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What am I gonna need?


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#1 Timdog   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 03:52 PM

I have what most people consider a great situation here: A friend of mine joined a start-up semi-conductor company and got 50000 shares at pre-IPO price and now he wants to use these millions (currently $10M) after he vests (in about 8 months) to start a game company with me. We''ve been talking about this for a while, and I''ve since built an RTS engine for us to use on an initial project. Our problem is, we''re both programmers and really have no clue how to run a game company. So here are our questions: (Assume about $2M-$3M initial investment) -How much of an art team will we need? (I''m clueless as far as art goes) -If I switch the graphics to 3D (currently in the works), am I going to need extra art people to do modeling? -Is it worth it for a small company to hire a dedicated game designer? -Is it worth it for a small company to hire a dedicated manager? -Should we consider self publishing, and what''s the overhead involved? -Do you forsee problems for a couple of nonames with a wad of cash finding qualified people? -Is it Bad Idea to locate in South Jersey. (I say yes, Bad Idea, but my friend disagrees and his father''s firm will do free accounting for us if we do locate there) Any thoughts, opinions, or wild-ass guesses would be appreciated. Thanks, The Timdog

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#2 vallis   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 03:58 PM

Bloody hell.

Have you tried pinching yourself...Im sure you must be dreaming

Seriously though...the only question I can answer is the one about moving to 3D. The obvious thing is that when you switch you are going to need modellers as well as texture artists...

You''ll have to wait for the industry people to answer for the rest of it Im afraid

#3 Timdog   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 08:18 PM

Actually, my friend is the one who should pinch himself. Even if this flops, he can live like a Kennedy for the rest of his life.

I should probably clarify that question on switching to 3D:
I know someone has to do modeling and is extra work, I''m just curious if artists generally double as modelers.

Later,
The Timdog

#4 Spiff   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 08:27 PM

It seems like you have to hire some game designer or project manager that''s been in the game industry for a while, that can help you build a team.

I think Gamasutra has alot of jobs at: http://www.gamasutra.com/jobsearch/index.htm

============================
Daniel Netz, Sentinel Design
"I'm not stupid, I'm from Sweden" - Unknown

#5 cliffski   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 10:07 PM

I dont want to seem like a whineing old git here, but are you sure you want to do this?
You say your friend joined a company, but do either of you actually have experience of running a company yourselves? Running a company, where the buck really stops with you is VERY different from a normal job. You seem (if you dont mind me saying so) to be concerning yourself with the details of the job, without really questioning whether or not you are doing the right thing. If you dont have much business experience, I would personally STRONGLY recommend you find someone who does have management and financial experience before you go any further.
Sorry to sound so negative, and I dont want to put you off, but I know from running my own company that it just isnt as simple as people think it will be.
Anyway good luck, we need more indie developers :-)


http://www.positech.co.uk

#6 kressilac   Members   -  Reputation: 110

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Posted 10 March 2000 - 03:57 AM

I have to agree with the above post. Running a company is extremely difficult. It can be done with proper planning and talent. I can''t tell you how much a funded company at your control will change your outlook on life and work. I know it has mine.

Anyway, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself why am I in business. To make money is not a valid answer though it is an important goal. You mission statement has to comprise of what makes your company so special and when you think about it making money doesn''t really make you a special company cause many other companies are already doing it.

Once you understand that then focus on the projects you are going to undertake. A single project at the onset helps to keep your focus on what needs to get done to get the company profitable. Questions come up very quickly in this industry post initial project. As an owner in the company, you will have to determine what to do with all this wonderful talent you hired when your development cycle is over. It wouldn''t be right to just lay them all off, so you have to begin to plan strategy about how you are going to thrive beyond the first project.

There are so many topics to discuss on this that I could ramble forever. If you can figure out what you want the company to be, and how you''re going to live beyond the first project, you will have a solid vision of what it is you want to do and how your company is to interact with the market. At this point create a business plan and present it to your friend. Since he has the money, his buy in on your ideas are crucial. Last thing he wants to do is dump 30% of his earnings(remember uncle same will take an additional 40% of the original 10 million) into something that doesn''t return him anything.

From the business plan you will answer all of the question you posed in this forum and many many more. Starting a company can be exciting but use top down design when doing so and you will most likely do it right from the start. Oh and one last thing. Forget about working on the project for a couple of months. Incorporate, lease office space and furniture, prepare a project business plan, and get your tax and accounting documents in order before starting on the project. Before one line of code is written you have at least 2 months of work to do to get established properly for a company of $3 million in size.

