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A Lesson Learnt in Clientele Trust


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#1 Doogie_Forever

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 09:14 PM

The story begins a few months back around February, I desperately needed money so I turned to the GMC Team Requests forum to see what odd jobs I could pull out. The job in question, that I found, was to turn add network support to 2 Player plane shooter. Whilst talking with the client, I made a very stupid mistake, the mistake of putting a price on the work i was doing LATER rather then now, so whilst I was working on this project, I dimwittingly assumed that my work was worth $70 when, in most cases, the people on this forum don't have that kind of money lying around for work.

After a few weeks of tweaking this game so that it would work online and sending the client EXE's so they could test, I felt sure I was going alright with the project, however, when it came to discussing price they could only afford $20 and the work was done, so I accepted that, and waited for payment.

Payment didn't come, you see, even the measly sum of $20 was too much for this person, and so, I can only assume that they decompiled the build I gave them, and worked off of that. So there's mistake number 2. Leaving the GM EXE completely unprotected and not adding any kind of wrapper. At the time, it didn't even cross my mind because I just assumed there wasn't a decompiler available for GM8 as of yet.

So what can you learn from this rant?

1) When dealing with a client, make sure you set up everything that's needed in a proper brief, you skip out on anything and well, you'll set yourself up for failure.
2) Make sure to protect the data you're giving to the client, if you're giving them what they need without them needing to pay you a dime, well, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

Now i get that point 1 is incredibly obvious but eh, maybe you can learn something from my naive ways.
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#2 IceMetalPunk

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 09:59 PM

I'd say wrapping it isn't all that necessary. I'd instead suggest the "half now, half later" approach: you decide on a price from the start, then ask for half of it before any work is done. When your work is satisfactory, then you get the other half at the end of the job.

If you're really concerned that your client will decompile your product and run off without paying the other half, I suppose you could wrap it. A better way is just to leave one very important feature out and tell them you'll implement it when the rest of the price is paid. For example, in the networking system mentioned above, you could leave out (i.e.) attack synchronization until the end. This way, even if the person decompiles it, they can't really use it. And if they're smart enough to add it themselves, they wouldn't have hired someone else to do it.

I say this because wrappers are not 100%, so if you honestly think that's what happened in your case, a 100%-foolproof method is better than a 90%-foolproof wrapper.

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#3 NakedPaulToast

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:28 PM

Send the "client" one more email demanding your $70.00.

If he doesn't pay you release the game yourself. The game consists of your code as well.

This post re-enforces what a joke the team request forum is. It serves no useful purpose. Many GMC members are somewhat sensitive about GameMaker's reputation as being for kids and beginners, this forum and as well as other forums contribute to that reputation as much as anything.
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#4 Desert Dog

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:48 PM

This post re-enforces what a joke the team request forum is. It serves no useful purpose.


I've used the team request forum twice.

First time was quite a few years back, I contacted an artist for the GMC's 'simulation and sports' competition.. our end result wasn't that good(my programming skills were a bit sub par), but we finished it, and I learnt a lot. We went on to finish the basis for another small game, and he did great work in the art region.

If I learnt anything from that experience, it was how appalling I must be to work with..!

Second time, was a few months back, someone needed a game urgently debugged, and was offering a 100 euro's. I took it, worked it.. it was bigger job than either of us anticipated, and got paid. (I will say there were some complications which I can't comment on.. he did me right)

I'd agree that for the most part it's a jumble of 'joke' requests (or so it'd seem) but the two times I've used it certainly benefited me.

Doogie_Forever, your mistake was not to get an agreed upon price. If you'd done that from the get-go, you'd have known that, heck, $20, this guy's a kid. Can I work with a kid as my boss?

Edited by Desert Dog, 16 August 2011 - 10:50 PM.

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#5 Erik Leppen

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:53 PM

2) Make sure to protect the data you're giving to the client, if you're giving them what they need without them needing to pay you a dime, well, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.


I think in this scenario either you have to trust somebody, or you have to get somebody to trust you. I mean, why would anyone "pay you a dime" before "you're giving them what they need"? Well, out of trust obviously.

(of course you can start showing parts of your work, but even then, somebody has to be the first to come up with anything).

I think that people who don't fully trust each other can't work together. This is also a reason why cooperation via the internet is so difficult.



About the forum. I think people who are serious about this team thing, can get something rolling without having that forum over there (e.g. in signatures, or outside the GMC.) I think all that the team work forum is doing is preventing team work topics to litter the rest of the GMC... :unsure:

(By the way, there is a reason the Dutch GMC does not have a team work forum :P)
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#6 IceMetalPunk

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:56 PM

There's nothing wrong with the Team Requests forum. It's very useful. I've received a lot of help from responses to my requests.

Now, I would never offer payment on there, but that's just because I know myself too well. Specifically, I know my nasty, as yet unbroken, habit of abandoning projects midway. I know, it's terrible, but I'd certainly not make it worse by promising payment, then not following through with it.

Unfortunately, many people are not as conscientious, or perhaps they're just not as aware of their own faults. These are the people who promise payment, get the goods or services they've asked for, then are unable to pay. In the real world, we call that theft (or, depending on the circumstances, fraud). But since it's difficult to sign a legal contract online, people often take advantage of that in the virtual universe.

