Hire all 4 employees immediately after leaving the garage. Hire the worst employees you can (level ones) with the highest research skill, if you have a choice. It can be worth taking level 2s over level 1s if they have much higher research skills. Wait until you have all 4 before giving them welcome training.
Research 3DV1 on your “you” character while you are hiring the 4 new employees. Create a new engine using it (this will absorb some of the time while you and your employees get used to each other).
If the engine completes and you and your employees are still not at maximum efficiency, do the smallest available contract work until at least all the 4 new employee’s bars disappear.
Once those bars disappear, do one small game. This game isn’t supposed to be 9+, so remove all your features. If it is a 6, that is fine. This is to use up the “new employee” flag for your 4 newbies.
After that game is published, train everyone in “make me think”. Your guys should start coming due for vacations during this training - do the smallest possible contract work until all 4 want a vacation, then send them off.
When they come back from vacation, find your first suitable medium contract job. Try and get 12+% royalties because by now, if you transitioned from the garage with under or up to million, you need this game to be profitable. Throw everything at it if you only got level 1 employees - remove a feature per level 2 employee you were forced to hire. This should give at least an 7-8s review, and let you know where you stand.
After the game is published, train everyone in make me think again, then follow it with game dev gems. New publishing contract, use what you used last time (we are letting the improvement come from employee training). Employees will ask for a vacation again late in the development of the 3rd medium game - it is on your judgement call to decide if now to take a 3rd medium contract, or train-research until your guys want a break before making a 3rd.
^ This is the all-guns-blazing technique designed to set up ultra high scoring games. It is an all in strategy and if your first medium contract fails, you will go bankrupt. If you pull it off however you will be set up for the rest of the game to pretty much free play in a sandbox.
It is likely that you will be “ok” for money without being super flush until after you can stop using publishers (100k+ fans). If your first self-published game is a hit, you will then have enough money to not care about money, within reason, for the rest of the game (rushing out a console with 3m research/hardware budgets needs 300+ in the bank when you transition to the final office. Quite achievable and something to aim for).
Check the “show your final score” thread to see this medium transition in action.