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How to create a team around an existing project?

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Hello there!

 

I have been working on an ambitious project for the last 4+ years.
Wanting to make both my own rendering-engine and competetive-online-multiplayer-game that could compete with the current top-titles, I started when I was in highschool.
Having put in most of the freetime I had over the last years, I have come a long way. Rendering, networking, gamlogic - everything is developed far enough and to a satisfying quality to make a release at the end of this year seem realistic. That is, programmingwise.
 
Eventually, I had to wake up and realize that nothing is going to happen unless I get some people to join me. Mostly 3D-Artists.
Needless to say I can't pay them, so I need volunteers.
As far as I can tell, most indieprojects are started by a team, not the other way around.
 
I am pretty clueless on how to approach this. While I am convinced that my project is intreaging enough to make people wanna join, I can't really figure out who I can approach and how. Presenting my project on a website would be a good first step - but since I don't have any artwork, I don't know what I could show.
I have imported models from current titles of the same gametype, to atleast be able to show some nice screenshots. But I can't really make those public since that most likely would violate some laws regarding ownership etc.
 
 
Therefore I ask you:
How would you approach my situation? Where could I find interested people, what should I tell and show them?
What should I be able to provide immediately? Some things I have to keep in mind?
 
 
Thank you for your time and have a nice day!
Edited by gnomgrol

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First, congratulations on surviving this far. 4+ years of focus is in short supply.

 

It seems however that you're struggling with 'closing' the project however, especially in the art department.

 

While it is true that many indie projects start as a team, others do not, or, oftentimes, some team members need replacing (as people drop off for various reasons).

 

First and foremost, is the intent of the project to be commercial? That will dictate what comes next.

I'm going to assume not: this is going to be a free game.

 

Finding like-minded individuals willing to work for free on software is very hard. Many people won't find a perfect fit, and when you do, it might be just 1 person. Bottom line is that chemistry is hard to get right. Now, enforcing your 'baby' to other people makes it harder, but not impossible.

 

What I would recommend is exposing your vision of the final product, demonstrate where you are flexible and where you are not so that potential team members know the amount and level of control they can have on the end-product. Note that some people will find it appealing that your project is pretty far along and has a solid vision: it will give them a clear understanding of the likelyhood of it getting done (unlike projects that are just starting).

 

I would focus on demonstrating what works, feature-wise, and what's missing from the game itself afterwards. If you can showcase videos, all the better.

If you can, purchase some asset packs (several stores exist for that) and apply placeholder visual just so people can see your tech put in motion. Heck, it might even give you extra motivation to get things rolling further.

 

I agree that such a project would be hard to complete without money, so there's always the possibility of shelving it for later, that is, until you can save some cash. Do what you can, and wait for funds to come in.

 

Now, assuming the project has a commercial aim, you might look towards crowd sourcing as a potential means to garner interest and hire a few freelancing artists to get some serious and reliable progress. Bear in mind however that in order to do a proper crowdsourcing campaign, you'll need to spend quite a few bucks on presentation.

 

Best of luck!

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Go to deviant art, look up some 3D art and offer the artist putting his work into a simple game for him. He'll most probably like seeing his work actually playing in a game, and that might be your chance to ask him if he'd like to work with you on your game. This is how it usually starts.

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gnomgrol, you seem to think that the difficult part is that it's a WIP (work in progress). I think that the difficult part is you want to get people to work on it for no pay. It's not hard to get people (WIP or not) when you have money to pay them.

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First, congratulations on surviving this far. 4+ years of focus is in short supply.

This sounds like the Long Term Game Devs Anonymous (LTGDA) happy.png

 


Finding like-minded individuals willing to work for free on software is very hard. Many people won't find a perfect fit, and when you do, it might be just 1 person. Bottom line is that chemistry is hard to get right. Now, enforcing your 'baby' to other people makes it harder, but not impossible.

This... I've tried to gather more people to support my game projects, but from 6 attempts, only one, an old school friend, is the only one who stick to the development for more then 6 month (already a few years biggrin.png ). It get even harder if you try to get support for an already existing game.

 

Here're some tips from my experiences

1. Reduce the requirements for content creation !mellow.png

2. Try to do 3d modelling yourself (helps alot to overcome the art gaps).

3. Reduce the requirements for content creation !wink.png

4. After reducing the requiments, free content or inexpensive content gets attractive.

5. Reduce the requirements for content creation !tongue.png

6. Invest some money and buy stuff, after reducing your requirements, it isn't too expensive.

 

Really, being able to code some super cool PBR engine is okay, but it hinders you more to create interesting content than it helps...

