Well, another entry. Good things are happening development wise. The network library's approaching what I want it to be (meaning I can start implementing other stuff on top of it without fear it's going to need a major overhaul) and bugs in it are now taking a couple of minutes to fix based on logfiles etc, Erica's really getting the Art team organised (hurrah for enthusiastice AND talented people), and we've had a cheaper estimate for the legal fees (to the tune of £1400). Been a good week.
Yay! Finally got hold of the accountant, and the company's up and running (and under a certificate of non-trading at present), meaning we're now free to start looking for funding and getting the required bank accounts set up.
Winterdyne Solutions Ltd, Registered Company #5770862 - that's us!
I can probably expect to receive calls from people wanting to buy chemical solutions shortly...
The best part of £3500. Including VAT, not that it takes the sting off any.
For this I get:
Consultancy agreements (not employment contracts) for my core team, specifying the profit share / salary scheme and granting rights to view company accounts.
An agreement covering the licensing of closed source materials/assets, tools, and documentation, and support and updates for these.
An EULA for Bloodspear (and similar services).
The breakdown for the quote is a little vague, I think, and ominously it's missing the asset handover and royalty agreement (odd, seeing as I provided them the same draft copy all my freelancers have).
And they want £500 up front to register me as a client before delivery of the documents. Meh. Think I'd like a little more detail on what I'm getting first. Also I think I'll have a look further afield for another firm.
That said £4000 was my gut-feeling top end (and these guys are definitely top-end lawyers) so it's not exactly a shock, but it is slightly more than I was hoping (£2500 - £3000 including the asset handover would have been a sale), even though the cost is spread over the development of Primogen (we don't need the EULA till close to the end of development (start of public beta)).
Now it's time to take this quote to funding organisations and see what I can get out of them, and to chase up the accountant about the company registration... More news as it develops.
Actually it went very well, but I've done a lot of preparation in terms of the contracts for dealing with my team, how the business will operate (especially with regards to the profit share scheme which complicates book-keeping) and how we intend to leverage what we produce in order to make money.
The lawyers themselves also recommended EM media to me, and have done a lot of work with them in the past which should grease some wheels as far as an application for a grant from them is concerned. Good news!
So the plan now is to wait for a quote for drawing up the relevant contracts and take that along to EM Media as proof of what the company's all about (as soon as the registration comes back), and as an example of what we'd like assistance with.
Briefly, the contracts we need (to operate the company as described in my help wanted thread) are:
3) NDA (included in the above agreements to some extent.
4) Per-product and per-studio License agreements for the library.
5) Customer EULA for the retail assets prohibiting resale, but allowing inclusion in any form of game product, and preserving company ownership of the IP.
6) EULA for the tools suite.
7) EULA for Bloodspear / any other game we produce. This is a 'do it later' thing - the preceding documents are more important at present, especially considering the limited capital I have available.
Clauses that are important, other than the obvious what work for what pay are things like the protection of the right to be identified as the author of work, non-solicitation (don't poach our customers), non-competition (don't compete with us) with a cut off time.
Also, a fun fact - even for freelance consultancy it is a UK requirement that some provisio be made for holiday pay IN ADDITION to the set salary (I wish I knew that last time I did a lot of work for a client in my self-employed role). This boils down to my core team members effectively getting a statutory rate on top of the salary they would otherwise be paid. (Which is used to determine profit share and therefore falls through to what they actually get before the company can afford the full rate).
All good fun. I hate wearing a suit and doing this sort of thing. Back to coding and trying to recruit an art director. :-)
It's cost over 300 quid for the full company pack (paperwork for everything) but it's all go - now I get to blow a few grand on getting contracts and NDAs drawn up. Funny that lawyers are even more expensive than accountants. Sigh. At least the bank likes me, and I've got leads on some potential investment capital (there's a media government agency that's branching into games in the East Midlands that might be useful). Once the incorporation's finished I can approach them and see what I can get - apparently they can help with the contracts and stuff.
Primogen now has functioning 1024bit Diffie-Hellman key exchange, MD5 hashing (yes, I know about the collisions), TEA encryption (only 128bit) all embedded behind some nice flexible interface classes, and powered by it's own large integer class.
Everything self-contained, everything flexible, no dependencies. Sweet. Oh, and it's cross-platform.
Next up are some better block encryption algorithms, and perhaps tiger hash...
It's christmas time! And typically, I've been on call like a maniac with my self-employed business so I've not been looking on here as often as perhaps I should. Ho hum. Still, I seem to be on top of it now.
Project news: Joel's confirmed he's happy to take on a lead art / art director position, which will be good for the standard of the asset packs we're producing - now I need to get the roster out to him, together with contact addresses, current assignments etc. That should be a lump off my plate, which is always a good thing.
It's been a while since I updated this journal. Yesterday I had a lunch meeting with Dan and Joel regarding the project. I think it's fair to say it was very productive - some good ideas regarding the specialised character design principles for the library came out, as well as some good discussion about Bloodspear and the current stagnation in the MMO genre, and also the production method behind the asset pack line we're producing. This should boil down to me being able to concentrate on back-end architecture whilst Dan and Joel concentrate on some of the main graphical aspects we want to implement. All in all, a worthwhile use of time and worth mentioning. Personal meetings are a good way of getting familiar with your team members, and perhaps more importantly a good way for them to get familiar with you and your objectives for the project. More artists have got into contact, which is a good thing, and our first sound effects guy has also joined the freelance team. The project appears to be gathering momentum now.