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Fulltime game programming

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Hi, just want to send this out to game-programming veterens who might read this, and to anybody else who might have an opinion about this. While not mentioning details, I''ll start off by saying this. A game of mine was published about 6 months back as a part of a budget package. I worked on the game for about 3 months in the evenings (after work). I didn''t expect it to get published, let alone sell, but it did and now in total I have made about $80,000 in royalties. While that is not a lot compared to say Unreal or Sims, the making of the game didn''t cost a penny to make since I have been writing programs for fun and didn''t need to buy any special equipment. Now, ebarrissingly so, I have made much more in royalties than my full-time job. My question to any one out there is, do I dive in completely into game development by looking for a job in the industry or try and make good(if not AAA) games for a while and try my chances as an independent? -LP

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First off, congrats! That rocks. :-)

Secondly, make sure you get an accountant. Your taxes for next year are going to be seriously screwed up.

Thirdly, to answer your question, the trick is creating another title with as little effort that generates as much revenue. If you can do that, then you''re good to go. Otherwise, your current path seems to be working. Content yourself with working on the side and having a good chunk of extra income.

Best of luck!

-David


DavidRM
Samu Games

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Good job. 80,000 for three monthes of work is awesome.

Some things you should know about the game industry. First thing is the average salary is about 60,000 (see www.gamasutra.com) so don''t expect to be making any where near 80,000 in your first year. Second most companies expect you to work long hours with no extra pay for over time. Third you probably won''t get to work on one of your own ideas and may end up working on something you don''t like for monthes at a time. If your happy with your job now I would suggest staying with it and continue making games in your spare time. Now that you''ve got one game published it will probably be easier to get any future titles you make published.

If you don''t mind me asking what was the game and who was the publisher?

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"about $80,000 in royalties" in 6 months?
How is that possible?
Which publisher is this?
I know alsmost every publisher on the globe. And
I doubt very much that it''s possible what you are saying.


>about 6 months back as a part of a budget package.
You will be payed mostly as pro rata.
That is the guidline for games which are part of a
low budget package.

My game will be sold as a standalone arcade package in a couple countries, with all my own games. So no games of any another developer. And what you are saying isn''t possible, in relation to my experience. Even with publishers who sell your game worldwide as part of an package, like eGames. eGames use
the pro rata formula for there collections. Ask cliffski if you doubt my words. He also got some games published by eGames on there collections.

So again I doubt it. Otherwise give me the name and website of the publisher. You earned your money, so you haven''t to be afraid if you are right.




quote:
Original post by Life Path
Hi, just want to send this out to game-programming veterens who might read this, and to anybody else who might have an opinion about this. While not mentioning details, I''ll start off by saying this. A game of mine was published about 6 months back as a part of a budget package. I worked on the game for about 3 months in the evenings (after work). I didn''t expect it to get published, let alone sell, but it did and now in total I have made about $80,000 in royalties. While that is not a lot compared to say Unreal or Sims, the making of the game didn''t cost a penny to make since I have been writing programs for fun and didn''t need to buy any special equipment. Now, ebarrissingly so, I have made much more in royalties than my full-time job.
My question to any one out there is, do I dive in completely into game development by looking for a job in the industry or try and make good(if not AAA) games for a while and try my chances as an independent?

-LP



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Guest Anonymous Poster
1st, Congrats on the success!

2nd, you really need to decide what you WANT to do. If you were happy making this game, then perhaps you should just continue in this line. It sounds like it can be a lot more rewarding monetarily than working for someone else, as you arent going to get $240,000 working part time for a game company

Dont expect to make that much every game though, but I really wouldnt see a reason for you to join a company if you can get those kind of results on your own. If after a few more similar projects youve ammassed enough savings, you can always try bigger projects on your own.

You should have more experience dealing with publishers than as well, to get full funding for a team after youve made a prototype if you want to go that route though.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I also don''t believe you!

You are a big lyer!

Have your mom told, that you don''t may lie to adults!

You can''t prove your statements!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Yes, I also think this is not possible at all to make $80K
in 6 months, for a game that is part of a budget collection.

