I have had a hand full of emails offering me the chance to work as a texture artist for some developing game an indie studio is working on.
The offer is usually you work for nothing but if the final game attracts a publisher then you will get a pre agreed amount of money for your contribution or a percentage of profits from said game.
Bottom line, due to the huge volume of indie teams all convinced their game will be the next Tomb Raider it rarely comes to anything other than a project that you can include in your portfolio.
Most seasoned game artists, coders and designers avoid these offers because essentially you are being asked to work for no pay (unless the final game is published by a big name and results in financial profitability)
I have read in forums, posts from very talented artists who have been lead down these paths and lost weeks or months of their time and work to a project that never even took off from the ground and as a result refuse further invitations of this type from other studios.
But are all game studios and associated games in development all doomed for non profit failure?
Of course not.
It's a gamble, all business ventures are. If you get an invitation like this the details you should at least consider investigating before washing your hands are:
1) How old is the studio?
2) Do they have any already published games, free or otherwise? In other words, what's their track record like?
3) Take a look at their website. Does it look professional?
4) Take a look at both published games and those in the stages of development.
5) What is your gut feeling?
6) It's a business proposition.
You need to do your homework both on the studio and game and decide whether you feel its worth the risk. Imagine if you decided against it and discovered two years down the line, that very game was a massive multi million dollar Xbox Success?? lol
7) I think you have to fall in love with the project a little bit. If you're going to be working on the basis of hopes and beliefs then there has to be some selfish motivation for you to even want to take that gamble and for most it's the promise of success. To have your name published in association with a successful game is very seductive (Especially when you have an ego the size of a small planet like I do)
I was written to tonight from the Art Director of a studio..the fact the studio even has an art director is a good sign as it indicates the size of the team is big. Its not just 5 sweaty student working from their parents basement.
I will be doing some investigation because if nothing else, its a compliment and potentially great hands on experience which is never a bad thing to have on your C.V.
Bottom line, based on the information provided, they apparently have some big names involved who are confident they will have a financial investment in six months.
You can only take that kind of info at face value initially but don't ever just dismiss these invites without looking into the potential of what could be or you may be kicking yourself in a years time.