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A little insight as to how we're organizing ourself as we develop Shot One in a collaborative online environment.

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Shot One has gone through it's fair share of iterations already just to get off the ground. As we went through the trials and tribulations of putting together a team online with no budget and eventually found some folks that stuck around, we realized we had to evolve our organization to boot or else we'd lose control of our ability to track progress.

Its been a messy process, but we feel like we're getting a hang of it. We're up to about 4-5 fulltime people now and a handful of collaborators helping out. Our first step was taken around 2016, at which point it was just two of us throwing around ideas for a fun sports title based off Windjammers with a twist.

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I decided to start up a Google Drive document with some basic ideas and gameplay concepts (Pictured is our first draft). It started off with only 5 pages at it's inception, but had the general beats of what we were hoping to achieve. This document would become a key element in helping find people to help, knowing that many devs ignore this aspect properly we would get taken a little more seriously.

What's nice about Google Drive is the ability to quickly share it with people, and as we learned a nicely put together design document helped us stand out and seem more professional. As of now it's close to 100 pages long, and is basically our game bible that has grown over time and gone through multiple iterations. Plus it's a free cloud based service, so you really can't knock anything that doesn't cost a dime.

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Once we got a coder on board and were up to 3 or so people, a way to communicate quickly became an issue as we were just using Skype previously (Which is ok at best). We were considering Slack originally but started hearing about Discord around mid 2016- It was becoming a tool of choice for gamers but we realized it had the functionality we needed to host a team. The addition of free video chat with screen share was a game changer, as it would allow us to jump quickly into chat rooms to troubleshoot or discuss issues and gameplay ideas.

While originally tiny and just organized into an offtopic and brainstorming, we now have multiple specialized text and voice chat rooms dedicated to different tasks and role hierarchies setup. This makes pinging each other a breeze as we've grown. Down the line we hope to open it up to our community as well, once we have enough game to show.

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Once we setup source control for the Shot One project and integrated it into Unity (That was quite the learning experience in itself) we realized there was no simple, visual way to really keep everyone informed as to who was committing what. Considering we are limited to only a few seats due to our lack of budget, there would be people who would not have access to Perforce so I chatted with a talented coder friend about a possible solution.

James Ives was able to put together a Perforce bot that would register all commits and ping a specific channel on our Discord server, which would let everyone know that progress was being made. This is a crazy cool tool for keeping everyone in the loop, so check out his Github if you get a chance.

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The last issue that popped up was how we'd be able to track progress and create to do lists. As it turns out, hoping everyone will just remember what to do was a terrible idea and a lack of an organized central task tracker was resulting in bad communication and wasted effort. That's when we discovered Trello in 2017- Which offers an amazing (And highly visual) way of creating tasks and allowing team members to see what everyone is working on. It's not perfect but as a free solution it's invaluable if you're working strictly online.

So as of now Shot One is coming together via this amalgam of services. We ended up with this combination via a ton of trial and error, including a few false starts on the project that fell apart (Pretty common in the indie space from what we've heard). However, being persistent and learning from the misfires helped us identify what our issues as a team were and correct them, and what I've learned at least is that communication and organization on an online project is about 95% of the battle. Keeping everyone in the loop and having a visible way of tracking progress is one of the best ways to keep folks interested.

We still have a long way to go to achieve what we want to, but I wanted to share some of the stuff we've learned that's helped us get to the point we are now! Thank you for reading, hope you learned something!

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