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Okay, I had to come somewhere and rant. I wanted to know if anyone else feels the same way that I do. First of all, to preface the situation, I am the lead designer and developer of a game development company. We started a policy way back in the day saying that we would only hire people from the ground up to give more people opportunities. This was a major policy for us, it would give new people the chance to get into game development and it would give us some fantastic new team members who had the time to develop their skills to a highly professional degree. BUT... could this work? Apparently not. I have had no larger headaches in my entire business career than the ones I am left with after taking flamings from the same people we are trying to help. Everyone in the forums that I encounter thinks that a magical money genie is going to appear and make them all lots of money. First of all, ask any major player in the industry if they do it for money, or if the money is even all that great. Second, there are people in here with NO industry experience whatsoever who have the audacity to thumb their noses at a job that has a deffered payment structure! Does anyone else find it appauling and offensive that when attempting to give opportunities back to the community we should encounter such attitudes? Since when doess a complete noob have the right to criticize a retail project? I for one am tired of being flamed for being one of the few people to offer an in. Let me wrap things up by making a statement to all of the people who are currently reading this and preparing their firey response. If you have no expereience in the industry, either interact with the community as a willing student and get some, or STFU and sit down and leave all of these independent projects alone. They are doing what you don't have the ability or stones to do, and if you are in fact experienced and you're just too good for the project. Move along! For my last words, kudos to all those independent project leaders out there who have the courage to do something new! Warmest Regards- Jay A. Wollin (Navarone) Epiphany 6 Studios San Diego, CA JayWollin@e6studios.com (criticisms openly welcomed and encouraged) [Edited by - JWollin on August 18, 2004 12:15:15 PM]

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Original post by JWollin
There are people in here with NO industry experience whatsoever who have the audacity to thumb their noses at a job that has a deffered payment structure.

You offer people to work for you with no compensation in return and you get offended when people choose not to accept the position?

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No... not at all. I get offended when people feel the need to go out of their way to flame anyone trying to find help.

Also, a contractual agreement for deffered payments, is compensation. An author who writes a book does not recieve his payment until after he submits the final manuscript, a painter does not get paid for his art until he delivers the finished work, unless of course they have outstanding repoire with their publisher. This makes perfect sense.

[Edited by - JWollin on August 18, 2004 12:20:41 PM]

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i thought authors who wrote books either wrote them in their spare time, then went looking for a publisher, or got advances from the publisher after writing a few sample chapters.

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After having worked for a book publisher for 6 years I can honestly tell you no, that's not how it works generally, although I did make the statement that if they had exceptional repoire ith their publisher they would be exempt from that generalization.

Authors who have written successful books in the past frequently recieve advances on their upcoming titles. Most authors do not write in their spare time, for many it is their sole income. So, following suit, I would expect to pay an advance, or even a salary to a seasoned vet in the industry. I would not, however, pick up a former modder with no college qualifications and no industry experience and advance them their funds. That would be foolish considering most people at that level have the commitment level of a 42nd street prostitute.

Please don't make the error of assuming that I think people are not deserving of pay. Just understand from a business end the qualified risks involved in starting out green people.

[Edited by - JWollin on August 18, 2004 12:35:41 PM]

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Original post by JWollin
I get offended when people feel the need to go out of their way to flame anyone trying to find help.

There have been thousands of posts offerring deferred payments for work that never went anywhere. If you want people not to flame you you have to provide sufficient proof that your company has funding and won't go under in two weeks. Even so, you can offer *some* base salary as evidence that you're financially stable. You expect people to give you the benefit of the doubt while you refuse to give them benefit of the doubt until after their work is done. It just doesn't work that way.
Quote:
Original post by JWollin
An author who writes a book does not recieve his payment until after he submits the final manuscript, a painter does not get paid for his art until he delivers the finished work, unless of course they have outstanding repoire with their publisher. This makes perfect sense.

First, there are always advances. Second, publishers can provide sufficient proof of financial stability. Third, these types of work differ from programming simply because writer and painter work alone while programmer more often than not works with a team.

