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How much costs to make a proper Indie game?

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by Kz3r0, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    After seeing the wild variety of sums requested by people on Kickstarter I was wondering how much would cost making a proper game, meaning not of the rpgmaker variety.
    Here some of my guesses, feel free to correct me:
    Time of Development
    After some heated discussion in other threads and seeing the time that takes to many Indies to produce something I estimate that a three years development cycle is the right time, not too low, nor 'eternal'.

    Creating the Studio
    Considering that the first thing that many successful Kickstartes do is establishing a company and renting an office I decided to start from the ground up, the currency or reference is the euro, I know that probably in USA is lower, without mentioning non first world countries.

    Legal fees, Insurances, Licensing etc 10K?
    Rent for three years, let's say 1K monthly, bills, furniture etc 45K?
    Hardware, I know that graphic stations are quite expensive and to test every configuration requires machines so let' say 10K?.

    Staff
    Now, even two or three guys crew said that they will hire more people for completing the game so here I am aiming for the effective number of members needed.

    A Lead Designer, the guy with the ideas coordinating other people's work.
    A Writer, having ideas is not enough to deliver them in the proper way.
    A concept Artist, I don't think that you can really skip this one for a proper game.
    A Graphic Programmer
    An Engine Programmer
    A Musician
    Now, it's possible that some artist can be programmers too, but considering that we are talking about a proper work and that just one programmer is clearly not enough I think that six people is the minimum required number even if the specific roles are different, just for one platform mind you, no ports considered.

    Now give them a pay, by Italian standards let' say 1K, not the lowest pay but surely not the pay of a professional, for three years, without bonuses and incentives we have 216K

    Reassuming
    Creating the studio 65K
    Staff 216K
    Grand total 281K

    Seems that our friend Zoldan was right, 300K seems the bare minimum to make an indie game.
    Obviously an existing studio can cut some costs like hardware, legal fees and licenses, it's possible that the studio is of property and not rented, this means that a professional studio can cut around 50K?, too generous maybe.

    So, what are your thoughts?
     
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  2. You are doing a good job girl. Keep it up! :bro:
     
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  3. Azalin Arcane Patron

    Azalin
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    I think 1k salary is too low for an employee if you count the cost of health insurance and other crap.Some people like a concept artists will not be regular employess but contractors so you won't have to worry about them but some will be normal employees
     
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  4. Kz3r0 Arcane

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    I am considering people working on the game as investment, meaning getting revenues from sales, 1K is just the necessary for living, insurance costs are covered in the legal fees.
     
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  5. Azalin Arcane Patron

    Azalin
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    Well ok if you mean they get only some basic pay and some royalties later yeah.Of course royalties mean the game will need more sales so that the people who put those 300k get their investement back
     
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  6. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

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    Art assets (for the most part) are the biggest chunk of the money, though depending on the game.
     
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  7. Burning Bridges Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

    Burning Bridges
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    absolute minimum: 2 guys, a programmer and an artist each 1-2k a month
     
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  8. Johannes Arcane

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    What is a "proper" indie game? If we're talking RPGs, do KoTC or Spiderweb games qualify, for example? Or Grimrock?
     
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  9. Kz3r0 Arcane

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    Problem with adjectives priority in English, it was in the sense of a proper game, the games and developer you cited surely qualify, but I am not well acquainted with their work model or what kind of expenses they had, do you have any source for that?
     
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  10. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    What game would we get if we ritually sacrificed Volourn?
     
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  11. toro Arcane

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    Work in the game industry for a few years and I think then you will have your answer. Anything else is just bullshit.
     
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  12. The princess diarrheas.
     
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  13. Destroid Arcane

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    Frozen Synapse was made in 1 year at a cost of 150k, although they did say they paid themselves a low wage while working on the game (and took other work to keep their company afloat).

    Realistically, all it costs is (most likely) two people their time and living expenses. Honestly, in Australia, if you were willing to accept a low living standard you could mooch off welfare for a year and make your game, it wouldn't even be too bad if you lived in a rural area with cheap rent. You can live reasonably in this country for about 15-18k per year depending on where you live so a game made in one year with two guys shouldn't cost more than about 40-45k after you factor in spending a little on contracting out music or whatever, but you would obviously try and find someone to do it for free.

    Of course, that's a very low wage for a full time programmer and artist, but you are starting a business, no-one draws a full wage when they are trying to get their company off the ground.
     
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  14. asper Arcane

    asper
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    There have been good games that have been made in spare time. So the answer is 0$.
     
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  15. Destroid Arcane

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    I don't think you would run into legal trouble, you would still have to fill the normal obligations of being on welfare applying for jobs and the like, which get progressively more onerous over time. Alternatively you could work casual on ~20 hours a week and make about $1600 a month per person even on minimum wage. A better bet is to do what the FTL guys did, move to china and make hundreds of thousands of dollars from kickstarter while having rock bottom expenses.

