Additional hints & tips for a start-up developer

Its expensive being a new start-up computer/video game development company so you will want to get the best return for your money when presenting your company or your products to the outside world. The following are a few tips that may help you decide where to spend and where to save that limited cash.

Objectives:

  1. To show that your start-up game development company is a professional, well managed company.
  2. To show that your game development company is creative as well as professional.
  3. To minimise cost and maximise impact.

Register your company – Publishers prefer to work with “real” companies, not groups of individuals. Get an accountant to register a company and settle on a standard management structure (14 joint managing directors / CEOs is not a professional management structure).

A card in the hand…. – A well laid out business card is a cheap way to show that you mean business. It also helps to ensure people don’t lose your details. Get them done AFTER you have registered your company’s domain name and designed a suitable logo – remember the less colours the cheaper the printing – Why do you think the Obscure logo is one colour? If cash is really tight elect one member of your management team to have a business card and the rest can claim to have “run out”. You get the impact without the cost. Note: This doesn’t apply if you are dealing with the Japanese. Business cards are very important to them so ensure you each have some.

Register your chosen domain name – Get your URL & set up e-mail forwarding. A “proper” e-mail address makes your venture more professional than i.luv.my.mum@aol.com plus it’s cheap and easy to do.

The colour of money – colour is better than black and white. When preparing documents for presentation the strategic use of colour can add extra points to your score. Colour through out is good but if you can’t afford that print a few pages with colour images separately and spread them through out the presentation documents. Score early with an impressive colour image for the cover. A professionally printed document/brochure also gives a better impression than A4 pages from your home printer.
Jewels beyond belief – When sending out a demo a printed jewel case insert and on-body CD printing make it look much more professional than a plain gold disk. If you can not afford a custom print job just for one presentation consider getting CDs with your logo printed on them. They can be used for any demo.

Call the professionals
– Take professional advice at the right time – Get an accountant to register your company and set it up properly. It is cheap and much easier and safer than doing it yourself. Once you have sight of a contract review it and if there is anything you are not sure about seek legal advice. Even if you are happy at the start of negotiations if things change part way through don’t be embarrassed about getting help – It is essential to understand what you are signing and if you save money at the start you may well end up losing money later. – make sure you use a solicitor/lawyer who understands copyright and other IP issues relevant to the software industry.

Don’t spend £1 to save 40 pence – any good accountant will tell you that you should not buy something (you weren’t intending to buy) just because it is on sale for 40% off. Only buy something if you really need it. You may be waiting months for a publisher to decide to sign your game and you won’t be able to survive if you have spent money on items that are not essential.

Be creative – Ensure you spend money on the creative aspect of you image/presentation – a good company logo or great graphics in a proposal document are money well spent.

Invest in the small details – Ensure you don’t spend everything on your first pass at a presentation. You should review what you have produced and polish the rough edges – for which you will need money.

Don’t forget to eat – If your budget runs out the day your demo/proposal is ready to be presented then you are in trouble. It is not uncommon for a publisher to take between three and six months to sign a project and that time starts from the day you actually present your finished proposal to them.

Conclusion – Having all the pieces in place shows the publisher that you know what your doing and that you didn’t just get out of bed this morning and decide to set up a video game development company. If they look at your company/proposal and see a professional and creative set-up they are more likely to want to work with you. That doesn’t mean that you MUST do everything mentioned above but remember that each one adds to the overall image of your company. Work out what you can afford to do and spend the money wisely to maximise effect.

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