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Original post by JWollin
After having worked for a book publisher for 6 years I can honestly tell you no, that's not how it works generally

In the cases where there are no advances, the situation is different from the one you describe. An author tries to sell something they've made. An author does not do work for a publisher. If a writer is asked to do custom work he will always get an advance. Nobody ever does custom work for free.

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I think you have a fair point as far as the deferred payments go, but to be honest, it's basically impossible (not to mention unwise) to try and take sides in this kind of issue without background details. If someone did not properly understand the contract, or was expecting something besides deferred payment, and they went off on you, I'd be inclined to say it's your own fault for not communicating fully what your plans are. I've been guilty of that in the past and it can cause all kinds of problems - and the natural reflex is to shift off the blame to someone else and play the "victimization" card.

Now I don't mean to blatantly accuse you of anything, or even to suggest that this is all your fault; but to be honest the information you provide is a bit one-sided, and if you're looking for sympathy or agreement, you may do well to provide as much of the situation from another point of view as you can. If I had come to you and asked for an advance, and been told that my contract was deferred-payment only, in the same tone that you used for this post, you can bet I'd be pissed off at you - and I'm hardly a nooblet with no experience in the software industry.

So in summary, if you really are the victim of a mass of senseless ill will, you have my sympathy. If you're playing for support and agreement by only presenting your side of the issue, then you do not.

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Now please note again, that I was not strictly refering to my own situation. I am speaking to defend the rights of all people in the community trying to find help. So what if they have NO financial backing as of yet, but are still looking for help?

NOWHERE on the forum does it stipulate that a post MUST include payment, in fact, if I am not mistaken, the forum DOES say that professional studio jobs should not be posted in the help wanted forum, but in another forum geared more toward people looking for studio jobs, or I should say, people qualified for studio jobs. (I apologize if it is not Gamedev.net that has this policy, but if it is not I will do my best to locate the forum I am thinking of. Also, please note that this post is not meant to speak against Gamedev.net in any way.)

As far as the author thing goes, lets drop that one because I could debate that one with you all day long, after rethinking my words it was a foolish choice because all publsihers work differently. Your expereinces may have been entirely different than my own.)

[Edited by - JWollin on August 18, 2004 12:51:02 PM]

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[i]Original post by ApochPiQ[/i
So in summary, if you really are the victim of a mass of senseless ill will, you have my sympathy. If you're playing for support and agreement by only presenting your side of the issue, then you do not.


Again, just to note, I am not playing for sympathy for my own sake at all here. I can get by, my studio will survive the loss of a few green people, that is not my concern. My concern is MORE with the thousands of other people who post looking for help, many of which WILL fail. However, I also believe that many of the ones that fail will fail largely due to a lack of support from the community and a lack of help in making their visions a tangible development.

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Original post by JWollin
NOWHERE on the forum does it stipulate that a post MUST include payment

That's an entirely different story. Originally you said that people flame you for offerring help ("help" being asking them to work for free). Frankly when people ask me to do work and make it look like they're helping me, I tend not to react in a nice way. At the very least they have to convince me that there will be some benefit to me (for instance that I'll work with really intelligent people that will teach me new things).

If you're just referring to people like yourself trying to find help from others, that's an entirely different story. In this case I completely agree with you. It's just that your original post made it look differently.

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Original post by CoffeeMug
That's an entirely different story. Originally you said that people flame you for offerring help ("help" being asking them to work for free). Frankly when people ask me to do work and make it look like they're helping me, I tend not to react in a nice way. At the very least they have to convince me that there will be some benefit to me (for instance that I'll work with really intelligent people that will teach me new things).


You should take this point to heart. While your case may be different, normally when an "employer" is trying to get an individual to work for less (or no) money under the argument that "I'm the one helping you", it's because they are a dirty con artist, or they are shady employer looking to exploit wet behind the ears workers (usually recent graduates, students, and immigrants) by playing the imaginary benefits game. The individuals you are looking to work for you are all relatively smart, and so it becomes likely that they will be insulted if they feel you are trying to pull such a scam - not just because they think you are trying to defraud them, but because they think you are showing them an extreme amount of disrespect by acting as if they are morons who don't know how the world works.

