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Indie devs get do-it-yourself contract creator

Adriaan de Jongh's contract( ) joins Rami Ismail's presskit( ) and distribute( ) in free indie developer toolkit

Plenty of indie developers could benefit from legal assistance when drawing up contracts, but far fewer can actually afford it. Bounden developer Adriaan de Jongh has tried to address that situation this week by releasing contract( )--pronounced "do contract"--a free tool for indie developers that helps create legal agreements in plain English.

Contract( ) is a customizable template that allows developers to specify terms with contractors, whether they are to be paid per project or per milestone, and includes considerations for issues like who retains rights to the work created, how compensation will be determined, and where any legal disputes would be resolved.

"Contract( ) is my attempt to transfer my experience, but also the experiences of dozens of other developers and attorneys, to other game developers," de Jongh said on the tool's website. "I use the agreements from contract( ) myself, and feel that this is the only way to make it as unbiased, practical, honest, but also as legit as possible."

The release of contract( ) also coincides with the launch of toolkit( ), a free indie developer toolkit that also includes Vlambeer developer Rami Ismail's previously released presskit( ) and distribute( ). As the names imply, presskit( ) is a tool that helps developers create media-friendly websites for their games to address the most common press requests, while distribute( ) is designed to organize press lists and preview build distribution, both to traditional media as well as YouTube and Twitch streamers.

Latest comments (5)

Jordi Rovira i Bonet Lead Engineer, Anticto3 years ago
Having faced this kind of work before and having hated it, i have to say this sounds like an awesome tool! Thank you very much, we'll give it a go.
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While I applaud this as a concept, it is missing several relevant (and important) clauses. So I would caution against using it without first consulting your attorney. And let's face it, getting a valid template agreement of this sort from a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction is not very expensive.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 3 years ago
Just looked at this. Under compensation terms..........

Percentage of net revenue????????

FAIL!!!!!

Never take a percentage of net revenue. Net revenue is an entirely subjective number. In the movies, points of profit (same as net revenue) are known as "monkey points" for this reason.

You want points of GROSS!

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 27th February 2015 8:32pm

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Show all comments (5)
Oh the Humanity!

Nice try, but as someone who have been drafting this stuff for independent studios for more years than I care to count, this kind of do it yourself lawyering saddens me. Yes, lawyers cost money...but like I tell my clients, I promise I won't code if you don't lawyer. The old saying is the person who represents themselves has a fool for a client, still rings true. So, while a applaud the intention, I cannot condone this approach. Getting a free development agreement off of a web page gets you exactly what you pay for it...

For the sake of saving a few hundred dollars, not getting the best contract possible is penny wise and dollar foolish. You should take the same care selecting the people you have draft your contracts as you do with those who create your art, write your code or develop your game design!

Plain language is great. But lawyers use legal terms because they are well defined by consistent use in the law and in our industry. The point of the written agreement is to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of their duties and obligations in the relationship. Vague language may, on its face, seem better but it can fail miserably at clarity.

Stating that this for agreement was reviewed and approved by lawyers gives it a level of credibility that is not reflected in the contract itself. To the extent that the lawyers approved this form contract, they ought to step forward and take a beating for doing so. There's a reason attorney's don't claim to know that law where they don't,' just like there a reason to get a lawyer that does know the law where the contract is going to entered into. It's critical to the enforceability of the contract and, thus, extremely important.

While Adriaan certainly seems have the best of intentions and the web interface is clever, IMLO he's doing anyone that uses this a disservice. If you are going to become a professional developer, hire a professional to do your legal work. Sending out a contract like this broadcasts to anyone with industry experience how green and inexperienced the developer is...never a good first impression in a business relationship.

While it might possibly be better than no contract and is for sure a noble effort, it's just better to spend a little at the beginning than to have things go south and spend much more later.

Maybe "doh contract" would have been a more apt name for this...

Tom Buscaglia
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Herve Sohm CEO & Founder, Feather & Sword3 years ago
I think Net Revenue can totally be a valid base for revenue share as long as you define it precisely from Gross revenue. If any variable is included in this definition, it is also important to set a maximum in percentage of Gross revenue for this variable.

that said, Gross revenue is indeed preferable as it allows you to quickly compare different agreements between them.
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