I'll start this with a story! (If you'd like to offer advice on hiring freelancers, please scroll down to the numbered list below.)
Last September, I was sitting in a cabin in Kicking Horse with some friends. We were up there for a wedding. It was mid-afternoon and we were sitting around bored. Having exhausted all the card and board games we brought up, I told my friends about Drunk Quest. I had been following the Kickstarter and the development for quite some time. It hits all my pleasure receptors - Heavy drinking and strategic gaming. What wasn't to like? My friends were equally excited and we felt a compelling urge to play IMMEDIATELY.
The problem? Drunk Quest wasn't slated to complete until November (and actually wasn't available for order until January of this year, and only to the US...). Also, the more we read about the game, the less it seemed about deep strategy. Keep in mind I still haven't played the game to this day, but it seems less like Magic levels of depth, and more like a basic card game. So, what do a couple of drunk dummies do in a cabin when a game won't be released for two months? Try to design it themselves, obviously.
Needless to say we failed. But, when I got back to Calgary, I didn't let the dream die. I created Liquid Magic. Get it? I have roots in Team Liquid. It's a clone of Magic: The Gathering. Alcohol is like liquid magic. Anyway, it was actually pretty easy to make. I added Heroes, and replaced Mana with Drinks and added some other new changes to keep it interesting. After finalizing 14 pages of instructions, printing over 200 cards, writing all the information, cutting bristol board and using a purple UHU glue stick for the first time in probably 15 years, Liquid Magic was complete.
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After getting over the shock that someone would actually follow through on making this dumb game, my friends came over to test it out. It played pretty well and it gets you pretty drunk. We've probably played a dozen or so games in Calgary, Toronto, and Seoul. It's surprisingly easy to teach people who have never played Magic as well. The major problem is that the cards are flimsy, soak up liquids, can't be shuffled, and don't look cool!
So I started looking around and there are inexpensive places that will print custom playing cards online for reasonable prices. I started putting work into drawing up the final versions of all the cards to be printed, but I feel like if I'm going to put effort into this, I might as well do it right. My friend did a mock up, which, as you can see, is a 100% ripoff of Magic.
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It just doesn't feel right. I think it would be really cool to have a set of custom cards that I own the artwork to and can do whatever I want with them. So I set out to hire a freelance artist.
I started in person, visiting local shops. It quickly became evident that I wasn't willing to pay what this truly costs. So I turned to online artists. There are a lot of online freelance websites where you can post a design and receive bids to do the work. So I tried it.
As of now I have a scope of work, proposed schedule, payment milestones, and a deliverable list. The short of it is someone has to produce 96 (!!) 600px x 450px original pieces of artwork. I've received 16 proposals, and surely some of them are just spam. But it seems like there are some real artists in there with reasonable portfolios and rates.
Now, I'm not an artist and I've never really hired one before. I have a lot of questions:
1. How do we kick this project off on the same page? I can specify image dimension, resolution, etc. but how can I specify the quality of work? "Print ready" doesn't really mean anything.
2. I estimate the successful candidate will spend approximately 1 hour per image =~ 100 hours. If I look at their portfolio, they have several large pieces that likely took 10 hours each. How do you assess an artist's scaled back ability?
3. How do you properly assess an artist's range of differing designs?
4. What would you estimate someone would charge for this? A simple 100 * $10/hr = $1000 was my high level estimate. I've gotten bids ranging from $300 to $1100. I think my ideal candidate is a student that does it for a hobby and takes his time for some side income.
5. I have international applicants (India, Bangladesh, China, etc.). Has anyone ever hired international freelancers online? I'm concerned about the language barrier and quality of work.
Even if you can't answer any of these questions, feel free to comment.
I realize this is a waste of money, but it's just a fun side project. I think it's worth ~$1k to have my own original game of original art. If someone said I could snap my fingers and pay $2k to have it, I would in a second. Plus maybe I could just advertise it as a better Drunk Quest and get Kickstarter to fund me