If you’re looking to find freelancers who won’t let you down, talk to Ted Smoot. This systems admin turned indie game developer became an expert in working with freelancers after his game proposal (and first title) was accepted by the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) for it’s upcoming Gratitude Tour. To finish Snack WarZ, an action/survival game that portrays vending machines in a positive light, Ted knew he needed help. And so Ted turned to freelancers. Through his experience, Ted learned the key to find freelancers who produce is more than requiting talent, it’s implementing accountability.
Find Freelancers Who Produce Case Study:
Create a video game that portrays vending machines in a positive light for NAMA’s Gratitude Tour.
Find freelancers to support the graphic design and programming functions (two skills Ted lacked), so Snack WarZ could be completed in time for the Gratitude Tour.
What Ted Did Right
Managed Costs with Detailed Specifications:
Poor management is the easiest way to run up a giant tab with freelancers. The more time spent on back and forths, work revisions and so on, the more money you’ll shell out. In an effort to control costs, Ted took one month to write engineering and graphics specifications. He used these specs to give freelancers a clear understanding of his expectations and scope of work. In return, the freelancers were able to provide accurate project estimates and work that stayed within Ted’s vision.
The hero vending machine is about to kick some monster butt.
Conducted a Vetting Process that Demonstrated Skills:
Each freelancer Ted considered was required to go through a thorough vetting process. Artists had to present solid portfolios, as well as complete an assignment to demonstrate competence. Programmers were also asked to complete an assignment to show proficiency in LUA (Ted used Corona SDK for development) and mobile platforms.
Based on their art style and ability to complete assignments on time and to spec, Ted easily choose his freelance artists. For programmer hiring decisions, Ted relied on the expertise of his programmer friends to review assignments and offer advice.
Learn more about your snack/weapon choices.
Ensured Accountability Through Contracts:
Because Ted did not know the freelancers he hired beforehand, accountability was of the utmost importance. And the best way to hold a freelancer accountable is by working it into his or her contract. To accomplish this, Ted broke out the overall project fee and tied portions of it to each milestone. I.e., in order to receive payment, a freelancer had to submit his or her work on time and in full. In addition, Ted defined a “completed milestone” as receiving the original files, source code, etc. With this structure in place, Ted ensured he got a complete and working product on time.
Learn how to play Snack WarZ with these in-game prompts.
Made Freelancers Document Work:
In the event a freelancer quit or went MIA, Ted needed a way to easily transfer work to a new freelancer. He did this by requiring freelancers to document their work (e.g., how to build, how to install, etc.). While this task may seem mundane, it became a crucial time saver for Ted when freelancers bailed on him.
Where Ted Went Wrong
Hired a Friend:
The first artist Ted hired was his friend and former colleague. Because Ted had worked with this individual before, he was familiar with the person’s skill set. In addition, this individual was Ted’s friend, so there was a pre-established trust. When Ted’s friend missed a drop dead date, Ted had no choice but to fire this person. The result destroyed their friendship.
No Plan B:
No matter how talented a freelancer may be at programming or art, he or she can lack time management skills. In fact, this is a fairly common problem in the freelancer world that Ted encountered twice. On both occasions the freelancers Ted were managing missed important deadlines then went MIA, leaving Ted in a jam. After the second incident, Ted changed his game plan and recruited a number of “plan b” freelancers. These individuals made it through Ted’s vetting process and agreed to be on-call in the event another “plan a” freelancer fell through.
With the help of freelancers, Ted successfully completed Snack WarZ in time for NAMA’s Gratitude Tour.
Ted Smoot demos Snack WarZ at the NAMA Gratitude Tour.
About Snack WarZ:
Snack WarZ is an action survival game where you play a vending machine and face off against wave after wave of monsters. With each second you survive against the clock, and each gold star earned, the more challenging it gets. Use the coins you earn for skillful game play to upgrade your snack arsenal. Learn more about or download Snack WarZ at snackwarz.com.
Many thanks to Ted Smoot for sharing his story with Indie Game Girl on the best way to find freelancers who produce stellar work.