    EDIT: I also believe if you are working full time and pick you project well (don't make an epic RPG), you could maybe hit release worthy in nine months instead of twelve.
     
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  16. Kz3r0 Arcane

    Kz3r0
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    Seems that my estimate was pretty good after all.
    Destroid, all of that is just cutting corners, the amount of needed money doesn't change, only the way you acquire it.
    If you want to cut all the corners here a guide:
    Leech off welfare while having a job paid off the books.
    Find people working for free.
    Pirate all the software and assets.
    Buy stolen hardware or steal it yourself.
    Live on cheap canned food.
    Rent your welfare provided apartment to Illegal Immigrants.
    So on and so forth.
     
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  17. Destroid Arcane

    Destroid
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    I think my 40-45k figure is realistic for two people making a game in one year, although of course that's for basement style development. I still think your estimates are way over the top, you don't need to retain a full time musician and concept artist, nor do you need to spend 10k on hardware. Regardless, the costs will vary wildly with the type of game you are making.
     
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  18. J1M Arcane

    J1M
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    Why not just look at actual costs for games that we already know? If I recall, Braid cost $150k
     
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  19. Kz3r0 Arcane

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    In the number of people involved in the development full time I tried to include even occasional collaborations, for example, if you hire four people three months each it's the same as one person working for one year, so, even if the specific roles can change I was trying to include all the working hours needed to make the game, admittedly 6 persons full time are a bit too much, but 5 seems about right.
    About the hardware I was trying to strike a compromise between high end graphic stations and a decent computer, an high end computer can easily be 3000€, let's include monitors and other stuff and 10K is not that off the mark, unless you think that a 300€ computer monitor included is a suitable workstation to make a game.
    About the type of game I have already said that the RPGMaker variety is excluded, and RPGs are costly in terms aof man hours for all the writing and scripting and bug fixing not for technical reasons, let's take a look at Graphic Adventures, Schafer, Lowe and Jensen all asked for similar figures 400K, 500K, 300K, even if the reasons can vary for the money they asked, Lowe for example needed that money to secure the rights, those games show the needed amount for a non AAA+ game.
    And in my estimates I didn't consider voice acting and cinematics.
    In short, I think that for establishing a studio and working on a game with a reasonable amount of production value, voice acting and cinematics included, nothing too fancy, 500K is the right figure.
    If people disagree I would like to them pointing out specific issues instead of coming up with people working for free or that in China it costs less, I have already said the the reference was the West.
     
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  20. Thane Solus LW Games Developer

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    If u didnt work in the industry you will have big problems with the development of the project mostly on managing the production. To make an indie game these days you can start for as low as i dont know 2-5k (without the company creation fees) and 2-3 people that worked on a game before (as a hobby, part-time), to make maybe a puzzle based iphone crap, or something interesting but as small as you can, so u can finish it.

    Start small, start low. If you start without experience in development with over 10k u will loose them and most likely never release anything worthy of selling.

    After you got a project in stable state, no matter how good it is, if you dont know how market it, you wont make any money, unless you just get lucky by receiving some random love on the store you posted.
     
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  21. Mother Russia Andhaira Dumbfuck Queued

    Andhaira
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    1K pay per month? Are you stupid? That is nothing, assuming your devs are westerners, or even certain types of chinks.

    Now if your devs were in a developing country like Pakistan or India, then you could make it work. But then, you would not have a clue what kind of quality work they would do.

    So for pay, assume at least 3K per month, for a total of 36K per year, per dev.
     
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  22. Thane Solus LW Games Developer

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    I was talking to start a project as a hobby, so all money u invest in assets, or engine. 1 designer, 1 programmer, 1 level designer/artist or w/e, the rest you buy from third party. Most of the indies started this way. Making a indie studio from the start, is suicidal unless u participated on several projects mainstream and/or indie.

    It will take more time to develop the game since everybody has a job and so on, but its doable.
     
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  23. Cassidy Arcane

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    Depends on the genre, and on how much you are willing to trade higher investment costs for longer development time by not hiring other people to speed up its development.

    I'm sure the "hacker sim" Uplink developed by Introversion Software back when Kickstarter didn't exist must have costed very little other than the spare time of its two developers who coded it literally in the bedroom, and their other games like DEFCON and Darwinia also are possibly good examples of fun games a small amount of funds and lots of dedication can bring in a very efficient manner. Now when it comes to 3d CRPGs with complex turn-based combat and stats plus real choices and consequences, it doesn't come as cheap.
     
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  24. Thane Solus LW Games Developer

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    Indeed, when it comes to complex 3d games, and good presentation, things will go over 100k very quick.
     
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  25. Kz3r0 Arcane

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    I am quoting two posts from other threads because they are very relevant to this topic:
    http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/inde...auts-kickstarter-now-live.72050/#post-2087555


    http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/brian-fargo-interview-gamestar-ru.72043/
     
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