Partie 3/3:

Paperwork AKA Contracts, Specs, Documents, and Milestones

Paperwork is usually the least thrilling part of development, but usually also the most critical. Well-documented work is the only concrete thing everyone can rely on to get the job done right.

There are four main components at play here, all of them equally relevant:

  • Most contractual considerations are taken care of by the lawyers, but it is important to be aware of these items.
    For example, make sure Non-Disclosure Agreements are in-place; define who has the final say in whether an asset delivered meets the requirements of the work; what happens when one side fails to meet their obligations; what are the terms of payment, and so on.
  • The work specification, generally provided by the developer, is the blueprint, recipe, and wish-list for the assets to be provided. The depth and clarity of the Spec are the primary resources for the outsourcer; write a quick and sloppy Spec, and you'll almost certainly get the same result back.
    Descriptions, annotations, and examples will be a boon for the person on the other end implementing your Spec. Don't assume the outsourcer "knows" a certain model has a polygon budget of X, because it's to be implemented in Area Y. Quantify whenever possible.
  • Documentation, in this case, primarily falls into the arena of asset tracking. Spec delivered? Check. First Pass asset delivered? Check. First Pass Feedback delivered to Outsourcer? Check. And so on. This document should be organic, and shared by developer and outsourcer, in order to provide total transparency. Any red flags are then obvious to both parties.
  • Developers live and die by milestones, so it is important to set up a milestone delivery schedule that works well for both parties. The developer almost certainly is already working off of a pre-existing milestone schedule, so integrating the outsourcing into that schedule, and by extension, the development pipeline, is paramount.
    A code/asset drop from an outsourcer two days before a developer milestone is due just won't work. Provide ample, and realistic, time to integrate assets into the game, especially for the first for the first few deliverables from the outsourcer.
The devil is in the details. With all of the above, there are still a staggering number of minor items that will come up. Manage expectations, prepare documentation, foster good communications, and frequently revisit your assumptions. Nothing ever goes as planned, including the plans themselves.