Board Game Data Organization
Jacob Chaney - 05/24/2014

"Did you bring the notebook?"

It seems like in Mystic Ape's infancy, that was the question that started off every board game development meeting. Our wide-ruled, spiral-bound notebook contained all of our playtest records, notes for the current board game we were developing, and our hopes and dreams. That notebook was the holy grail of our team and we passed it around like it was the plague. Nobody really wanted to carry around that nuisance of a notebook. We even had a couple of scares where we thought we had lost our precious tome, but we still kept all of our records in a tattered, black notebook with Mystic Ape written on the cover.

We were stupid.

If we had somehow lost that notebook at a playtesting event or convention we would have lost a great deal of information about our games. While we still have the notebook, we now do a pretty good job of backing up our information on Google Drive. This isn't a paid advertisement for Google Drive, but it might as well be. I can't say enough about how Drive has increased the efficiency and organization of Mystic Ape. It is a tool that changed the way we do business.

A word processor... for free

Okay, okay. This might not seem like a huge deal. A lot of people have access to a word processor. I list this as a great feature because Google Drive can saves your documents to the cloud in realtime. As soon as someone working on a document makes a change, anyone with access can view or edit the document immediately. These permissions can be set for individual users, so you can set something to read-only for outsiders, but your entire development team can have write access. This is huge, as it allows companies with multiple members to always have the most current version ofa document, without worrying about conflicting edits.. Also, with a smartphone, you can access all the files on Drive with a tap of your finger.

Realtime File Editing/Chat

These are both nifty little features that also separates Drive from other word processing programs. Drive features a chat system similar to what you would see on Facebook. When two users with the proper permissions access a document at the same time, the chat feature allows them to communicate. Drive also boasts at realtime editing system to show one viewer where and what the other user is typing. The realtime file editing prevents users from working on the same thing at the same time and overlapping work. This feature, along with the chat system, allows for a "meeting outside of a meeting." Any number of m members can, quite efficiently, work on something together without even being in the same building. It's a pretty unique feature that Mystic Ape has used and abused.

Free Cloud Storage

15GB of it. To put that into perspective, Dropbox only offers 5GB of storage. Like Dropbox users, Drive users can purchase more storage if they run out of space. Mystic Ape has been using Drive for about a year and we're only at 5GB. Eventually, we will probably have to do a purge but until then, 15GB of free cloud storage is hard to beat.

Google Drive might not seem like news to all. After all, it's been around for a while. I only wish that Mystic Ape knew about its power from the very beginning. There are other file storage sites such as Dropbox and Bitcasa, but in my opinion, Drive outdoes everything these sites have to offer, and with more features.

Drive does have its limitations. To access Google Drive you must, of course, have access to internet. Even in 2014, public wifi hotspots can seem scarce when you really need it. That's why I'm still an advocate for the tattered notebook method, but do yourself a favor and back up the information you've recorded on Google Drive. Not only are you far safer from data loss, but you can witness the power available to you firsthand. It just might change the way you operate from now on.