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I've been freelancing for a local game development shop. Most of the projects we worked on were brought in by an external contractor. This guy now wants to do business directly with me for some new projects which have nothing to do with games, and thus wouldn't require the skills of my previous clients.

They heard about it though, and they are now pissed at the contractor for not going through them, but I suspect he doesn't really care and will pursue anyway.

As an independent worker, should I even care ? If so can I make everyone happy ?

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4 Answers 4

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The only way to keep everyone happy is to get the blessing of your previous client.

I would speak to them and try to sympathize with their point of view.

Say that you value their business and you wouldn't want to do anything that might disrupt future business dealings with them. You understand that they must feel like they got left "holding the bag" so to speak. However, the external contractor came directly to you with this project because it does not involve game development. You really could use the money, but you're uncomfortable taking the job without their blessing.

If they care at all about you as a human being they'll hopefully be OK with it.

Also mention that if it was a game related project, or if he ever proposes one in the future, that you would demand it go through them.

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@julien, Just out of curiosity, how did this end up? –  Ben Feb 17 '11 at 22:02

This is a business decision

Since the projects you're working on won't require the skills of your existing clients then you can treat this as entirely separate work. You're providing skills that a different business required. You don't need to introduce a middleman, even though you have a good relationship with them.

However, as @Pierre303 has intimated, you don't want to upset your existing client. Find out why they feel they should be involved since they're not adding skills to the mix. Once you've established that, then you have to make the business decision whether proceeding with the contractor (new business) is worth jeopardising the old (existing client).

There is also the legal matter of your contract with your existing client. It may be that they see it as you stealing their work which is a big no no obviously. Your contract may prevent that from happening.

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You should care and you can't make everyone happy.

You should care because you are a professional. It would be very difficult for us to give you an objective opinion since we don't have all the details, so all I can say you is:

Respect your clients.

It will eventually pay off on the long term thanks to your growing reputation. Decline the proposal of the consultant, you have a moral commitment with your existing client.

You can't make everyone happy because everything is not black or white. It's not binary.

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It sounds like this guy is the game dev shops customer.

Normally you would have a contract with the dev shop that says you may not work for a customer of theirs for 6 months etc. (that's what my contracts typically have)

If you do not have that kind of clause then legally they have no right to stop you.

Keeping clients happy is important though, so I guess it depends how much you value (money, reputation, future work) that relationship versus the opportunity this other person is bringing to you.

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