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Improving the freelance database – feedback please

By on March 30, 2011
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When I announced the GAMESbrief games freelancer database last week, I got a lot of feedback. 90 people have signed up within a week and I want to keep improving it.

One person who gave me feedback was Petr Mores, a Senior/Principal animator at Crytek who worked on Crysis and Crysis 2 and who is now working on his projects. If you have any feedback to give (or a different point of view) I’d love to hear it.

The opposite perspective

“One problem I see from the opposite perspective (of a freelancer looking for a gig) is that people, especially senior ones, have diverse skillsets with skills at different levels. There is the label "generalist" for that, but it might be misleading, and also not helpful, because it often denotes a dilettante, a jack-of-all-trades.

To give you an example: I composed and produced music for the Vietcong series of PC games which was pretty successful at the time. When I came to Crytek, this skill became irrelevant, because this is where they hire Hans Zimmer to work on the theme, and also they needed my animation skill full-time. However, I am still a pro-level musician and a small company with a less pretentious production can make a good use of that.

60 noses
60 noses, created by Shawn Feeney

As you noted on your blog, people in AAA become very specialized, and if they are really creative and intellectually curious, they will hate it eventually. If they become freelancers, they usually want to get away from "making only noses".

Another example: a former colleague of my brother’s who is a genius AI programmer and a very competent artist at the same time, found success with an original puzzle game for iPhone in this double role. His art side had been somewhat neglected in the AAA industry. It is important to note that this guy is not a "generalist" – someone who just dabbles in everything. He’s really good in more things than one.

Another good friend of mine started off as a designer, is now a producer, but he can make a good, good looking-game from start to finish by himself, design, art, code, everything, (which, though not a "specialization" per se, is an amazing, rare ability). In a big team, he deals mostly with spreadsheets and PM, but I imagine he would love to put all this other experience back to use as a freelancer.

Likewise, there are many good people who have a specialisation, like character modelling, but they are also very competent in something not so related, say tools scripting, or rendering, or they have a design ambition. AAA company would typically not care, but a small business will pay with gold for human Swiss-army knifes like this.”

What do you think? Does the freelance database need to be as flexible as this? And how would you suggest implementing it?

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
  • I’d say it’s up to the poster to mention in their experience section whether they’re particularly good at certain types of work, and that the database should be searchable for words contained in this field. That would make it easier to find the ‘nose’ artist amongst the pile.

    As I’ve already said on Twitter, I think a link to a portfolio should be standard, and also state if they’re prepared to travel / work on site during working hours, or only offsite in their own timeframes.

  • I see the point there; looking at my profile, a producer looking for a writer might see I have design experience and think I was just listing a skill, not my current specialisation. The problem is noticeable enough that I actually have two CVs, one as a designer who can write and one as a writer who can design, and I choose which one to use each time depending on the client’s needs.

    I suppose one idea might be to offer more than one profile for those who have two distinct skillsets, so that a freelancer can have one that pops up when you look for ‘musician’ (which might emphasise the music, but mention art only as ‘industry experience’) and one that shows up when you search for ‘artist’ (which plays down the music, with a focus on art) It is not perfect (what if both profiles fit the search?), but it is one way that I can think of.