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How to Recruit a Programmer

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    How to Recruit a Programmer

    I posted this in another tread and someone suggested that it be reposted to become a sticky. Given the number of recruitment posts in the last few days I figured I should get to that.

    The absolute first thing that enters into a coder's head when they see a recruiting post is: "Why should I work for this guy?" It is not "Wow that is a cool idea" or "I wish there was a game like that I could play". Rather, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of work".


    Before someone who knows what they are doing is going to sign up you need to provide them with some very important information like:

    1) How much influence they will have on the product based on what they want to work on and also the technology limitations. We can do anything on computers nowadays. The question is always whether or not it is a good idea.

    2) What skills you have aside from 'designer'. Anyone can have game ideas. If your only task for a project is to design it you had better have a design doc (5 pages or less) written and available and we'd better not have to email you for it. (Like someone said above, inherently lazy and anyone who thinks they have an original idea worth protecting is so delusional that we won't give them the time of day)

    Also, all sorts of other information needs to be documented as well. Weapon sheets and descriptions, game and front end flowcharts, etc. Otherwise the programmers will be waiting on you for stuff and the last thing you want to do with their valuable time is squander it.

    3) What, exactly, you have done already. If you have nothing or just some concept sketches don’t bull**** us. We will know. In fact, before you go searching for programmers it would be a good idea to have placeholder packages made with temporary art that is named correctly. I could go on for a few pages about how important that stuff is to us. Suffice to say, as far as your programmers will be concerned placeholder art is more important than the final art.

    I know that may sound odd or confusing but just trust me on it.


    Ok, enough of the vague concepts of what to do here are some specific examples to help you out:

    1) Spell and grammar check your post. These kind of errors are easy to catch, but immediately discount you.

    2) A website with all of the information that is easy to read, cleanly laid out, and freely available. The gameplay and features should be at the start of the doc and the story at the end.

    3) Flowcharts. They show organization and thought and will increase the work rate of your programmers. Diagrams of interface screens are also quite helpful.

    #2
    And last but not least...

    Coders do not grow on trees.

    Meaning just because everyone needs a programmer, doesn't mean there is one for you. Often you will be pulling them away from another team/project, and you need to give them a good reason to do that.

    [edit]EEK I REPLIED TO A STICKY!![/edit]

    Comment


      #3
      "1) How much influence they will have on the product based on what they want to work on and also the technology limitations. We can do anything on computers nowadays. The question is always whether or not it is a good idea."

      Do most programmers wish to have more influence or less?

      In other words, would most programmers prefer to an open minded project where they can add or change ideas and discuss the work and concepts for the work before beginning or just a flat, layed out set of rules and final work ready to go?

      I'm guessing a cross between the two because I know that if I was a programmer, I would like the project to be not necessarily final before I started the work so that I could implement my own ideas first but at the same time, have a fair layout of the project.

      Very good advice though.

      Comment


        #4
        Also:


        "In fact, before you go searching for programmers it would be a good idea to have placeholder packages made with temperary art that is named correctly."

        Can you explain what you mean by placeholders exactly?

        I want to be able to provide as much as I can to help the programmer when I'm ready to recruite a lead programmer for my project. At the moment I have more than just concept sketches, I have desktops, and completed concept models. I also have a website that has all the information laid out that I wrote all the html code for. I'll probably work on a document dureing this week though to explain how everything in my mod will work and exactly what work is needed.

        Comment


          #5
          Sure. A placeholder package is a package full of temporary art/sound/etc assets that are all named properly.

          So, if you were doing a mod that required 3 new weapons and 2 new character skins you would have temporary meshes and textures for these in a package named the EXACT same way as you would once they were finished.

          The more crude these placeholders are the better. The following are good examples:
          -Half a dozen boxes formed roughly into the shape of a gun
          -A texture with "Sniper Rifle Texture" written on it

          The point of these things is to allow the programmers to begin quickly and not have to constantly change code whenever art assets are updated. Also, once the artists are given a build with the placeholders implemented they can just drop in their new package by replacing the old one and see how their stuff lines up, adjusts to gamma changes, if everything was named right, etc.

          The reason that crude placeholders are better than near finished art is because there is no way anyone can forget to fix a gun placeholder that looks like it was made of lego. Near the end of the project nobody can get lazy and decide that a few inversed normals is 'good enough'.

          The mod I am currently working on has documentation of a very strict naming convention for all of our packages and assets that was laid out prior to starting any work. All of our packages are prefixed with JEI and the textures have names like chrPRMdjinnWings (It's for a character (primary texture) named djinn that is applied to her wings) or wpn1STStormCannon. (1st person texture for the Storm Cannon weapon)

          That is a bit beyond what you would need to recruit a programmer and probably to even complete a mod. We needed to go to such lengths because we are doing a total conversion (meaning a ton of different files) and there are roughly 7 people working on assets.

          I hope I was able to answer your question.

          Comment


            #6
            I see what your getting too now. I figured that was what you meant. So, I need to simply create some very rough meshes for now so that the programmer knows what they are and where to put them I take it.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks for the advice... I have an idea for an MMORPG but it will be some time before I present this to a programmer...

              Comment


                #8
                Re: How to Recruit a Programmer

                Originally posted by JamesWalkoski
                1) Spell and grammar check your post. These kind of errors are easy to catch, but immediately discount you.
                Originally posted by JamesWalkoski
                .....temperary art that is named correctly.
                So I guess we should discount your post? lol!