Frankly getting a few angry comments may be the worst of your worries. As mentioned, normally the only kind of deffered payment work is for work that is presented in a completed form by an individual. In those cases it is pretty cut and dry whether the company accepts the work and pays the worker, or doesn't accept the work (in which case they can derive no benefit from it) and not pay the worker. In your case you are getting people to work in a matter that you will receive the benefit of their labor regardless of whether they get payed or not. As you yourself have explained, you are "hiring" individuals whom you believe are highly questionable as to their abilities (otherwise you would be paying them properly). This means there is a high chance that you might decide their work is substandard or their ability to operate properly in your business unacceptable, and fire them (or being young, they might quit). And at that point, you have some very serious legal problems, as it would be very easy to come back and sue you (there are suffient grounds for the case to be heard in court regardless of how obvious the outcome, which means you will be paying lawyer fees). With more then one firing (as becomes more likely with you intentionally hiring employees you consider substandard from the beginning) you create a situation where just about any judge is going to conclude that your hire, work without pay, fire without pay, are part of a defined company policy - the resulting decision would likely decimate your company (and yourself if you have linked your finances).

Frankly, you really need to talk to a competent lawyer about this before you really screw yourself over.

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Original post by JWollin
Again, just to note, I am not playing for sympathy for my own sake at all here. I can get by, my studio will survive the loss of a few green people, that is not my concern. My concern is MORE with the thousands of other people who post looking for help, many of which WILL fail. However, I also believe that many of the ones that fail will fail largely due to a lack of support from the community and a lack of help in making their visions a tangible development.



If these people with their "visions" are truly motivated and capable of carrying out their ideas in the first place, they will either know or realize very quickly that Help Wanted on GameDev is not the place to build the beginnings of your corporate empire. There are other, far more effective tools for building teams - including the commercial classifieds on this site.

Projects here do not fail because of lack of community support. It isn't the community's job to make everyone else's dreams come true in the first place. Projects here fail because the people behind them do not understand how to make them succeed. I've both started and been involved in the early phases of several projects and businesses which are now quite successful - none of them relied on tools like the Help Wanted forum to build their teams. There are far more networking and recruiting skills (and tools) out there than bulletin boards, and virtually all of them are more effective than bulletin boards.

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I thank you for everyone's intelligent and well thought out responses. This is what I was hoping for in posting here. I simply wanted to bring to light the difficulties that a lot of people are facing in trying to find help.

I would only ask that you not make speculations about my company based on my opinions or views based in here. Please also do not make legal speculations based on my words in this forum. Whereas I appreciate the advice and comments regarding this matter and the possible legal ramifications, you are making the assumption that just because I am speaking my mind in defense of people looking for free help, means that my company, or my company's lawyers have recommended the "taking advantage" of so-called, "wet behind the ears" noobs. I am just making a personal point.

In summation, my whole opinion is simply this: I don't think that the so-called wet behind the ears noobs, should be so quick to dismiss all possibilities that come their way. I have been in this game for a while and I know how hard it is to break into this industry.

I think that people should be greatful for opportunities to work with other people in any regard. Even if the company fails or the development stalls, you have learned how to work in a team, and you have learned the mistakes NOT to make in the future, and if you are 20 years old and still in college, let's face it, that's something you still have to learn. It's all part of learning.

Some people just want someone to hand them an easy road, a quick paycheck, they think they deserve it because the draw well, and I personally think that those people are lazy, unmotivated, and will not amount to anything worthwhile in any aspect of life other than to provide mildly amusing forum banter.

I have been a composer for 16 years now, I have written film scores and game scores, I have written orchestral commissions and you know what? I STILL don't get hired on a regular basis, I still have a lot to learn, I would still take a learning experience if one was offered, not be so egotistical as to be insulted by someone offering an opportunity.

