Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Producing Tutorial

If you're thinking of becoming an independent game producer, some tips on getting started:

1. Keep your day job. It's best if it doesn't involve emailing, phoning, doing meetings, or writing/editing documents. Even better if it pays well and you can go part-time.

2. Carve out your IP. If you're in an industry where the word "IP" is bandied about, you're going to need a carve-out agreement so that your employer doesn't own what you're doing on the side. Be up front about this.

3. Experience designing games. I'm assuming you've already designed games and made them. If not, do it, even if it's a board game. Start small and go bigger slowly. Flash games, cell phone, mods, etc. All producers should know how to design.

4. Analyze yourself. Ask yourself what your superpowers are, what your weaknesses are, and analyze what kinds of people you know and what sorts of things they need. You do not have to know game industry people. Your networks are key.

5. Ask for money. Get in the habit of asking people for money. Ask for a dollar, then $10, then $100. Always do something interesting with it, and let them know. Pay it back with interest, if they'll let you, or give them a gift that is worth even more.

6. Follow your passion. Don't waste independent producing on doing crap to pay the bills. That's why you're keeping your day job. Do something you're passionate about.

7. Close a marketing agreement. Before you go to money, cut a deal where you swap back-end for exposure through some kind of portal or distributor. This mitigates risk for the investor.

8. Load match. Make sure your marketing matches your game design matches your target demographic matches the capabilities of the team you've selected.

9. Big fish, little pond. Dominate a niche market then milk it. If you go head to head with the heavies, you won't get funded. If you do get funded, the game will fail in the marketplace. Either way, you're dead.

10. Get a piece of everything. Equity, points, producing fee, whatever you can. The best way to profit off a game is rarely clear. Get a little of everything, and you won't have to worry that you are motivated to create lopsided deals.

11. Get experience negotiating. Negotiate everything, even little stuff. The more experience, the better. And find your style. Are you a bluffer, warm, cold, professional, colloquial, serious, funny, terse, verbose, hostile?

12. Make friends with an attourney. Starting out, you're going to need to cut deals before you have cash. Offer an attourney time and a half but deferred until first money in exchange for helping you draft and negotiate your first deals.

13. Save money. Spend your money very carefully. Lower your burn rate. You can produce while renting a cheap room and eating in. The longer you can make your money stretch, the better your deal terms will be.

14. Prep your pitch. You need IP (licensed or original), team, design, pitch, co-marketing agreement (if any), budget, and schedule before you go ask for money.

15. Be as nice as you can be. People try to cut producers out of deals. And your job is to find the best deal you can. People are going to get upset. Be as cool as you can be. Don't be passive-aggressive. Apologize when appropriate. Take insults as compliments.

16. Set expectations. Unless you're the type of person who consistently rises to the challenge of overcommitting yourself, set expectations about what you can/can't do.

17. Pester. End calls, meetings, IM's, and emails with ETAs on deliverables. Pester people if that ETA has come and gone. Commit to your own deliverables so that you can broach the subject of their deliverable by giving them yours.

18. Focus. It's better to focus on fewer projects and to do each one extremely well. Particularly starting out, you should put 110% of your focus into one project.

19. Keep track of your time and money spent. If you spent more money on producing something than you made, then you are not ready to go independent yet. Keep your day job. Ideally, you should be figuring out what % of your deals actually turn into money, and what they make.

20. Do due diligence on people. You will meet a lot of super cool, nice people who are going to screw you later, knowingly or not. Do homework on them. Odds are you weren't the first.

No comments:

Post a Comment