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What I've been doing, dev-related.
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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 GBP1400). 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...
So, the quote's come in from the lawyers.
The best part of GBP3500. 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 GBP500 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 GBP4000 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 (GBP2500 - GBP3000 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.
Just back from a meeting with the lawyers.
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:
1) Asset submission agreement / royalty agreement
2) Consultancy agreement / freelance development agreement / profit share specification.
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. :-)
Well, that's it - I'm going Ltd.
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.
I'll blog when I find out what happens. :-)
Been a while since I've posted.
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.
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.
Best get on with it!
Merry christmas everyone, and a happy new year.
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.
Well Friday was taken care of, courtesy Renault. My damn car packed up, which left me trying to fix it most of the day.
Today I got another TDD written (on terrain and artefact stitching) and a spec based on it written and out. So not too bad. That's it for essential production work for now, so I can concentrate on that coding I meant to do last week. Grr.
One of our freelancers has submitted some really nice artwork over the last couple of days. I've popped it into my help wanted thread to make it look a bit prettier, and show that progress is actually being made on stuff. Hopefully it might attract a few more artists...
Finally I've finished the production work I've been dealing with this week. All artists that have confirmed they want to work on the asset packs have assignments, all the composers are happily umm... composing, or whatever, and I can at last crack on with the back end code for the rest of the week.
I'll be finishing off the large integer class and benchmarking its pseudoprime generation stuff, and making sure it works. Then I'll be fixing a few issues with naming, and refining the logfile class to take account of severity. That should take care of Friday.
Today has been another day in production hell.
Managed to get another spec out to an artist though, and I'm pretty certain I've completed the list of specifyable animations for characters and mobiles. Over 80 separate animations for a humanoid character! Next to do is create a common naming and fallback convention for these. This can then be passed to the technical artist so an appropriate skeleton can be built. Once that's done I can specify animation packs for the artists. Fun fun fun!
Just got this mailed to me from one of the freelance team:
Awww. I feel warm and fuzzy.
I still haven't finished this week's production tasks. I was out all day on calls (self employed consultancy pays bills) so I have a minor excuse. Left to do are an animation manifest, and a specification of an animated pack for an artist...
I have new respect for producers and leads in the industry now.
Having to recruit, issue tasks, evaluate incoming work and provide feedback, and put together specifications for everything from packs of medieval furniture to music for cyberpunk style RPGs is really eating into my time and patience. It seems like theres a huge mass of work to do in just getting other people to do work! I'd really like to get on with the library code today, but I don't think it's gonna happen. (sigh) And it's getting harder as the team gets bigger.
That said, my partner's been really supportive. She doesn't let me work late (too much), or at weekends (again, too much) so I've kept going on this project much more easily and I get to have quality time with the kids. Burn out seems to be a distant memory, which is nice. I do still keep estimating time based on my old habit of working 18 hour days on things, but I guess I'll adjust.
Well, best crack on with it. Salutes to all those who run large teams on complex projects. It's tougher than people think.
I've been meaning to get round to starting this off for some time now.
Over the past month or so, I've been recruiting heavily for the Primogen project, a suite of cross-platform libraries, tools, assets and utilities for building small to medium scale MMO games.
I've been working on this project myself for a lot longer, pretty much starting when I left Warhammer Online, initially as a self contained game project (Bloodspear - http://www.bloodspear.co.uk) but eventually abstracting out the code into a number of DLLs / SOs so further games could be developed. This objective also led to the idea of producing tools for creating such worlds with a minimum of asset production.
Recruiting's gone pretty well, and we now have people working on asset packs, working on terrain (including some specialised algorithms tied to the asset pipeline) and toolset.
I've found it a bit surprising that so few programmers or artists have applied to join the team. I have many composers though, all of incredibly high standard. Competition in that field must be intense. Time will tell, and more will undoubtedly join up once there are some examples on the web.