A common hurdle faced by up and coming game developers, be it your zero-budget noodle munching student living in their parent’s basement, or someone in possession of some, but not too much money, is how to find folks to collaborate with you on your project, be it for free, for a share in the profits or indeed for good ole cash. Luckily these days I work for Melior Games, a professional game development studio, where clients with ideas and the means to turn them into reality come to us. However, this wasn't always the case for me.
Attracting just “anyone” is not a good idea in any venture – there has to be a minimal bar, which includes that the people will actually do some amount of work and that the work will be of at least some quality. With money involved, this is quite obvious, but somehow Indy’s that part take in community collaborations where no money is involved seem to forget that fact. Indeed, an extra person on your team that does minimal or no work is worse than no such extra person, since more people equals more time for organization, which will take away from development time.
0. Wave cash around!! By waving cash around you’ll get all sorts of enthusiastic folks telling you how awesome your project is. In seriousness, paying someone for work if you can afford it is the thing to do: sites like elance.com exist for safely arbitrating such transactions so that no one gets scammed. Also many communities, like the Unity3D forums have commercial sections where people can ask for or offer services for money. If you don’t have much in the realm of money however, fear not and continue reading. Indeed, Gamasutra is a great resource for finding qualified people for your project, so you've come to the right place!
1. How will this project interest them? Initially, when you need something for your project – be it an art asset or some programming work, make it sound exciting. The last thing people want to do for free is something dull – make their contributions sound challenging, and if possible find out their interests and link them to what they will be doing.
2. Demonstrate that you know what you are doing. This can be in the forms of previous completed projects and also of at least some progress on the current project. An “idea man” with no completed projects that wants people to work for him stands out like a sore thumb. Before even attempting a collaboration project, attempt to create smaller simpler projects by yourself, and once you feel comfortable that you can actually complete projects go all out and ask people to join your next projects.
3. Keep things realistic – are you making an MMORPG or some giant thing like that? Keeping a bunch of people together that works for free or for a miniscule budget for years on end on an enormous project is a recipe for failure – start off your first community project relatively simple, in the same way you started off creating games for yourself – no need to rush head on into something uber complex. Once you feel comfortable in organizational skills and the amount of skilled people willing to collaborate with you, gradually increase the complexity of your projects.