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greentiger

Question re paying programmers for indie game

16 posts in this topic

I'm an indie game designer and have been trouble finding a reliable programmer to create my game (it's a SP and MP final fantasy tactics like game). I want to program the game to be cross platform so I am considering Love2D, java, or C. I am considering hiring a programmer to work on it for me since I can only do basic stuff. However, I work a normal day job like most people and can't afford to pay a lot. Before I commit myself to this option what would be a reasonable amount to offer for a project like this? Also, what would be a typical way to measure work (pay by milestones or pay by month?).

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Not sure which thread I should reply to, you have two of them (doesn't Gamedev.net have any mechanisms to prevent double-threads?) but I'll just reply in this one. A mod/admin might see this and decides to move this post later.

 

From what I see in the Hobbyist Projects section of Classifieds, it's mostly pay-by-milestones. So you complete a demo, go for a Kickstarter campaign, and pay afterwards, or pay after the game makes money. In this case, it's usually profit-sharing instead of the usual weekly/monthly wages.

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Not sure which thread I should reply to, you have two of them (doesn't Gamedev.net have any mechanisms to prevent double-threads?) but I'll just reply in this one. A mod/admin might see this and decides to move this post later.

 

From what I see in the Hobbyist Projects section of Classifieds, it's mostly pay-by-milestones. So you complete a demo, go for a Kickstarter campaign, and pay afterwards, or pay after the game makes money. In this case, it's usually profit-sharing instead of the usual weekly/monthly wages.

 

I didn't make two threads although the forum did time out on me and I refreshed my browser so it's quite possible two were made--if so it was quite unintentional.

Anyway--OK pay by milestones; what do you think is a fair wage? I guess it would depend on the milestones and the number of them.

 

Like for example, if it were broken into the following steps:

Milestone1 : Proto build with basic features: isometric drawing, unit animation, terrain height, field rotation, zooming in/out, unit customizations, class /experience /equipment tables, etc

Milestone2 : MP alpha with map editor

Milestone3 : MP alpha with map editor, with AI, with army editor

Milestone4 : MP alpha with map editor, with AI, with army editor, with replays

Milestone5 : MP alpha with map editor, with AI,with army editor, with replays, with saves

Milestone6 : MP beta with map editor, with AI,with army editor,, with replays, with saves

Milestone7 : MP final and SP alpha with campaign editor (story scripting, event scripting like chests with items)

Milestone8 : MP final and SP beta with campaign editor (monster units, monster AI, victory/loss conditions)

Milestone9 : MP final and SP final with campaign editor

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We really can't tell you what is a fair wage because this is down to the individual programmer as to how much they want.  You need to let them name a price.  If it is too much then keep looking.

Also Why are you considering Love2D, C or Java? 

Isn't this a decision for the programmer to make?

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what do you think is a fair wage?


"Wage" is the wrong word. Wages only apply to full-time hourly employees. You're talking about hiring a contractor.
Contractors have to charge more than what they would get in wages, since they have to cover expenses for doing business, health insurance, and taxes.
In general, the Game Industry Salary Survey can give you an idea of how much game programmers are paid as full-time salaried employees. You can take those numbers and convert them to hours as a starting point for figuring out what you need to know.
When you're ready to hire someone, you can use this website's Classifieds section.
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We really can't tell you what is a fair wage because this is down to the individual programmer as to how much they want.  You need to let them name a price.  If it is too much then keep looking.

Also Why are you considering Love2D, C or Java? 

Isn't this a decision for the programmer to make?

 

I'm considering Love2D, C, and Java because I actually can follow that code and maybe even help somewhat.

I know HOW to program, I'm just not good enough to write a game--I've tried. I can put code together but I'm not creative enough, at least in regards to programming, to solve the problems I need to sove. I can write a database and an interactive website just fine, need to find a position of a mouse in an isometric grid? no idea. I posted that order because I know Lua best, C OK enough to follow along what's happening, and java worst. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a certain programming framework and/or language.

Edited by greentiger
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what do you think is a fair wage?


"Wage" is the wrong word. Wages only apply to full-time hourly employees. You're talking about hiring a contractor.
Contractors have to charge more than what they would get in wages, since they have to cover expenses for doing business, health insurance, and taxes.
In general, the Game Industry Salary Survey can give you an idea of how much game programmers are paid as full-time salaried employees. You can take those numbers and convert them to hours as a starting point for figuring out what you need to know.
When you're ready to hire someone, you can use this website's Classifieds section.

 

 

A wage is any type of financial compensation for each completed task, hourly or daily rate, or based on a measured quantity of work--and is commonly used to denote any kind of employee compensation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage ).

Thanks for the names of the resources, hopefully that will help me figure things out.

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I myself have been trying to complete a game for some time (years), but I always seem to want to do everything myself, but then I end up not finishing anything. It frustrates me. So I took a step back and decided to simplify everything so that I can actually have a chance to complete something. I think that this is what you should do. Think about the fact that the game you want to make is requiring you to hire a programmer. So what you've already decided is that your project is already too much for you. Maybe think about putting your current game idea aside for now and trying to work on a smaller game that you can actually make on your own. You have to understand that Indie games are not about game content , but rather about the game play itself. Look at Flappy Bird for instance. Only one level, and one objective, don't fly into anything. This is the route I'm going, i'm keeping it simple. My reason for this is that if I can make some income from a small game (mobile type) then I can use that money to invest in another bigger project and also get some experience along the way. I'm willing to work with you to make a game in what ever programming language you want, but if we work together lets start small and then go after a big project.