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Thank you for your answers!

 

The intent of the project is indeed to go commercial when released. Not selling copies, but a free2play model with a fair and by the industry established system for monetarisation.

The more people keep playing the game, the more money it will make. So it actually needs to be a good game.

 

I understand that money is the biggest factor here, but that is sort of a problem. Since I have skipped grades in school, I am currently in my 6th semester in university at the age of 19. My parents don't have any money to support me, so I have to work while going to college. Money is always short, and I am still far away from finishing my degree.

That said, my goal was to be able to push the project to release (or atleast open beta) at the same time I finish my degree - turns out I am better at getting stuff working than at learning stuff I only need to remember for an exam.

 

In case your advice is to first finish my studies, save some money, and then resume the project: I figured that the time I spend as a student is the only time where I have sufficient amounts of free time to be able to get stuff done. I have worked both in office and as a freelancer from home over the last 2 years, and I think that my guess was right.

 

 

So what this comes down to is if I am able to convince people to work for free.

 

I can offer a wide variety of stuff to choose from, since nothing is done yet. Characters, envoirement, VFX, interface - you name it.

With some basic stuff in mind, like the general layout for a level, its theme and colorscheme, people can go and create whatever they feel like.

I also created a level-editor for every artist to use, to design the world but also to just to load his models into the game to check how they look.

Loading in characters, letting them fight, cast spells and stuff is also possible.

I set up a scripting engine, so even a very inexperienced programmer can make their own spells and heros. This has been tested with some inexperienced programmers :)

 

Also note that the visual style of the game does not require "high-quality" assets like a first-person game. Everything is supposed to be low-poly and texture-driven. The camera is fairly far away from the game at any time, and the visuals aren't what the game is about anyway.

The only requirement I have when judging someones work is that it looks slightly better than stuff I create. And I am really bad at modeling/animating/textureing.

 

Have a look at this old screenshot from League of Legends, the current #1 game in the gerne. They had a big graphical update some weeks ago, but for the longest time this is how their game looked, and it rose to be the biggest game in the world. Therefore "what I need" is, I think, not unrealistic to get.

 

I can do modeling, rigging, animations etc. myself, but when I start to also create all the assets myself I am not going to get anywhere. They also look shitty.

I don't need professionals and I am more than okey with people learning and improving while working on my project.

 

I think I can make up a nice presentation. But where do I post it? Who should I show it to?

Should I create a website with all the details regarding gameplay, some screenshots? How important are videos?

Do I have to be afraid of people stealing my gameplay ideas and releasing before I do? Because I kind of am.

 

 

Anyway, thanks for your support!

Edited by gnomgrol

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So what this comes down to is if I am able to convince people to work for free.

No one wants to work for free to help someone else for a commercial project (this is no social project), because it all is work, lot of work.

 


Have a look at this old screenshot from League of Legends, the current #1 game in the gerne. They had a big graphical update some weeks ago, but for the longest time this is how their game looked, and it rose to be the biggest game in the world.

You underestimate what I said, with reducing the requirements I mean below this. LoL, like WoW, has a pretty cool and still very time-consuming style. There are art styles which are more time-consuming, but there are although styles which will cost less time.

 


I can do modeling, rigging, animations etc. myself, but when I start to also create all the assets myself I am not going to get anywhere.

A clever setup can cut the costs for doing art, reusing textures, models, animation, rigs, etc. You just need a clever setup.

 


I don't need professionals and I am more than okey with people learning and improving while working on my project.

I talked with a friend of me and he wanted to do some artwork for me, cool... thought I'm still waiting for the artwork (roughly one and a half year).

 

Chances are, that you will not be okey with people learning and improving. People need a motivation for doing work, and art creation is lot of work. Either they have a vision like yourself or they are a big fan of your work (chicken-egg-dilemma) or they get paid.

 


Should I create a website with all the details regarding gameplay, some screenshots? How important are videos?

People like to listen and watch, they dislike reading most of the time. Therefor, if you want to attract people to your game, then you need to show something off.

 


Do I have to be afraid of people stealing my gameplay ideas and releasing before I do? Because I kind of am.

Yes, this could happen. But often you are not the only one having this idea and it is more likely that someone clone if it is easy to clone (casual game vs simulation) and if it is already successful (chicken-egg-dilemma again).

 


Do I have to be afraid of people stealing my gameplay ideas and releasing before I do?

