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bremaen

Programming Compensation Question

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I''m swamped with game design, business plans and sound and graphics decisions for my Indie companies game. I will be entering into talks with programmers and artists soon. I want to bring to the table a fair contract offer. The first offer I''m making is to finish the programming for an (I beleive) 75% complete game in three phases. I''m planning to offer cash as well as a percentage of the proceeds from the game to compensate a part time effort that should last 4-6 months. Is this a fair offer given that - I''ve finished the creative design - I''m taking all the business liability and putting up the money for all other development costs (graphics and sound) - I''ll also be paying for all ongoing business operations and start up costs. (btw I''ve been told this is the best place for this request. So, I''m posting it here.)

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As long as the cash you offer is industry comparable, I dont see a problem. But if want to offer less and offer deffered compensation based on games sales you may hit a snag.

I can see programers/artists having problems being paid less than they think they are worth on the promise of future royalties that may never materilize. Compensation should be based on the work they put in, not the work of sales/marketing people.

If you can convince some with true talent to go along with such a situation then good for you, just expect a little resistance.

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Thanks for your reply. I''m hoping that that the intrinsic value of making a game as well as the potential for future profit make the project worthwhile. I''m doing because I think it fun. I''m also considering adding a small percentage of profit ownership of the whole business in, if it seems fair.

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I think that you are too concerned about being fair. You don''t have to you justify anything. It is your company and your game (it is at the 75% mark). The best way to be fair is to pay the proper amount for the work. If you are up front about your expectations and pay scale, then you are being fair. If you don''t get any takers, then maybe you need to pay a little more. I would not offer a percentage of profits. It is complicated and most programmers that have been around for awhile are a bit leary about that. Just pay the programmer the proper amount. What is the proper amount? That depends on experience level and the price you will pay will vary widely. From $20hr to $80hr or more would be my random guess.

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billy_zelsnack: thanks for your response. You make a good point. I''ll hash it out with him and see what he thinks.

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You''d be very hard pressed to find a programmer anywhere in the US willing to work for $20 an hour, if they actually have a university degree related to computer programming.

You can find programmers who cost more than $80/hour, although those are the most experienced ones with deep specialties.

Anyway, you don''t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.

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You could get them work for less than industry standard if they were excited about the game. Though there`s a problem if exciment gradually disappears over the time, so it must be compensated with enough cash so that they don`t quit when they`re not excited.

And You don`t necessarilly need people with uni degrees. Also the older people are, the higher their salary requirements are. If you could find people that just finished high school and are good at games programming (have some great demos), you could pay them much much less than those who just finished university and have already quite a lot of debts on their back. I know several people who are still at high school and yet the games they program are perfect. Should they go to games company, their salary would be also way lower than average salary of programmers with several yrs of experience (provided they`d get some games-programming related job without uni degree, that is).

Next question: Are you really going to pay them per hour ? If so, are they going to be working at office so that you can supervise them and see they`re really working ? Then it narrows your search much more since they`ll have to be from same city.

I also agree with fact that you don`t have to offer them royalties if the pay is adequate.

EDIT : You might want to check this link with Game Development Salary Survey (for year 2003) :
http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20040211/olsen_01.shtml

VladR
Avenger 3D game (Last update MAR-26)

[edited by - VladR on April 17, 2004 4:29:37 AM]

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With todays economy, I doubt its hard to find programmers in US who will work for 20 dollars per-hour. Thats about 40,000 a year, and sounds fine to me if I was unemployed right now. Sure it would be a pay cut now, but I started at 35,000 just 5 years ago. I know I won''t go hungry at 40, to put money aside.
And if its a part-time job, then its nice money also, work for 100 hours, and it pays for a vacation. Its not like companies give out bonuses right now ... at least not my company. Could be a nice opportunity for someone working full time, to do this on the side.





http://www.anywherenotes.com - never lose another note again.

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Check the advertizing in the back of Game Developer magazine. Everybody''s hiring like gangbusters. It was NOT like that a year ago.

Personally, I would not work on a project I wasn''t at least interested in. That''s just a basic requirement -- there''s no project exciting enough to make me accept less than industry wages. Maybe I''m just experienced enough to know whether excitement pays the rent ;-)

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