Gone are the days of needing to know how to do almost every task associated with developing your indie game. Thanks to the globally connected world we live in, it does not matter if you do not know how to program, draw, make music, or even write your game’s app description. If you know how to use a computer, have an Internet connection, and a vision for a stellar indie game, you can see your dreams realized.
I have discussed in detail how to outsource the game development process by discovering the best way to keep your hired hands motivated and keeping the project on schedule. If you have not read the post, do so after reading this post as it will tell you everything you need to know how keeping the project running smoothly despite outsourcing game development. However, what if you do not know how to choose the best candidate for your game? What if you are having trouble finding a professional that can provide you with the help that you need? Before beginning, keep this in mind:
You (probably) will not find the best candidate for the job the first time around.
Trey Smith wrote a Facebook post months ago detailing how many people he has hired for his various projects over the years. I cannot recall the exact statistics of the post, but take it from me: he has let go more people than he has kept over the years. The reason is simple: statistically speaking, you are not going to find the best candidate for the job the first time around. It may take a dozen times before you find an artist, a programmer, etc. that is perfect for your needs. My interview with Muoyo Okome solidifies this, as he stated that he has definitely let go of more people than he has kept over the years.
Is this unsettling? Sure, but it’s best to know how to find which candidates are the absolute best and which ones you should stay away from. The following are the qualities every outsourced worker must have. Hire these workers every chance you get, and your indie game will be ready for prime time before you know it.
This goes without saying, but you will be surprised how many people on outsourcing platforms such as Elance, Freelancer, Odesk, etc. fail to be professional. You know when a person is professional too, as they are able to communicate properly, are courteous, and have a pleasant tone to them. When I’m hiring a new writer for an occasional project, I can usually tell if they are worth pursuing further and hiring or staying away from.
Want to find a good way to ‘weed out’ the professionals from those that just want to make a quick buck off of you? Near the bottom of your ad, instruct applicants to write a phrase near the beginning of their proposal such as ‘I’m ready to develop your game,’ or ‘let’s make some indie games.’ You will be surprised how many people are merely copying and pasting proposals from other jobs onto other job ads, hoping that someone will eventually ‘bite’ and hire them. Guess what? These people are not reading your ad’s description and have no idea what you are wanting, but those that do read the ad? They’ll know to include your phrase. This demonstrates they are attentive, they care, and they are able to follow directions. Three cool traits properly demonstrated right out of the gate.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot stand working with people that are not positive. I want someone that is excited about writing content for me regardless of how boring it may be, and the same goes with developing the areas of your indie game. Sure, your outsourced work may be boring at times, but truly positive people know how to overcome the boredom and deliver (this type of worker is also professional). This also shows confidence on their part (another mandatory trait), and when someone has confidence? You know they are skilled enough to provide the help you need.
Positive people also have no problem with tweaking work and making corrections when needed. How many people have you worked with that take offense to any creative criticism given to them? Probably more than you prefer, right? Corrections and tweaks are all part of the job, and no matter how good someone may be at providing you with the work you need, they are going to need to fix their mistakes now and again (hopefully these mistakes will be few and far between, but mistakes will happen on their part). It is crucial that your outsourced workers have the positive mindset to apologize, fix the work in question, and hand it back to you without any fuss.
A positive worker is also a professional. A positive professional is also confident. And a confident, positive professional has the skills you need. See how these qualities fit together nicely? Your outsourced worker needs to have these qualities without exception!
Creativity is a must
This goes without saying once more, but you would be surprised as to how uncreative some people in a ‘creative field’ actually are. Just because candidates may be skilled at programming, graphic design, creating audio, etc. does not mean they are necessarily creative. Your outsourced worker must be able to ‘think outside the box,’ as the saying goes, and provide you with new ideas for improving your game. They need to also be able to take liberties in figuring out how to make the work you need delivered to you as quality as possible.
Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with a worker asking questions about what you need. In fact, if someone isn’t asking questions near the beginning of a project, you need to be worried. However, there must come a time when the questions need to stop and the work needs to be done. Your worker needs to be able to take a look at the broad scope, see exactly what you need, and provide you with your work in a timely manner without bombarding you with question after question (which will only slow down the development of your game). They must have the confidence (there’s that word again) to use their creativity to deliver the work your game demands. In short, an outsourced worker that cannot figure out how to create and deliver the work you need isn’t worth keeping around.
This clip from an episode of Seinfeld summarizes exactly what type of outsourced worker you don’t want to hire.
See those cabinets at the end of the clip? Personally, I like them, but it isn’t what Jerry wanted. The carpenter built cabinets he thought were awesome, but it isn’t what Jerry wanted (Jerry mentions he just wants simple cabinets in the beginning of the episode). An outsourced worker must be able to use their creativity to deliver exactly what you want, every time, no excuses.
Those that have outsourced part of the game development process, what skills do you look for? Let us know in the comments below!