If I felt it was below my skill level I would simply say no thank you and explain my reasons. Blowing up and flaming them for asking would be the least professional and most childish way to respond that I can think of, save egging their car while they're sleeping.

[Edited by - JWollin on August 18, 2004 12:53:15 PM]

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The difference between you and a newcomer is that you have enough experience to know how things work. The newbies don't. I've spent quite a lot of time on the forums for one of my employers (a game development house) trying to explain to people how the game industry works. I've had only marginal success. It's one of those things you can't really understand from the outside looking in; you have to have real experience to know how and understand why things are the way they are.

Someone fresh out of college with a shiny new degree has been conditioned, both by society as a whole and their educational process, to believe that their degree makes them attractive to employers. In some rare cases this is true - but in the real world a degree does not equal a job. Until the newcomers have some actual real life experience under their belts, they will not realize that they are not entitled to a job because they have skills and a piece of shiny paper.

You and I (and hopefully the vast bulk of the industry) would not shun a learning experience, or reject an opportunity to be a part of a team for the experience itself. But the people you are talking about - the fresh and naive - don't see things the same way in most cases. Part of the challenge of dealing with new game-industry hopefuls is helping them to understand just how harsh and brutal the industry can be, without demolishing them in the process. I think if you examine how you're dealing with people, and perhaps investigate the possibility of trying to help educate them about the realities of the industry, you may get much better results in the future.

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Thank you for that. I greatly appreciated that last post. I do think you have a very good point, and in fact, I think I will take your advice to heart and re-evaluate the way we view our hiring process. We have been alright so far in finding the people we want, but in the future a more enlightened view will come in handy. Thank you again, I only hope that the other people who are looking for team members can figure out some way to get through to them as well.

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I'm not sure I understand how your organization works, but I'd totally be willing to work on any project with anyone for no money. I just want to be able to interect with other people with various levels of experience on the same aspects of a project so that when I stumble I can get help. I'm learning 3ds max and directx with c++ and I run into linker problems. I know I could do some wicked shit if I could just get someone that could help me answer the basic questions I have. I could care less about money. I just want to do something awesome... or even something complete. So if you want to hire me, I've got all the time in the world to learn and code and create graphics. I'm a freshman in computer science. I got my english composition out of the way this summer and am starting precal and cs100 next week. I know it will be slow and boring because I already know oop and all that, but I'm hoping maybe I will learn how to get the damn linker to work with DX. I'm thinking, I'm just missing some basic steps, but I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. once I pass that hurdle, I'll just learn the dx api and then I'm making games like Empire Earth. Okay, maybe I'm disillusioned, but hay, if you shoot for the stars, you'll at least hit the moon right?

So, if anyone is out there that might be able to help me out with basics, I'd be willing to work on whatever project they want, for free. Programming is fun for me. That's why I figure I should get a degree in it. If I can eventually make money doing what I am most passionate about doing, my life will be a coke-drinking, cheetoh-eating heaven, forever...

I don't really drink coke or eat cheetohs, but I do have my vices.

What I'm saying is. I have the time. I don't have a job because I did 4 years in the Marines (waste of 4 years if not for the GI Bill) So now I have the GI Bill paying my rent and food and financial aid paying for college. I do nothing but sit here in my room all day long and try to learn Direct X and 3ds Max. I'm making progress with max, but vc++ is a pain in my ass.

I thought about going back and making a text-based mmorpg like dragonrealms or something. I could probably do that. But I'd still have to use some net library and I can't figure out linker errors! Someone, please help me! I am at your mercy!

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Original post by JWollin
... they think they deserve it because the draw well, and I personally think that those people are lazy, unmotivated, and will not amount to anything worthwhile blah blah ...
They deserve it because game development takes a LOT more than just being able to draw well. Its hard work, made infinitely harder when the team is made of inexperienced members.

At the end of the day this is your company and the long term benefits (equity and IP) are yours supposedly because you take the risk. There is no reason why anyone else should take the risk of working for nothing to get your company started.

P.S. No offence intended but putting paragraphs would make it much easier to read your posts properly.

