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Being an Investor - Paying Programmers/Artists

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Apologies if this is covered elsewhere (I tried looking) and or if this should be in the beginners area.

Myself and three friends are interested in pooling our money together in order to develop a video game. We each share different skills in life but not one of us or all of us combined have the skills needed to completely program and draw for a video game. We have looked at PS3, Xbox, iOS, and Android as the path to go down and it seems likely that iOS would be the winner at the moment.

We are looking at hiring programmers to code the game and artists to draw for it (likely 2d). Using sites such as this one or guru, etc to hire from. My question to you (yes you, I see you) is, is this even a path someone should go down? I just wanted to get some opinions from this crowd on what they thought of "investors" getting their idea made by a third party. I appreciate any input, thanks.

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I think it is a dangerous path. Mainly for the "naive" reason: you have no idea what you are getting into and what budgets are required. So, in the best case, you'll end up working with a decent developer and artist, and sell a [i]few [/i]copies of your app.
In the worst case, you'll delegate an over ambitious project to a cheap developer (in both senses) and burn through your bucks without completing it or end up with some crap.

Therefore, I basically have two advices:
- think small, try it first with a [i]simple[/i] game (...and this would help you to check you found the right people!)
- ask the most ...knowledgeable... developer friend you know to interview developer candidates

Despite I would be reluctant, I think everything is possible ...provided some effort, luck and care.
It's a bit of gambling though, and I would say the odds are not on your side. Edited by be-the-hero.net

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[quote name='wintendoze' timestamp='1350328491' post='4990476']
1. Apologies if this is covered elsewhere (I tried looking) and or if this should be in the beginners area.
2. Myself and three friends are interested in pooling our money together in order to develop a video game.
3. My question to you (yes you, I see you) is, is this even a path someone should go down? I just wanted to get some opinions from this crowd on what they thought of "investors" getting their idea made by a third party. I appreciate any input, thanks.
[/quote]
1. Yes, it is probably a business question.

2. That is one of the options for developing a game, yes. You can develop it yourself or pay someone else to develop it for you.

3. Many companies contract the work out to smaller studios. It is not uncommon. That is not the role of investor. That is the role of hiring a contractor. Generally you get the quality of workmanship that you pay for.

(Also, moving this to the Business forum since it is mostly directed at hiring and investing) Edited by frob
Add note about moving

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[quote name='wintendoze' timestamp='1350328491' post='4990476']
1. Myself and three friends are interested in pooling our money together in order to develop a video game.
2. is this even a path someone should go down?
[/quote]

1. Why? Have you written a business plan for what to do with the game once it's been made, have you decided on the best monetization method and analyzed the cost versus the potential profit?
2. What does your business plan tell you?

[quote name='frob' timestamp='1350330736' post='4990490']
Many companies contract the work out to smaller studios. It is not uncommon. That is not the role of investor. That is the role of hiring a contractor.
[/quote]

Actually, I would call that being the game's Producer. I don't know if the OP (wintendoze) is intending to self-publish the game or take the game to a publisher, so Producer is what I would call that (until I know more about what role the OP is going to perform throughout the whole process and after the game is published and beyond).

Essentially, you're self-funding your own game. Hopefully [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Covey#The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People"]Stephen Covey's Effective Habit #2[/url] is already in place. Edited by Tom Sloper

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I just wanted to add in that if you are looking at producing a game with a group that lacks the relevant skills (either programming, art, design) at a professional level it is going to be extremely hard for you until you find a very competent lead programmer and lead artist that you can fully trust in making decisions, time estimations, etc. Also note that on average to build an iOS game that just breaks even has a cost of roughly 100-150k these days and much higher... and that is with at least some talent/skill being in-house (i.e. programming or art being done by a founder), the costs will be much higher if you need to put together a team and build things from the ground up.

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[quote name='wintendoze' timestamp='1350328491' post='4990476']
Myself and three friends are interested in pooling our money together in order to develop a video game.
[/quote]
Hmmm... there are better ways to burn money [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png[/img]

Just kidding, this is one of the fastest ways available. To be honest, you seem to be inexperienced in creating software. Getting profitable software out of the house is really hard and in most cases really expensive, it often costs multiple mio. $ and you will not get away with 50k if you need to hire artists and programmers to do the job. This getting even harder, if you don't have a business plan and a [i]working [/i]game design. Telling an artist and programmer what do to is easy, but this will most likely not result in what you like to see. Communicating your vision to an artist and programmer is really hard and time consuming, once you discover that your game idea is not feasable or does not work like you envisioned it, you have already invested your first 100k leaving you in the investment trap.

[url="http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134840/postmortem_arrowhead_game_.php"]Here[/url]'s a postmortem about magicka to give you some insign about the challenges and budget.

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Thank you all for your input. Some harsh truth, I like that. We will take your information and weigh it accordingly.

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For a group with a limited skill set that is willing to pool their money together and hire out to get their game made, I would suggest finding a smaller studio that has some proven success, is welcoming to the idea of creating someone else's game, and has experience with the platform you're looking to develop for. This will be time consuming to find the right studio.

Might I suggest looking at studios like [url="http://flashbang.biz/"]Flashbang[/url] and others like them. I haven't ever worked with Flashbang, but they seem to welcome contract work, have some fairly polished titles, and use Unity, which can do mobile platforms. Though they seem fairly good at what they do, be sure to look around and find a good fit. The little bit of research I've done into contract studios is that they're tough to find, but its your teams money so don't just settle.

As others have said, make up a business plan and design document before approaching a studio so they can give you a better idea of what the costs will be. And even though you're working with your friends, get contracts for your group. You guys may never screw each other over, but at least with a contract, if anything ever comes up, everyone is protected. Edited by DaveTroyer

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