If you’re an average human being, it’s very likely that you don’t have the time to compose every single element of a video game. It’s also possible that you have tons of talent in programming, but your artistic abilities max out with stick figures. Regardless of the case, there is a solution to this problem: outsourcing work to freelancers.
Money Speaks Volumes
All of my experience in outsourcing comes from hiring freelancers, or temporary employees that do various work. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t hire a full time worker or work with another company. I’m working off the assumption that you’re trying to create your game on a tight budget. Freelancers are almost always going to be cheaper than full time employees.
You pay for what you get.
Unfortunately, this rule is generally true. Someone you pay two bucks an hour probably won’t deliver the same quality as someone who chargers fifteen dollars an hour. Although freelancers may not provide the same quality as a company or full time worker, I’ve always had good luck with the quality of freelance workers. I’ve found some extremely talented artists for a good price. It’s your job as the boss to sort through job applications to find the best one.
Using oDesk as a Middle Man
Rather than sifting through suspicious websites on the internet black market, use oDesk. oDesk is a freelancing website where people can go to either work as a freelancer or hire freelancers. I’ve always used oDesk as my freelance website and I highly recommend it.
Some perks of oDesk are:
- Workers can get paid hourly or at a fixed project rate
- oDesk provides freelancers with software to accurately log their work. It’s a nice tool to prevent any falsified time logged. Because of the accessibility to this tool, I recommend you pay workers hourly rather than at fixed rates.
- Most of the rates charged by freelancers are cheap; you can generally find high quality artists for $5-$10 an hour. Programmers tend to run a little more expensive.
- You can end contracts at any time and send appeals to oDesk in case you hired a worker who isn’t honest.
There are only a few noticeable downsides to oDesk. They do take 10% of the freelancers rate, so this generally causes workers to raise their rates. Additionally, I’ve experienced slight language barriers with some of the people I’ve hired because many of them have weak English skills. Try interviewing some of your top prospects to avoid complications with communication.
Choosing the Most Qualified Applicant
A few steps should be taken to find the best man for your job:
- It’s all in the posting
- Examining top prospects
- Interview the Finalists
A descriptive title and thorough job description help applicants understand what skills they should have if they want to apply for the job. In your description, you should include the workload of your job. (If you’re using oDesk, there’s a specific section for workload when posting a job.) A precise job posting will deter some of the unqualified applicants.
After the rush of applications has settled down, you’ll be left with a plethora of candidates to choose from. It may seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry! There’s probably several applications you can already disregard. If someone can’t speak adequate English (or any other language you plan on speaking to them with), it’s not a good idea to hire them. If someone’s rate is higher than you can afford, you shouldn’t hire them, either. Another big signal to not hire someone is if their ratings are consistently bad. If someone has a rating of 1.2/5.0, do yourself a favor and don’t hire them.
Even now that you have eliminated some of the applicants, it’s still possible to narrow down the list. I consider it absolutely necessary for someone to include a resume of their past work. Why higher someone when you have no idea what they’re capable of? Examine their past work and decide if the quality is sufficient for your needs.
Another factor I like to include is how many hours they’ve logged on the Freelance website. It’s obviously much safer to hire someone with 1000 hours logged rather than a newbie to the website; but hey, maybe the newbie produces better work! I don’t mean to contradict myself, but consider both factors.
It all comes down to this! Just a few potential freelancers left, and it’s time to make your decision! Contact all of them via email, Skype, or whichever method you prefer, and ask them a few basic questions. Ask things such as:
- Why do you feel you’re right for this job?
- What sets you apart from other applicants?
- How long have you been doing what you do?
By conducting interviews, you’ll be able to tell which freelancer will contribute the most to your game.
Contact your first choice for the job and let them know that you’d really like to work with them. Agree on the terms of your contract and then submit it on the freelancing website. You may also want to thank some of the other people you interviewed and gently tell them that you aren’t interested in working with them at this time. Its common courtesy and it helps build a good reputation for yourself.
Assigning Work to Your Freelancer
It’s official, you hired your very own employee! Your freelancer will be very eager to work for you, as you should be to work with them! Once the contract is accepted by both you and your employee, it’s time to give them some work to do.
Make a list of everything you need done by them. Yes, everything! It’s important to plan ahead. Give a very small amount of work for your freelancer to do at first. Identify their style and have them adjust it, if necessary.
Once you feel more comfortable with who your working with, you can assign them work in larger heaps. I recommend no more than a days work at a time. If you give them work in smaller increments, they’ll feel less rushed and therefore produce higher quality work. Additionally, if they start to do something wrong, you can correct them sooner on in the project. This will save you a lot of money.
When you assign your employee work, be very thorough. If you hired a graphic designer, give them file sizes and types, color schemes, and descriptive outlines of all images. If you hired a programmer, identify the programming language and limitations. Sound engineers should know file types, sizes, and lengths. All employees of yours should be aware of thematic elements to your game.
Finishing the Job
Once all of the work you need has been completed perfectly, it may be time to end the contract. But first, make sure you have all the work you need! It may be best to not end the contract until your game is released. Ending the contract too soon may aggravate your worker when you try to rehire them. They may even refuse to work with you! Some freelance websites allow you to pause the contract, which is useful when you don’t have any work to give your employee. When you’re 100% sure all work is complete, end the contract and thank your freelancer for all of the hard work they put into your game.