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Konidias

Salary question for game programmers

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I'm looking to hire an individual with enough skill to program the majority of a game for me and I'm trying to determine what sort of amount it's going to cost me to get what I need. So my question is basically, how much, as a skilled programmer, do you feel that you would work for (per week), on a project that would last anywhere from 6 to 12 months? Minimum? Preferred? This would be an 8 hour a day job working from home, with daily to bi-daily reports on progress. This is also for US citizens only, since I'm not really certain how this would break down for other countries. Oh and also, if this is posted in the wrong place, my apologies... This isn't a "help wanted" thread, it's more of just a wanting to know for my benefit kind of thing. I'm not actually looking to hire yet. Also if you aren't comfortable posting what you'd be willing to work for, then you can just PM your answer to me. Thanks a lot. :) If you aren't a game programmer than feel free to also give an estimate on what you think it would cost... but at least let me know that you aren't a programmer.

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Simulation contractors can usually get between $50-$120 per hour, depending on experience. I don't think there are really comparable numbers for game devs (who usually don't work as contractors) but I would imagine that if you pay real market rates, you are looking at at least $1500/week.

Of course, you could get some kid taking a semester off from school who's willing to work for much less, but I thought I'd give you some perspective based on the somewhat-related sim field.

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around 150K would be my guess.

assumptions made:
done as a contract so no benefits, nor long term employment provided.
by skilled you mean someone with more than 3 years professional experience.
There is some variability depending on where said person lives.

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It also depends on the kind of game.

I'd happily work for 900 a week (as an example), but i don't have the skills to make just any game, just casual games at a competitive and polished level. I have experience with graphical guis and 2d games mainly but not so strong with things like realistic 3d physics (but nothing would stop me to get into it if i have to, but i have no experience in the subject), etc etc.

Unless you make more clear what is required, no programmer can say "ok, i'm able and willing to do it for XXXX a week, and these are my credentials". The requirement for each game could vary a lot.

You don't need to pay a John Carmack level to make the next Bejeweled.

PD: I don't reside in the US and wouldn't quit my current "day job" and wouldn't want to work for another 8 hours a day so i would only accept something between 3 and 4 hours a day.

Maybe i'll go completely freelance at some point :).

Good luck with your search :)

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For a little bit more info on the game... It would be along the lines of games like Gunbound, Gunz, Drift City, or any of the other Korean/asian games that have online play but small enough engines and amount of content to not be considered a massive online game.

To go into further detail. I'd basically need a movement engine capable of having multiple players run around a small isolated area, some ball physics, networking to support online play, displaying a GUI, lobby, chat system, the basics of most online games, as well as a simple enemy AI.

I'm not entirely sure there is one programmer who could cover all of that, but I'm just giving some info on what needs done. :)

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I would suggest that you go and look at the credits for one of the comparable games you are quoting to see if they were done by one programmer, five, ten or one hundred. Sounds like more than a one man project to me.

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Quote:
Original post by Konidias
To go into further detail. I'd basically need a movement engine capable of having multiple players run around a small isolated area...

Heh... that could look like this:
Combat
Or this:
WoWHangout

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Gunz is a peer to peer mmo. You could find a programmer who could do the code part but I doubt it would take 6 months. 12 months, two engineers should be able to recreate the technical aspects of the game. Then you need people who create content which will probably require more than two people.

A large part of what you'll pay for if you hire a remote developer is the area in which he lives. A programmer who lives in a metropolitan area, such as New York or San Francisco will be significantly more expensive than one who lives in a rural area. The other big factor is experience. For a programmer in San Francisco with 3 - 5 years of experience, under the terms of a one year contract, 130,000 - 150,000 per annum would probably be fair. You should be able to extrapolate to different cities by comparing cost of living. Personally I don't know of many freelance programmers working solo within game development. I'm sure there is someone though.

I would approach the developers being let go by Flagship Studios since they have experience and most of the skills you require.

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Okay a little more info is needed on the game I guess. :)

It's not world of warcraft that's for sure. It's a pretty simple 3d game with not too crazy graphics, about 10 people in a "level" at any given time, competing against eachother. The "levels" would not require any terrain maps or anything like that. Just flat interior room levels, and collision detection to keep people inside certain boundaries...

So basically just a few 3D characters moving around in a closed off room.

I've done a little 2D programming before and I know it wasn't that hard to make the same sort of thing... but I don't really have experience with 3D so I don't know how much harder that would be.

The most complicated stuff would be ball physics and good collision and networking. Outside of that, I'm not looking to make anything that would really require a dozen people.

Though it might require more than 1 programmer... I'm just curious as to how much it would cost per programmer. I'm definitely willing to shell out the money if I know the person is skilled and responsible. (like not going to spend 6 hours of the work day watching tv and the other 2 actually working)

Thanks for the link Tom, I'll check it out. :)

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If you're paying, expect at least 100K+ USD/year for someone who knows what they're doing. That's not counting actual graphics (meshes, textures, etc.) for which you'll need an artist, which is probably comparable or slightly less.

