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.