Go somewhere else with your lies.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
It is possible to make 80k off a game if it sells well enough, no reason to get into all this doubting and derail the original topic posters very valid question.

Bunch of babies on this forum. Just deal with the topics or shut up. Theres no reason to start demanding proof for everything and derail EVERY topic posted here.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
And it''s these jerk off''s that will eventually be the downfall of GameDev.net.

It won''t take long before any respectible member of the gaming community won''t have anything to do with this site.

It''s a real pitty. There is an amazing wealth of knowledge to be found in the content of gamedev.net and the experience of some of the regular members. It just takes a few idiots to make all that meaningless and to ruin the reputation of a great site.

To GDNet Staff - Eliminate the Annon posters. It might reduce the number of crap posts. (I know, this post is annon, but why cause a personal war).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
LifePath:

What game? What publisher? Enquiring minds want to know.

If it was good enough to make $80K / 6 months, I want to play it!

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
And it''s these jerk off''s that will eventually be the downfall of GameDev.net.


Actually, it was a registered user posting all flames against the original poster. I guess some get off on this type of thing. I don''t think it''s reason enough to stop all APs, but I call people on it when I see this behavior.


Mike

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I have to agree. I mean it is possible to make 80K in royalties, but on a budget game and in six months, that means you can get near 200K in a year. This would mean you''re not only getting incredible royalties but also huge sales. In addition, if it''s part of a pack, this means all the other authors would be getting similar amounts, which would total up to over a million per year in royalties for just 5-6 games in such a pack. Hmmm.
Either you''ve mistakingly added a 0 to your amount or the publishers of your game give way too much in royalties, where do their profits come in?

Another thing which makes this sound odd is this:
you say you made 80K in six months and then you ask: what should I do? It''s like a guy winning the lottery and asking if he should continue being a factory worker.

Don''t get me wrong, it is possible to make good money with ''budget'' games but this sounds way over the top. I would have to agree that you should at least post a link to your game. To get 80K in 6 months this game should be near professional quality, and you should not have any problem showing it off, right?

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Mark is the only one who thinks right.
The guy in this case didn't reply with a link.

Edited by - spikey on September 7, 2001 4:35:15 AM

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All flaming aside...what would be a reasonable figure for royalties for a budget pack game?

At the moment I''m coding for fun, and I am under no delusions that progging a commercial quality game is a bloody hard slog - but it would be nice to know that there is a chance to make money in the future, even if its only enough to keep me in beer.




------------------
Trouble is my business
------------------

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Guest Anonymous Poster
What currency did you make the 80,000 in?

It''s real important.

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I don''t see why some of you think it''s impossible for him to have made $80,000. Most computer games that do good sell about 100,000 - 200,000 copies. It was a budget game pack so it probably sold for around $20. Even if the games aren''t that good you get alot of custormers who will buy it because it''s only $20. So say the sold 100,000 copies that would mean $2,000,000. Say there was 5 games then thats 80,000 a game and that comes to $500,000. That still leaves $1.5 million to split between the publisher and the stores. So the publisher is probably making at least $750,000 for something they probably didn''t do too much work on.

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Look anything is possible. If that pack sold 500K copies in those six months, he could be earning even more.

There are a few things wrong with those assumptions:

1. 200K units or even 100K units in 6 months, that would make it sell higher than 99% of full price games, and it would be in the top 10 of games sold, think about it: 400,000 copies in a year, most games sell less than 50K copies.

2. Budget publishers will in nearly all cases give you a flat fee or royalties in the region of a few cents per unit sold, not 5 USD per unit sold to the developers. If a budget developer asks you to develop a game from scratch, you may receive something like 20-50K in total.

3. Making 80K in 6 months for 3 months of work. Think about it. Even if you can only manage 6 months = 2 games per year. That means you''re getting 80K x 2 x 2 = 320,000 USD per year in royalties for just working half of the year, and that''s after work hours only! If you would be able to get this from a budget game in a compilation, three years of work = typical development for a full price game - would earn you much, much more than any programmer on Quake3, Doom 3 or whatever.

Anyone with half a brain would be doing this.

