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Timelines of Development

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I'm currently working for a company that took on a couple of projects that started out as simple web games that would take a year to produce to gold but through negotiations have all the sudden possibly started putting in bids for a more 3d interactive sort of game. That being said are there any timelines of development for how long some of these games took? My company at this time has no real good idea of what exactly it would take to get done what they are asking for...they've proposed adding on 2 months with to me is just laughable but I can't find any articles to prove them otherwise...

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Mostly it will depend on a few key things:

1: Use another 3-d engine or build your own (guess which takes longer).
2: The amount of 3-d artwork, models, textures, etc that will be needed for the 3d game
3: The amount of polish that your company will want to add.

I concur with you that a 2 month extension seems laughable when going from a year long dev cycle for a web-based 2d game to a fully interactive 3d game. I would say put more butts in the seats and give us at least three months. A large number of design decisions in the earliest stages will determine whether or not you can accomplish this goal in resonable time.

-Nightbird

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It's more than just time, it's also money. You probably cannot complete the entire 3D-web task on your own, consider licensing something such as Wild Tangent.

It also means additional tools the content producers must use. Not only must 2D textures be drawn, but 3D models must also be constructed. Compare it to the difference of 2D AutoCAD work vs. 3D Pro/Engineering.

Unless your current team has experience producing 3D work, time and money for re-training and potentially new-hires also needs to be accounted for.

It also means higher end-user hardware requirements.

It means re-starting the development time from the contract change, and adding more time for completion. If you're six months in, and think it would take 4 months longer to make the 3D game, it's a 10 month delay.

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Luckly we have been meddling in 3d and thus why it was proposed to go down this route. Most likely it will be something as simple as a switch to Director instead of Flash to simulate a 3d engine and so most of the web components were familiar developing will transfer over.
No one at our company has ever professionally developed anything past a web app however, and never at the level of interaction they are wanting(its a lot including many dymanic ones), and thus kinda looking for some idea of what a timeline looks like to develop to propose a $$$ figure and to propose a person # figure...this isnt my logic but my superiors logic in how there going after this contract...so im just trying to prove to them adding 2 months on to a project thats gaining a whole dimension of complexity might be a bit far fetched no matter the $$$ and people we get since that doesn't matter to them atm.
Thanks for the ideas, im adding things as i read your posts and articles here to bring to the table, but still need some proof that an interactive game takes more than a year to design/build/test/etc

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From what I've heard the average cycle for a modern game is something like 18 months. Naturally, you'll find exceptions -- games done in less than a year and games that take 5 years.

In genral though, the idea of going from "2D web game" to "modern 3D game" by adding 3 months to a development cycle is rather absurd if no one on the team is familiar with the nuances of 3D game development. I highly recommend the team not give a specific estimate. Most of the time it's taken as "when it'll be done" not "when it'll probably be done."

For giving an estimate which actually means something and is more than marketing bullcrap you should pick the "best" and "worst" case scenarios for the estimate and use those as goal posts. As the development progresses, it will become clearer when the project will be finished. The projected ship "range" can be narrowed as the development continues, and so long as you weren't being ridiculous when you made those original estimates, there's a good chance it'll be somewhere in it.

Be warned if a hard deadline is set for an ambitious project. Unless you love Death Marches, it's probably not the project you want to be working on.

I highly recommend you buy them a copy of 'Waltzing With Bears' and 'Death March' for a realistic look at proper estimation and risk management principles. For 'proof' of game development cycles, check out Game Developer magazine, Gamasutra.com, and the other various industry web sites. I'm sure you can find that sort of information.

Good luck!

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