The Importance of Organization

There are so many things to keep track of when you’re designing and developing a board game. Staying organized, keeping good notes, and documenting all the components, mechanics, characters, ideas, etc has been so important for us throughout this whole process.

We use Google Sheets and Google Docs to stay organized. We shared the files between us so that anyone could edit them, and so that all our notes, lists, and calculations were in the same place.

Our ‘Grim Tide data’ Google Sheet is basically the foundation of the game. As you can see in the screenshot below, we use it to track pretty much everything about the game:

The Grim Tide Google sheet, where we keep track of components, mechanics, and everything else!

I cannot stress enough how important it is to document everything! Especially during the first several months of developing the prototype, keeping an electronic record really helped us see what was finished, what was left to do, what needed to be revisited, etc. And using Google Sheets made it easy for us to do calculations and probabilities as we worked on balancing the point system (we’ll talk about this in more detail in a later post!).

This sheet provides a running quantitative summary of Grim Tide data. The values here are dynamic and link to the other sheets in the workbook, so they update automatically whenever the data changes.

We tried to make the content in our spreadsheet as dynamic as possible, meaning we included formulas to calculate percentages and totals that linked to other sheets in the workbook. So, for example, we could immediately see how adding an extra fish tile would affect the total Renown available, or how switching an island tile for an encounter tile would change the probability of discovering a monster.

We also used a Google Doc to take detailed notes every time we play tested, and to write out the rules and jot down ideas. It was super easy to update whenever an idea struck- We’ve whipped out our phones and jotted down notes in our Google Doc while out to dinner, at the grocery store, laying in bed, etc. And when it came time to create a formal rulebook, we already had most of the content written out and just needed to copy + paste it and punch up the wording.

So the main takeaway here is to stay organized! Developing a board game is time consuming and complex and so much fun, and if you try to keep it all in your head you will inevitably forget some of your best ideas. Keep notes on what doesn’t work and what does. Whether it’s a Google Sheet, a Doc, an email chain, or even an old fashioned pen & paper, keep your game development organized!