Leveraging Web 2.0 for a tabletop gaming company

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:

  • Searchable, indexable, categorized email
  • Real-time multi-user text, voice, and video communication
  • Quick notes
  • Hierarchical roles-based task and project management
  • Accounting control and analysis
  • Collaborative document editing
  • Easy-to-use interfaces for all of the above

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.