Contract Work and You - Some Basic Tips

Discussion in 'Tutorials & Resources' started by Fr0Z3nR, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

    Positive Ratings:
    Hey everyone, I'm writing up this quick guide because I've seen some contracts pop up around the community that have, to me, seem a little questionable. This guide is a quick outline of what you should look for and what you should look out for in terms of contract work. This guide is in no way a professional view-point on contract work, merely one written based on my experience with them, and based on experience from people I know who have.

    1. Always do your research – before you respond to a possible contract, you always want to do your homework and research the person, group or game they want you to do work for. If someone claims to be from “Dewey, Cheatum and Howe Gamer Clan” asking for some crazy VSH mapl, and you’ve never heard of this group, you should do your research. See what they’re about, and decide if they are someone you want to do work for. If they look sketchy, be cautious, or move on to the next thing.
    2. Ask questions - someone may say that they would like you to make a circus themed deathrun map. Even though they may provide a bunch of concept art and maybe even a layout design with pictures, you should still ask questions. How long would you have to work on the map? Are you responsible for assest creation or no? How will final release work, will you be giving up the rights to the map, or no? What engine is it using? Will you be provided licensing for the engine? Any NDA’s? All those things. You want to know what you’re getting into!
    3. Be wary - if someone is asking for a trade map for their small community, and is willing to dish out $1000 dollars for it, you should really be looking at points 1 and 2 a lot more. The money is nice, but if you spend 100 hours on the map, and don’t get anything out of it because they scammed you out of the map, then thats bad. If you feel like things might be a little sketchy with the project, or you could be scammed, move onto the next contract posting.
    4. Record the agreements - This is *contract* work. Ideally, there should be a contract of some sort that outlines what needs to be done, what you’re responsible for and what your client is responsible for, payment amount and how payment will work. What happens if you are unable to finish the map or the client pulls the project? Who ‘owns’ the map at the end of the project? Things like that should be agreed upon and recorded BEFORE YOU START DOING WORK. It doesn’t have to be formal. A copy of a steam conversation in a text file will work for most informal contracts. This doesn’t necessarily give you legal authority to do anything ridiculous like sue or force payment out of people, but it’s enough that it’ll help clear up arguements and give everyone involved a page to refer back to.
    5. Money - Everyone loves payment. You want to be especially careful with it in contract work. Many people will offer “payment on completion” or “rev-share” when the game is released. These are payment methods are both common in contract work, as far as I’ve seen. Sometimes, you get a percentage of the final payment up front, and the rest of the money at completion. There’s a lot of different ways payments happen. Make sure to think through it and, like the other points, do your research. If the contract sounds sketchy and you don’t feel comfortable doing it, then don’t.
    6. You might lose rights to your work - This is something a lot of people are afraid of. Normally, if you do contract work, you are doing it for someone or some group/company and in the end, they get the ability to do whatever they want to level. This is normal in a lot of contracts (as far as I know, it’s very normal with valve). Sometimes, contracts will say that they also will acqure the rights to any concepts or new mechanics you develop during the maps cycle. Personally, I have only ever seen this in industry contracts while working as a full time employee at a company. That doesn’t mean you won’t see it when looking at independent contracts. If this is something you don’t like, then don’t do the contract.

    Overall, if you take anything away from this guide is this: be smart when looking at contract work. Always ask questions and know what you’re getting yourself into.

    If you have any questions, or comments or feedback on this, tell me! I quickly put this together, so it might missing some things you feel is important.

    tl;dr: Be smart, nerd.
    • Thanks Thanks x 8
  2. henke37

    aa henke37

    Positive Ratings:
    My recommendation: milestones. Great for splitting the pay, acts as a good point for feedback and acts as a natural closure point.
    • Thanks Thanks x 2