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Estimates For My Game

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Good afternoon!


I have a hypothetical question as I am trying to budget for my video game. 

I have put together a prototype that has basically everything that will be in the final game which you can see here-



As you can see relatively simple- 2D sprite based animation. Almost a Pokemon clone. 

5 screens- Title Screen, Towns, World Map, Battles, Menus (menus not shown, but similar to Pokemon where you can simply re-order monsters and see their stats). 


My question is- if I were to hire (full time) a professional, experienced programmer, how long would you estimate it would take for them to put this together (for Windows / Mac / Linux) and how much do you estimate they would charge?


Now I know this is almost impossible to answer because the majority of the time is taken finding and fixing bugs and testing, but literally ANY guess you can make would be of great help. 


Second Question- for games like this, is it as 'simple' as creating the program for one town, and the repeating the code for all towns, just with different tiles, sprites and dialogue trees? and the same for battles e.t.c? So that the programmer is basically programming 5 screens, then just adding different content?


I understand that these things are very amorphous, but I just need some kind of starting point. Thank you for your time with this. I can answer any questions that might help narrow this down. 

All the best-



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Who is doing it? A college student over the summer break, or a professional individual, or an experienced professional group?

What level of quality do you need? A student project level of quality, or a professional quality?

What level of QA do you need? How do you feel about bugs?

What about graphics? Music? Audio events and visual effects?

I can easily imagine that type of project done at a professional level to cost six figures.

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1. Ideally a professional individual.

2. By level of quality do you just mean the number of bugs?

3. Myself and volunteers can test for bugs, there will be so few mechanics that I foresee a limited number of problems.

4. All other content is taken care of and will be simply supplied to the programmer to put into place. All the graphics is 2D sprite based and so animation will just involve calling the correct sprite.

I was hoping to be a little under 6 figures as I threw together that prototype myself with no experience or knowledge in less than a week's worth of man-hours. (Not including drawing the graphics) and the only real bug is that enemies are still selectable after they have disappeared...

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What did you use to make the prototype? It looks pretty complete, just do some bug fixes and find an artist to fix up the graphics for you. Most people take much more than a week to do their first game project with no prior experience, so perhaps you have the guts to take this on yourself? 

Artists are fairly easy to find. Find a friend with drawing skills and sit down with them for a few hours(or days) and get it done. You could also find loyalty free artwork.


Hiring somebody full time is a big deal. You have to consider that most programmers wouldn't want to work for you full time unless they are getting paid 6 figures. Also you need to manage taxes and health insurance etc. 


Quality could mean bugs, but a bad programmer might take some shortcuts that sacrifice performance or do unconventional things.

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1. Since this is an RPG, you don't want a coder who has zero experience with gameplay programming. it really doesn't matter they have 15 yrs of prof.exp. in non-real-time database/backend/web/whatever. Those translate terribly to games programming.


2. You do want an experienced coder who is twice as expensive (but twice as productive) as the cheaper one, even though it costs the same for the very simple fact, that the expensive one wastes much less of your time.


3. As a coder who designed RPG gameplay system before, I can't recommend enough finding someone who actually implemented the RPG gameplay before, since it guarantees easily double/triple productivity (and way, way less bugs).


4. You want a multiplatform game. Choose your language wisely. Just stay away from C++. Sure, there are ways how to implement the RPG system even in C++ safely and robustly. But how would you really know that, if you are not an expert in that language ? I thought the same and reimplemented an RPG gameplay in C# recently. The productivity difference (and absence of bugs) is amazing. Sure, you can do it in C++ safely - but it will simply take longer (25% - 33%) and the resulting code will be harder to read (and will take longer to debug).


5. My estimate, under C#, taking into account what I already know about RPG gameplay, is ~6-8 weeks for whole game.


6. Price - too many factors are involved - region (costs of living), age, personal situation (single person vs a parent), ... Just choose a region and investigate the median wages there, to get a closer idea.

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What did you use to make the prototype? It looks pretty complete, just do some bug fixes and find an artist to fix up the graphics for you. Most people take much more than a week to do their first game project with no prior experience, so perhaps you have the guts to take this on yourself? \


You are correct. It only looks pretty complete. But it's just a vertical slice of a gameplay - frankly - that is at most 5%-10% of the total effort needed.


I'd wager it's done using gamemaker, since that would be the best tool for the job (e.g. get the core concept to playable state as soon possible - to convey the idea fast).


There's lots of stuff that is missing here :

- a global system that handles data-driven Weapons, Equip, Spells and Potions.


