January 17, 2008
After the successful launch of the Silver Gryphon Games website, I began looking around at web technologies and software that we could use to better operate as a decentralized company. These days, it’s impractical for an RPG company - especially one as small as SGG - to keep offices and on-site staff. Only a select few of the larger companies do this. For the rest of us, it’s mostly a matter of keeping track of freelancers and perhaps one or two local resources. For that, we don’t need offices. We don’t even need warehouses when we use POD services for printing purposes. That’s where Web 2.0 comes in. Recently, we’ve been using several of Google’s tools for communication and collaboration. Gmail and Google Docs have been central to our efforts for awhile now. We are experimenting with Groups as a collaborative medium. It seems to be most useful as a way to communicate with multiple freelancers at the same time, kind of like a super-Wiki. We have yet to leverage Calendar, though I do see that on the horizon. I personally use Blogger for this devlog. Since we began using these tools, our productivity has increased measurably. Even Blogger, which isn’t used in the creative process directly, grants a certain measure of accountability that serves as excellent motivation. The one thing we really lack in terms of pre-built solutions is something to handle milestone scheduling and task management. Google doesn’t have a tool like this, which makes it a little more difficult to integrate into our workflow. I’ve been looking at a few options, like Basecamp, but we have yet to select any. It’s possible that we’ll just use Groups for this purpose. What would be really useful, though, would be an integrated suite that combines all of our needs into one package. These needs can be loosely defined as the following:
Of course, there are others, but they’re more nebulous or uniquely “RPG.” For example, the ability to playtest online is useful when we need to all hack away at a particular mechanic. For this, online RPG software like the old and obsolete OpenRPG helps but isn’t well-suited to either Æther or Eiridia. If anyone knows of any software that can do what we’re looking for (that is NOT Lotus Notes or a Microsoft product), let me know. I love Google’s tools, but if there’s something better out there, that’d be wonderful.