One of the things I was looking forward the most for this year’s Colombia 4.0 was the panel with founders and CEOs of Colombian game development service providers.
Here are some takeaways of the panel, moderated by Chris Wren (ExDev Producer at EA):
- Providing development services is a great way for a new or growing company to get funding and learn a lot in the process, this doesn’t have to be a pain even if your dream is to create your own games… there are fun projects to be made for clients.
- You have to make a game first. There’s absolutely no way someone is going to hire you otherwise. You also need the ability to build a relationship with the client, communicate using their language, and learn and assimilate their business culture.
- Creativity is at the core of video game development, but in order to build a successful business around it, you need to establish processes that can be reliably replicated through different projects.
- You are going to face a lot of challenges, every time you face a situation try to figure out why it happened to prevent it from happening again (again, use the newly acquired knowledge as an asset to enhance your processes).
- To get your first contract you need luck in order to find a good opportunity, but you also need to be ready with a game to show and push forward against adverse factors without giving up.
- Go to events and talks, introduce your work to industry figures and speakers, that will help you get connected with companies if they like you.
- We started working in an existing engine and build upon it; the creators of the engine were impressed by our work and hired us. This first client has evolved into our current development partner. Building long time relationships often help.
- Initial cash flow issues and technical challenges were common when we started. Some things that helped were having people specialize in specific project roles creating a pipeline to be more efficient.
- One thing is planning to make a pipeline and another one is implementing it with local talent. We learned it takes time to build a working team. You need to provide the team with challenges and tools.
- We doubled team size too quickly in order to have the capacity to handle incoming projects, just to lose some of them afterward while keeping the additional fixed costs we acquired. We fell into irresponsible growth, we recovered but was painful. To prevent this it helps to grow in small “cells”.
- We are building industry so that newly formed developers can have a place to work. Look for companies at IGDA Colombia website, send your portfolios, companies are always looking for good talent and people that understand core concepts of development.
- Not all developers are motivated by the same kind of projects. For some developers, it might be more motivating and fun to work in “work for hire” projects, which may be more straightforward than own IPs for indie games.
- Stay true to what your company wants to be good at making, know when to say no to a project. We have less diversity of clients every time, but we feel being focused has great advantages.
- Find the genre of games you like, work on it every day and show your work to the world.
- If you want to work developing video games, take advantage of the current moment of the industry, there ARE places to work in Colombia. It is challenging to get a job but be up to the challenge, even if your plan is to have your own company in the future, you can learn a lot.
- Don’t approach game development as someone eating in a restaurant, but rather as the passionate chef in the kitchen, working constantly and focused into making better food experiences every time.
After the panel, the participants were approached by students and developers eager to show their work.