Mobile game development has become big business. With the VR game market expected to reach $45.09 billion by 2025, the mobile game industry is where many investors and innovators, alike, will find their fortunes. Problem is, recognizing the market potential and having the technical skills to exploit it are two different things. Even though Unity — the de facto mobile game development platform — makes game development “easy,” most investors, and more than a few developers, lack the basic skills needed to develop the kind of cutting-edge games that the market demands. The solution for many is to hire a Unity developer to create the goods.
In this article, we will talk about the 7 questions you should ask before you hire Unity developers. By asking these simple questions, you can be assured that the developer you hire can deliver professional service and a marketable product.
1. Are You A Gamer?
Kick off your interview with a game developer by asking if they are a gamer. This is a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how few clients just assume that every game developer plays games as well as writes them. Not so.
All Work and No Play
Gaming is not just an industry, it is also a culture, where long hours are spent playing games and talking with other gamers about what’s hot and what’s not. To expect to write games that modern, sophisticated players will enjoy playing — without being a gamer yourself — is like writing music when you never listen to it. Sure, Ludwig van Beethoven pulled it off, but he was a genius. Unless you find a genius, make sure that the game developer you hire is a gamer at heart. And if they have a touch of carpal tunnel syndrome, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing!
2. What is Your Relevant Experience?
Not All Experience Matters
As you consider Unity game developers for hire, keep in mind that all experience is not equal. A game developer with 20 years’ experience is not necessarily more qualified to develop your VR game than one with 15 or even 5 years under their belt. The field is ripe with developers who have spent a decade or more creating games for desktops or consoles, but who have yet to crack the nut on mobile or 3D gaming. On the other hand, a unity game developer who has spent the last 5 years creating mobile games with experience in Unity might be well-qualified to write your next 3D action-adventure game for iOS.
Hire a UNITY Game Developer
The key to hiring a qualified game developer, today, is to hire a Unity developer. And I don’t mean they work freelance using Unity’s free plan designed for personal use. A professional developer will not just say they are proficient in Unity, they will have examples of completed, marketed products to prove it. The challenge for your developer should be to push the technology envelope to create a game that knocks your customers’ socks off, rather than learning how to use the platform.
The qualified Unity game developer will know only know the earlier versions of the platform, but will be well-versed in Unity’s latest capabilities, such as VR game development and 3D gaming.
After ensuring beyond a show of a doubt that your prospective developer has a solid history and understanding of the Unity game development platform, you should next look at the type of games they have developed. If the developer has only written shoot ’em ups and your objective is to create the next virtual reality action-adventure blockbuster, think again. It is not essential that your developer has a portfolio that includes nothing but the genre you wish to target. After all, versatility is an asset, but they should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the technology and gameplay your game will involve.
In a word, it is not merely experience that counts, but experience that is relevant to your particular project. When you hire a Unity game developer, asking the right questions will reveal whether or not their work history can contribute to your future plans.
3. Can You Describe Your Development Process?
Process? What Process?
Ask your prospective game developer to explain their process to you. If they have to formulate one on the spot, move on. Creating modern games is a highly complex endeavor. As with professional software development of any type, there must be a process which the developer follows from project conception to post development, if the project can be expected to go smoothly.
While a few different strategies exist for managing software development projects, Agile is, by far, the leading system of methods and practices used by professional Unity 3D game developers.
Agile takes an incremental and iterative approach to software design. That is, your game becomes functional early in the development process, and features are layered on through successive revisions. Also inherent to Agile is transparency and flexibility. As your game develops, Agile ensures that you are informed of how the development is progressing. If you want changes, Agile accommodates them without sending your entire project back to the drawing board.
In absence of Agile or a similar system, you are unlikely to be aware how your game is coming long, and any changes you want in mid project will come at a premium.
Regardless of which system your developer uses, you want to be sure that the game development process includes some basic elements. There must be an established process flow that guides the developer or development team, ensuring a planned and methodical approach to your project. If your developer cannot present such a process, you can expect your game to be cobbled together in a willy-nilly fashion that you cannot control and for which cannot predict the outcome.
Every project includes three stages:
- Pre-Development Stage
- Development State
- Post Development Stage
Whatever activity occurs within each of these stages should be spelled out in your contract. Equally important is that you know before you hire a Unity 3D game developer what the process is.
- – Does the pre-development stage include your providing the developer with complete software specifications, or will they create this documentation based on their initial conversations with you?
- – How will you be made aware of the progress of your project during development?
- – Can you request changes once development has begun and, if so, will there be additional cost for such changes?
