Aug 012011
 

We’ve gotten a lot of emails over the past few weeks from people offering to help us for free, either as translators or developers. Short answer: we appreciate the enthusiasm, but we’re not looking to add any staff members at this time.

Now for the long answers. Let’s tackle the translation stuff first.

Even if someone just handed me a translation of all of the text in Cthulhu Saves the World or Breath of Death VII free of charge, it would still require a large amount of work on my part to actually add that language to the game. I would have to rewrite the code (the game code isn’t currently designed to handle multiple language) and I’d probably have to change the UI (words which fit nicely in English could prove to be too big in another language). All that would be annoying but doable. What wouldn’t be doable by me is testing and marketing the game in another language. We wouldn’t need a translator – we would need an entire localization company ala Carpe Fulgur. Now there are some options on this front – Playism looks promising as an option to release in Japanese – but even with a good partner, we’d still have to do a fair amount of work to create a translated version of our games, work that we think would be better spent on our upcoming games.

And that’s all assuming we found a capable translator in the first place. As someone who is bilingual himself (English & Mandarin Chinese), I understand there’s a big difference between being able to converse and understand a foreign language in a general context and being able to translate a specific text effectively. I think Cthulhu Saves the World would be an especially problematic text to translate for most people – it’s a comedy and it has extensive references to literature, video games, and other elements of pop culture.

And if we went to all the trouble to find a good partner who provided a high quality translation, testing, and marketing support, there’s no guarantee that we’d get a good return on the time invested. Would we make enough money with a Japanese or German translation (both languages attached to countries that seem to have more fans of RPGs than most)? Quite possibly. On a Swedish or Portuguese translation? Highly unlikely.

Now let’s talk about joining our actual development team.

We’re very happy about how well our game has been selling since it came out on the PC, but we don’t want to get arrogant. I’ve read the Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales creator) articles – growing too quickly is a common path to destruction for many small companies. Plus, Bill and I work well together so we want to be very careful that anyone that we do add to the team in the future has good chemistry with the rest of the team.

You say you’ll work for free? No thanks. We make games and then we sell them. If you’re reliable, skilled, and do good work for us, then you should get paid for it. And if you aren’t, then we don’t want to babysit you. Besides, making video games is hard work. Someone who isn’t getting paid for their work is much more likely to flake out when the fun part of game development is done and the work part has begun.

Now, we might be willing to take someone promising on as a non-paid intern for a month or two with the expectation that they would become a full-paid full-time member of the team if we feel they’d make a valuable addition (aka a probationary period). But even something like that is still a ways away. Simply put, we’re not adding any new team members until we finish the big project that we’re working on.

Even though we’re not hiring anyone at the moment, I would like to give some advice about applying to work with us or any other indie developer.

1 – The smaller the company, the more important each hire is. This is even more important for companies where everyone works from home. Zeboyd Games is a two-man operation (plus a couple other individuals like Gordon McNeil and Alex Mauer that have worked with us as contractors). That means that if and when we do decide that we want to increase our company size, we’re going to be as strict as possible with the hiring process. A hastily typed email with half a dozen typos isn’t going to cut it. A well written cover letter, resume, references, and portfolio of previous projects are all absolutely required.

2 – Saying “I have a bunch of great game ideas” is the worst possible thing you could say if you want to get hired. Indie game companies are never looking for lead designers. Why? Because generally the reason an indie game company was formed in the first place was because a designer wanted to make their own games. Why on earth would I want to hire someone so that they could take away the most enjoyable part of my own job? Not to mention the fact that during the course of making just one game, we inevitably come up with dozens of great ideas for other games. The last thing we need is more ideas – we don’t have enough time to take advantage of the ideas we already have!

If you have great ideas and want to turn those ideas into actual games, you have two options – create your own indie company or rise up through the ranks of an existing company. Unless you’ve got insane luck, nobody is going to hire you as a designer right off the bat.

3 – Indie companies aren’t looking for writers. A lot of the big companies with hundreds of employees don’t even bother to hire a writer. Do you think an indie game company with only a couple of people can afford to devote an entire person just to writing? The simple truth of the matter is that unless you’re making a visual novel, writing dialogue and plot is a relatively small amount of the workload in making a game. That’s not to say writing isn’t important (it’s crucial to most RPGs), just to say that it doesn’t require a dedicated person in most cases (hopefully, one of your programmers or artists is also good at writing).

