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TractorTom

How to split a game income?

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Hi there, Me and my friend are working on a small Internet based RTS. He is an artist, so he is the main designer of the game and I sign things off to make sure they're technically doable and not too ambitious for our first game. We did share the design work, but recently I've moved onto programming to leave him to complete the design (although I am still overlooking it all). However, he mentioned that the pay would now be more like 40%-50% for him because he's doing nearly all the design. We're not dreaming of making millions from this game and are quite down to earth about it! :) However, he knows nothing about programming and it's quite hard to explain to him just how much work is involved even for something basic. So like I said we're not planning to make much (if anything!) from this game; it's mainly for the experience. However, if we want to continue this hobby I don't want to set a trend of such a low percentage for all the programming work, when contrasted to creating the 3d models and designing. Since if we ever do make some money, it's going to be a bit of a kick in the mouth. So, can anybody please suggest something to what you'd expect to the work load? p.s. I've had programming experience for about 8 years, although none in a professional game industry. However he's had none other than playing around with 3DS Max. Many thanks, Tractor Tom.

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Original post by TractorTom
Hi there,

Me and my friend are working on a small Internet based RTS. He is an artist, so he is the main designer of the game and I sign things off to make sure they're technically doable and not too ambitious for our first game. We did share the design work, but recently I've moved onto programming to leave him to complete the design (although I am still overlooking it all). However, he mentioned that the pay would now be more like 40%-50% for him because he's doing nearly all the design.

We're not dreaming of making millions from this game and are quite down to earth about it! :) However, he knows nothing about programming and it's quite hard to explain to him just how much work is involved even for something basic.

So like I said we're not planning to make much (if anything!) from this game; it's mainly for the experience. However, if we want to continue this hobby I don't want to set a trend of such a low percentage for all the programming work, when contrasted to creating the 3d models and designing. Since if we ever do make some money, it's going to be a bit of a kick in the mouth.

So, can anybody please suggest something to what you'd expect to the work load?

p.s. I've had programming experience for about 8 years, although none in a professional game industry. However he's had none other than playing around with 3DS Max.


Many thanks,
Tractor Tom.


The assumtion that designing would neccesarily be more work than the implementing of the desiging is false and void. That is however why there are more than 1 programmer on the team and 1 designer.

It is easy to draw up the basis of a class and show its connections. Programming that however in my opinion is more demanding.

With the design goes more accountability and responsibility however and this is what you are payed more for.

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Chances are, you're not going to amke alot of money with this, and you seem to acknowledge that fact. So, why get all upitty about it? Just give him a equal cut(50% if it's just you two), as it's not that much less for you, and it would be bad to sour up the team just over a few bucks. I say, who cares about it?

However, how I would set it up next time, is this:
Art = 30% profits
Programming = 40% profits
Music = 20% profits
Design = 0% (Why should you get paid for something you have fun doing?)
Plot/story = 10%

State that up front, next time, and if two people do an equal load of art, split the art profits between them (15%/15% of total profits) You shouldn't get anything extra as 'the leader', unless it's a project that has 20+ people working on it. You judge how much art has been done, and you divide the art profit margin accordingly. If you have 100 pieces of art, and one person did more than half of it, another 45% of it, and the third only contributed one piece, divide it based on it. 54% to the first, 45% to the second, and 1% to the third. Don't make known to the team how much the others are getting, but as the person who divies up the funds, you ought to be the only person who knows. Make sure people agree to how you divide it up though, before they join. (What percentages to what field, and make sure they know that that percentage is split among the artists according to works)

This is next time, mind you. Just give him the 50% this time, and write it off as a learning experience.

Nothing will tear apart a team and destroy a project, like greed. Allow it to pass this time, and next time, before anyone joins the team, decide how the profit is divided(and don't get greeded yourself, either) and make it known to the team as they join.

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Original post by TractorTom

We're not dreaming of making millions from this game and are quite down to earth about it! :) However, he knows nothing about programming and it's quite hard to explain to him just how much work is involved even for something basic.


It's probably also hard for him to explain to you how much work the art and design part of the project is! If it's just the two of you just split it 50/50, then there's no arguments. If I was working with anyone and he/she told me that they were doing more work and were thus entitled to a bigger cut, I'd leave them and move onto something else. Just remember Game Designers can earn more than Game Programmers, and Game Design is something you have to gain a load of experience in order to do it.

Also, in response to Servant, I have fun programming, does that mean I should get no pay for doing it? I need to eat you know! You have to remember that Design is HARD, whether you enjoy it or not, and getting it right is extremely tricky. I can't explain how, I'm a programmer, not a designer, but at least I understand that if a game wasn't designed, I'd have nothing to program. If no-one did the art or music, I'd have nothing to program with. Every role in a project is essential, and everyone should get a cut.

