On Consulting

I’ve been relegating most of my public thoughts and comments recently to the social networks due to the extreme demands on my time. 2012 has been a crazy year and I’ve worked more than I ever have in any other year of my life. Nonetheless, I will still take a small consulting job on the side here and there if its scope is limited and if it interests me. It has to be good to compete for my time against my two current jobs and any free/sanity time with my wife. I miss her, you understand.

Despite not really putting too many feelers out there, I’ve been blessed with getting more than a dozen offers for consulting work this year. These come from either referrals from my network (hey, you know who might be good for that?) or oddly, organic searches that may get my name and contact info from this here blog. Since some of them have been outright odd I figured I’d take a moment and compile a short list (blog are about lists, you see) based on my experience called:

How to Convince Consultant Talent To Work For You On The Internet

  1. Know What Business I Am In – I guess there is some third party service sending traffic my way, but I have had multiple inquiries in the past year to work on slot machines. I have nothing particularly against slot machines, but I also don’t have any experience with the casino industry. I am a game designer who has worked and does work in consumer games. I’m mostly a systems designer, but I also do some concept work. This means my specialty is in understanding how systems interact and how to design game dynamics to reach certain “gameplay” goals. If you are having troubles getting your game to feel a certain way, that’s where I can be of a great help. If you are, say, looking for someone to dig up dirt on Zynga for a patent lawsuit, I won’t be of much help. Or if you are looking for someone to develop your “hit idea” (see below), you also won’t find me very helpful.
  2. Tell Me What Services You Would Like For Me To Deliver and in What Timeframe – As I said before, I have been very busy. I’m very satisfied by my work with Full Sail University and with Sky Parlor Studios. These jobs don’t leave me with a lot of free time. If you are interested enough in hiring me to provide you services, please know why you want to hire me in the first place! Let me know what you would like me to provide and in what timeframe. I do product reviews, concept work, critique, editing, content development and sometimes the miscellany of general consulting. I recently had a gig where a client wanted me to review his current game and provide him feedback on why certain systems were not working. It wouldn’t take more than a few hours. Perfect! He TestFlight’ed me a build. It took me about four hours; the project was really interesting stuff. I felt like I provided some honest value and I was able to crank it out on a weekend.On the other hand, I often get emails that say someone has “an idea” for a “hit game” and if I could just help design it and develop it, that would be great. I’m sure someone out there may fall for that one, but you are better off not wasting your, my, or anyone else’s time. Scratch that. There is one scenario in which I’d take that job. It would require at least five to six zeroes before the decimal point based on the scope of that “idea”.
  3. Use Professional Language – I am very much aware that for many of the folks who contact me, English is not their first language.That’s ok!  But for me to know what you want from me and for me to know that I will be able to communicate with you, I must be able to decipher your requests. If I cannot understand your introduction email, I know that when money gets involved, I may not be able to deliver what you expected and that’s when business turns sour. And if English is in fact your primary language, if you do not take the care to read over your email a second time to check for basic errors that could cause confusion, what does this tell me about the level of care with which you operate your business?
  4. Make Sure You Are Googleable – Know this: I will Google you. If I cannot find anything tied to a person or business that has some record in the real world, I will not work with you. It is too risky for me. Give me a link to your company or project’s website that lets me know what I am getting into. Maybe your current project is under wraps and your company is operating silently. That’s fine. I will sign a professional NDA. Or send me a link to something you’ve done before that can show me you are a real person operating a real business.
  5. Offer Me Money – You can have the most interesting sounding work in the world for me. If your introduction letter contains “We cannot pay you right away, but…” just stop right there. I want to know you are serious. A portion of your Kickstarter proceeds (this has happened) is not payment. Show me skin in the game if I am going to spend my precious time on your project. If you think I will work for free or for the vaporware promise of payment, you just show that you think my work is worth nothing. I know otherwise and so I will not accept your offer. Maybe there will be some future in which I will work for equity, but that’s not the case now unless I know you personally.
  6. Show Me That You Know What You Are Doing – All of these really just boil down to one principle: show me that you know what you are doing. I am a professional and will work with other professionals. I have my own hobbies that I love; working on your game isn’t one of them. If you are looking for me because you know I have a specific set of skills that can help you get over a rough point in your project, I’m happy to discuss terms with you. If you are looking for me because you Googled “game designer” and I came up in the top one thousand, then you don’t really know what you are doing.

Maybe that came off a bit curmudgeonly. I certainly know a lot of visual artists soured on the perils of freelancing. That’s not my point. If you are serious, I want your project to succeed. And if I can help, even better. The consulting work I’ve taken has been some really interesting changes of pace from my two primary jobs. But if you are wasting time trying to bark up the wrong tree, then you need to reevaluate where else you may be wasting resources. In the end, it doesn’t hurt to ask, but I’d like to save both your time and mine.


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