Monday, July 25, 2011

Indy Game Company/LLC Formation

I had a comment made on a forum asking about how to start up an indy game company. I shared my experience with the lad. You lot might find it useful:

There are a few things you'll need before you can do a start up company. You'll need about 3k (give or take a few hundred).

-File for an LLC or S-Corporation
This can be a few hundred ($256-$400+ depending on the state you incorporate in). Make sure you get a TIN (tax identification number) as well. There are a number of online services that can take care of all of this for you for a bit of cash. (The "corporation company" was useful to me.)

-Purchase Licenses
You NEED a license for everything you use or you can have your pants sued off. That includes photoshop and the adobe suite, microsoft office, whatever programing tools you are using, and 3D tools like Max or Maya. Most of the time you'll need a business version of the license. It may be more expensive, but you generally need a copy for everyone who uses it. (So 3 copies of "student versions" of adobe or 1 business version for 3 artists) To make sure nothing happens to your licensed copies, it's best to put them on a "company PC".

There are some free or cheap alternatives to programs. Open office can replace Microsoft office. I hear there are some free 3D ones if you are working in 3D. There are some alternatives to 2D programs too. Licensees are probable gonna be your most expensive expenditure.

-Sign Contracts
Contractually speaking, I've found that having the other people work for you as contractors works out well for game projects. You can assign residual income or commission as payment and it avoid things like mandatory hourly wage for employees. (Even if they get paid the same for a completed project. It's just very tasking on your bank account.)

You can use things like a flashdrive or your company PC for storage, but it's easier for all parties involved to use something like assembla or

If your not familiar with assembla- it's an AWESOME project management tool Professor Wessman showed me a while back. They have a free version- but be warred that it's searchable by external sources. The pro version will run you about $100 per year but it's TOTALLY worth it if you get familar with it. (Especially if you end up on multiple projects)

-Keep Business and Pleasure Separate
Once you get your LLC or S-Corp filed and approved by the state (and your TIN) you can get a business credit/debit card from your local bank. Its easy and quick to do.

If this doesn't sound awesome- I'd suggest finding a business/project manager person to take the bullet for you.

Hope you guys find this useful!