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Video Game Estimation

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I have been working for a while developing a design for a game I plan on making. I have made small games before and understand somewhat of the time and effort need to construct similar games but not the size of the purposed game. Also, I currently work in the field on web development and have a firm grasp of software estimation when it comes to web development but am having a hard time translating my knowledge to game development. My biggest problem is I have never taken on a project like this and I don't have any historical data to use. Does anyone know if industry historical data exists on the web for video game projects? I need stuff like feature size to LOC, LOC per function point and stuff relating to effort and velocity like average LOC per staff month. If anyone knows where to find information like this or even has information they would like to share it would be greatly appreciated. If nothing exists I might plan on starting a wiki for information about this subject.

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Game development is too dynamic and encompassing to give you a simple metric like LOC per function or even feature, since it can cover the full gamut of low level assembly programming to high level multi-processor enterprise level development.

I can only give you what I've personally seen/experience. A full fledged modern 3D engine, developed from scratch will take about 3-5 experienced software engineers about 8-12 months, this is just for the render, shaders, basic pipeline for simple 3D data (ie static models and textures ) and scene graph, they work with tools engineers too.

Animation has become sufficiently advance enough to warrant its own discipline, that will take depending upon your requirements anywhere from 6-8 months 2-3 experienced developers, they are also responsible for the animation pipeline working in conjunction with the tools engineers.

Tools developer, are catchall programmers who form the core support team for the main development teams. They develop tools to convert data, automate builds, import and export data from 3rd party programs and internal support tools ( ie scripting tools ). Their tasks is too varied to give u any concrete time schedule, they just work to support to the project until its done.

Physics programmers, these days physics is usually a requirement for most game types, for ragdolls, car physics, destructive fx, etc.. Most companies opt not to develop their own physics engines and use a 3rd party one, since it takes many man years of effort by many people to develop one, even if you could get around all the software patents involved in this field. Only the largest companies peruse their own physics engines, usually involves a team of 6-8 dedicated programmers working continuously to improve the engine, which can take years to develop and tune.

Then there is networking, systems development, etc.. Alot more work involved in all those fields. This is just to give u an idea of what it takes to develop a modern large scale game.

Of course for small and independent developers, you would never develop any of these tech unless absolutely needed, but rather opt for libraries ( free, LGPL or MIT license ). I suggest looking into those.

*Note what i mean by experienced developers, is not just a person familiar with programming practice, but one who has studied their field of research and are currently well versed in techniques and technologies of that field, in addition to having done 1 or more previous engines of that type(this is critical). If your using inexperienced developers multiply the times by 2-3x imo.

Good Luck!

-ddn

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