[Our company has been in the gaming industry since 2002. During that time, we've handled a huge amount of outsource orders of various types and difficulty. We've amassed a lot of experience, and we're ready to share it. Alexey Morozov, the head of infrastructure at HeroCraft, shares some knowledge with newcomer freelancers and outsource specialists.]
I have been in charge of outsourcing in our company for the last two years. My responsibility is to find contractors, negotiate tasks, and help our projects become better. During this time people have reached out to me for outsource. I'm the person in the company with the most knowledge of exterior contractors.
Furthermore, I have some freelance experience myself, so I'm always trying to review the situation from both sides, which helps to widen my perspective. I've met some incredibly talented people who had no clue on how to enter the flow, where to begin their path. So I've decided to share my knowledge and amassed experience with those who would like to enter game development, but don't know how to.
If you are an artist or a musician and would like to test your skills in game development, but don't know where to begin, the following tips are for you.
1. Build up a nice portfolio.
A portfolio is the first thing I always ask for from a freelancer contacting me, unless it's already attached to the email. This is the most obvious, and possibly the most important thing. Unfortunately, for some reason, not everybody has one. What should it look like?
- If you're an artist, add those of your works to the portfolio which best reflect the level you would be willing to work on.
- If you specialize in motion design or animation, you'll need a demo reel; a short compilation of your best works, but please don't put too much emphasis on the soundtrack. Your goal is to show off the visual part.
- A properly organized profile would be helpful for musicians, for example on SoundCloud.
Tips on portfolio creation:
- Volume of samples in portfolio.
Make sure you don't pick too many: who would want to look through dozens of pages on DeviantArt? Important note: if there are more than 10 samples, do not pile them all together. At the same time, a lot depends on presentation. You can go ahead and use cloud storage, presenting an archive of folders with sorted samples. I once got a portfolio with the unbelievable resolution and aspect ratio of about 16:1. Needless to say, that is also a bad idea :) Musicians can present tracks in various genres.
- Make sure the visual presentation does not divert attention from you actual work.
For example, if you are a 3D modeler, first show your demo reel to a friend and find out what captured their attention. If the spectator's attention is anchored to something other than your specialty, then you should rework your portfolio ASAP. Don't forget to upload model textures into the demo reel - this will also help with proper presentation. Based on my observations, if a modeler posts renders of low poly models on a maximally unobtrusive background, this model will later look a lot better in the game. The moral is simple: don't try to create the perfect render. Based on my experience, renders on a pretty background tend to turn out not so great afterwards. It's also nice to attach a model's mapping and texture to your portfolio.
- What to do if you can't pick the samples for your portfolio?
Try giving yourself an assignment. Find some inspiration in a game or even design your own game (even if it's just a concept in your head). Try and create a character or a music track for this project. Fan art can also help with building up your name, especially if it pertains to a "hyped" project.
It's important to understand that your portfolio isn't just about who you've already worked for; it's mainly about your skills. In my experience, this can cause a kind of stupor for many rising talents that just don't see a way into the industry.
2. Make sure you're easy to find...
Don't be shy, keep posting your works. Use several popular sites at the same time.
- Musicians can head right to SoundCloud.
- For 3D model demonstration you can use Sketchfab.
- And if you're a motion designer or an animator, at least post your work on YouTube.
Also don't forget special forums and communities - post your portfolio in appropriate branches of these resources. I recommend covering both sites corresponding to your professional profile and game development as well, as both options may be helpful.
3. ...and easy to contact.
It should be easy to get in touch with you! Make sure your profiles on these special resources include your contact information (including your mobile number) and links to your social media profiles. Create a design for your page in social media that will help viewers understand what you do as soon as they open the page.
In fact, if you cover the three points mentioned above, that's already a big step. If all specialists did so, potential employers would have a much easier time. As funny as it may sound, the freelancer must be easy to "google." Imagine yourself as a potential employer and try to understand their search criteria
4. Don't forget to update your portfolio on a regular basis.
I recommend organizing the process in a way that will help you post your new work regularly on all of your profiles at professional resources. When you put together a larger update, you can elevate your previous posts on forums for easier access by new customers.
5. Answer your emails.
This is common knowledge, but not many actually follow it. Answer email from you employers in a timely manner, even if you are currently swamped with work. Let the customer know your time frame, perhaps this assignment can wait. If the customer would like to hire you, this will help them set up their schedule. Furthermore, it's a sign of good manners :)
6. Sort out payment options ahead of time.
I have met experienced freelancers that didn't even have a PayPal wallet. Sign up for a digital wallet on any of the most popular payment service providers. Take some time in advance to explore and find out how your wallet works and how you can withdraw funds so that you don't have issues at the time of payment.
7. Keep in touch with people from the industry.
- Another possibly obvious tip: try to get in touch with other professionals and make sure your friends are aware that you are looking for a job.
- Not everyone knows that Twitch has its own Game Development section, where you can meet and talk to colleagues. I think it's a nice way to get some feedback on your work from the people already working in the industry.
8. Always remember to develop your skills.
- There are lots of training grounds for general and also specific topics. Most of them use a subscription model and require a very reasonable monthly fee. My general recommendations would include: Lynda.com, Digital Tutors, Tutsplus, Skillshare, and Groove3 for musicians.
- You should take part in various workshops and crash courses in your specialty. You can keep track of them through CG communities and social media".
A short conclusion
Naturally, these tips may seem obvious and even somewhat naive to some of readers. But we've met lots of specialists that haven't fulfilled even half of mentioned points. We hope this list of simple tips will make life a bit easier for you as a rising freelancer dreaming to enter the gaming industry, and for your potential customer.