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Another thing to consider is that (as Obscure mentioned) game development is much messier when the team is largely newbies. If you are seriously committed to your goal of helping newcomers break into the industry, do them (and yourself) a massive favor. Don't try to build a newbie team and expect things to work. Instead, get as much collective experience together as you can in your initial team, and then bring on the newbies to take apprentice-style positions in the team. Give them real, productive goals so that they can contribute to the team, but make sure there is always someone with some experience and wisdom who can bail them out. In this way you will both provide an excellent entry point for industry hopefuls, and spare yourself the trouble of trying to ride herd on a team that doesn't know what it's doing.

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One thing to remember is that Fresh out of School developers won't have savings to carry them through the deferral period.

I am interested in getting into the industry. I have software industry, but not dev experience. But I am an adult, I have bills to pay.

Sure, I'd jump at an oppertunity to work for slightly below even junior dev's salary for the experience. But anything lower than that and it's totally not worth it. If I need to take 2 jobs to break even, then I won't. I'll stick with my high paying out of industry job, and work on my projects in the evenings.

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ApochPiQ: I agree, and that is the policy we have used with my company thus far. But we really do like to try and find new people, not because they are cheap or anything, but because that's how we all started.

Don't you remember being a noob? We all started there then something happened that changed all that. More often that not it's something rediculous out of nowhere. So, we try to make spots available for new people as often as possible. Of course we don't disrupt the integrity of our work though.

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People still think the help wanted forum is serious? [shocked]

I think that if you run some statistics you will find that the help wanted forum is filled with posts by kids (young and old) who want to code whatever is hip at the moment but know nothing about either game design, game programming, 3d art or music composing, and they think they can get people to do all those things for them and still take the credit, so the regulars usually spect to find exactly that whenever they see a new post there.

Here is an Idea I had not long ago, write down a design document, how stuff should work and all, the more detailed the best, write a game engine design document, create interfaces and whatnot, "shells" of each of your classes and what the expected behaviour is for each class and its method, but do not implement any of those, this should be something one person can do in a relatively small frame of time, once you have a realistic map of what needs to be done, head to one of those rent-a-coder sites and start one auction for each of your classes/modules, the really simple ones you can code yourself, set deadlines and all that, then pay them up (I'd spect you'll be spending about $200 per class(?)), get the code and put it together as if it was a puzzle, if your design is sound and everyone followed the instructions, it should fit, and in the end everybody wins.

What do you guys think? [smile]

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I can see both sides of the argument. I feel your pain.

I've been on five "commercial" different game teams, over the past 3 years. I took other jobs to pay my expenses through college. Did game development on the side.

Of those five teams, two are no longer around, one is on a "break", another is doing another project, and only one is still around. A contract means nothing if the corporation is still around. Yes it's good experience. So two have so far made it. So far the those projects still aren't out. I think they might be. You also need to think of the time value of money. If they are taking the risk, and waiting for defered payment it should be longer.

I was watching a show on megaman. The lead designer pointed to an older image of megaman, and said if someone did it today, he would say redo it. From what I know, it's the employer who decides the quality of work. But take it as they may, different states have different laws. I would be very careful at giving legal advice on a public forum.

I've also been working on getting a game marketed, produced, etc. Which hasn't been pretty. Finding people of any age, that are reliable is tough especially when you have a particular skill that needs to be fulfilled. I think it's easier to start a studio when people are in one area instead of on the internet. Alot of technical problems can happen virus, etc. etc.

I can sympthize with you that you don't want to turn people down. You want to give them a chance. If so you can give them an interview. Thing is too, it is the team leader that will determine whether a game will be successful or not. Not necessarily the community. I would say go to more than one community.

Perhaps I'll start my own studio, hmmm.... Perhaps one day. We'll see.

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Irony?
Quote:
Warmest Regards-
Jay A. Wollin (Navarone)
Epiphany 6 Studios
San Diego, CA
JayWollin@e6studios.com (criticisms openly welcomed and encouraged)

Solutions: Change the policy or change the management.

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