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eduardo79

Working as contractor

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Hi

I am looking for advice and opinions about working as a consultant in the games and simulation industry. Few info about me: I am specialized in graphics programming and have about eight years of experience in the industry, largely related to the development of 3D engines and visual effects. Currently I am employed full-time as a senior rendering programmer for a game company, but for the last months I have been toying with the idea of working as a contractor. Fact is, in the office I feel constrained both physically and creatively and I am aiming to improve my quality of life this year. Ideally I would like to work from home or, if impossible for security or logistic reasons, onsite for short periods. Between jobs I would have the freedom to enjoy life at its fullest which, for me, means traveling and spending more time outdoor and doing R&D in the graphics field on my own. Money is not critical as long as I can pay the bills and have the financial means of doing what I enjoy most.

I have already talked with some colleagues of mine about this but they do not seem to have much experience regarding this type of work. The general impression is that consulting for game developers is rare and often limited to sound and network programming, rather then graphics or engines.
So, I am writing here to hear more opinions advices. Are my expectations realistic ? Should I assess the situation by contacting companies directly and ask if they provide contract work? If you have any kind of information on this topic please share.

Thank you,

Manuel

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Why don't you put yourself out there and see what happens? I wouldn't fully commit to it until you have something reliable thought because if things don't pan out then oh well. The only problem with that is conflict of interest.

This is a little off topic of what you were initially asking, but I just want to point this out because it's something I didn't think about when I first start contract work. But...

One thing I have learned, and it's my own fault, is get everything in writting. I have been burnt by this once and I will never do it again. Even though we had a meeting prior to me working and everything was written on the quote it wasn't detailed enough to stand up. Make sure it specifically states the monetary value and what is expected. For isntance, say something like the following:

The project XYZ will be completed with the discussed expectations x and y for $xxx,xxx. Anything beyond these services will be billed at an hourly rate of $xxx.xx.

Also, make sure you define what the expectation are too (which is where I messed up) and make sure they agree to them and sign off on them. If it's a large project make sure you setup milestones and when you reach those milestones you send a bill. This way you're getting paid while you are working on it. The company I did work for was never satisifed and wanted things changed multiple times and it never ended. They initiallly "think they know" what they want, but they never do and will want to change things. I worked on the program for over 2 years and at the end I gave up the source code for $50,000 less than what was agreed to just to be done with it... Don't make that mistake.

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Consulting is usually not needed, as part of the job is the fun to research what you want. If you need some help, you rather brainstorm with your co-workers, than to call for external support. The only two reasons we had consultants was 1. when there was very specialized (next gen) hardware and you could learn faster from someone with experience (usually from the hardware vendors), than by making those errors yourself and 2. when they had some connections inside the company that could convince some manager it would be beneficial to invite those ppl.
No offense (i'm senior gfx engineer myself), but as a senior you don't have any outstanding knowledge I guess, they could pay your consulting or hire any other senior gfx engineer and chances are equally that the work gets done. So, ask yourself, do you have some outstanding qualities? (And that's the reason you'll seek a consultant for sounds/ai/network, as those areas are not that populated with experienced engineers like the rendering/gfx area).

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Consulting is usually not needed, as part of the job is the fun to research what you want. If you need some help, you rather brainstorm with your co-workers, than to call for external support. The only two reasons we had consultants was 1. when there was very specialized (next gen) hardware and you could learn faster from someone with experience (usually from the hardware vendors), than by making those errors yourself and 2. when they had some connections inside the company that could convince some manager it would be beneficial to invite those ppl.
No offense (i'm senior gfx engineer myself), but as a senior you don't have any outstanding knowledge I guess, they could pay your consulting or hire any other senior gfx engineer and chances are equally that the work gets done. So, ask yourself, do you have some outstanding qualities? (And that's the reason you'll seek a consultant for sounds/ai/network, as those areas are not that populated with experienced engineers like the rendering/gfx area).


I don't think it's so much for needing to 'consult' an expert more of you need more bodies on the project and so you contract them for X amount of time.

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