And again, if you focus on the gameplay, then art isn't that important: Dwarffortress: success, art is abstract, Minecraft: success, art is ..hmm...purposeful

 


so I have to work while going to college

Now, go to some 3d art selling platforms, like 3drt and look at the provided art. Is it useful, can you adjust your project to have a good start with a subset of the provided art ? Then go and work more to earn some extra money instead of working for your project, save this money and buy the art. It is sometimes cheaper to earn some money and buy stuff, instead of looking for some free way all the time.

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monetarisation

 

I think the appropriate term is "monetization".

 


I understand that money is the biggest factor here, but that is sort of a problem. Since I have skipped grades in school, I am currently in my 6th semester in university at the age of 19. My parents don't have any money to support me, so I have to work while going to college. Money is always short, and I am still far away from finishing my degree.
That said, my goal was to be able to push the project to release (or atleast open beta) at the same time I finish my degree - turns out I am better at getting stuff working than at learning stuff I only need to remember for an exam.

 

Welcome to every fresh-out-of-school-indie-developer's challenge, or possibly, any student's challenge: it's hard enough to attend University while working, but most of us go through it. Having a standalone project on the side can be hard to sustain. I've personally managed to do all three, though, as one might point out, I dropped out of University during my last year simply because, though I had good grades, I had better prospect with my project.

 

Bottom line is, there's nothing wrong with shelving your idea if it is not sustainable short term.

 


In case your advice is to first finish my studies, save some money, and then resume the project: I figured that the time I spend as a student is the only time where I have sufficient amounts of free time to be able to get stuff done. I have worked both in office and as a freelancer from home over the last 2 years, and I think that my guess was right.

 

How odd. Day job tends to leave you with spare time during evening, whereas school tends to issue practical work to perform overnight. I can distinctly remember that University kept me busy at all times (despite not being very hard per se). When a day's work is over, it tends to be over, unless you have some stake in the final product (such as a manager or higher up).

 


I can offer a wide variety of stuff to choose from, since nothing is done yet. Characters, envoirement, VFX, interface - you name it.
With some basic stuff in mind, like the general layout for a level, its theme and colorscheme, people can go and create whatever they feel like.
I also created a level-editor for every artist to use, to design the world but also to just to load his models into the game to check how they look.
Loading in characters, letting them fight, cast spells and stuff is also possible.
I set up a scripting engine, so even a very inexperienced programmer can make their own spells and heros. This has been tested with some inexperienced programmers
 

 

Have you considered distributing this as an experimental game engine that produces a very narrow/specific game set?

My reasoning is that, since you can't pay people for their work, can you at least provide them with a tool that they can use to make "their own game" on the side? That way, it would help them get their own projects done, and could contribute to yours as well.

 

 


Also note that the visual style of the game does not require "high-quality" assets like a first-person game. Everything is supposed to be low-poly and texture-driven. The camera is fairly far away from the game at any time, and the visuals aren't what the game is about anyway.
The only requirement I have when judging someones work is that it looks slightly better than stuff I create. And I am really bad at modeling/animating/textureing.

 

Then I recommend you just get better. Oftentimes, as an indie, I have found that the best solution to a problem where I don't have the required skillset and can't find someone to do it for what I'm able to pay them is to just do it myself and get better at it.

For example, I suck at art, very badly so. Yet, I've managed to put something together for Week of Awesome II Game Jam and did relatively well (scoring 4th place). Was it good? No. Was it sufficient? Apparently so! And the next time, it will get ever better.

 

I've seen a game that was published a few months ago where all of the assets were produced by the developer starting with literally no experience just evolving (and he ended up replacing some of the earlier visual later down the road). The progression is astonishing and really goes to say how much one can learn in a field where they don't necessarily have any particular talent. There's very little dedication won't help you achieve.

 


I think I can make up a nice presentation. But where do I post it? Who should I show it to?
Should I create a website with all the details regarding gameplay, some screenshots? How important are videos?
Do I have to be afraid of people stealing my gameplay ideas and releasing before I do? Because I kind of am.

There is a classifieds section on this site.

TIG Source also has a forum for this.

Even Reddit has this.

 

However, from experience, you'll get much better results going for quality relationships over massive exposure. My personal approach is learn more about people, the projects they are working on, etc. before hoping to "hire them" on my team.

Getting known in a community helps. For example, if today, I announced I was looking for a partner to develop games with over here, I'd have a much better chance getting a few community buddies joining my team than I would've when I first joined. I'm pretty sure one of my first post over here was pretty much a recruitment thread too, so I can definitely relate.