Hope this helps
Kressilac


#7 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 10 March 2000 - 11:06 AM

Actually, we are in the middle of putting together the business plan. We''ve still got 8 months before we can do anything (my friend''s stock is worthless until he''s vested), and we''ve been talking to several knowldgeable business-people as far as the business end goes.
As far as financing the company, rather than a direct investment whereby there may be capital gains taxes imposed on any sold stock, we are planning on financing against the stock due to the fact that the stock has a strong-buy rating from virtually every investment house in the country. In other words, we get a loan from a bank or a VC and whatever we can''t pay back is returned in stock. If we did do a direct investment, there is also a chance that it would be exempt from capital gains tax because technically it is a re-investment of the capital gains. We are looking into this, but a direct investment is so much riskier that it is doubtful my friend would want to go that route.
Surviving past the first project is another thing we have considered, and currently our thinking is that we split off a small scout team (sorry, we built everything like a military org chart) consisting of a programmer and 1-2 artists and a designer (if we hire one). This team would lay the ground work for the next project as the rest of the company was working on finishing the current project. This adds good continuity, but becomes horribly complicated if we ever decide to work on more than one project at a time, so some contingency plans in case of good luck might be in order.

But overall, we are more or less in the details phase of doing things and the details are where its at. All of our accounting will be in order, we''ve determined how we''re going to incorporate, we''ve got a lawyer and an account lined up, and we''re determined to do this very professionally. In fact, one of the few major details we haven''t worked out is the property split of the company. Currently my friend seems to think that my programming skills are somewhere along the lines of a deity and that I''m worth a fairly sizable chunk of the company, but I won''t let him commit to that in case he wakes up someday (shit... probably shouldn''t have let him know about this thread ) and realizes his cash (well, virtual cash) is worth quite a bit more. But that''s definitely one thing we are going to have to work out on the business end. It''s a pretty amusing argument ("I want less..." "No, you''re going to take more...")

Anyway, the above questions are some of the ones that I have left in order to put together a full business plan.

Later,
The Timdog


#8 Timdog   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 March 2000 - 11:14 AM

What''s up with that (Anonymous Poster?), that was me (Timdog) on that last post.

Anyway, we''ve got a good idea of what it takes to run a company in general, but need some help in setting up a game company.

Later,
The Timdog

#9 Obscure   Moderators   -  Reputation: 174

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 03:53 AM

-How much of an art team will we need? (I''m clueless as far as art goes)

Best bet is to hire an art director who can work this out for you. Kind of depends how much art you are going to have.

-If I switch the graphics to 3D (currently in the works), am I going to need extra art people to do modeling?

Horses for courses. You either need them for 2D art or if you go 3D you need people with different skill sets to model, animate and do textures.

-Is it worth it for a small company to hire a dedicated game designer?

You must have someone to keep the vision. Does not matter who that is but remember that they wont be able to hold down a second full job. A programmer will not be able to do the design pull a full load as a coder.

-Is it worth it for a small company to hire a dedicated manager?

ESSENTIAL - You really do need to keep track of what is going on with the project and the money, without a coder or artist having to worry about it.

-Should we consider self publishing, and what''s the overhead involved?

No. You are already forming a new team and starting a company. That is two steep mountains to climb already. Adding a third would kill you. You would have to worry about marketing, PR, production, sales and distribution. Way too much.

-Do you forsee problems for a couple of nonames with a wad of cash finding qualified people?

Depends how good the idea is. You may need to spend money on PR to get known and place job adverts.


Dan Marchant
www.obscure.co.uk

#10 kressilac   Members   -  Reputation: 110

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 06:23 AM

If your idea is good enough, and when you talk to others you are overwhelmingly passionate about doing it, people will flock to your team to help you. I have essentially done this and I have resume after resume of people interested in the game I am creating. Even more so these people are interested in not just the project but VenuSoft Inc as a company to work for.

Temper your optimism though or the reality of hiring a team of employees and having their lives depend on your vision, and talent will bite you pretty quickly. Your vision is wonderful, your enthuisiasm will keep others motivated, but in the end you have to be sure that you can still give the people you hired a good salary that puts food on their tables. This is much more long lasting than any other real aspect of the company or the project.

As long as you have a plan, believe in it, and communicate it properly to your newly formed team, you shouldn''t have a hard time acquiring them or retaining them in the future.

Kressilac
ps Truth in Hiring has everything to do with employee hapiness. Only other factor in employee hapiness is following through on that truth in hiring belief.


#11 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 15 March 2000 - 06:35 AM

I think you guys should try it why not? If you dont your going to look back and wish you guys had. You have a ton of money now all you need to do is find some artist and a few people who have been in the industry for a while and know how it works. With the amount of cash you have I dont think there would be any problem.


#12 23v   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 March 2000 - 01:53 PM

First of all, I want to say good luck... This is probably the best move you have ever made....

On a serious note, I set up a small development company a year ago, being new to the industry causes a lot of problems. Credibility is a key issue, but persevere, build a small team, create a good demo, don''t tell too many people about it :-) Vaporware is hell, build relationships or partner with other development companies.

You have time on your side, start now.

If you have any other questions or would like to chat email...

andy@23v.com




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