If you’re creating your first game ever and you don’t know programming or you can’t draw… don’t look for someone that will help you with it. If you’re more of an artist download GameMaker or Stencyl and with some English knowledge (if you are reading this I bet that you won’t have any problems with that) along with your own willingness to spend time on it, you actually CAN handle it on your own. Same goes for programmers. To develop a prototype you do not need god knows how many top notch sprites. Placeholders such as squares, stars, circles, free sprites (try Opengameart.org) will do just fine to give you an overall feel of the gameplay. Designers will have tougher time as they need to grasp a little from both coding and graphics but it’s all for good.
Is your prototype no fun? Friends just politely told you that they enjoyed it even though they really didn’t? Guess what, time to make some more prototypes. Take your time, make as many as you need and when you find the true gem you’ll know it. Nobody wants to work for months on a project that turns into unplayable crap at the end and no one wants to play it.
After finishing a playable prototype with more-or-less final graphics or placeholders that look aesthetic enough, you can finally start looking for some people to help you in your project. Remember though – the less, the better.
Why not earlier?
Experience and some actual knowledge about other team members’ work will come in handy when working in a team
Maybe you will find your hidden talent?
If your idea won’t look so awesome anymore after you create prototype, you won’t waste other people’s time
There’s a much higher chance that someone will join your project if they see your own contribution
If in the middle of the project you will start to get lazy and somewhere lose motivation (and trust me, it happens quite often even if you feel like there’s no way for it to happen at the start of the project) again: you won’t waste other people’s time
There’s no point in committing too much time to work with random volunteers instead of working on the prototype
It will turn out what sprites and sounds are needed for sure (will save artists’ time when they’d create assets that would have to be changed or god forbid completely discarded)
There’s very little chance that someone will want to join you seeing only scratches of an idea from a guy with no experience or a portfolio. And if you happen to receive any offers at that stage, they’re most likely not going to be serious and eventually they’ll just waste your time.
I’m writing this from my very own experience. I’ve started many different projects and one I can tell for sure – if you have something to show, people will want to join your project more willingly and sometimes they even might be asking you to let them in without your invitation. I’ve made this mistake several times myself too… Posting threads on forums like “Looking for artists, writers and translators” before writing a single line of code, drawing a single concept/sketch or doing any actual work.
However, when I started working on Rune Masters I didn’t spend time on making any threads, asked nobody for help. Half of the assets I took from the Internet, half did myself even though lacking experience and skills. I’ve been sitting on this all on my own for over a month coding and taking care of graphics. After that I released an alpha version and most people enjoyed it. That’s how I found a great musician (Chris Sinnott), talented visual artist (Toxotes) and a programmer (waxx) that had more experience than me. Doing that I’ve gained some valuable experience in coding and making graphics, and also formed a great team that I can work with to finish a high quality game. I can see no cons in this case.
Now fast forward to the day I actually finished the game (I wrote this article when I was still in the middle of development, just touched it up a bit now): Toxotes disappears after a while leaving us with half of the quality assets needed, unable to finish the game. I’ve spent some time practicing art and we came back to the project pushing it to the final release. Chris and Max stayed with me to the end and both were great teammates. Though this story should give you a one more example of potential teammates bringing more harm than good. Even if the person is very skilled for me their personality and dedication is more important than that. After all it’s better to have all quality assets than a few masterpieces that you can’t even use on their own.
While writing your advertisement where you look for the lacking team members, you need to bear in mind a few things:
Include a short description of your project with the most essential info: genre of the game, art style (b&w, vector graphics, 3d, isometric, top-down or something else?), short gameplay overview
Estimated time in which you want to finish project
Who you’re looking for and what you demand from them