 


How important are videos?

 

From a PR standpoint, they are paramount.

 


Do I have to be afraid of people stealing my gameplay ideas and releasing before I do? Because I kind of am.

 

Tom Sloper has a very good answer to this, and I'm pretty sure he'd be happy to link up to it. The bottom line however is, you may be convinced the idea is good, and it may be, but people don't tend to see potential in ideas until you've convinced them. A mere website with screenshots and videos won't convince people this is the next big thing, so chances of getting your idea stolen are next to none, you'll still need to shove it up people's throat.

Besides, a website would go a long way to demonstrate you will to get this project done.

So I'd do the website, put just the content you need for people to get it (no need to have all of your game design written there, people get overwhelmed by this).

 

You want people to want to know more. If they don't, then you're failing at something.

Besides, whether it be aspiring partners or players, the bottom line is always the same: you need to hook them with some glimpse of interest in the project.

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I understand that money is the biggest factor here, but that is sort of a problem. Since I have skipped grades in school, I am currently in my 6th semester in university at the age of 19. My parents don't have any money to support me, so I have to work while going to college. Money is always short, and I am still far away from finishing my degree.

That said, my goal was to be able to push the project to release (or atleast open beta) at the same time I finish my degree - turns out I am better at getting stuff working than at learning stuff I only need to remember for an exam.

 

 

I think this will be your biggest problem down the line.

 

Lets face it: you are still very young (I know its an age you don't like to hear that, but from my side of the 30's barrier, it is true ;) ), and school should be your prio #1 at the moment.

 

And boy, I am not trying to lecture you. I was also there, slipping grades, anything but school in mind. BUT: getting a degree of some sort should be your priority at your current point in life. As soon as you get that, worry about how to make some money (if you need to work before that, bummer, but on the other hand you have some "work expierience" to put on your resume when looking for your first job. Might separate you from the guys who didn't had to work through college (most of which didn't do anything worthwhile with their free time from a potential employers point of view).

 

Before I drift off more, TL;DR version: Concentrate on school first. Make sure you can pay the bills second.

If there is still free time left, invest some in your project.

 

 

I really applaud you for staying focused for 4 years on a project when most youngsters your age can't stay focused through a single lesson in school. Really, that is impressive, and will make a nice addition to your CV if you keep it up long enough to have some proof to back up your claim (prototype, nice screenies).

Now, with you still being young, and with the troubles you face with finishing your project, AND the slipping grades in mind, maybe you should ease your deadlines a bit. There is an awful lot more to be done to release a game to the public AND make money with it than just getting some 3D art. 

 

Instead of pushing for a release until end of this year, maybe you should, as others have suggested, try to "dress up" your game a little. See what free or stock art you can get, see what you can do on your own. Don't be ashamed of your programer art, as long as it shows off what you are trying to achieve, it will serve its purpose.

Then think about how to approach people... why should they help you? What can you give them for their help? ... and as you might have guessed, a potential share of the potential money earned in the far future will not do the job at all.

 

You will have to hand over part of your "ownership of the product", so to speak. Make your Project the Project of your future Team. Make sure they will care about it. You might be amazed at the creativity of some artists, they might give your project a completly new direction without you needing to change any code simply by having artistic freedom in the art and story department, and transforming your initial ideas into something new.

 

THIS will motivate a lot of artists. The ability to realize some of their ideas in a new medium they might have no access to without you as the programer. Especially if the game genre and the features you already have in place is to the gaming tastes of this artist, he might gladly join your project.

 

 

What most probably will not work is finding people that execute YOUR vision without their own input for free. If they do not gain anything out of the collaboration, they will most probably not stay for long.

 

 

Try to keep working on the project during school, make sure you don't miss the exams because of it, maybe you will be finished with it until you are out of college, who knows? Maybe you get some help at some point during that time, or maybe you can at least do some networking amongst fellow game devs?

At least you will come out of school with an impressive project you can put on your resume and in your portfolio should you decide for a game dev career.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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I agree with most of the points you are making. 

I think first thing I'll do is getting everything playable, with decent looking placeholders. Then set up a website with a short, illustrated and catching description of what makes the game unquie, fun and challenging, together with some short video displaying the gameplay.
When that is up and statisfying me, I'll start to approach artists. I'll look for people who are into competetive gaming and therefore can relate to the project. I'll make it clear that profit and ownership will be shared across the team, and that they can have a huge impact on the final product.

 

Thank you for sharing your oppinion on the matter!

Edited by gnomgrol

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