First and ForemostIf this is your first Foray into game development it is highly recommended that you spend a couple days(as in 10-15 hours) googling around what actually goes into making a game. There's a reason why a lot of these indie projects take 5-8 years to make from the start of the concepting phase to actually releasing. There's also a good reason by 98% of them will never release. I know it's nice to think that we are all the exception but honestly go through and learn exactly what goes into making a game, you should be able to outline all of the 'foreseeable' work involved before anyone starts doing anything.
Step 1: Getting your Ducks in a Row
Now, if you've actually done that, and I honestly applaud you if you have, I imagine you think you're ready to start recruiting fellow game developers, concept artists, level designers, animators, 3D modelers, VFX artists, programmers, Audio Engineers, Composers, UI designers and so on to your team? Well not so fast cowboy/girl, let's make sure you have a few other things in order before putting your recruitment drive into high gear. Have you actually thought out your game and the development process sufficiently is the question you should be asking yourself because there's a metric ton of information that you should have researched and put down on paper before a single piece of artwork gets made or a line of code gets written. Hundreds if not thousands of artists, modelers, programmers, audio engineers and writers spend enormous amounts of life every year working on projects that go no where because they were started by folks who had no business starting a team in the first place. Do the world a favor and don't be one of those people, don't waste the precious time of others before you really know what goes into one of these projects, even a simple one. On top of increasing your chances of success by at least 430185% it will be hugely re-assuring to potential team members if you could also show just how prepared you are. Being up front and answering the following questions in your post goes a long way to showing that you are ready to start and lead this project
- Do you have a GDD completed? Or at the very least a comprehensive Concept Document?
- If you are looking for a decent GDD template we've recently put ours online for free: http://ironbellystudios.com/gdd-template/
- Do you have a style guide/Art Bible completed
- Do you have your Level Design Documents created(if applicable)?
- Do you have your Technical Design Document created?
- Do you have a Business plan completed?
If you answered no to any of those questions then don't fret, it's not the end of the world. It just means that you have a couple weeks work ahead of you but trust me when I say, doing that couple of weeks now is going to save you and your entire team months and months and months AND MONTHS of headache and rework down the road.
Let me take a moment here to re-iterate some good points made by others about the above mentioned documents. The documents in themselves aren't of the utmost importance here, although they certainly do have their value and they aren't meant to be bibles that need to be 100% fleshed out before you begin prototyping. At the end of the day if someone were to hand you a completed GDD it wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on. The reason you create these documents is not to have a GDD in itself, it's to go through the vast amount of Q&A, research and deep contemplation required to complete a GDD. To put it philosophically it's about the journey, not about the destination. It's so that you can deepen your understanding of your product to the point that you can foresee upcoming challenges in production in relation to the big picture, that you can properly plan and pace out the gameplay without having to spend months going one direction just to do an about face, and in the context of this thread it tells potential recruits that you are damn serious about what you are doing. That you have and are prepared to put in serious time, energy and thought into yuor product which at the end of the day ensures a much greater chance that you're project will be successful and that their time will not be wasted. Because a good GDD, a good BP is a LOT of work, hundreds and hundreds of hours of on going work but even then it's just the tip of the iceberg for what it takes to make an actual game, and if you're not prepared to sit down for that then the picture your painting for your recruits is that you're probably not going to be able to stomach the 1000's of hours that will be required of you to get the game to launch.
- Do you have NDA's and Royalty Share agreements in place(if applicable)? Have they been approved by a lawyer?
- How are you managing your team? Forums, CMS, PMS, etc ?
- How often and through what means do you conduct team meetings?
- How many members do you currently have and what do they do?
- How large of a team are you aiming for?
- How long of a development cycle are you predicting?
- How much work has been done so far? How far along are you?
Step 2: Finding the talent
First off, have you read this: http://forums.epicgames.com/threads/...rum-Guidelines ? If not then do the nice folks here at Epic a favor and give it a quick read. In particular the first two points:
- Please be clear whether are looking for someone to join your team or you are looking for a team to join.
- If you are looking for recruits, please explain your game in detail and post concept art if available. Be very clear whether you are looking for an employee (for pay) or for a hobbyist. Use the thread prefixes when posting. You will see a dropdown next to the thread title.
But the one thing that is missing from that post and something that is equally as importing as describing 'What' you are making is 'Who' you are, going over in detail why anyone should give their incredibly precious time to your project(and neither passion nor having a great game idea qualify)? The 3rd point in that list above should be:
3. Please provide a small but detailed bio of yourself and what makes you fit to lead a project. What relative experience and/or training/education do you have that qualifies you to lead this project that you are proposing?