                /me is evil
                -=sneak

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hey, can you update the beginning post of this thread, it seems that most of the reference links are broken.

                  Thanks

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Re: How to Recruit a Programmer

                    Originally posted by sneaky_usb
                    So I guess we should discount your post? lol!

                    /me is evil
                    -=sneak
                    Haha, yeah I never spell checked this after copying it from a reply into a new thread. Fixed now.

                    I have fixed the broken link to the flowchart, but the other material has been removed because the company it belongs to is in production of the game in question right now. I'll ask if they are still willing to have that publicly available.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I tried to do everythilng I could think of in my recent post to recruite a programmer. Can you please let me know what I did wrong? I provided, a discription of the project, a link to my website (that I handcoded), concept art, specifications on the team and what functions they perform includeing myself, and I said that I will provide, docuements, and complete models if someone takes interest and requests them. I also provided examples of my previouse work. I even pointed out a link to a demo that show what physics I am asking the programmer to create even though the demo is for a game engine. I also will provide charts and a two assistant programmers that will help the lead programmer and that are willing to teach the lead programmer anything he needs to know.; I am also willing to write up a special database if someone requests it. Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        For one, your posting shows a distinct lack of visual structure; from a first look it's just a length of paragraphs. Some formatting might help.

                        Also, you should fix the image links; clicking them yields a "Forbidden" message. It's also not too smart an idea to make it artificially complicated for potentially interested people to spot and use your email address. And a statement like "These pictures barely touch on what I have been developeing for this mod" makes a reader wonder why you don't post the stuff that really touches what you have been developing for this mod instead; you're advertising your idea after all.

                        Lastly, even though the way you wrote that posting itself seems okay, that obviously doesn't guarantee that you'll find anyone who's actually interested in investing time into your mod idea.

                        Keep in mind that you are not addressing a crowd of coders that are desperate to find employment in a mod team. Most people reading your posting are not actively looking for a mod team to join. They'll think very well before they show interest in joining anybody's team.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I was wondering how that flow chart was created and where the program is that you made it with. I don't want to use illustrator cause if anything changes it would be such a pain to change everything else to accommodate. Thank you.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Sound advice indeed. Good stuff.

                            In general, programmers aren't really interested in visible assets... ie what a weapon or texture look like, or even how it works in-game - their task is to link everything together into a cohesive structure. Game.

                            Programmers are like the 'glue', while all your assets/textures/models etc are the bricks your mod/game is made of.

                            A few extra points to consider, for both programmers and designers: the format is a bit higgledy-piggledy, but you'll understand.

                            Programmers are almost never recognised as being 'creative' in the same way that construction workers aren't either.This is wrong. All too often, game designers, and in the case of the construction worker, the building architects are considered the creative force behind a project. Ego comes into play and more often than not slows down the project's progress.
                            Without the programmer's work, most game design simply isn't possible.

                            Maturity. A good game designer isn't 12 years old with an idea scribbled down on the back of their high school math book.

                            Designers need to be able to accept incoming information / assets on a daily basis without getting flustered, or holding up the other team members work. They need to be critical without being negative, understanding while remaining firm and accept responsibility for communication within the team.
                            They need to disperse data quickly and to the team members that need it, while preventing information overload to those team members who really don't need to know that sniper rifle texture changed (again).

                            Programmers of any worth are invariably bright people, often mature for their age, and generally they're looking for the same qualities in their boss, the lead programmer, or design lead for the project.
                            If you don't have a lot of life experience, it'll be difficult, as there is often friction between team members, especially those who are waiting on a programmer to bring their precious idea to life.

                            As for programmers having creative control over their work:

                            Designers need to trust your potential programmer(s) - their creative input should be valued highly - since they often kinow what is technically possible and also what is economically (money or team members' time).
                            Game designers need to be firm, however - solid, workable game ideas that are part of the main design shouldn't be changed - even if the programmer doesn't like that particular feature.
                            Humans are built to have ideas - especially empowered, enthusiastic team members! Designers must expect feature-creep during the course of the project - and must welcome new ideas (even if they are rejected or postponed).

                            Programmers also need to display maturity...you might be a gun with UnrealScript and C++, but if you can't get along with the other team members,

                            Communication is vital to a programmer - designers and other team members must be able to explain exactly what effect they want. That way, there's less variability in the programmer's output.

                            And here I disagree with James -
                            - Spelling and grammar need only be perfect for the fianl product (or any publicly available release). So long as your communication skills are good, the medium or accuracy within a medium aren't important. Getting the idea across is all that is needed.

                            Overall - the message is to WORK TOGETHER. Even if its your precious baby - you can't get there without the rest of the team.

                            I see too many game design/leads caught up in thinking "Wow, I have this great team working for me! I totally rock!"...when it should be "My project has all these great people working for it...and I'm just one of them". Put your ego in the bottom drawer, and get on with the work.
                            Even Derek Smart finally woke up to that. Well he hired some people anyway... :P

                            Comment


                              #15
                              And here I disagree with James -
                              - Spelling and grammar need only be perfect for the fianl product (or any publicly available release). So long as your communication skills are good, the medium or accuracy within a medium aren't important. Getting the idea across is all that is needed.
                              Professionalism, such as being able to spell properly, in a recruiting post is essential for myself and many people I know to even take a post seriously. Obviously, once you start working it becomes less important.

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