Although I do agree with servant on one point, you should have agreed on all this before the project was started.

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Original post by Servant of the Lord
Design = 0% (Why should you get paid for something you have fun doing?)


I, for one, enjoy programming. And I'd bet alot that I'm not alone on this forum.

Edit: Looks like my bet woulda payed off.

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Original post by TractorTom
However, he knows nothing about programming and it's quite hard to explain to him just how much work is involved even for something basic.


How much do you know about 3D modelling?

I think you should both keep track of time spent. Then when it's done, compare your timesheets. Assuming you can trust each other, this seems like the fairest way to determine shares.

And don't forget about marketing, or there won't be much income to split.

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Just a legal thought:

Do you have an actual legal company set up, or are you just working on it as friends? If you are doing it as friends, have either of you assigned the copyrights to the other?

If you have done either of those, then it probably wouldn't be an issue.

If the answer to both is 'no', then you should probably split it evenly.

Most likely you didn't do them, and you haven't released it publicly under any type of public license, so you are both separate owners of your own contribution.

In that case you have no right to use or distribute his artwork, and he has no right to use or distribute your program. As long as you remain on good terms, everything is fine. But if either of you gets mad and leaves (such as demanding a different percentage of money) then neither of you have anything you can use.

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Original post by Ezbez
Quote:
Original post by Servant of the Lord
Design = 0% (Why should you get paid for something you have fun doing?)


I, for one, enjoy programming. And I'd bet alot that I'm not alone on this forum.

Edit: Looks like my bet woulda payed off.


Thats true, and I like programming to, but I guess I should say, as it's commonly said here, ideas are worth a dime a dozen. It's relitevely easy to come up with ideas, and in my opinion, people oughtn't be paid for it. But, yeah, my values aren't exactly accurate. I'm more of giving a general idea, and came up with those values rather quickly. I quite enjoy programming myself(It's the debugging I hate [smile]). I just, becuase I love creating worlds, dont see design as much work. Note, by 'design', I mean overal game design. I would pay for map editors, and people that actaully take the time to write a design document, but I wouldn't pay for team members to say 'let's add this to the game', I would consider that more of a benefit of being on the team, as part of the reward for working on it.

I suppose I should rephrase it a bit better. Sorry.

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Original post by TractorTom
....I don't want to set a trend of such a low percentage for all the programming work, when contrasted to creating the 3d models and designing.
It does depend exactly what you mean by "and designing". There are three levels of design
i. coming up with the original concept (often more luck that work)
ii. Documenting the concept and how the game will be played (a lot more work but still not as much as the programming)
iii. Doing the level design - actually assembling the models to make the world, adding in the scripting, testing it, tweaking it etc. (This is a lot of work).

Doing all three would certainly be equal to the programming and as such worth 50%. If they are just doing the first two and you do the programming and all the level building/scripting then I would certainly say you should get a bigger chunk.

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If you give out the game for free, you don't have to worry. However, whether you plan to make "millions" or not, as long as you were planning to make something commercial (ie; charge money for it), my suggestion would be to create the company and then make up contracts (or have a lawyer do them) that state that all the work you and your friend do are property of the company. In creating the company, there's a ton of info on how to do that, in whatever state/country you happen to be in. Each of you could put in as little as $1 capital and make the operating agreement stating what your share of loss/profits are.

It will cost money now, but better to do that, than to have to waste a lot of time and lose a friendship if, when the game makes money, you two can't decide who gets what.

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These are some ways of splitting the profits:

1. This is our first project! Let amount of work be damned and lets share 50/50 in celebration of our partnership!

2. Lets sit down and calculate how much amount of time(in hours) each of us has put into the project. Let the ratio of the time spent decide the profit share.

3. Lets calculate the complexity of the project in terms of design, art and programming. For example : design 30%, programming 40%, art 30%. Now lets calculate how much effort each of us as put into the above modules and accordingly work out the share.

4. I am the boss here and I say I should get 70%! You either agree or be damned :P.

5. Lets give it away for free :)! The game is a work of art I say! Let everyone access it and appreciate it and wonder at it!

P.S: Why dont you invest the money into the next project rather than sharing it?

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In addition to the posts above, I'd like to make a supplemental suggetion.
Let us say that if you made $10000, you should reserve $5000 for further use(bigger project needs to hire more intellects), and split the rest of it. You should always put your mind(and money) on something bigger, instead of the current profit.

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