I wrote this in 2015. Since then, I've had a few more projects that wouldn't rank highly in revenue but score highly in cool and conveniently in remote work (especially important recently!)
I formed Technicat, LLC almost eleven years ago after I had two contracts in a row and it looked like I wasn’t just using the word “consulting” as a euphemism for unemployment. Also, it’s a lot easier to get evaluation software when you have a company.
By now, I’ve had enough clients and contracts to rank them in various ways.
Not to sound mercenary, but as a contractor/consultant I’m a mercenary, and the point of taking contracts is to avoid getting a real job as long as possible so you can work on your own fun stuff. So one of the most, if not the most, important features of a client is how well they pay your bills. Number one on my list in that respect is Avatar Reality. I worked on their Blue Mars virtual world for four years, albeit part time, and there was a gap for most of the first year. But that’s the longest I’ve survived on one contract and that’s the most of I’ve made in total from one client.
Magnasync is close behind even though I worked on their call center software for only eight months. However, being not a game project, it paid a better rate than most of my contracts, and not only was it full time, they complained I wasn’t billing enough hours! Until they started running out of money, anyway.
Back to games, at number three is High Moon Studios, which was Sammy Studios when I started working on their Darkwatch game, also for eight months.
I should mention Next Media, also, because at six months full time and a couple of half-time months, they’re a significant client. Every other contract I’ve had below these four were far below.
The money is important, but if the project is interesting, that’s a huge bonus, not least because it looks good on your portfolio, and it’s nice when you like talking about the projects you’ve done. At the top again is Avatar Reality. Blue Mars is a CryEngine-based virtual world, in the mode of Second Life, with an active group of beta users and content creators who created accessories and minigames. No contest.
Second is High Moon Studio. Darkwatch is the only AAA game I worked on, a vampire western shooter running on the Xbox and PS2. Again, no contest.
I’m going to give number three to both Visionscape and Heavy Water since they’re the same company, and though their games are smaller, I worked on several of them, including four games in the Tech Deck: Bare Knuckle Grind series (skateboarding thumbs), and a couple of released Playstation Home games (a rally racing game and surprisingly violent teddy bears).
Every other project was not a game (call center software), barely a game (the Elect Bilat instructional software for troops to negotiate with locals in Iraq), or prototype or cancelled software (I could put “cancelled the project” among my resume accomplishments and project consulting skills, but that sounds just too Darth Vaderish).
Okay, I should have one more ranking. How about location? Again, Avatar Reality is number one, based in Honolulu. Again, no contest. I actually worked from home near the beach in Huntington Beach, which is a great place for a home office, and once in a while visited the client office and stayed in Waikiki.
Second again is High Moon Studios, based in Carlsbad, CA. Close enough to the beach that coworkers would hit the surf on a good day during their lunch break. San Diego County is great.
Actually, most of my clients have been in California, so I could pick Visionscape/Heavy Metal in (east) San Diego County (pleasant) or Magnasync in Hollywood (not in a great neighborhood but it’s still Hollywood), but for number three I’m picking Next Media, based in Hong Kong. That place has got a lot of problems, such as pollution, crowding, and China, but it was a great opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in a foreign country trying to order food in a different language. I also got a trip to Budapest out of it, somehow.
That’s it for now, until I think of other ranking criteria (office space? networking opportunities? repeat business?)