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 :)
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.
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!
- Answer your mails quickly.
- Give feedback in a constructive and transparent manner.
- Be proactive when you see or feel troubles ahead.
- Be open about deadlines, failure and success.
- Help, guide and lead through dialog.
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...
- I divide every completed task up into 2 payments (meaning 50% first month, 50% next month).
- I took a smaller percentage of the payment and included in profit of the game (+bonus).
I had and still have good experience with some of my recent freelancers.
A few last pointers from me.
- Don't wave around with NDA (non-disclosure agreements) just because the guy/girl has to hear your board game pitch.
- No "I'm the CEO"-b*llsh*t... come on, what is this? :D
- Don't calculate on unrealistic goals, always start out with the "worst possible scenarios".
Good luck with your board game project and happy gaming :)