You have to consider your recruitment thread as an interview of sorts, of yourself and so you should treat it as such. You need to show the community and potential recruits, out of all of the amazing projects that they can choose from, why should contribute their valuable spare time to yours and just as importantly to you.
One last note about recruitment efforts that I don't think most people realize: This is a full time job and will easily consume 20-40 hours a week in the beginning depending on the size of the team you need. If you think you need a team of 5 to make your game you better make sure you have 10 amazing people on board your team because a safe turnover rate to expect is about 75% of your team every 3 months. And this isn't even taking into account the state of your project or your ability to run a team, this churn rate is just because of regular everyday stuff that happens to people like getting married, getting divorced, getting hired at a new job, getting fired from their current job, changing professions and giving up what they were doing for you, moving to a new country, and the list goes on. The recruitment drive never ends and in my experience it will take you a solid year to year and half of recruiting to replenish the ranks before you end up with your core team of not only loyal/dedicated but talented crew. This just means that you have to be out there pounding the pavement every day, going through portfolios, sending out emails and conducting interviews day in and day out.
Friendly Words of Advice
If you want to manage/lead then you shouldn't be doing anything else
While it may seem like a luxury at first to have someone that just manages the project and does nothing else let me be the first to tell you it's not, it's a necessity. There is absolutely zero time left over at the end of the day to do anything else after you've taken care of the scheduling, assigning tasks out to your crew, setting the deadlines, organizing the meetings and interviews, putting the notes up from the last meeting, replying to posts on your forums or CMS, organizing files, recruiting and talking to new members, answering a few dozen emails, chatting with various crew members on IM, updating your design docs, doing PR to raise awareness for your project, getting your legal ducks in a row for launch and the list goes on. Every minute you can spend doing any of the above will empower your entire team by leaps and bounds. Instead of putting 40 hours a week into programming, put 10 hours a week into finding a good programmer and learn how to manage him/her. Remember, you can scale your team through better management and tools but you can't scale yourself.
Got a great idea for the next MMORPG/MMOFPS/MMORTS?
If you have come here wanting to make the next greatest mmofpsrtsrpg sandbox game that is better than anything the world has seen yet and makes SW:TOR look like the original Wolfenstein, this thread: http://forums.epicgames.com/threads/...lding-a-Studio as it best sums up the best course of action for you. Or check out a quick search on the forums of a few other threads here: http://forums.epicgames.com/search.php?do=process&query=mmofps. The bottom line is that you wouldn't in a second think that you could in a million years, without any prior avionics experience, build an F16 Jet from scratch, so why on earth do you think you can build the equivalent in Game Development? Start small, build a prototype of a small sub-system of the game and make a game out of that and the move onto another small system, etc etc.
Thinking about Building a game that uses an existing and licensed IP? Think again
If you are a huge fan of a certain comic, or a certain 80's TV show, or any other existing IP please reconsider before you end up wasting a ton of time and money on legal fee's. The first, and usually only thing, you're going to get in response from the IP holder is a cease & desist order. No one wants to put their treasured and beloved IP in the hands of anyone but a seasoned crew with an incredible track record. Now if you do have that track record and are a seasoned crew, even then it's a bad idea. Take it from my experience, working with established IP's is a nightmare and everything will take 5 times longer to produce than if you just made a knockoff(or even better something original). Working on established IP's is never fun, unless you're the kind of person that enjoys dealing with 10 emails a day that start with a sentence like: "The width between the left chest plates are only .42mm wide and they need to be at least .8mm wide according to spec" (I'm not making this stuff up, this is from an actual email for work we did on probably one of the most well known comic IP's on the planet. These folks get that specific about everything)
Thanks fragfest for the idea to put this in here
This post isn't just meant to save the rest of us the time of asking all of these questions in the future it's also to help you make the most out of this forum and your post here. You will notice gigantic improvements in how many responses you get from you thread if you at least make an effort with some of what I've mentioned here. That being said this surely isn't a complete list and I'd love to hear from the rest of the community as to what else is missing from most of these new recruitment threads these days.
In the end I hope this helps and i honestly hope your project defies the odds and becomes a run away hit.. The better you do as an indie game dev the better we all do so go out, kick some ass and draw more attention to this amazing community and the amazing tech that Epic has given us to play with. This truly is the greatest time to be doing what we do!