In a surprise twist, the company in Brazil turns out not to have any people with game art experience. I asked a friend who has his own company how important this is, and he told me “Very” so I dropped them out of the running. Between the company in the US, headed by the former WoW guy, and the one in Slovakia, I just decided to go with the latter. This is because I just am not confident that the game can get done with what is basically 1 1/2 guys working at half salaries for 4 months as a favor to a friend. I’m guessing it’s a 50/50 chance in that scenario the guy would just drop out or not put enough effort in, and the game either wouldn’t get done or wouldn’t get done right.
The more I think about this, the more confident I am it is the right decision.
First, with the 1 1/2 man company working on the cheap, if there’s a problem and something takes longer than expected, there’s only two possible outcomes – it’s late or features are dropped. There’s no profit margin to cut into to hire extra guys, and with so few people they are already working at 110%. With an established company, guys can be moved from other projects and the art can still get done on time.
Second, with the 1 1/2 man company, the people who will be working are unknowns – sure there’s a certain level of reliability when hiring people you know and trust, but at the same time it’s not like they are established in the job. There are growing pains, and they may only be taking the project conditionally, until they get an offer they can’t refuse. People are much more likely to leave on a new, low paid, temp project than from a company they have already been working at and living off of.
Third, 1 1/2 people is so few people that if one guy goes down, so does the whole team. With a company, there are extra workers, computers, backup power generators, etc. – basically factors to deal with one person or computer going down.
Lastly, it’s the choice between two bad alternatives – having the game done at a worse quality, or not at all. The worse art quality will at most cost me some percentage of subscribers, which I doubt will be significant. All I need is the art to be good enough to get people to notice the gameplay. The other alternative, not having the art done at all, is guaranteed to cost me 100% of subscribers. So in that context the choice is obvious.