On this month update we have made good progress about choosing a better project management tool than Trello.
Since the project started we have tried several project management tools:
I guess you are almost all familiar with Trello. It’s a basic Kanban board website, with high speed and flexibility. It’s free for all the basic things you need to do on your project: Creating as many boards, tasks, project, and users as you want. They have options for premium users, but in our opinion it’s way too expensive for small independent developers.
Trello is a very good tool, as I mentioned, to create task, assign it to users, move it from one column to another, etc.
It has very good features for free: unlimited users, boards, tasks, columns, and some free storage space. (for direct attachments 10 Mo per attachment, but without any limit for the number of attachment you could have.)
It’s a Software as a Service, nothing to host, nothing to configure, nothing to pay, and you can sign in with several methods: email, google account, and so forth.
Readability is one of the most important issue with Trello for us. When you start to have many, many cards we have less visibility on what to do, and a feeling of never ending project.
There is no progress tracking on your goal / milestone for free. You might find some third-party plugin that could offer you this feature, but it’s hard for big team to find their tasks, and see a clear goal with Trello. At least for us.
I really love Redmine. I’ve used a lot when I was student. It was very good for time tracking, and waterfall project management. It’s powered by Ruby on Rails, and has lot of plugins to extend its core functionality. And last but not least it’s open source!
Using an open source tool advantage is of course the price. Redmine is completely free to download and use it as you like. You can also tweak its source code to adapt the tool to your need if you know a bit of Ruby on Rails.
It’s highly customizable. You can add lot of plugins, even some Agile/Scrum plugin.
It has time tracking feature, and it’s very good for waterfall project management. It contains a simple wiki and you can even connect with your source repository (git, mercurial, svn). Thus you will be able to link your issues to your commits.
One of the major issue with Redmine, it’s also it’s strength: It’s open source. Ok it’s free and you can download it and change it’s source code to adapt to your need, but if you need to use it with your team, you will need a server that will host this tool for you. Finding a good Ruby on Rails server, and cheap, it’s a very hard mission. I used to host a dedicated server at OVH during my Master’s degree, but it was way too expensive. Now you can find some cheap VPS (like Scaleway around 3 Euros/month), that can even provide you an Image hub including Redmine out of the box. But still it’s expensive, and you need to handle all the security, and doing some IT stuff, instead of managing your project.
We love gitlab at Pixelgate Studios. We host almost all our project on their platform. They have improved a lot their services, and now they even include some project management feature such as Kanban board, and issue tracking.
Like all the other tools we have tried, this one is also free. It’s hosted by GitLab, and you can have one Issue Board per project. You can assign your teammate on each issue and prioritize them. You can create columns, and name them as you like. It’s really close to Trello for almost everything.
All your issues can easily be linked with your code commits.
One of the main problem with GitLab services: Speed. I don’t know if you have the same issue as us, but everything is very slow on Gitlab. Even if their tool is very close to Trello, they are clearly behind Trello for the smoothness, and speed part.
It has all the issue that Trello has but with even more problem regarding performances.
Hack & Plan
Hack & Plan (or HacknPlan), it’s a new challenger on the field of project management tools. It’s major difference compare to the other ones we have presented before: it targets video game projects.
It has a very good free tier. You can use all the basic features for free. You can invite as many teammates as you want. There is no limit of the number of project you can create as well.
The Kanban board is very close to what Trello offers, but with more options for game development: You can filter by department (Art, Sound, Game Design, Programming, etc…).
What I appreciate is the countdown of the remaining days before the end of the milestone. It gives a clear goal and some feeling of emergency.
As I mentioned Hack&Plan focus on game development, thus they have a feature called: Game Design Model. It’s like a simplified wiki, but very useful to put all your game design document in one place. You team wonder where to have the formula for the battle? You can link on the task the section about that specific element from your Game Design Module.
The team behind Hack&Plan are working very hard on their software and the tool has changed a lot since I’ve started using it.
What sounds crazy compare to all the other tools like that, or even globally for all the SaaS tools, they offer a very innovative pricing. You can use the tool for free of course, you can also pay per seat for big team/company, but you can also take the middle pricing tier and have all the Premium advantages of the tool for one single user and working with the other teammate with their free account. And it only costs 4 Euros / month.
With this premium tier (called Personal Plus), you can add attachment from Google Drive, Integrate your source code from github, gitlab, etc, and many other things.
They really understand the indie needs.
Hack&Plan main issue is performance. It’s clearly behind Trello in terms of workflow smoothness. Well in fact no other tools perform better than Trello.
The Game Design Model section needs a bit of improvement to be more useful. The writing experience could be closer to a Google Docs, or even WordPress like.
It lacks of offline feature. I work a lot on train, and it would be great to have the tool accessible offline and sync back the data when I connect to my Wi-Fi.
You have all guessed what tool we are using for the project Scarce Tactics, it’s Hack & Plan. But as I mentioned on this post all tools have their pros and cons, and you have to select the one that fit with your needs. Don’t follow the trend.
Moreover, I have not compared tools that offers only paid tier, such as Jira, which is one of the best choice. If you have budget go for Jira + Confluence. You will have what Hack & Plan offers you, without the focus on game dev though.