Should I try to recruit teams to produce my works? I have always worked as a lone wolf, but, as explained in the preceding essay, this is all but unviable.
This would be an easy question to answer if I had plenty of money to fund such efforts, but that is not the case at all. I blew my wad on Storytron, and now money is tight. So the real question is, can I design a system that’s a win-win for me and for volunteer team workers?
I can certainly offer team members a portion of the proceeds of the project. I have no qualms about sharing the proceeds liberally. I need some money for myself, but under no circumstances do I want to feel that I am exploiting young and gullible workers. The bigger problem with a speculative scheme is the pressure it puts on me to produce a commercially successful project. I suppose that I could always pawn off such tasks on those who argue for them: if a team member really thinks that we should implement a feature, I can say “Sure, go ahead; if you can make it work, I’ll put it in.” But even that raises problems. What if the result of the person’s labors is junk?
There is also the moral impulsion to respect the creative ideas of team members. Sure, I could specify in advance that I make all final design decisions, but I’d have to acknowledge a willingness to hear out their ideas. That would in turn create expectations that I might have to dash. What happens then?
Here’s another problem: the reliability of team workers. I have no way of knowing in advance just how good the people I recruit are. What if I get an incompetent and then have to fire them? What if a person is just too slow to get things done? What if they have a personal crisis and can’t focus on the job? What if they get a real job and lose all their free time? I suppose that I could obviate this last problem by recruiting only people who already have jobs, but that would mean that they’d have less time to devote to the task.
Moreover, this whole idea burdens me with lots of non-design work: project management, people management, financial and legal issues. Because my work always has an element of research in it, I can’t establish firm schedules or even task definitions. I suppose that I’m willing to do this extra work if the team relieves me of a greater programming burden.
One positive element: I can offer to teach the workers. In effect, they’d be apprentices: trading their labor for my teaching, and possibly earning some money as well. That’s an honorable deal.
I’d need to start off with something to wrap up Gossip and Balance of the Planet, but is that possible? And can I really use a team system for Siboot? That’s a highly uncertain project; I really don’t know how the final product will look.