4 – Graphics and code are the core elements needed in just about every video game. As a result, skilled artists and programmers are generally what companies (both indie and otherwise) are most looking for.

Now with all that said, I just want to reemphasize that we are NOT looking for interns or new staff members at this time. If you apply to us right now, it doesn’t matter how good your application is or how qualified you are, you’re not getting the job because it doesn’t exist at the moment. However, we could very well be looking for a new artist or programmer next year so stay tuned.

 Posted by at 3:29 pm

  12 Responses to “Zeboyd Games is not hiring this year”

  1. Something about playing CstW and BoD7 makes people want to help out. Hell, I wanted to be at that huge list of special thanks at the end of the games… XD.

  2. I’ve also performed “unpaid internships” for companies in the past. Unless it’s short term with a concrete date for a paid position, I am not really all that in favor of it. People work, they should be compensated by some means; people often work for free and consider the experience and connections their compensation… but I’ve been there, when you know the company you’re working for is investing actual money and resources into you, it shows that they actually give a crap about you, and it’s a motivator to do better for them as well.

    I’d also repeat what Nick (in the comments) mentioned:

    Indie teams need team members with multiple skills. You might be a heck of a 2D artist or a programmer, but what else can you bring to the table? Indie teams don’t often have a lot of resources, so when individual members can contribute in multiple varied ways, it helps a lot. This can be both in terms of game assets but also in terms of the business side of things.

    I also have to reiterate that proof that you can complete a project is extremely important. I cannot count the times I’ve seen projects start, begin production, and then fade into obscurity and die away because the team members involved underestimated how difficult it would be, or how much time it would take. Making games is not easy. Making parts of games is not easy. It’s a commitment and it’s not always fun, it can often be a grind. If you can prove that you can get through it and enjoy it and are committed and responsible, that goes a long, long way. An easy way to prove this is to have completed projects ready to show.

  3. “You say you’ll work for free? No thanks. We make games and then we sell them. If you’re reliable, skilled, and do good work for us, then you should get paid for it. And if you aren’t, then we don’t want to babysit you. Besides, making video games is hard work. Someone who isn’t getting paid for their work is much more likely to flake out when the fun part of game development is done and the work part has begun.”

    This. I have said this so many times to people. Money changes the dynamic (often for the better), and the quality of paid work vs. free work is often drastically improved with the infusion of money.

  4. I’m great with pixel art but wouldn’t dare try and take away Bill’s thunder. I think I’d first try and make my own game before helping anyone else.

  5. I only want to make non oficial translate to polish, downloadable for free. How you think about it?

  6. Standard practices are lynch-pins programmers can use to sabotage an entire project with a single keystroke when the developer paying them goes bankrupt (thus not paying them) and tries to sell off its assets to another game development company owned by the first company’s best friend.

  7. Standard practices? What are those? 🙂

    I think we’ll probably start using .XML in our next game though.

  8. I am a programmer and also a writer. That said, I’m not looking for a job, and I probably won’t be looking for one next year either.

    Best of luck, though.

  9. I find it really surprising that you’re engine isn’t already set up for multiple languages! Sure, menu items and hud elements would need some tweaking to make fit, but as far as actual game dialogue… I thought having your game read from xml, text, or some other data file for the dialogue was standard practice.

    Anyway, that said, I am glad to see that you are taking your time, and growing your team slowly. Looking forward to what you guys make next… and hoping its more adventure styled and filled with zombies 😉

  10. I have a great idea for a game!

  11. Cool article, and it all makes sense.
    There’s something I’ve been wondering as an aspiring indie developer: Do you split your income with the artist and musician (I feel bad for forgetting their names), or do you pay them commission for each piece they create?

  12. Something a lot of people don’t understand that if you want to work on indie games you need to have multiple skill sets or be really good at what you do if you want to be hired full time. I may not master any trade, but in order to develop for an indie game company I have to:

    -Level design
    -Test
    -Write story
    -Animate
    -Create sounds
    -Etc.

    With that said I was lucky enough to start off doing a small task for someone and managed to keep improving my skills and taking on new rolls. (And I’m still doing that.) So I do recommend people to try making connections and join sites like XNA so you can see who is doing what. Perhaps you’ll play a game that is made by one person and be like: “Gee, these textures aren’t really up to date, would you mind if I created some new textures for you?” Perhaps they’ll like your textures and pay you a little. (Maybe they’ll tell a friend, or want you to work on their next game, etc.)

    -Nick

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