- – Does the developer provide extensive pre-deployment testing of your game, or is testing a separate service?
- – Will the developer help you to distribute and market your software after development and testing are complete?
Asking these and other questions will help you to know what to expect when you hire a Unity 3D developer.
4. What Pricing Model Do You Use?
Custom game developers generally use one of two pricing models: fixed-price or time-and-materials. Knowing up front what model a developer uses will prevent you from costly surprises when time comes to pay the bill.
Neither model is necessarily any better or worse than the other. Which one is best for you is determined by the following factors, among others:
- – Do you have a fixed budget, or can your budget accommodate a development fee that is totaled up after the project is completed?
- – Do you expect to make more than minor changes to your game specifications once development has begun?
- – Are you providing the developer with complete specifications and user stories, or will they need to help you develop those?
In general, the more you provide the developer, such as completed specifications and user stories, the less changes you will need to make during development. If you can provide most of this material before development, the fixed price model may work for both you and the developer. On the other hand, if you leave it to the developer to craft these essentials, be prepared for some back-and-forth along the way, making the time-and-materials a more suitable model.
Ask your prospective developer to fully explain their pricing model to you, and be prepared to ask follow-up questions as needed.
5. Are You A Lone Developer, Or Do You Have Team?
The importance if this question cannot be overstated. As we discussed, successful Unity development of complex games requires effective project management, with Agile being the most popular tool used for that purpose. But Agile and similar systems are team-based tools.
The question you ask your developer actually needs some follow-up. If the developer says they have a team, ask them to describe the makeup of the team. For some developers, their “team” consists of a loose arrangement of individuals, who may or may not work together in a cohesive, integral manner.
As for developers who work solo, consider the following:
- How efficient can any one person be at developing a project of the complexity yours will entail?
- Professional Unity game development can take, at a minimum, several months to complete. What happens if your developer gets sick, takes vacation, or has a family emergency during that time? One person absent from a team will barely affect the project’s progress. When a lone developer is out of action, there is no project until they return.
- Does your prospective developer possess all the various skills needed to make your game a marketable blockbuster? Very few do.
Not that it is never a good idea to hire a freelance developer, but the disadvantages often outweigh any potential cost savings they may offer.
6. Which Platform(s) Do You Target?
Before you solicit the services of a developer, you should decide what platform, or platforms, you intend to target. Knowing your market before selecting a developer will make things easier for both you and the developer you hire. If you intend to only sell your game to the iOS market, there is no point interviewing a programmer who only writes games for Android. On the other hand, there is a pressing need to find a developer who knows iOS like his native tongue.
Gamers, today, are increasingly demanding that the hottest games be cross-platform compatible. Gamers love to get their friends online with their favorite games, so if your game is limited to one platform, it will not gain the popularity that multiplatform games achieve.
Before suggesting what platforms you might wish to target, ask your prospective developer, first, what platforms they support. Most competent Unity game developers for hire will readily exploit the multiplatform features offered in Unity 3D. If you interview one who does not, think twice before hiring them.
7. Do You Assist With Marketing and Distribution?
If you have never developed a game for commercial purposes, you might not realize the importance of marketing and distributing your game software properly. The decline of console gaming has lead to retail game stores closing by the hundreds. Instead, mobile gaming has taken the field and mobile games are increasingly sold through digital distribution. Unlike boxed sales, digital distribution allows even a new company to sell their games in the same places as the big boys. Generally, they have the same access to the same online platforms and can sell their software below-retail prices.
The challenges is knowing which online store is best suited for your particular game, what they require in terms of compliance, and how to apply to sell on their websites. A competent developer will know full-well what issues could cause your completed game to disqualify for digital distribution on your targeted platform, and they will make sure your software is fully distributable when completed.
Ask your prospective developer what marketing and distribution assistance they will provide you. Their answer will let you know if they can help get your game to market, of if you will be on your own after development is finished.
How AppReal-VR Can Help?
Looking for a Unity programmer who can competently bring your VR gaming idea to market is like finding a proverbial needle in a hay stack. Some write only for iOS, others only for 2D; some work alone, while others form outsourcing development firms.
Yes, there are plenty of Unity developers for hire, but only a fraction of them have the unique combination of skills required to create cutting-edge 3D VR games with the potential to capture the market.
For many, AppReal-VR is the solution. We are a global leader in outsourced development of AR and VR applications. Our world-class Unity developers thrive at the cutting edge of mobile gaming, including VR and 3D games.
Why not call us today for a no-cost consultation?