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How to Recruit a Programmer v2

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    How to Recruit a Programmer v2

    I am reposting the “How to Recruit a Programmer” thread at the request of Pezman.

    Before we get started with that I should mention three things:
    a) It has been cleaned up and I’ve tried to roll the comments that other people made in the last thread into the initial post.

    b) Please do not contact me to work on your mod/game/demo/whatever unless you are offering a paid position. It is amazing how many people still do this.

    c) I am using the quote tag for formatting, not for quoting people.
    Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

    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". The second thought is always "Wow, that sounds like a lot of work".

    Changing that mindset is not easy. If it was you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. 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. Some people have specific pet projects they are already working on. Sometimes it is possible to incorporate these into your design. Make a new recruit happy, and he now has a reason to do so much free work: he actually cares about what he is working on.

    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. We will not email you for it. We will not find you on an IM program. Get some free web space and host your document. A website would be better, but at the very start you might want to see if anyone else is interested in your idea.

    3) How many people are currently producing something for the mod (not just those ‘interested’). Don’t lie about this number; one of the first things someone who does contact you is going to do is ask to see what has already been made.

    4) What, exactly, you have done already. Don’t pretend you have more done than you actually do. It won’t take long for people to realize this and when they do it is highly likely they will become disenfranchised and leave. This is similar to, but different than #3.

    5) How long the project will last? Some mod projects are long processes because of huge scope and limited free time on the part of the members. Others are smaller and the team disbands afterwards. Which is yours? (NOTE: Starting on a small project requiring 3 months or less of work is highly recommended. You will learn a lot and might be able to complete a small portion of your dream mod.)

    6) How will you know when it is finished? Too many mod projects are just assumed indefinite. How long before you are done? The Make Something Unreal contest provided us with pretty good deadlines in the past, but that is almost over now. You will have to make your own goals, either set a date or make a checklist of features.
    Ok, now you know what to tell people, but how do you say it so they will listen? The list below is a start. The more of these things you have done already, the more people will take you seriously. Everyone wants to work on a project that will see completion. The more you do, the easier it is to see your commitment.

    1) No |337 speak.
    Spell and grammar check your post. These kinds of errors are easy to catch, but immediately discount you. You don’t have to use business English once you start working, but if you are going to put in 100 man-hours to your mod, why not spend 10 minutes to proofread your recruiting post? I personally know many people, including myself, who may read your idea if it is poorly presented but simply not take it seriously.

    2) Website.
    A website with all of the information that is easy to read, cleanly laid out, and freely available is best. The game play and features should be at the start of the list and the story at the end. Focusing on how your mod will be different from the dozen other WWII mods or CS clones will help. (Note: Saying it will be “more realistic” does not qualify!)

    3) Diagrams.
    Instead of trying to describe the HUD you want in 500 words, pop open Photoshop and label a rough representation of it. The same goes for menus or map ideas depending on what type of mod you are making. At the very least they will break up the long, steady, stream of words that is your concept document into more appealing chunks.

    4) Document everything.
    When text is your only method of communication, this can make or break the completion of your mod. Things need to be documented if everyone is going to be working towards the same goals. These other documents should be separate and easy to navigate. If someone wants to go find out how a plasma rifle is going to work and how much damage it does they don’t want to wade through 10 pages of high concept or a list of audio assets. Use multiple files. Use excel, project, or word, or visio depending on the document. (NOTE: Even when my friends and I are kicking around an idea for a small mod we toss our thoughts into a 1 or 2 page word document. Everyone reads it and we can get on with discussing the idea instead of explaining it.)
    The above are general guidelines for finding programmers. You may find lots if you follow none of this advice or be starving for one even if you do all of it to the letter. Sometimes there are simply more mods starting than people to work on them. This goes for artists and level designers too.

    Instead of getting discouraged, try finding another mod that is similar to what you want to do and start that way. You will probably make contacts to help you after that project is complete or a portfolio of work to impress people the next time you try to shop around your idea.

    There is always the last resort of programming it by yourself. It is unlikely you will get it done, but possible you will attract more people to help.