I recently reconnected with an old friend who’s been a Freelance Game Programmer for many years, I asked him what advice he could give to someone just starting out and here’s his top tips:
I particularly like his ethos: “value-for-money & minimum hassle”, because contractors/freelancers have a general reputation for being otherwise (Expensive & demanding)
Rhys Twelves, 12 Code Monkeys Ltd, UK http://uk.linkedin.com/in/rhystwelves
The only real tips I have are:-
1. If you can, try to avoid VAT registration due to the overhead of quarterly returns, and the VAT man being able to audit you more readily.(unless you employ someone to sort this all out)
2. Get a good accountant, they are worth their weight in gold, as they know what you can/cannot claim for as a legitimate business expense, and give could advice as to where to invest your profits.
3. Make yourself as flexible as possible. Making games is still a black art (in terms of production especially) and so plans will almost cetainly change from milestone to milestone. For a contractor/freelancer it is important that you can adapt with the project (within reason). If 5 days/week becomes 6 or even 7, then you should already have plans afoot that can support the change. It’s a second-guessing game, but it’s worth it.
4. In my experience, being flexible can be more valuable to production than being fast/excellent at your work. If a producer knows they can rely on you to be in the office on any given Sunday, they’ll take that over having to find work for you from somewhere because you finished your milestones early.
5. To be honest Simeon, I’m still learning as I go along, and different companies have different needs & expectations, but my ethos (if you can call it that) is to be “value-for-money & minimum hassle”, and only because contractors/freelancers have a general reputation for being otherwise (Expensive & demanding).
Rhys is a top bloke and I highly recommend him for any programming task you’ve got. You’ll be amazed at the knowledge Rhys has, how insightful his views are and just how quickly and well he solves problems. Rhys is worth his weight in gold.