Using Gantt to plan your game development timeline

If you have been following us you should know that here at Gladio Games we are obsessed with productivity, and a big part of our production process is planning in advance.

Also for a tiny new mobile game that we are going to launch in less than a month, we need to think in advance about everything we possibly can.

The first process as you may recognize of the game development pipeline is the preproduction phase, this is the phase where the game is defined on paper, and along with the game concept, one of the most important things that are defined during this phase is the Game development timeline.

In this article, we are happy to show you our development timeline for the next upcoming game that we are developing for one of our clients.

So let’s cut to the chase and start with the timeline:

Why should you use a timeline to define your project?

A timeline is a very good instrument because it helps you to define the development of the game in the long term.

Let’s assume that you want to launch a game in 6 months, how do you organize the work for the next 6 months?

How do you show your client what you are going to do for the next month?

Or maybe you just need an instrument to synchronize the work of the team, for example, you may need a graphic asset before starting to make the level design, so why not use a powerful Gantt tool and be sure that everything is in sync for the next month.

You should use a timeline to help you to solve all these problems.

There are some powerful tools like the one we are going to see, that can help you to create a very powerful timeline.

You can do things like, assign tasks to some members of the team, create dependencies between tasks, you can use collaboration tools or milestone tracking and so much more.

I know what you are thinking: “In game development, it is almost impossible to schedule and plan in advice due to the quick changes of the requirements of the project and most of the time due to the difficulty of the project itself”.

You may be right and that is why you need more than ever to have a Gantt tool to keep track of everything.

If you have to delay by one week the creation of the “main menu” of your game, how will this impact the rest of the project?

How much will these changes cost?

If you have everything planned on a Gantt board you can immediately see how this kind of delay can impact the future of the project.

Why is it important to use timelines in game development?

Well, there are various reasons to use timelines in game development, but these are the main ones:

  1. Have a clear view of the amount of work ahead.
  2. Have visual feedback about the amount of work that needs to be done and how it is divided between the members of the team.
  3. You can use the timeline to keep track of the progress.
  4. You can use the timeline to create tasks for each member of the team.
  5. You can plan in advance and carefully think of how long each task is going to take to be completed, followed by how much time is needed before the project will be ready.

In general, remember that planning in advance is the best way to increase your chance of success.

Gantt project example with GanttPRO

So this is a Gantt example that you can use as a base to develop your games, here is the pdf or if you prefer you can have a look directly in the GanttPRO project.

To create this Gantt we have used GanttPRO which is a powerful platform dedicated to the creation of Gantt.

If you want to, feel free to use the free version of the platform and try all the powerful features.

Depending on the scope of your game we suggest you divide the development lifecycle at least in sections:

Preproduction, Production, Polishing, and Publishing.

Here is an example of the preproduction phase:

GanttPro preproduction

In my case, since the game was really simple, the preproduction phase lasted only a week, but as I said before, you can adjust those parts accordingly to the complexity of the scope of the project.

As you can see the paper prototype is the first thing that we are going to develop, then we are going to address some basic problems like testing the canvas scaler and finding the right resolutions of the sprites.

Of course, we are going to test the base game mechanics of the game and see what adjustments we have to make.

Since the client wanted the game really quickly, we used the Unity Asset store to have a quick prototype of the gameplay without losing too much time and satisfying the client’s request.

Here is a screenshot of the game after the pre-production phase:

The game is a quiz based game heavily focused on travel.

On your GanttPRO board, you can set milestones or assign tasks to a specific member of the team, which is something that we are strongly encouraging you to do especially if you are working on big projects.

At the time this article was written we are in the production phase and we are following the Gantt as planned.

The planning of the preproduction helped us a lot to address all the problems that we could have had during the production phase and especially we were able to test the basic game mechanics and avoid what didn’t work before getting into production.

Conclusion

Gantt tools should be used as much as you can in order to extensively plan the development phase of your game.

We used GanttPRO which is one of the best tools available on the market and you can have 14 days for free.

You can use our basic Gantt project as a template to develop your own. If you are developing a very complex project we suggest that you:

  1. Assign tasks to the proper member of the team.
  2. Create dependencies between tasks.
  3. Add milestones.
  4. Differentiate the tasks by using colours, like one colour for the development, one for the graphic design tasks etc etc.

So we have got to the end of the article, let us know if this article was helpful and if you are going to use Gantt to make your next amazing video game.

Mark

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