I have a business plan & money to hire a developer - the essentials involve simple online games for children (played via traditional computer over the internet) such that their scores are uploaded to a database that can be viewed via a nice portal. What I don't know is:
Thanks for any advice!
I would suggest geting a partner. Stay away from rent a coder style sites (too short horizon to "buy into your idea" - they jsut do waht you want , and you don't really know what you want strategically in technology), and you don't want to find out the student you just cut his first paycheck had no clue what he really does and some funny agenda either.
You need someone who can at least do the technical strategy and coordination for you (not that much work) and then control the outsourcing to some cheaper locations efficiently. Someone who can also deal with all the idiocies wich will creep around. SOmeone who will talk to you and nail down specifications and know what to write in that you may overlook ;)
A partner sounds like the best deal you can actualy go for. He would provide:
Something "simple like a tower defense" game can be terribly complicated - a lot depends on the graphical side. I Know some that were months in development (3d et al). THe core programming should not be that complicated, but if you get into a lot of animations, they have to be made. Not programming work technically, but you will need a designer.
and welcome to this site! :-)
what technologies I would want my developer to knowHard to say. Things are so specialized nowadays, for a world-class effort you are looking at a team of 3+ people as a bare minimum, even for a super-simple kids game. Each person will be contributing more or less depending on the stage of development you're in. If I assume your game to run inside web browsers, then you're probably looking at 1+ backend developer (the code that runs on your webservers, in the programming language you choose to go with), 1+ Adobe Flash / Flex developer (the rich graphics browser plugin), and 1+ graphics designer -- as a bare minimum.
whether I should go with capable acquaintances, some online kind of online web-dev bidding site, or just try to find a capable undergraduate at the local university who I can wow with his/her first big paycheckThe "capable undergraduate" often has zero real-world knowledge about how to make the overall composition of the codebase effective (a.k.a. architecture). The "online web-dev bidding" is generally only done for small, closed-ended problems, and even so has a high failure rate due to mis-communication etc. "capable acquaintances" might work, but how do you know if they're really capable?
I don't mean to be harsh, but I do think you're in trouble here. Your words give me the feeling that you have no understanding of the technology side. If that's so, then you are at risk from partnering with less-than-competent people, development delays, etc.
I should hire a webdev consultant for a few hours to help me answer these questionsYou are welcome here. :-) A big part of success is knowing what you don't know. To be clear, I think you need than a discussion forum can do for you. Do you have a old and trusted friend who is more skilled in the technology needed? Not necessarily enough to build this, but to be your adviser and help you identify the right future partner? The central skills of this person should be to know when he is being bullsh*tted, and to spot incompetence.
When you have the right partner I think you should make him full co-founder, and give him enough equity to strongly align his interests with yours. Look around this site and elsewhere for tips on co-founders -- picking the right person is truly essential.