Hello again brave board game developers :)
I hope you have all enjoyed some great holidays. Today I'm going to share some experiences on how to involve freelancers in your board game production.
One of my key points in creating a board game is to include creative and competent people in the project - this makes it much easier for me to stay focused on creating fun game mechanics and developing the game further.
In the post I'm not going to talk about where to find freelancers, but only how to include them in a project. So if you're thinking about bringing on new people to your board game project, I hope you'll find these pointer informative and helpful :)
Your master plan
One of the first thing you should do when introducing a freelancer to your board game project, is to introduce your master plan in a way for the person to see what your goal is - and how it might affect his/her work.
Lay out the plan so that he/she can see that you got it covered and knows what to do in the future. It also helps yourself a lot because now the game is on and there's only one way and that is forward.
Together with your master plan, you should have a project website online. For your freelancers to continuously be able to find inspiration, reference material and specific project goals from you (one of my earlier blogs about project handling).
Keep your schedule and calendar of the project transparent for your team - nobody likes to work with hidden agendas.
Written and in contract form
Make sure to write down all details in a contract and make sure to cooperate with the contract in mind.
Keep all agreements within the limits of the contract - and keep them in written format (e.g. mail), and don't do it through Skype, Facebook or other IM programs that doesn't keep a logical record of the conversations.
This is specially meant for feedback on tasks, adjustment to final products, or conversation about hours/money spend on the different tasks. If it isn't in written form, it hasn't happened.
Include some bullets about how copyrighted material should be handled. I believe that the freelancer should be able to promote themselves with the things that they do - so give them an opportunity to show their newly done work :)
Your cooperation should always start with a somewhat simple task - like an initial audition. This tasks should be equal for each freelancer with the same profession. The result will help you determine who should be attending to what things on the project (e.g. you might have an illustrator good at drawing human faces, one good at making weapons, one skillful in terrain textures etc.).
It's a good way to start on even footing and get a good steady start plus you get to see your freelancers in action (e.g. file handling, "work in progress", deadlines and so on). You get to fine tune the process and see some choices made by the freelancers.
Starting out with your most important/difficult pieces of the game might be jamming the project early on, so starting with the board may not be the best choice.
Plus, you might think of audition work as free of change (in my world it isn't).
Though you should always stay professional about matters of challenges and problems - you should make the project and partnership "personal". This is an investment for you and maybe also for the freelancer, which means that your personal involvement in the project will be part of the success.
If you have the chance - meet with your freelancers, especially when deadlines are met and your ready to go to another phase or launch the project on Kickstarter, in stores or similar. Maybe Essen is the place to meet up, eh? :)
Be there and give feedback!
This counts for all kinds of leadership and management - you got to be there!
Well, here's a hot potato :) Probably one of the most difficult topics when talking freelancers.
What and why should you pay your freelancers?
For several reasons! Leaving payment out as a provision orientated partnership where "you get X percent of the profit when the game is sold" is one of the worst ideas.
Not only does this mean that your tasks will end in the bottom of the food chain whenever the freelancer gets a real job. But it also means that you can't really "demand" anything when we talk quality, because quality will always be worth something :)
A solution on the salary
I'm not rich enough to pay FFG, LucasArts or similar salaries ;) So a thing I came up with in order to find a compromise between the freelancers and I - was this...
Share good experiences
I had and still have good experience with some of my recent freelancers.
A few last pointers from me.
Good luck with your board game project and happy gaming :)
Hey board game developer :)
I wanted to share some experiences I've had with board game production. I've been working on my own board game "Burning Suns" for almost a year now, and I thought it would be foolish not to share the knowledge I've gained over the many months.
My team and I are working alongside each other on both prototype and final components, and we're all working very coherently and close together in order to make sure things stay within the project scope and our goals are the same.
I'll try to go through some of the different digital production elements here. Enjoy :)
The index of all things
(I'm assuming that you're already well on the way with the ideas, blossoming in both text documents and drawings ;-)
Your first step is to create the "box" in which all things will be stored and sorted.
You'll want to be very systematic in order to make sure everything is just as you want them to be.
(e.g. in folder "1 - Rules") Early prototype rules ver2.
(e.g. in folder "6 - Player tokens") Elves - Leader token ver3.
Download the following spreadsheets to view some examples.
The project website of a board game production
Your next task is to create a project website for your board game. This will be the reference point for everyone involved in the production (no need to say, that this needs to be password protected ;)
You'll find a web solution like Weebly (that I'm using myself) to be very handy. A lot of "drag and drop" equals no trouble focusing on other things.
On this website you'll include subjects like
Make sure that it's regularly updated - and that you give your team everything they need in order to complete their tasks.
A few last things...
When you start to include people in the production process, make sure that you guys have a sharing method that works.
I like to use "SugarSync", so that we're all working on the same files - and that I don't get into any problems with different versions etc.
Without a syncing tool - you'll find yourself doing too much upload / download / back / forth with your email box.
Let your email box handle the communication with your team - not the file transfers.
Get an early economical perspective
When you settle on some of your production choices, it is time for you to look into the economy side of your board game project.
In other words... you should get an early quote on your production breakdown, and run through your financial possibilities - in the end - if your project doesn't become sustainable, you won't be able to do this as often as you would like to ;)
I hope this will put you off to a good start on your own board game production.
Happy gaming and holidays out there! :)
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