-IMP
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#7 Revel

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 11:28 PM

Personally I wouldn't trust anybody on the GMC for following through with a payment except for a select few members.

I've only done one paid project on the GMC, and that was because I trusted the "client". I sent the entire source code trusting/hoping they would follow through and pay, and they did.

Unfortunately it's hard to get someone to pay before the project is handed over which is why you have to trust them before beginning the project. A lot of people on the GMC are kids with no money or credit card and can't follow through with a payment even if they wanted to.

As Erik said, paid services over the internet is hard to do and is all about trust.
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#8 NakedPaulToast

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 11:58 PM

A lot of people on the GMC are kids with no money or credit card and can't follow through with a payment even if they wanted to.


This is an important point that is worth expanding on.

There is such a huge disconnect between members on the GMC. Members range from kids dependent on birthday money to individuals who earn decent income. There is simply no financial common ground. There is also a huge disconnect between what members are willing to pay for work and how valuable quality work is.

For kicks I googled "game artist hourly wage" and "game programmer hourly wage" and am quoting the first hit that had a dollar value.
For an artist it was $20-$40 an hour depending on experience, and for a programmer it was $25-$40 depending on experience. This is obviously not very scientific, but it does illustrate that for the most part many here simply don't have a clue about paying for assets.

The trust issue is also huge especially given there are so many minors and it's cost prohibitive to force payment from someone who lives across the country or world.

YYGs wants to expand into a more professional market, it would make sense that GMC be a resource for serious indies who want to monetize their games and are willing to buy assets. The GMC is simply not in a position to be taken seriously.
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#9 Fuzzle

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 04:59 AM

The GMC is great in some ways, but nobody in their right mind should expect to do serious money-making work here. It's just too riddled with amateurs, and people who don't know what they're doing.

By the way, I'm not trying to claim I'm not an amateur or that I know what I'm doing in regards to making money making video games. I don't. I also have no interest in doing so.

Last edit: 3) Don't trust someone you don't know.
That's a pretty standard rule of life, I think.

Edited by Fuzzle, 17 August 2011 - 05:01 AM.

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#10 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:12 AM

Last edit: 3) Don't trust someone you don't know.
That's a pretty standard rule of life, I think.

That's a pretty miserable way to live life. I prefer the "Trust everyone until they screw you over" approach. It works great so long as you don't blindly ignore signs.
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#11 Fuzzle

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:16 AM


Last edit: 3) Don't trust someone you don't know.
That's a pretty standard rule of life, I think.

That's a pretty miserable way to live life. I prefer the "Trust everyone until they screw you over" approach. It works great so long as you don't blindly ignore signs.

I think I should rework my philosophy to sound less like a misanthrope.

Don't trust someone you don't know with your well-being?

That sounds pretty bad too.

Maybe I'm just a misanthrope.

Either way, blindly trusting a stranger on the Internet when they say "I'll give you $70 when you do this work for me" probably isn't such a great approach either.
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#12 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:27 AM

Don't trust someone you don't know with your well-being?

Frequently. Every time I get in a bus I trust the driver, when I get in a plane I trust the pilot, or even when I drive my car, I trust the mechanic has made it safe for me to drive.

Either way, blindly trusting a stranger on the Internet when they say "I'll give you $70 when you do this work for me" probably isn't such a great approach either.

Depends on how much of a loss it is when they don't pay. Someone might have said that to me, but I frequently find myself fixing peoples games for free, so would it be that much of a loss if someone offered to pay me for the same then then didn't follow through?
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#13 Fuzzle

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:50 AM

Frequently. Every time I get in a bus I trust the driver, when I get in a plane I trust the pilot, or even when I drive my car, I trust the mechanic has made it safe for me to drive.

Valid points. I won't dispute these. However:

Someone might have said [they will pay] to me, but I frequently find myself fixing peoples games for free, so would it be that much of a loss if someone offered to pay me for the same then then didn't follow through?

There's a big difference between fixing someone's game and programming an entirely new feature into it that previously didn't exist. It's also not fair to say that when promised a payment you shouldn't expect one. It's morally incorrect to offer someone something in exchange for something else, and then not follow through with your obligation when they do with theirs, regardless of whether or not they would have given you their services free of charge. In this particular case, our original poster did not offer up their services for free, so that point is irrelevant anyway.

While there were many things Doogie_Forever could have done to protect himself from being ripped off, that doesn't mean it's okay that he was. If a bully pushes a little kid off his bike, and the kid scrapes his knee because he didn't wear knee pads, that doesn't mean it was okay for the bully to push him in the first place.
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#14 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 06:02 AM

There's a big difference between fixing someone's game and programming an entirely new feature into it that previously didn't exist.

I don't know about you, but I find fixing someone else's code to be much harder than adding features by writing my own code.

It's also not fair to say that when promised a payment you shouldn't expect one. It's morally incorrect to offer someone something in exchange for something else, and then not follow through with your obligation when they do with theirs, regardless of whether or not they would have given you their services free of charge. In this particular case, our original poster did not offer up their services for free, so that point is irrelevant anyway.