If you just want to make a hobby game, you might be able to convince some programmers or artists to work for considerably less. They won't be experienced, so your risk of not finishing will be higher. Much higher, doubly especially for something with an MMO bent, since proper networking is something of a black art most hobbyists don't have a lot of experience with. The help wanted forum might be something you could look at.

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I can handle most aspects of the game myself... The modeling, sound fx/music, design, texturing, etc. It's really just the more advanced programming that I have trouble with.

I really don't feel that my game idea needs more than myself and 1 or 2 programmers to bring it to life (and completion) which is why I'm even bothering to try and get it made in the first place. If I felt I needed a team of programmers and artists then I wouldn't even consider trying to fund it myself. :p

I'm a 3D modeler and animator by profession, so I can cover all of that. I've had years of experience doing 2D graphics, websites, music, server hosting, game administration, forum administration... The one area I'm really lacking in is programming. To where my knowledge is 2D games and some intermediate c++ from highschool.

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Quote:
Original post by Konidias
I can handle most aspects of the game myself...

I really don't feel that my game idea needs more than myself and 1 or 2 programmers ...

I'm a 3D modeler and animator by profession...

OK, then. No question here, so I guess your question has been answered?

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For the most part. I was hoping for more individual responses from programmers themselves instead of a broad and general average. The thread helped me to determine how much a professional programmer makes on average but skill and being professional do not always go hand in hand. Not everyone demands the average or better. I was just curious as to what programmers here would charge.

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Well, let's put it this way.

#1) I personally wouldn't work freelance on a 6-12 month contract with no guarantee of future work for less than I could make at a full time game dev position unless some serious benefits were offered.

#2) It's not going to be cheap for you to fund even a one man project (not counting yourself). Probably isn't feasible unless you have a lot of money to burn.

I'd probably expect at least $1500 gross per week.

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Have you considered either using a free engine or even purchasing one, seeing as you're already looking at spending a fair bit of money.
If you've already got plenty of experience in the industry or related industries, and you can do all of the modelling/animation etc yourself, I don't see why you can't get yourself a decent physics engine and do a lot of it yourself. You might save yourself a fortune by minimising the amount you need to pay someone else to reinvent the wheel.

Just a thought,
metal

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If you're serious about it, and you have the money, you should go about it a different way. Try to find an industry veteran to team up with and start your own company. There's some articles if you google around on how to set up an indie game company.

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Quote:
Original post by metalmidget
Have you considered either using a free engine or even purchasing one, seeing as you're already looking at spending a fair bit of money.
If you've already got plenty of experience in the industry or related industries, and you can do all of the modelling/animation etc yourself, I don't see why you can't get yourself a decent physics engine and do a lot of it yourself. You might save yourself a fortune by minimising the amount you need to pay someone else to reinvent the wheel.

Just a thought,
metal

The problem there is, I can't get around the huge learning curve that is programming. It's not the programming itself that gives me difficulties. It's not being able to understand the complexities of headers and libraries and all of that jazz.

For example, I've tried many tutorials and test program scripts and usually I can get a few to work but for the most part, I get stuff like files missing, libraries not linking, needing costly add-ons that I'm not even sure I'd end up using, etc. I haven't been able to find a programming language that is flexible enough without it being a huge hassle. I liked Delphi but it doesn't seem as flexible as say... C++. I've done a little programming in C++ so I know the basics, but then I get stuck on all the little details of linking things together and making sure everything is cohesive.

For me, I think I'd need something cleaner and easier to manipulate... I look at C++ as if it were some wild beast that I can't seem to wrangle. If there were really good tutorials that went step by step through making simple things (like characters walking around a screen) while also explaining the most basic of functions, I would eat that stuff up.

You're right about one thing though, I would rather do it myself because feeling the need to depend on someone else to get my game done just makes me uncomfortable. What happens if 60% through the project the guy decides he doesn't want to do it anymore? I'm stuck with a half finished engine that I don't know how to continue and a lot of my budget gone.

Heck, I'd pay someone to help guide me through the learning process and obtaining an engine or something to start with.... and help me when I'm stuck. (which would be frequently at first, haha)

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Quote:
Original post by Konidias
You're right about one thing though, I would rather do it myself because feeling the need to depend on someone else to get my game done just makes me uncomfortable. What happens if 60% through the project the guy decides he doesn't want to do it anymore? I'm stuck with a half finished engine that I don't know how to continue and a lot of my budget gone.
This happens in real projects, you'd simply have to hire someone new and expect to lose some time while the figure out what their predecessor did.

By the way, I sent you a PM.

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