Yesterday, we wrote the first post in a two-part series designed to help would-be indie developers when starting a game business. We covered the legal aspect of building a game business (which is half of the entire process), and today we are focusing on the rest of the process – up to starting on your first game. Thanks to some of the awesome tips from the game development section of Tuts+, below is the best way to tie up the loose ends when starting your game business.
Depending on how you classify your employees (more on the term ‘employees’ later ), this could factor in how you choose to pay them. If people will be working for you in-house, you have a few ways to pay them: hourly, by salary, per project, or revenue share. Revenue share is really tricky, in that it will rarely work out well for all parties. Because there is no guarantee in how much money everyone is willing to earn, and because some people may get higher revenue shares (which could cause some parties to feel ‘ripped off ‘if they feel they are not being compensated enough for their hard work). Unless everyone agrees to the revenue share model, you probably should not even consider it – and even then, be wary of this model!
Some would say that revenue share works because it forces people to work harder so they will benefit from their attention to quality. In theory, it makes sense except there really are no guarantees when it comes to indie development. Because the marketplace is so competitive, the amount of hard work your workers put in may not reflect the amount they earn – especially with your first game.
To keep things simple, pay your workers using one or a combination of the first three models mentioned above. Especially if you are outsourcing your work, paying hourly or per project is the easiest way to pay them. Be sure to also discuss how you are going to pay your workers. Many of them will accept a payment method such as PayPal, but if they want to be paid via check or direct deposit, consider paying them using their preferred method (as long as it does not cost you extra time and money). As a writer that is constantly hiring and getting hired for projects, you should always pay the worker via their preferred method as long as it does not conflict with your business. Always remember: the best payment agreement is the simplest!
Although we use the term ‘employees’ interchangeably here at Game Academy, be sure you know if your workers are employees or actually contractors. There is a huge difference between the two. The simplest way to discern between the two is that employees are entitled to benefits, must be terminated with just cause, etc. You should only hire an employee in the event that you want to keep them long-term.
If you want to avoid the headache of dealing with legal issues of hiring employees, simply hire your workers as contractors – especially if you are outsourcing. You really have no idea how the outsourced workers are going to work out in the long run, and if you end up hiring someone that does not work out, instead of being able to immediately terminate them and move onto someone else, you have to be sure you have just cause to fire them; if you fire them without just cause, they can sue you.
Hiring contractors rather than employees will also help your game business to grow faster, so if you want my two cents, go that route.
Drafting a contract
To make the worker/employer relationship legal, be sure that you draft a contract before they do any work for you. You especially need to mention in the contract that any work the worker does for your game business immediately belongs to you. Without this contract, legally, any work that your workers do for you actually belongs to them! If you are outsourcing your work, this legal overview of hiring outsourced workers is a must read. As we stated yesterday, if you have any legal questions, contact a lawyer.
Brainstorming and prototyping
Whenever you have your workers ready to start on any project that comes their way, then it is time that you do a little brainstorming and figure out for yourself if your idea for your next indie game is a good one. After you have some ideas, prototype them and see which ideas work well in an indie game in which ones fall flat. It is the best way to hone the gameplay of your indie game from the get-go, so you can be assured that whenever you start on your first project, you are going to be developing a game that has a foundation to stand on and is actually going to be fun!
Source: Game Development – Tuts+