I’ve been working on getting the non-gameplay aspects of Beat Farmer figured out of late, and that has meant getting some of the basics figured out for Perfect Minute as a functioning business.
Before I did anything, I needed to commit to the business more heavily than I have been. I have an aversion to not paying people for their work, so I started putting away $100 per paycheque from my day job. There are a variety of opinions on funding game development, some of which encourage you to self-fund, others focused more on external investment, but as a rule I find that paying out of pocket helps me remember to look for the best possible value for my money, so that’s my preferred bootstrapping method.
With that tiny pot of money, my first order of business was finding an artist. I’m trying to hire locally where possible, so I sent out a call on this blog and on my friendly local game development Facebook community. I got a few portfolios right away, including an artist I was very interested in working with, Clay Burton.
Finding someone so quickly meant I had to scramble a bit to get the contract drawn up. I initially considered using Law Depot, but I didn’t feel confident that I would get something I could trust to legally enforce the rights I needed.
I looked around town to find a lawyer specializing in IP and media and settled on Lindsay Wareham at Cox and Palmer, whose focus areas include Intellectual Property and Startups, which seemed like a good fit. I’ve since discovered that Cox and Palmer have several folks working together in this area, as well as a helper program for startups in general, which gives me hope that I have, for once, made a pretty good call.
The drafting of the contract took a couple of weeks and wasn’t too expensive, as legal matters go. A lot of good questions came up during my conversation with Lindsay, though, stuff like:
- Are you incorporating? (not yet)
- What share structure do you intend to use for your corporation? (not sure, and I have conflicting information about the best structure to use)
- Where will the copyright and moral rights reside? (with me until incorporation)
- Do you foresee selling products other than games? (yes)
- Do you need trademarks registered? (yes, when I have a bit more money)
Two weeks later I had a shiny new contract ready to fill out. I sent it over to my artist, who sent it back with his name on it…but not a witness! This is my first time doing this, and I didn’t want to bug the guy more than necessary, but after chatting with Lindsay, I had to go back and beg him to get it witnessed as well. So that’s ready to go.
I also sent out a call a while ago for a music person for the game, and I use the word “person” on purpose there, because I don’t know much about doing music in a game.
One of the musicians I know in town recommended his buddy, Georgie Newman. Georgie and I had spoken briefly after that initial request, but never got around to talking further. I reached out and we decided to meet up and chat. That turned out to be really great for me, as Georgie knows what he is at to a much higher degree than I do when it comes to game audio.
That conversation has now left me with a number of things I need to do (“action items”, as the cool fogies say):
- Flesh out the design for Beat Farmer enough to do cost and marketing plans
- Figure out how much Beat Farmer is going to cost to make and market
- Figure out the best sales model for this game and its follow-ons
- Figure out how I’m going to fund the first few Perfect Minute Games ($50/week ain’t gonna cut it forever, after all)
As error-prone dark-groping goes, this has actually been ok. I’m hopeful that I can get all the way to the publishing phase without destroying myself and/or the company financially or otherwise in the process.
I’ll keep you posted!