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Project management is the sexiest topic in all of game development. Seriously. It's the thing that makes us into rock stars and pop culture idols.

For real, it's boring, but it's the most necessary aspect of ensuring your project stays on schedule.

Trent Polack, Blogger

March 16, 2017

5 Min Read

Todoist is our task management tool for Joy Machine and Steel Hunters. There are an abundance of reasons that we've decided on this as opposed to traditional tasking solutions like JIRA, Asana, Trello, etc.

  • I hates Kanban (Trello).

  • Todoist is a very light, customizable solution for project management.

    • This allows us a great deal of flexibility in how we setup our particular task assignment/update/completion process.

    • While not initially intuitive, Todoist offers a lot of flexibility with filters and labels that make customized "dashboards" incredibly easy to define (once you know the query strings).

  • Todoist has a very solid interpreter whenever you type out a task:

    • "Implement an MMO by Tuesday at 3:30pm." — This will translate to a task for "Implement an MMO" with a deadline of the following Tuesday at 3:30pm.

    • "Meet with Trent every Wednesday at 11:30pm" — This translates to a recurring task every Wednesday at 11:30 for "Meet with Trent".

    • "Game doesn't work. @bug p1 #steelhunters +trent" — This translates to a task "Game doesn't work.", filed with a label of "bug" (any number of labels can be specified), put into the project "steelhunters" (limit is one project), and assigns the task to Trent (limit is one assignee).

      • If you want to notify multiple people on any changes to the task or any comments, just create a comment after creating the task and tag people in the notification panel as-desired.

    • If you're not a fan of the string-based shortcuts, the GUI has components to accomplish all of the same functionality.

  • Sharing projects with differing groups of people is absolutely trivial.

  • Todoist is almost too good at emailing/pushing notifications based on any changes made.

  • If there's a website in existence, it almost assuredly has a Todoist integration.

  • The Todoist web-app is incredibly solid, but they also have a native application for every platform.

  • Finally, Todoist has a really well-done REST API for querying details on tasks/projects/etc., which we can integrate into our website for communicating progress to our community.

  • I really, really, really hates Kanban.

Comment Threads

While we all use and read Slack and coordinate efforts and tasks and such using that, Slack is not a useful tool for status updates, questions, issues, schedule updates (including if you think you'll miss the assigned date — which isn't usually a problem, but it's helpful for us to know), and, most importantly, when you are blocked on something.

Whenever you comment, you can always choose to notify anyone you wish on the project just to ensure people are aware of your updates. At the minimum, ensure you mark <your relevant people/producer> regardless of what the task is about, as we are running the production/schedule for the project. You should also opt-in anyone that's related to the task as well.

Finally : Even I forget this from time-to-time (always), but Todoist has complete support for file/image attachments in comment threads. So feel free to use and abuse that.


There's a "Karma" functionality built-in to Todoist which, essentially, is just a bit of gamification/statistics to try and encourage consistent task completion/monitoring. It's stupid and simple, but also it can appeal to people. Like me, who loves stats more than I do most people. Look!


Labels are, well, labels (or tags, more appropriately). They are just ways of classifying the miscellaneous areas of the project a given task is related to. It's helpful for creating search filters as well. For the most part, you can just choose a task's label based on the available ones we've setup, but there is one very important label you must all use:

The "Blocked" Label

Of all the varying labels, the "Blocked" label ( @blocked ) is an important way that <your producers/project managers> can all quickly identify tasks that have been blocked (always leave a comment in the task when you mark a task as blocked — including tagging the relevant people for notification.

The Rest of the Labels

  • bug

  • team

  • business

  • content

  • engine

  • gameplay

  • backend

  • networking

  • design

  • ui/ux

  • docs

  • tools

  • meeting

  • marketing

  • site

  • future-work — This label is exempt from most search queries related to due dates or lack of assigned team member.

  • And then there are always labels for relevant upcoming milestones.


Filters are the absolute best thing ever. It sounds like an incredibly simple thing, but Todoist has a unique search system that allows you to setup and customize your filters for whatever things you need to track. Whether it's "Assigned to Me", "Overdue Tasks", etc.

The most important part of filters is that you can set your opening screen/page in Todoist to whatever filter is most useful for you. You can find this in "Todoist Settings" as "Start Page."

Unfortunately, as of the time of writing, we cannot simply share filters or create team-wide filters, so you'll need to create your own manually. LUCKILY WE HAVE A LIST BELOW!

Helpful Filters and Their Query String

My Tasks

assigned to: me

View All

view all

My Tasks — Today

assigned to: me & today

My Tasks — Blocked

assigned to: me & @blocked

My Tasks — Overdue

assigned to: me & over due

My Tasks — No Due Date

assigned to: me & no date & !(@future-work)

Team's Tasks — Blocked

shared & @blocked

Team's Tasks — Today

shared & today

Team's Tasks — Overdue

shared & over due

Team's Tasks — Unassigned

shared & !assigned

Future Improvements

I don't think Todoist is by any means perfect and it's definitely not as feature-rich as a lot of other task management solutions, but at the same time -- how many people actually know how to use JIRA to its full capabilities? The most important thing for me as far as Todoist as our chosen software for project management is concerned is that, since I first started using it a year ago, it has improved in incredibly smart and clean ways. It's just an easy-to-use and well-designed application.

The biggest things that Todoist is lacking from our perspective right now is visualizations of timelines and overall schedules for a project (which, to be fair, I don't think it's actually meant for that). But that's something that a couple of the Joy Machine folks are working on resolving as we speak. And such visualizations may get integrated into this internet website. WHO'S TO SAY?

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