How would you handle this kind of situation?

I have been in the CG industry for more than 17 years, i have work in studios and i have teach 3d&2D for game design in college for 7 years.

3 years ago i decide after many years developing a game concept in my spare time that it was time to do this game since the potential is really there for that kind of game.

So a meticulously start making the game alone doing everything from scratch from modeling, texturing, animating, game mechanics, website etc.

After 2 years of intense work i am getting very close to get a full level for the single player campaign and a multiplayer level that will be use to promote the single player campaign.It’s much more complex than what i have said but i cannot tell too much if i don’t want someone to take my idea and do it before me.

The main point i want to highlight is that i have been involve in 3 major game projects and i had team mate in all 3 projects and as you might guess it’s all went sour because maintaining the team moral on the long run without any wage was very difficult and also i had one team mate who steal the complete concept and start his own game with it.

The game is done in UE4 and the concept is very original revolving around HP Lovecraft stories, it’s part a shooter , puzzle and adventure with some rpg elements that fit the game mechanics pretty well. The type of design is triple AAA similar to Uncharted with highly realistic environment.

So as you can see i have plenty of experience dealing with a team and i know how hard it is to have discipline for team member to do their work specially when they are living on the other side of the planet and that they don’t get any wage from their work.

Another important thing is confidentiality since once you tell a stranger the whole concept then you are at risk he could leak it or even worst steal it.

So i settle for doing it all alone and even if i am making steady progress i still have plenty of work ahead and again the little ghost in my head start to tell me that maybe i could find some reliable team mates that could join in but with the experience i had in various team the other ghost is telling me to not bother with it at all and to finish it alone even if it mean another year or 2.

Another important factor is even if you get that ideal team mate to get in how much are you going to pay them so they keep their interest in the project without wage for the period anterior to crowd funding?

I think that you need to offer at least a better wage then what they could get in the industry like 20% more as an incentive and in my case i would even go with special bonus(substantial) if successful and that go according to how hard each team mate dedicate themselves to the project.

Keep in mind that i am talking only about experience artists or animators not beginners since i don’t have the time to train them.

Sorry for the wall of text and my bad English skill but the subject need to be elaborated to be understand correctly. I start this thread to get different point of views from other indie devs or artists out there so i can see if my points are valid since again i am tortured by the idea of speeding up the development with team mate i could trust.

It seams from your post you would find it very hard to trust anyone, and I understand that if you have been burnt before. If you do find someone maybe get them to sign a NDA first. Or would it be possible to farm out small amounts of work without giving out the whole idea of the game, eg ask someone to animate a walk cycle or what ever you need but with out telling them to much about the game. Not sure if that would work. Most people wont and shouldn’t work for free, but maybe you could offer a partnership with someone?

yes I agree with highbeamstudios that a contract would be very important. I don’t know, on one hand trusting someone is very hard when there is little money incentive. But at the same time with a revshare based game that is how it always is, that people don’t get paid until the game gets finished and there is a profit. There is risk involved but the payoff is if it does work out.
Then you have to ask if you really could put together a game on your own? Also what about programming. IMO generally a person cannot know everything enough to do everything at a high level. And a game needs a good programming foundation as much as it needs the artistic aspect.
If I were in your boat I would still try to get a small team, no more than maybe 2 others to start. So there is less of a chance of there being some huge trust problem. Unfortunately I agree there is a huge trust factor and it’s hard to trust people when it comes to something like this.
but anyways I understand the lack of trust, but i still think it can be done. maybe it could take a very rigorous screening process of some kind?

Not that i could not trust someone anymore just that i would be more cautious before i do so.

Your idea about giving small contractual work is what i was thinking about recently since it’s safer and like you have said doesn’t give away the overall game concept. The only downside is managing each contract individually.

Yes a NDA is mandatory for anyone getting in but in the past i saw many not respecting it and trying to solve these case in court is a major issue afterward.

Agree no one should work for free but many indie cannot afford to pay before crowd funding campaign so that’s where you offer them an incentive and they usually would do this work in their spare time logging every single hours they work on the project. I was able to put 35 hr weekly when i was working in studio mainly i was putting 5 hr each day for the project at night and i still had time for some leisure.

An other solution is trying to find people locally since when you have the ability to meet them in person and to reach their location by car it’s made everything much easier to manage.

I also thought about partnership but for this to work it need to be started at the beginning of the project so your partner was involve equally.

Thank for replying since you made good points and there is not a whole lot of thread talking about this out there.

Trust is always something that we generally earn overtime but when you are looking for team member you don’t have time to become friends for a few years before you decide to trust them!

Fortunately passionate artists or developer are still in great number and they want to be part of something exciting.

