So we are really busy at the moment! With a Kickstarter running for the above adventure, Issue 2 of the Dungeon Master's Adventure Guide to finalise and future material being worked on we are pretty much stretched thin!
Something that has become clear in all this is the importance of a good workflow that everyone in the business is clear on, agree's with and sticks to.
It doesn't sound that exciting but bear with me as this is advice earned the hard way! Think about this - you are keen to get an adventure or other material out of the door. What needs to happen for that? Writing, editing, polishing, art, layout, proofing... that's a lot to do and it all needs to come together so that you have a cohesive product at the end of the day.
In this article, I'm going to talk specifically about something that can kill your workflow before it's begun - and that is file organisation. You create a lot of files when you produce a roleplay game publication of any sort. You'd think it would be a single file... it really isn't! Research, samples, drafts, out-takes, images... it's a long list!
You can usually bash through a single project without worrying about organisation but if you have plans to produce more than one then I'd recommend very strongly that you create and work with Project Folders. Let me explain...
Have a fixed system for filing all your different documents - one of the worst things is to lose a piece of creative writing or an image because you saved it 'somewhere' in your filing system. I've completely stolen the filing system from my last company - because it was a graphic design studio and they knew how to organise this stuff!
I create a minimum of three folders. One is a master folder and the other two are sub-folders. (Sub-folders are listed in italics)
Project Folder (with a clear name)
Sounds simple right? And it is, the key is how you use it. Every file that relates to the project gets filed into either 'files' - for all non-image files, and every image that has been used or references goes into 'graphics'. Now, if you want to further finesse this then you can have:
The reason for those subfolders is that often when you are sharing images you share lower resolution and cropped versions. Some have text added etc. By having them in separate folders it is easy and quick to access them later and it keeps your main folder more clear. I often have a Graphic Archive sub-folder which is for images that didn't work out and I won't be using any more. Again, this is to keep my main folder clear.
Now, this creates duplicates in your system. Because, for example, say you purchase a piece of stock art and file it into your Stock Art folder. You then use it in your new project - called say Constantia Magic Book Project* (we are working on one of those btw). You then, if you are following the above advice, going to also save it in your project's Graphics folder. That duplication is okay.
*I made up the name 'Constantia' simply to illustrate that you'd use a specific title. 'Magic book project' isn't specific enough for a project folder title.
And it's okay because if you don't do it you are required to remember that 'the angel image flying over the desert was used in that magic book project, what was its name - hang on whilst I try to remember...' Which is ridiculous. By always having all of your art in your stock art folders, and then copies in the project folders (that you used them for) you don't have to search for them either way - when you are working on the project they are in those folders and when you are looking in your stock images files they are also there.
If I take a piece of stock art and create something new with it - which is what I do a lot. Then at the end of the project, when the publication is finished, I go through the graphics folder and copy out, into my stock art folders, any new versions of the files.
I created the medusa image for The Cavern of Dentropi adventure (available here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thegrinningfrog/the-cavern-of-dentropi). As a brand new image, it doesn't exist in my stock art folder but will be added to it as soon as I've finished the final version of the adventure. It can currently be found in:
Cavern of Dentropi
After the conclusion of the project it will be added to:
The seven other versions of the medusa that I created have been put into:
Cavern of Dentropi
Just in case I want to go back to them for some reason.
** I don't have enough medusa images to need their own sub-folder within fantasy. Were she an angel then she would be in Stock Art - Creatures - Fantasy - Angelic Beings - Female.
Whilst we are talking project folders I'd recommend having a single physical notebook or folder for each project. I split some of the content for Dentropi across multiple notebooks which was careless! (And damned annoying when I was trying to find the correct riddle when I came to type it up!)
Because I go I will add that the design company also assigned every job with a reference number. There was a master file that kept all the number and projects listed and all files and images names incorporated the file number as well...
I have chosen not to use file numbers but I mention it here for completeness!
Until next time, stay safe and happy gaming!
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Original Image: Multiple file sources
Manipulation: The Grinning Frog team