To sum up, yes it is possible, but highly, highly unlikely. The above posters are right in saying that they have yet to hear of any budget publisher giving a million dollar-a year royalties for a budget compilation.

In addition, like I mentioned before it is odd to ask if you should become a 50K per year game programmer if you''re already making 150-200K per year in royalties for three months after work hobby programming. Go figure.

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Still, I would still like to know, (and I''m sure everybody else would), what kind of game sells like that. Could we have a link, or even some screenshots ?
r.

"The mere thought hadn''t even begun to speculate about the slightest possibility of traversing the eternal wasteland that is my mind..."

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Hey,
First of all congrats. I would really really really really like to see this game. To the others: Back in 1997 I made a game called ''BrainTwister'' in 2 weeks! (when I was in high-school.) I did not make any changes after that. eGames recently published it in a collection "Galaxy of Games Green edition". First of all, I did not expect it to ever get published! It came out about 3 weeks back (I think), and they already send me a cheque (enough to buy some RAM and a new spanking video-card (GeForce 3)). Now thats 2 weeks of work 4 years back. This guy (or gal) says 3 months of work. Let''s give him/her the benifit of the doubt, shall we?

Ybox [its just a stupid nick for now, I''ll come up with something better soon ;-) ]

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Mr. Ybox,

Nice to hear about your contract with eGames.
I also got experience with eGames and all I can say,
it''s in no way possible what Mr. Life Path says.
Because of the pro rata formula. I already explained it.
I find it amazing that so many people are thinking
that what this Mr. Life Path said is happened.
Think twice and again. It''s not possible.
If it was possible I would be already a very rich man.
Also Mr. Life Path didn''t give any reply for now.
So where is the prove if it was true?

Activision Value is busy at the moment with assambling a games collection, what do you think what the author would earn? It''s a joke of Activision Value. There was a topic a while ago, check it.

About the guy Life Path, he is a joke. If the guy is right, it would mean that the big guys of EA etc. are doing something wrong. The market doesn''t work on this way.
It''s right that collections sells very well.
Especially eGames collections. That''s why they are so popular in the big retail chains. But eGames uses the pro rata formula.
To be honest I don''t agree with it. eGames became famous eGames, because of the work of us, and what do they give "pocket money".
So it isn''t fair, but that''s buisness. Of course they do the marketing etc. but the author did the developing, right.

So why do they give a little to the developer?
If they don''t do it, they are earning not enough to run there
buisness. Especially if there are bad periods, they need to have a money buffer. Otherwise they could fire some of there staff in the bad periods. This is not total correct, because they got an investor. But they need to impress the investors with money. And they are a public company. So that''s for a part of the answer.
But again the formula generates so little that eGames must shame it self. Without these little developers they weren''t so big as today. But there are enough "school kids" who like to earn pocket money. So that''s why this is possible, isn''t it.
If you don''t agree with there payment, they are not interested anymore in you. There are enough little developers they could find. If the most or better all of those developers, were
against this not fair formula system, low royalty rate, we could
perhaps build a buisness.

A clue, inside information of eGames, there collection (and there are many of them) sells around the world about 100.000 units a year. If the formula was build honestly every developer
could earn a year salary of a programmer for only one game on the collection. And eGames would also be rich.

So why is this? Publishers don''t respect little developers.
That''s it.















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Hey all, check egames.com for the BrainTwister I created (under the galaxy of games green edition). Also, could someone please explain what this ''pro rata'' thing is? Thanks all.
-yBox

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Ybox, your story is even better for me than LifePath''s, because I can seriously believe it could also happen to me And since around here money for a geforce3 + some memory is a good payed 1 month full time job this makes me very happy.


I did find a reference of your game on egames.com, but no more. Can you give us more details?

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Hey Diodor,
Firstly, it is not a full-month''s pay (atleast in Canada.) But it still is a start !!! I don''t have a web-page right now, but I might set one up so that I can post some screen-shots soon. BTW, I am sure you are going to succeed in a much bigger way. Just remember, don''t let the whiners and nay-sayers get you down. Push forward and you WILL succeed.

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