Recently, I placed a posting on E-lance and ODesk looking to hire an artist for an upcoming game project my team is currently working on. It’s a great little isometric shooter titled “Mad Devils” concerning a squad of WWII GI’s, killed and transformed into devils who continue their fight against evil from the afterlife and we can’t wait to see this in gamer’s hands. I’m more excited about making this project a reality than anything else I’ve worked on in my entire career. Now, we’re a small, self funded indie trying to leave our mark on the gaming world and like many indies we simply can’t afford to pay for a full time staff of artists, modelers, audio guys, etc.. When we have a new project on the go we often contract out the work on a project by project basis and we work within very tight budgetary constraints as everything is coming out of our own pockets.
The budgets that many indies have to work with shouldn’t be seen as an insult to artists, or IT contractors in general. They’re simply a reality that needs to be worked with for us, yet increasingly when I’m posting for work that needs to be completed I’ve been met by open hostility for daring to ask so much for so little. I get it. I was trained as a programmer and I’ve looked at contract work before and asked “Really? Do you have any idea how much work that entails?” I’ve been on that side.
When I post a job looking to hire an artist, I’m not ignorant of what I’m asking in terms of time, talent and resources when I attach a dollar amount to that figure. It’s simply the money I have available and if you’re offended by what I’m offering instead of taking it out on me how about you simply pass on the job offer? Our inability to offer the type of wages you expect to be paid is not meant as a comment on your worth as an artist. It may be insulting to you but it’s not meant to be.
The work that some indies do with little to no money amazes me on a regular basis and they do it with the support of the developer community, the support of gamers and the understanding of those who choose to work with them. We wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the volunteer efforts of artists and students in the past who were paid nothing for their previous work and even though they weren’t given any form of monetary compensation it certainly wasn’t a reflection of their value and contribution to the overall, finished game. Many artists out there are just as eager to make their mark on the industry and they realize they need to start somewhere, just as we’re doing. We need to be able to find each other.
If you see an independent developer offering an amount for a job that you would be uncomfortable working for, please pass on the offer and move along. There’s no need to berate us for daring to attempt to make a game with a limited budget.