled. Still, I kind of wish I could arrange them manually like CheckLIst.

The interface for 2Do is pretty and easy to use but not intuitive to learn. At first I didn’t even know it can do projects like this, for example. The company has about 20 web tutorials, each on a different feature, and each about a minute or two long. If you are interested in using 2Do to make a workflow like I’m describing, its worth taking twenty minutes and going through those youtube videos.

Anyway, this is the program I now use to track my personal life tasks, my gamedev projects, and my habits all in one program. Just today I thought of adding a fifth List for Expenses. Projects in there could be things I am saving up for or paying off.

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Awesome Stuff Anthony!

Since I wrote that, my lifestyle has changed. I am more concerned with organizing myself on a PC and a chromebook, so I tend to use Todoist now. 2Do, unfortunately, still does not have a Windows client. It was great when I wanted everything on my phone, but that’s not the case for me anymore.

Todoist has the same project/task functions as 2Do, though I like the interface of 2Do so much more. Still, Todoist is nice once you get used to it – though I feel it’s more convinient to use on web or PC than on the Android app. Todoist works on both Android and Windows – and possibly others, I’m not sure.

I’m on the paid todoist plan ($3 a month) so I don’t know if it’s a core feature or not, but Todoist also has useful collaboration features. For example, I can share my project with other Todoist-users so they can see it. I can even add them to the project so that they we essentially share that same task list. If I want to, I can even assign tasks to particular users who share the project, so that it appears in their notifications.

The makers of Todoist are also working on a slack/discord like chat server so I imagine there will be some useful intregrations and bundle prices between the two once they get all that going. It may be something to consider if you are looking to start a small team.

If you are willing to just use your phone, I recommend trying 2Do for personal, business, and hobby. If you need to use multiple devices, collaborate with others, or otherwise need an “upgrade” from 2Do, you can try out Todoist instead. (But in my opinion, you’ll be losing some minor conveniences in trade for the functional upgrade.)