Pros and cons in teaming up with somebody

I’m finalizing my Infected card game, and the responsibilities have been easy to define: I do pretty much everything, except for the art (and group testing and actual card manufacturing). All art was created by Anton Brand, and I paid per asset.

But what if I had teamed up with somebody, split the profits, done the project together with someone?

Currently: most of the responsibility lies on my own shoulders
The whole game project of mine is very much my responsibility to deal with. Anton got paid per asset rather than receiving % of sales. The good news about this is that I can make all the final decisions, I can craft the game exactly the way I want it to be, and that I’m not dependant on others for most of the part.

So, dependancies I have had during this project have been:

  • Me
  • The artist
  • The test group
  • The card manufacturer

Majority of testing has been done by me, and then test group has helped going through some major revisions and helped me to gather feedback. The dependencies have been minimal (game works well as solo, so I’ve been able to test solo without actually needed to have test group near and card manufacturing at this point will go through online service, which works – I’ve tested that as well).

What if I’d want to team-up with somebody?
I’ve liked “pay per asset, not give % of royalties” since it’s a pretty straightforward way to get people working in the project. I haven’t needed to discuss design decisions, argue whether it’s okay to have “crow” as an ally or not. I’ve asked people in twitter, and then made my final call on things. It is also giving me a feeling of control: I get to decide how the game looks like.

For a card game with limited 2D art assets, this approach has been working great.

But, what if I need a bigger art budget or just want somebody to join my team?
I wrote earlier about creating your dream game, and while creating a physical card game has been my dream coming true, I’ve also had visions of creating certain type of video games.

One challenge is – I bet for many – the art budget. I’m not looking into creating a game that competes with AAA visuals, but even if you are going to do a simple 2D sidescroller, there can be tons of art to be created. It takes either humongous amount of time or money to get that stuff done. And the bottleneck doesn’t need to be art, it can be something else. I’m just taking art as an example here.

If you team up with somebody… well, that comes with a price.

If you happen to find a artist, and you do the programming side, that combination can work great. Each of you gets to focus on your strengths. There’s cons though. In a team of two, consider the following:

  • Who makes the final call on deciding the sounds or music?
  • Who gets to say how difficult the levels should be?
  • Who will decide what to do with feature X?
  • If the programmer is in charge of programming, and the artist is responsible over visuals… that’s fine but what about rest of the areas?
  • Discussing, talking, meeting, brainstorming, discussing again takes time. If you work solo, you can bounce ideas to the community and act on that. But with 2 people, you can get arguments over how something should work. (Just try get 2 programmers to sit down and discuss about naming conventions, and you’ll see what I mean). The bottom line is: communicating and discussions take more time.
  • Arguing over profits (or percentages)?
  • What if one guy leaves? What happens then? In solo projects, that’s not a problem. But when there’s more than 1 person involved, any key person leaving can be one nasty situation.
  • And tons of more similar things to deal with. None of these are issues is you are working solo.

On the positive side:

  • Each guy can concentrate on what they do best
  • Two guys can be motivating combination: both of you can support each other to get more stuff done
  • Seeing things differently can be a huge asset: we all have blind spots on certain things, and 2 pair of eyes can help see things differently.
  • And I bet tons of more

Taking someone into a team can be a huge asset, but also a big mistake.

Are you working solo, or in a team with somebody? Why?

5 thoughts on “Pros and cons in teaming up with somebody

  1. Mihai

    I worked mainly alone on my game and had some help along the way in a pay per asset fashion, but they did have a certain degree of artistic freedom in their area of expertise, especially on the audio side where I have no qualifications what so ever. I plan to do the same for my next project.

    Reply
  2. Rob Basler

    I’m working on my own this project. My first big project I had two partners and that worked out fine, but the next one went horribly, horribly wrong with my partner and I was miserable for a couple of years. This project was too important to me personally to take the risk of disaster and I wanted to see if I could complete something very ambitious on my own.

    Reply
  3. Gorgor

    We work in a pair. Why? Because one man can do literally nothing compared to this combo. How it is with more people in team? I dont know.

    Reply

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