How We Find Awesome Guys

After Move or Die came out last year and players started throwing money at it, we figured that we can use those monies to get more awesome developers on the team in order to work on progressively more awesome things. So with that in mind, I will talk about the process we (I) go through when it comes to making our small team less small.

And if you decide you want to join our team, for the love of god don’t send us a literal blank email with only your CV attached.

Because that happened before…

We started out as 2 random guys, and at the time of writing this post, we are 7 on the team, with tens of one-time contractors for things like music, sound effects, etc.

Here is a list of “awesome guys” we worked with and how they ended up in the team.

Maarten, Alexey, Josh, Rares & Quindlen (team members) – Reddit
Jackob, Andrew, Rob & William (contractors) – Reddit
Aaron (previous team member) – Reddit

Steph (team member) – Art Station

Omar (previous team member) – Newgrounds
Jesse & Waterflame (contractors) – Newgrounds
Kawiku (contractor) – Deviant Art

Gina, Lidia & Radu (contractors) – Friends

As you can see, a majority of them found out about us from Reddit, and that’s because I make a job listing post on Reddit every time we have one. Basically, I’m betting that the people applying to a job listing on reddit are equally fucked up as I am, so that makes collaborating much much easier.

Here is an example of a listing I’ve posted a while ago for a programmer.

I break it into 5 easy-to-digest categories:

One thing that I always mention in all my listings is that

-WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN DIPLOMAS-

Since I’m a college drop-out myself (like most members of the team) and we’re such a small team, I don’t give the slightest of shit about a piece of paper that tells me what you can do. I would like to SEE what you can do. (Same goes for “letters of recommendation” that are clearly written by the applicant, seriously, why do we all pretend these are ok?)

If you want to grab our attention and end up on the team, please skip the diplomas and CV’s and link us directly to your portfolio or git. In the big companies, the only reason why they ask you for those papers is so they can use those as an easy “first wave” filter. Meaning that they make the assumption that a person with a diploma gives better results than one without, and therefore, every candidate without a diploma is immediately rejected, drastically reducing the number of application they have to go through.

Even though it’s a huge time investment to go through every single application and personally review every single portfolio, I still prefer doing that, rather than rejecting potential amazing artists and programmers based on a superficial piece of paper.
In the end, I’ll be the one working with that person, and the goal is to make sure that person is the best candidate for the job.

Here are the number of candidates that applied to the previous job listings:

  • Gameplay Programmer: 19 candidates (10 made it to the testing phase)
  • Networking Programmer: 19 candidates (4 made it to the testing phase)
  • Gameplay Programmer: 27 candidates (4 made it to the testing phase)
  • Musician: 31 candidates (17 made it to the testing phase)
  • Sysadmin: 21 candidates (5 made it to the testing phase)
  • 3D Artist: 130 candidates (24 made it to the testing phase)

A very small team means we can’t afford to just hire tens of candidates and them swap them out if they don’t “perform”. We don’t get many shots at this, so that’s why we have to spend the extra time to make sure we pick the absolute best candidate.

Another very important thing we’re looking for in a potential future team member is a lovely dark sense of humor. And that is pretty much visible throughout our identity and everything we create, even in our job listings. So based on that, it’s so incredibly easy to see through copy pasted emails for mass applications, instead of a nicely crafted email tailored to our listing.

Here is a bad example. This poor guy forgot to remove the other companies from the CC field and we ended up with emails like these:

I mean, it’s cool that you put us on the same level with those other companies, but come on…

Here is an example of a very very dry copy pasted email we got for the “3D Artist” listing:

And here is an amazing email filled with personality that I loved!

After the emails start to come in, I create a google doc sheet where I input every single candidate.
I create a column for each of the following:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Rate per hour
  • Portfolio Link
  • An image of the message
  • Pros
  • Cons

It ends up looking something like this:

Based on the job, there might be extra fields. For example in our last “3D Artist” listing, I had some extra columns like

  • Texturing
  • Rigging
  • Organic Modelling
  • Non-Organic Modelling
  • Test Results

And I fill those with color coated words like “Yes”, “Good”, “Amazing”, “Meh” based on each individual candidate.

Based on what we’re looking for and how the candidate’s portfolio looks, it might be a sad rejection right away, or a conversation might start and we end up talking about prices and a potential test.
After about a week or two of sorting through candidates and getting back to the best ones, the list starts to shift into two categories:

– Rejected – candidates and – Awesome – candidates. And it’s pretty obvious from which group we end up picking the awesome person we would like to work with.

Regardless of the job required, the candidates will always have to go through a short test. Be it a 3D modelling test, a quick programming test, or even answering a list of questions. The purpose of tests like these is basically to figure out how well a candidate can handle that specific job with as little handholding as possible (and also how well they do time-wise).

While I love seeing results for the tests, I also hate them, because I’m a strong believer in “no work should be done for free”. However because of the sheer number of candidates and the logistics of the whole thing, we simply can’t offer payment for the time spent on the test… which still bothers me today and I’m trying my best to fix that somehow.

In the end, the sad truth is that we have to pick one person out of potentially hundreds, and that means I have to send a rejection email to everybody else, which is a thing that I hate doing, but it’s neccesary. I think a honest rejection is better than no response at all, because I wouldn’t enjoy having to wait forever on the decision of a company without ever finding the outcome of it. So with that in mind, I try to be as polite as possible, and I try my best to give something back for those who spent time applying or taking a test for one of our listings. In the previous cases, I have sent out steam keys for Move or Die for every single candidate after being upfront about the rejection, and I ended up getting replies after I rejected certain candidates, saying:

(And I really hope you haven’t attempted to redeem that Steam Key)

And that’s pretty much the process I go through when I’m seeking an extra “awesome guy” for the team.
Keep in mind, you shouldn’t restrain from applying if there is no job opening listed.

Josh, one of the gameplay programmers on Move or Die ended up joining the team because he hacked the game and made his own game mode, and that was good enough to get my attention.

If you think you can contribute with something to the team, send me an email and convince me to hire you, I promise you that you’ll get a reply ;).

~ Nick (Xelu)

By in , | March 11, 2017

8 Comments

  • Excuse you but I’d like to think I’m more than a gameplay programmer who once unencrypted your game!

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