Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…


I’ve started reading a book, and ordered another one, that focus on the topic of business processes for small companies. Essentially the theme of them is that far too many small businesses are built around the hands-on skills and knowledge of a single person -> the founder, and that this can act as a roadblock to the company expanding and flourishing.

This rings very true to me. People sometimes suggest I get a full time artist or coder, but I never do, and what I really need is either a clone of me, or an all-rounder who can do a bit of everything, marketing, business stuff, design, coding, testing and artwork. Such people are not easy to find. A lot of indies use interns or junior / student employees, but I always try to ensure I get the very best, and the very best are normally not looking for a job, they freelance, and are booked up a year on advance.
If I can’t expand by hiring, something I can do is to try and streamline all of the different systems that make up positech. My current systems are a mess. I run backups when I feel like it, I check my ad and marketing budget stuff at random intervals. I have no organised calendar for anything, no dates on GTB milestones, no quarterly assessments of sales, it’s a mess.
So this is something I’m going to work on fixing, over the next few weeks. I’ll hopefully identify a few areas where some new software or cunning scripting can save me time, and make sure I am more organised, and that everything is better documented. One day, I might even end up with some staff.

In the meantime I showed Gratuitous Tank Battles running on a big TV to two fellow indie devs recently. It looked good on the TV, ran without issues, and I think they likedit, which is reassuring :D

11 thoughts on Processes

  1. Sometimes it boils down to how much work you get done it which time. In the last years I’ve been working on different projects which I could handle on my own. The time span for the projects had been appropriate and I managed to keep everything on milestone.

    But know I’ve got a customer with a project which is constantly growing (~800.000 lines of code (without comment lines)). I’ve been handling this project for 3 years now, but the amount of new features, maintenance and support has become overwhelming so I hired another freelance developer in September last year. Now he has canceled due to some personal reasons (family, wife, …). Since good freelancers do not grow on trees, I’ve started looking for people to hire for a full time position in my office. I normally would accept home-office working, but the work with the freelancer has shown to be less effective because of turn-around times between a discussion and delivery of a feature…

    I think at some point you naturally start to see the need to hire someone…

  2. In whichever direction you decide to expand and whoever you hire and under what terms, you’ll need to keep in mind that it will be a difficult learning experience for you personally. Try to remember that the desire to find someone ‘as good as you’ is a mental roadblock that is very common and is generally related to delegation anxiety. You’re on the right track by creating structured processes instead of relying on your own personal attributes or abilities; without these, it is very difficult to a) integrate new employees into any workflows and b) trust anyone with tasks.

  3. You can get some cool time tracking tools that monitor your time automatically, on PC anyway. Then if you know where you spend your time, you will know where best to optimise or delegate tasks.

    As long as you realise that even if you found someone as good as you or better you would still need to spend time communicating what you want them to do and they may not do something the way you do it.

    PS if you need a Unity developer drop me a line! ;o)

  4. Hey Clifsky,

    I realize that the grass is always greener and all that, but from where I stand it looks like you’ve got it pretty good as a one man shop. I’d give a lot to be able to work full time on one or more of the many ideas I’ve got bouncing around in my head, unfortunately I haven’t figured out how to make any of them profitable, yet…

    Anyway, my thought is that you need a secretary and a part time accountant much more than you need another coder or artist. At my last job we had a lady who came in once a week to log receipts, do the payroll, tax stuff and deposits. She wasn’t cheap but she was a lot less expensive than hiring someone full time. Plus she could do the work in a fraction of the time that one of us could. Find someone like that and hire someone else to do your organizing, marketing and business stuff (or at least do prep work for them).

    If you hire a bunch of coders and artists you’ll have to spend time managing them. If you hire people to cover your weaknesses (or at least to do the things you’d less like to do) you’ll have more time for the fun stuff.

  5. Yes this is a good point. I do have an accountant. What I possibly need is a secretary / part time assistant. really, a PA who loves games would be ideal, someone who could give feedback on games, test them, and yet also do some general donkey work for me now and then.

    Not a trivial thing to find someone in a position to do that, someone who is good and reliable.

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