Since i have been in the business for a long time i manage to get comfortable in every aspect of the development pipeline and when i am not sure about high end programming i outsource this part but i don’t need a lot since 95% are made with UE4 blueprint and the performance is excellent since the target platform is not mobile. I even did the main music theme since i know how to compose with specialize software.

I remember declining an offer in the past and 2 years later they made a whole lot of money and it was like not validating those lottery numbers when it was the right time lolll.

Like you mention a small team is way easier to manage then a bigger one and ideally they would be people from your local area.

Thank for the valid points and making this discussion possible.

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What I found best to work is to take a generalist and minimalist approach and let everything be plugged together for a working prototype of game. When the prototype game is completed then various portions would have to be scrapped away and be reworked with quality work. An indie developer who is a project manager as well is destined to become a generalist, because with an extremely limited and highly specialized set of skills is impossible to create an entire framework, so here is where collaborators are an essential input to a project.

Essentially what it means is that the project manager will have to constantly build scaffoldings and provide a framework for everybody else’s work, always rethinking how tasks can be completed in the most painless and effortless way. This is something that the project manager will always have to keep in mind, that in every process there are pros and cons about how work is done, so everything has to be weighted according to performance.

So when it comes into collaboration there are two types of collaboration. One is that some people who are interested to [A] invest their free time upfront and those who are [B] interested to get paid right away. This means that not everybody has the same thinking in regards to how prefers to work, others see it more like of an investment or business venture trying something new with the risk of a higher future reward, others do not like such risking and prefer doing simple and precise jobs to be paid on the go.

But the reality is that both of these collaborators need a solid plan to work on, without clear guidelines (a scaffold built) and realistic estimates, ambiguity arises. Those who are of type [B] won’t be affected at all because they would have very specific guidelines and timeframes on what to deliver in specific timeframes. Those who are of type [A] can be hit from ambiguity easily and drop out of the project, mostly like perhaps from loosing energy and morale. So the contract here is only a mechanism to prevent “tech-theft” and act an insurance that no matter what all collaborators get paid. Nonetheless even if a collaborator drops out, there would be a safety mechanism.

Thank for pushing the discussion further and i agree that if you get in a project you need to have a solid game documentation or else everybody is in the dark.

Another way to deal with unpaid work is to tell the artists that if the project is a failure they simply keep the assets they have created and then they can sell or use it in their own portfolio so the time they have invested is not wasted.

Personally i will probably finish my first single player level and the multiplayer module prototype before i get people to join in since i use my multiplayer module to fund my single player campaign in a very original way, so then i will pay artists if successful with the funding.

The promotional material will certainly help getting people attention since the project potential is excellent and i also plan to make the game very easy to mod and will offer 50% to modders making content for the game.

I used to do a lot of modding in the past in various games and i will always remember the 6 month i spent modding Skyrim since everyone thought they would be more generous to modders after the steam fiasco to finally give them only a simple wage and no % at all on the mods. After that i told myself that modders making content for my game will get 50% on everything they sell since modding require a lot of dedicated work.

About the “game documentation” you mentioned, it should not be exactly a design document but a knowledge wiki. As in agile development creating all of the documentation upfront is risky, the best is to fill in the details or do corrections as issues arise. For example if someone asks you “What the polycount for a character should be?” you would have written down such info in your wiki (look for online private wikis if they suit you better). But if at some point in the future one asks you “Elves should use the same skeleton as Humans? What about the bones for long ears?” You would have to fill in the details on the spot accordingly because is something that occurred at that future moment.

Also except from “knowledge wiki” you can consider that it could be a point of where you can track and manage task progress. For example if you have a list of modeling tasks for 50 models, you would have a picture of how much content you would need and estimate the amount of work.

However piling up the tasks like this, can make the project look daunting and scary. Perhaps if you find a collaborator that way and say that there are 50 models to be created, is enough to scare people away. But the point here is actually to see if you can find clever ways to optimize the workflow. For example if you ask an artist to make 10 pieces of building rubble it might be an “overworking” task (applying the classic sculpting+retopo+unwrapping+texturing pipeline, where on the other hand you would simply import a prefab building and chunk it away with a fracture modifier or slicing it in some ways, hopefully you would have lots of chunks of the building in one go.

What actually you do as a project manager all the time is to find the path of least effort. :slight_smile:

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Agree i always did research the optimize way of doing assets since not all assets will be see from very near so the complete pipeline of modeling, retopo, UV, texturing and baking is not require for every single assets, i miss the good ole days when doing an asset was very quick compare to today cumbersome asset pipeline.

A wiki is a good idea and yes i agree that documentation should not be giving as a whole to any new team member but only the part they are going to be working on like the characters sheet etc.

So after all we have been discussing it show me why i was so reluctant in getting new people in my project and when doing so you also have to spend quite a bit of time monitoring and explaining what they have to do so when you multiply this by 5 new artists then you spent a lot of time managing.