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# How much should I charge??

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Thurs, Dec 13

Had a meeting tonight with a fellow I met at the holiday party on Tuesday. He has a client who wants to take an existing board game and convert it to a PC game (the client created the board game) using Torque to get it on multiple platforms. He actually asked me at the party if I used Torque and when I told him I've been toying with TGB since its inception he was very pleased. So we had a pleasant conversation over dinner tonight about the game and all it entails. This seems a better chance then the last two contract works that floated past me at least.

So the question now is how much money to charge for programming. I've never done contract work before so I'm not sure what to offer. A friend of mine said recently that contractors got paid $50-$200/hr. I was thinking of around $35-$50/hr but apparently they want to budget out the entire 6-8mo dev cycle. This triggered warning bells in my head, because I know that if I set $50/hr for a certain amount of hours in those months to calculate my total cost, I'm going to be losing money because I sure as hell won't be working the same amount of hours towards the end of the project than at the start. So I'm prob going to bump it up to$75/hr to pad the coffers to allow for the inevitable overtime (which still hopefully doesn't come).

Anyways those are just numbers. I could say $35/hr contract or$50/hr for a budget. Or $75/hr contract and$100/hr budget. But those last figures seem unreasonable given my background. I'm still thinking of shooting for between $35-$75 though.

What do you guys think?

For a project like that with a lone author, I'd probably charge a flat fee. Of course, charging a flat fee requires some good specifics. It's based on an existing boardgame, so the scope of the game as well as the art is already a given. Of course, there are scope issues outside of the game itself, like is the game going to be playable over the internet, playable against computer AI, or both?

You also need to make it clear where the music and art is coming from. If the game's just going to be a simple representation of the board and pieces, then art's not much of a factor. If he wants something a bit more interesting like those Monopoly computer games with all the animation, then an artist has to come into play.

Ditto for music and sound. Boardgames don't come with sound, so it should be assumed that you'll be contracting with someone for a specific amount of music (number of songs, lengths, sound effects). Thankfully we have a lot of talented music-kiddies on the forums so that's not so expensive. I got about a dozen songs for Bulldozer for less than $500. Also if you're going to do a flat-fee, have a sunset date or event that dictates when the work is officially complete. Working in bug-fixes and minor changes into the price is a given, but you don't want to find yourself fixing obscure bugs or making minor changes three years down the road. Another question I'd ask is why Torque is important. Did he, for example, eliminate Flash and Director and the Popcap framework as possibilities because the game would be too difficult to be done in them, or were those eliminated because they were perceived as toys. Myself, unless the game is really deep, I'd take a hard look at developing it simultaneously as a web-game and a standalone game. Board games work great on the web. #### Share this comment ##### Link to comment Quote:  Original post by johnhattan For a project like that with a lone author, I'd probably charge a flat fee. Of course, charging a flat fee requires some good specifics. It's based on an existing boardgame, so the scope of the game as well as the art is already a given. Of course, there are scope issues outside of the game itself, like is the game going to be playable over the internet, playable against computer AI, or both? You also need to make it clear where the music and art is coming from. If the game's just going to be a simple representation of the board and pieces, then art's not much of a factor. If he wants something a bit more interesting like those Monopoly computer games with all the animation, then an artist has to come into play. Ditto for music and sound. Boardgames don't come with sound, so it should be assumed that you'll be contracting with someone for a specific amount of music (number of songs, lengths, sound effects). Thankfully we have a lot of talented music-kiddies on the forums so that's not so expensive. I got about a dozen songs for Bulldozer for less than$500.

I'll keep this in mind, but right now I'll let Robert (who I met yesterday) keep running the show on his end, I'm just working out stuff for myself right now. I'll prob be offering him suggestions at some point.
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 Also if you're going to do a flat-fee, have a sunset date or event that dictates when the work is officially complete. Working in bug-fixes and minor changes into the price is a given, but you don't want to find yourself fixing obscure bugs or making minor changes three years down the road.

We already discussed the difference between delivery date and release date, yup
Quote:
 Another question I'd ask is why Torque is important. Did he, for example, eliminate Flash and Director and the Popcap framework as possibilities because the game would be too difficult to be done in them, or were those eliminated because they were perceived as toys.

Dunno. Good question to ask though. However seeing as I have no experience in Director and Flash I haven't touched since like v5, I'm glad they chose Torque :P
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 Myself, unless the game is really deep, I'd take a hard look at developing it simultaneously as a web-game and a standalone game. Board games work great on the web.

Yea, I'll have to see if they want that.

Personally, I'd stay away from flat fees. I find it all too common that this gives the buyer the ability to allow "scope creep" because it's too difficult to outline exactly everything that will be considered complete. Just my two cents, good luck.

We occasionally do flat fees or not-to-exceeds on projects for CivilGrrl. Scope creep is not a problem if it's made clear from the onset what the scope is and that anything outside the scope can require a separate agreement.

And I say "can" instead of "will" because you need some wiggle room and you want on your side. If someone suggests an enhancement that'll take 15 minutes, you'll probably throw it in gratis (because the enhancement will take less time than a separate agreement). If something is quite a bit larger, then you reserve the right to put it on another agreement.

Thanks guys. Don't worry I already told the client at the meeting that I need a specific data sheet, whether it's a design doc or a technical outline, so I can build a prototype. I'm going to help him build one to make sure that everything is in there for calculating a realistic delivery date. I also know the rule of under promising and over delivering... i think that's how you say it, hahaha. If I think I can do it in 5 months, then I budget for 6 and try to finish in 4. Damn straight.