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Subject: Getting Friends to help? Probably a bad idea... rss

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No Echo Games
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I wanted to put this out there to see if others feel the same way. One lesson I've learned along the way in developing my first game for Kickstarter is that I quit relying on friends to help. The economical boost is that if you can get help then you may not need to compensate them, unless you give them some perks and such, but I'm talking about monetary compensation. What I learned early on was that the more I relied on the help of others meant that I was at their mercy in time and even quality.

Have you had success in having friends help? Keep in mind I'm talking about people who aren't directly involved in the company or publishing aspect, but simply people who may have some expertise in an area you need help with, like Web Design, or Graphic Design, etc.

If you've had a good experience how did you make that a good experience? Were they just great people to ask, or did you take steps to ensure the work was done the way you wanted?

Did you have a bad experience? What pitfalls did you learn?

Thanks for your feedback!

No Echo Games
noechogames.com
 
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Taylor McAusland
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The trouble I have with help from friends is that they are usually too timid to hurt my feelings. Especially when it comes to designing a board game, I can appreciate the value of unfiltered constructive criticism. If I were serious about publishing (I'm not now, but one day) I would want to know if my game idea can survive a Gordon Ramsay level critique.

That's to say I welcome harsh feedback, I don't want Gord Ramsay comparing my game design to food.
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David Web
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NoEcho wrote:

Have you had success in having friends help? Keep in mind I'm talking about people who aren't directly involved in the company or publishing aspect, but simply people who may have some expertise in an area you need help with, like Web Design, or Graphic Design, etc.

If you've had a good experience how did you make that a good experience? Were they just great people to ask, or did you take steps to ensure the work was done the way you wanted?

Did you have a bad experience? What pitfalls did you learn?


Not exactly a board game but video game, but I guess the question applies in general as both are pretty similar.

No it wasn't successful. Either we were all part of a same team, but I believe in the game much more than they did, so they didn't do much anyway, or either I asked friends for help, which they do, but as you said, the drawings I got were a completely different style from mine, the code I get are sometimes rubbish. It is more trouble in terms of management to ever compensate for whatever value they bring.

Worst off is that internal pressure because your friends have contributed for free so at least they expect your game to do well or at least be released, but sometimes it just doesn't happen right off the bat.

Generally, I wouldn't ask my close friends or people I see often. They are too comfortable with you and won't take work/deadlines seriously. I find that working for an idea with stranger/almost stranger is best because if that person likes your idea and wants to help, he or she is committed. if that game gets released, you have just made another best friend.

so conclusion is, I agree with you. Always pay some money or promise some royalty or whatever way that involves money for work. But in the case that you do, asking for friends to do something would work better than strangers.
 
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Matt D
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You always have to be careful mixing friends and business.

Unless you are literally equal partners with the same investment and same outcomes working together, it sets up a potential uncomfortable situation that could impact both the project and the friendship.

And in most cases, good friendships tend to be more valuable than the services they can offer.

Graphic designers are a dime a dozen. Not to denigrate the profession, good ones are valuable, but there are a ton of them. If you tap a friend instead, maybe you get a bigger discount, but you will also probably not see your project be their top priority if other more pressing / higher paying jobs are also there (they might like you a lot, but probably like eating more). It's easier to push off a project for a friend and that pays less if one gets busy. And it's harder to crack the whip on your graphic designer if they are being slow if they are also on your spouse's bowling team.

The most important question to ask yourself before getting into any business arrangement with a friend (no matter how small is) is "How sad would I feel if I lost this person as a friend?" Because you should always assume that that is a possibility.

Cynical? Maybe. But it's human nature, and you never know how even a minor issue might cause major relationship issues down the road.

It's almost never worth it if the friendship has any meaning to you.

 
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Jeremy Monts

Louisiana
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I compensate everyone (other than my partners) who has input on the game. Even the friends I have had do artwork had contracts, and got paid, or have a contract that states they get paid if certain conditions are met. My play testers have been compensated with food and drink.

I think people should be compensated for their time and expertise in a logical manner. So compensation varies based on what we're exchanging. But I, personally, don't feel good asking a friend to provide me x pieces of art without properly compensating them. I think it can lead to bad feelings between us.

By having contracts, even between friends, the expectations of both parties are there in writing.
 
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Emanuele Buffagni
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I prefer not ask help from friends unless I need very simple or not urgent things.

For example our company logo was designed by a friend, but it's very simple and we weren't in a hurry. The main problem I see while working with friends is that...well they are your friends and you don't want to ruin your friendship.

It's difficult to honestly express your feelings if you think, for example, they did something wrong. Especially if they are doing it for free! You cannot tell to them "That's wrong, do it again".
At the same time your priorities are not theirs. It's your project, maybe they will be happy to help you but they will not use all of their time on it.

I think it's something similar to playtest: friends are great for the first playtest, they can help you find bugs and problems, offer suggestions and understand if the game runs smoothly. But when you think your game is finished you need blind playtest!
 
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Mark Seymour
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Definitely got both good and bad experience here. Mostly good thankfully.

The game I'm developing (Flip the Script) is a solo project, but I've had assistance from friends to varying degrees.

What I would say is absolutely most important if wanting to work with friends or just get assistance from friends is to make sure everyone understands what those friends are prepared to put in, and what expectations there may be in terms of thanks/compensation.

When I first got started my closest friends already knew of my idea so spitballing ideas was a natural topic of conversation, but I didn't want any mixed signals so I arranged a more formal sit down and chat. I invited them to be partners with me, laying out what I expected from a partner, and what they get in return, namely part ownership. I also made clear that if they did not want to be partners, there would be no obligation on them, but I'd be grateful for any help they still wanted to provide. With everything laid out clear, and everyone understanding what was expected on both sides, I let them go away and think before deciding. In the end, they all were not up for the big commitment that developing a game towards self-publishing no-doubt requires, so opted out of being partners.

Despite that, I've still always sought their opinions throughout, and they've always been willing to provide. They've helped me finalise card descriptions, and one of them has also acted as the artist for the game. This is where it got more complicated.

At the beginning he freely offered his services and I, naturally, very readily accepted it. As time went on although I always expressed gratitude and did my best to respect his own commitments, subconsciously, I began leaning on my friend more heavily and took for granted that his help would be there. It came to a head one day when an issue cropped up. I very quickly got in touch with my friend. It wasn't a good time for him. I said I understood but pleaded that if he could find the time then could he help? Time was a factor for me. Because he was my friend, as friends do he started to help, even though it wasn't a good time. It later transpired that the issues I was facing were not something he could help with, and if I'd been less hasty I could have seen that. I'd wasted his time and he was, obviously, pissed off. I was pissed off because I felt let down at my end; I'd subconsciously began to rely on him too much. I won't get into any nitty-gritty. We've worked things out and he's still willing to help, but we've had to re-look at how we approach that from both my end and his.

It could have been a lot worse but it wasn't for 2 reasons: first, we both were determined to separate this from our friendship (easier said than done if friction occurs); and second, because of the efforts at the beginning to set and manage expectations.

Finally, like others, I plan on rewarding my friends for their help when the game launches, regardless of whether it succeeds or not. This isn't something that's been mentioned before because if it's expected it's not a sign of gratitude.
 
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