- data-driven stats/rules/tables that can be easily adjusted by level designers (e.g. via text files) without having to endlessly bug the programmer to tweak this/that


- Inventory handling. If you think you can implement a fully-working Inventory system in 2 days, you are in for a drastic surprise, how much actually goes into the "simple" Diablo-style Inventory screen, where each item has different dimensions (thus you need an auto-arrange feature), where the amount of the inventory slots depends on your stats and where, depending on the combination of currently equipped stat-boosters, some equipped items have to be put back to Inventory (which may be a problem if it is full - what happens then ? you want to put it into the world ? maybe you can't, since you are on the ship, travelling between island (and there are 10 more scenarios that the design document usually doesn't take into account) But when you lost that STR+5 necklace, you can't have the INT+3 armour, thus that sword of yours suddenly becomes unavailable and you need to put 5 items into inventory, where anywhere between 0-5 items don't fit


- Special items / enchanting : if the original design document does not have a complete&proven (on paper/excel) ruleset on the generation of the random enchanted items  (that auto-adjust to player's stats) before your coder started writing the classes, you are screwed.


- Crate component - how do you fill the stuff ? Based on stats or manually in editor ? How many items can it have ? How many will be enchanted ?


- Persistency - how much of the world is persistent and how much is randomized ? What's your contingency on testing the random component ?


- Combat system - frankly - that  should be one the last things to implement for countless reasons.


I could go on like that for few more pages...



To be honest - this is one of those cases, where it is far more important to have a strong game design document from someone who has already designed few RPGs and has direct experience with all the issues that happen in production - thus knows all the corner cases and highlights them in the des.doc so that the coder can take all those non-obvious corner cases into accnt during designing of the classes.




it is paramount that the class design takes all of the above into consideration. Otherwise, it will take way longer to fix....

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Thank you all so much for the help.

Yes ideally I would like someone who has done something similar to this before successfully (isn't that what all employers really want? Heheh)

I'm in California so I would hire someone as an independent contractor- much simpler, that way I can give them more money and not fuss around with health insurance and reduce paperwork.

You are correct- I used Construct 2 to create the game, and I totally recommend it to anyone starting out in 2D games. And yes it is currently missing global data like stats, exp points, items, blah blah. I could add those but I just made it to give an impression of the final game. Didn't want to spend too long on it as the final game likely will be made using something like C# as you say.

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If I can make one more recommendation, that'd be to use global outsourcing sites - e.g.:






and similar....




Make sure to write the No1 requirement of prior gaming coding experience (to filter out the web/DB guys), preferably RPG.


This will get the hourly rate to a more manageable level.



Although many would argue, I'd probably rather get a slightly less experienced guy coding in managed langauge (e.g. C#, Java) than more experienced one in C++, for the simple fact, that there is no way you could efficiently enforce the time-saving managed practices/techniques - there are way too many loose ends in C++. And C++ does not really bring anything meaningful to the table for this kind of game, anyway.


The reason for my language preference is that many years ago I wrote the RPG system under C++ and last year rewrote it under C#, so I can reasonably compare the complexity, maintainability and number of bugs (and how quickly you can fix them in C#).




That is, of course, unless you can find some C++11 guru willing to work for the rate of an average C# programmer smile.png

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Oh Vlad R- there will be no items... Or equipment or weapons, it is all monster mechanics- crazy right?

Everything will be persistent apart from battle encounters which will have random opponents.

Imagine Pokemon yellow but with no items and that is the level of complexity I am going for (and almost identical mechanics/functions). Does that narrow down at all what I am trying to accomplish?

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What you have is little more than a proof of concept demo.

You will provide
* A clear written design, including listings of game engines you are licenced to use
* All art assets (both images and animations) fully created and rendered before the contract begins, and able to be adjusted as necessary during development.
* All audio assets fully created before the contract begins, and able to be adjusted as necessary during development.

You will also need to work with a lawyer in the process, so count on another $1000-1500 over the course of the project in direct legal fees.

You are asking to hire:
* a local experienced 1099'er in SoCal
* with professional RPG games experience
* willing and able to complete a game

The first two combined mean they'll ask at least $15K per month. Based on what you showed for gameplay, and assuming you somehow managed to provide all of the art and animation and audio assets before they start, my rough guess is it would take at least six months and still be quite buggy. So $15K*6=$90K+.

It is unlikely that you will find such an individual, and much more likely you can find an experienced small game development house willing to take on the contract for about $50K/month. I can imagine an experienced group using those same assets to produce a polished product in about 3 months, or $150K, and it will probably be better quality.

Those are for minimal-feature estimates. You will not get any additional features or support for your product. Edited by frob

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