Making games is hard, and you’re a people-person, so what better way to make a game, than with a team? And so here you are, trying to work out just how you find a game development team.
There’s a few ways, and the ways you might go about finding the perfect team is determined by where you’re at in your game development journey. It’s also determined by what you’re hoping to achieve, and what you can bring to the table.
There’s a few different ways you can cut this. So let’s go with this approach: pick one of the following categories until you find where you should be.
I am a…
- Complete Beginner in game development
- Hobby Developer with a couple fun little games
- Aspiring Indie Game Developer
- Accomplished Indie Game Developer
- Professional Game Developer looking to go Indie
Complete Beginner in Game Development
If you’re a developer there’s really not much point in trying to find a team. Until you’ve developed at least your first game, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to find anyone willing to work with you. Try making a few simple games to start with before making one or two “cool” games that are yours and yours alone.
Once you’ve got a bit of a portfolio, you’ll find getting a team is easy.
On the other hand if you’re an artist, you can join a team without too much experience. This is really down to the fact that there aren’t as many artists as there are developers (good artists anyway). Experienced developers will even work with beginner artists because it’s hard to come by an artist willing to work with you.
Of course, you can find a team, but at this level, be weary of flakes. You know, people who say they’ll do it but they fizz out before much gets done.
For the team of beginners there’s a few things you want to keep an eye out for:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew, a small game is just as hard with a team as it is by yourself.
- You’ve got a lot of new things to worry about now, like getting on with your team mates, being reliable, and holding people to their commitments.
- Don’t worry about revshare, send an email to each other that you’ll split it evenly; it’s highly unlikely your team will make any money selling your game unless you happen to strike it very lucky
- You don’t need a big team, an Artist and Programmer are quite often all you need
When looking for a team, try family members or close friends. Making a game with your brother is a great idea if you have the right kind of relationship. Don’t just say let’s make a game and then sit around all day playing games.
If you can form a team with people face-to-face, do it. It’s a lot easier to feel accountable for a project when you meet the team on a weekly basis. When it’s all online, and there’s no real names attached (just internet handles), it becomes so much easier to become unresponsive and disappear.
Hobby Developer with some experience
For the hobby developer with experience you will find it easier to find or create a team. But you’re also going to face some new challenges that beginners wouldn’t have.
You’ve made a few gamaes already, and now you want to make that awesome game-vision that you have, but it’s just a little too much for you to do on your own. So, of course, other people will buy into your vision 100% right? Wrong. Every team member you add will have their own interpretation of your vision, even with your carefully crafted Game Design Document, and they will want to do things their way.
And if you dismiss, ignore, or talk-down too many of their ideas, no matter how well you back your vision up with well thought out explanations and references; they will leave.
The artists at this stage have a lot more experience. They likely have even made a game themselves. It’s also likely that they know a thing or two about Game Design and have some experience using visual editors and game engines. That’s fantastic! They can be a second game-play developer.
But the poor artist is going to find some trouble, the same as the developer, when it comes to vision. It’s most likely that one of the two of you has a vision, and the other is on for the ride. Recognise this, if you’re not the vision guy, try not to ruin it too much for him. If you didn’t believe in his vision you wouldn’t have joined the team, right?
And there’s no reason you can’t take it in turns either. First game is your vision, second game is my vision.
If it is your vision, be sure to be open to feedback. You’re a hobby developer after all, it’s likely that the other people on your team have got just as much experience and knowledge about this subject as you do.
This all leaves you to wanting to have a small team. Again, an artist and programmer are really all you need. But larger teams can exist, especially the more advanced hobbiests. That’s because their vision is naturally larger.
At this level, it’s still unlikely you’re going to make money, but it is far more likely than the beginners. So put together an agreement, it doesn’t need to be drafted by your lawyer, but there’s plenty online to make use of.
There are a few places you can go to look for a team. The TigSource Forums have a sub-forum dedictaed to finding a team, as does GameDev.net, and Reddit.
Aspiring Indie Game Developer
Those of you who have been lurking around for a while making hobby projects may think it’s time to stop the daily grind of normal job and make a proper game, give it your all, your make or break moment.
I’ve got to caution you there. Stick to your hobby projects, and maybe one is a break-out success. Of course, you’re not reading this to be told not to, so, it’s likely you’ve got a good idea but you think it needs more market traction than your games usually get in the hobby scene if it’s going to be successful.
This means that you will spend a lot of time doing outreach and marketing. Hahhaha… and you thought making a game was hard? Unless you’ve worked in or closely with a Marketing Team, it’s likely that you don’t know what they do, or how they do it, or even if it’s valuable.
For this reason, the teams are usually a bit bigger at this stage. One of you is going to do a lot of marketing. You’re going to be making gifs and trailers instead of adding game features. You’re going to be scrolling through Twitter trying to find a gap in the seemingly endless stream of competitor games for you to insert your game into. Your devlog on TigSource, Itch.io needs to be updated weekly. There’s not much sense collecting an email mailing list if you’re not going to use it, right?
You could try to divvy that work up among the team as well. But the end result is the same, less time spent on making your game.
There’s some things to watch out for when forming your team:
- No beginners. You cannot afford people to face a learning curve, because…
- You’ve all put some money into this venture. Nothing strikes motivation harder in the western world than money. This money will be needed for Marketing and for some development tools / assets
- Keep your vision in check. Likely you’ve all got some experience in this, but it bears repeating, don’t overdo it. Put the game down on paper and stick to it.
- Plan things out. This game is a project and will take time and dedication to stay on track,.
Accomplished Indie Game Developer
I’m not really sure why you’re reading this article. You’ve already formed a team before right? I don’t think there are any “indie” developers left who are just one person.
But if you are, firstly, congradulations on your success! Secondly, you’ll have the hardest time of everyone to form a team. That’s because you’ve succeeded, against all other odds, on your own. If you try to form a team, you will be thinking, I know what I’m doing.
Of course if you are forming a team, it likely means your next vision is a big one. This is fine. But I would suggest that you look at forming a team a little differently:
- Look for contractors. They do what you tell them.
- If you can afford it, hire your artists and lead developer, if you don’t fill that role
- Talk to a publisher about marketing, let them do it for you. They are better at it and you get to make game.
If you’ve been in a successful indie team before and are looking to start a new one, then the only recommendation I can give is to stick with that team! Haha. If you can’t, for whatever reason, then look for other people from other successful indie projects, no hobbiests and no beginners.
There’s going to be different challenges for you, but you’ve faced them all already, but for the sake of those reading:
- If you can get some workspace in your city, do it. Treat this like a job.
- If you can get people onboard who live in your same city, this is multiplied
- If you’re all remote, use voip. Hell, have it on all the time if you want. You really need to foster that sense of working together.
Professional Game Developer looking to go Indie
There’s only one thing you need to keep in mind.
Form a team with the people you’ve worked with before. You already like them (I hope), and you know what they’re good at and what they’re not. Everything else you alreay know because you know how to work in a team, how to get things done, fight through the grind, and come out at the end with a product.
You do right? If not, stay professional for a little while longer.
Don’t underestimate the change you’re making either. You won’t have the buffer of a management team anymore, they do more than you might think (I’m in Management :). There’s a lot of little things that you probably didn’t do as much of by yourself when you worked for a company, but you’ll need to do it all now.
That rev share agreement is very important for you now. Talking to a publisher is one of the first things you should do once you’ve developed your prototype as well.
I hope this proved to be enlightening. If you have any additional suggestions for building a team for the different categories, contact me or comment down below. You might also like to write about games and development, if you do, get in touch about publishing content here.