I didn't say it was OK, rather I was saying I would enter into this situation with the expectation I would not get paid, so if I did get paid it would be a bonus. If a random person on the internet offers you money, I think this is a good approach to take. If your time is worth so much that not getting paid is a big deal to you, then you should conduct business through appropriate channels. If you really need the money, get a job.
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#15 Manuel777

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 06:11 AM

Im not surprised you got screwed.. but..

The story begins a few months back around February, I desperately needed money so I turned to the GMC Team Requests forum to see what odd jobs I could pull out. The job in question, that I found, was to turn add network support to 2 Player plane shooter.


Online Airplane Shooter you said? :ermm:

(perfect ocassion to test out some new emoticons)
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#16 Robert3DG+

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 06:18 AM

gasp! It was Manuel777! Posted Image

That's a really sad story Doogie_Forever. I hope you can work out a way to get paid properly, and maybe even inspire a change in the GMC team request forum.
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#17 Gamer3D

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 08:01 AM

That's a pretty miserable way to live life. I prefer the "Trust everyone until they screw you over" approach. It works great so long as you don't blindly ignore signs.

Inigo Montoya: I hate waiting. I could give you my word as a Spaniard.
Man in Black: No good. I've known too many Spaniards.


That works if they person you're trusting is honest (or trusts you). If they trust you, then they might agree to pay in advance. If they're honest, they'll pay you when you're done. If both of those fail, though, then you will have expended the effort (created an asset/wrote code) for no result.

For full disclosure, I haven't used the team request forum, not because I couldn't afford to pay someone nor because I distrust people too much to make things for them, but because no topic has both been in my field of happy happy fun times (I am reluctant to use the word "expertise" here, because while I consider myself quite good at GM coding in general, but prefer to work in 3D) and seemed like it was made by a competent person.
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#18 Dangerous_Dave

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 08:12 AM

That works if they person you're trusting is honest (or trusts you). If they trust you, then they might agree to pay in advance. If they're honest, they'll pay you when you're done. If both of those fail, though, then you will have expended the effort (created an asset/wrote code) for no result.

I've already commented on my view of this, but if it was TLDR, I basically said I help people daily, payment is a bonus not a requirement.
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#19 chance

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 05:10 PM


Last edit: 3) Don't trust someone you don't know.
That's a pretty standard rule of life, I think.

That's a pretty miserable way to live life. I prefer the "Trust everyone until they screw you over" approach. It works great so long as you don't blindly ignore signs.

+1 Dave. I like your rule much better. Distrust begets distrust.

We taught our kids to trust. Of course, we also taught them to trust their own instincts, above all else. ;)
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#20 Sinaz

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 01:05 AM

Lesson learned...

Negotiate terms before you commit.

Get the final agreement in writing.

If you trust them, payment upon completion is acceptable.

Otherwise, negotiate a portion of payment upfront and the rest parceled out as milestones are met.

Use a payment system like Paypal to transfer moneys so there is protection for both client and contractor.

Personally, I just have a hard time understanding how you thought "oh this is worth $70" without actually negotiating anything. Was there some mention of a sum in the request? Every contract job I do starts with me telling them what my fees are and them agreeing or negotiating.

I mean, think about it also from his point of view... he's thinking maybe he can send you a fiver or maybe this Gamestop gift card for $10 bucks on his desk... and then you send him an email "finished! $70, please!" What are his options?

I think you did the right thing by delivering what you promised. He is clearly in the wrong for not paying you at all, although, he's sort of off the hook since you guys never negotiated terms.

I will also opine that in the future you should NOT submit obfuscated or locked out code and attempt to ransom payment. Just do your job, and having the agreements in writing will help protect you.

Damn, one last thing-- be careful engaging minors in contract work... if the client is too young to legally enter an agreement like this, then you put yourself in the same kind of risk.
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#21 Desert Dog

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 01:25 AM

Here's an interesting thread on Tigsource, about how much you'd expect to pay a programmer:
http://forums.tigsou...p?topic=21199.0
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#22 IceMetalPunk

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 06:58 AM

Here's an interesting thread on Tigsource, about how much you'd expect to pay a programmer:
http://forums.tigsou...p?topic=21199.0

$2,000 per dev-month minimum? Sounds all high-class, but if you do the math, you find it's only about $3/hr. A normal job salary comes out to between $6,000-$10,000 per work-month.

But all of those quotes were based on the programmer being hired to code the entire project. That's very different from being hired to just add one element or system to an otherwise-complete project.

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#23 chance

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 10:26 AM

Here's an interesting thread on Tigsource, about how much you'd expect to pay a programmer:
http://forums.tigsou...p?topic=21199.0


This is the most realistic answer from that topic:

Finding a capable full time programmer for $2,000/month seems almost impossible to me. We're in the process of contracting a new programmer, and even student interns expect around $3,000/month. If you reach out to professional freelancers, you're looking at paying anywhere from $40-$80/hour. One talented programmer recently quoted us at $16,000/month.


The key difference here is what's meant by "programmer". A professional who earns his living? Or a hobbyist / kid on a forum?
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