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Buster2000, on 10 Jun 2014 - 08:33 AM, said:

We really can't tell you what is a fair wage because this is down to the individual programmer as to how much they want. You need to let them name a price. If it is too much then keep looking.

Also Why are you considering Love2D, C or Java?

Isn't this a decision for the programmer to make?



I'm considering Love2D, C, and Java because I actually can follow that code and maybe even help somewhat.

I know HOW to program, I'm just not good enough to write a game--I've tried. I can put code together but I'm not creative enough, at least in regards to programming, to solve the problems I need to sove. I can write a database and an interactive website just fine, need to find a position of a mouse in an isometric grid? no idea. I posted that order because I know Lua best, C OK enough to follow along what's happening, and java worst. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for a certain programming framework and/or language.

 

 

What you consider "helping out"  a lot of contractors may consider a hinderance.  I have worked on projects before where designers have waited till everybody leaves work and then past some tutorial code into a manu system because they think it looks snazzy.  If you want to hire somebody then just forget about suggesting technology and just concentrate on hiring somebody who can make a game.  You may find somebody who can get the job done in Unity or cocos2d-x or GameMaker or some other technology right away instead of spending months trying to find somebody who wants to be constricted by the technology that you have chosen for no real reason.

 

If you are the designer and artist but under your own admission are not quite good enough to code a game then what you are basically looking for is a tech lead, which means whoever you hire is going to have to call the shots when it comes to chosing a coding frame work.  Also while the contract fees may seem scary it is not unusual for contractors to work for lower fees if they see a good game idea and no limitations as to how it is developed.

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As far as milestones are concerned, NEVER write something as vague as "Alpha".

Alpha and Beta are different things to everyone and even something like "content complete" is up for interpretation.

Best contracts I've signed (and the ones that led to the fewest amount of problems) were those that explained their definitions of "Done" in bullet points.

 

 

Milestone (1)

- "X Feature completed, fully functional and fully implemented, some issues of Type A may remain" (Type A issue is defined elsewhere).

- "X Feature completed, fully functional and fully implemented, some issues of Type A may remain" (Type A issue is defined elsewhere).

- "X Feature completed, fully functional and fully implemented, some issues of Type A may remain" (Type A issue is defined elsewhere).

- "X Feature completed, fully functional and fully implemented, some issues of Type A may remain" (Type A issue is defined elsewhere).

- "Y Feature prototyped, complete flow operable, but some functionalities are missing. Issues of Type C are all resolved (Type C issue is defined elsewhere).

 

Etc.

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I'm an indie game designer and have been trouble finding a reliable programmer to create my game (it's a SP and MP final fantasy tactics like game). I want to program the game to be cross platform so I am considering Love2D, java, or C. I am considering hiring a programmer to work on it for me since I can only do basic stuff. However, I work a normal day job like most people and can't afford to pay a lot. Before I commit myself to this option what would be a reasonable amount to offer for a project like this? Also, what would be a typical way to measure work (pay by milestones or pay by month?).

1. Why do you want the game to be cross platform compatible? Which platforms specifically are you trying to target? Why? What's the business logic behind it? If you don't know the answers to any of these questions, you really need to sit down and figure out why this is a necessary requirement and what you're objectives are. If you're committed to cross platform support, it's going to take some factor of X time longer to complete and ship your game. You'll almost certainly want to use a game engine.
2. Now you want to specify a programming language requirement as well? Why?! That almost guarantees that you're not looking at a specific game engine and that means your multi-platform support is going to be excruciatingly difficult and cost a lot of time and testing. My recommendation is sit down with your programmer and pick a game engine he/she is very familiar with.
3. Since you're working a day job, that's going to make things a lot more difficult for you and your programmer to complete the game. What happens to their progress if they have a critical question for you? Can they interrupt you at work or do they have to wait? How do you keep the pace of work smooth and seamless? What happens if you get home at night and are burned out by work and can't muster the energy to work some more on a game project? What if you lose your motivation/commitment to the project? What if that happens to your programmer?

4. You want to pay your programmer well enough to keep them motivated to keep working on the project. The precise amount of money that comes out to varies by programmer based on their level of experience, motivation, alternative offers, economic circumstances, interest, etc. The only way to figure this out is to talk to your prospective programmers.

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I didn't make two threads although the forum did time out on me and I refreshed my browser so it's quite possible two were made--if so it was quite unintentional.

Anyway--OK pay by milestones; what do you think is a fair wage? I guess it would depend on the milestones and the number of them.

 

Like for example, if it were broken into the following steps:

Milestone1 : Proto build with basic features: isometric drawing, unit animation, terrain height, field rotation, zooming in/out, unit customizations, class /experience /equipment tables, etc

Milestone2 : MP alpha with map editor

Milestone3 : MP alpha with map editor, with AI, with army editor

Milestone4 : MP alpha with map editor, with AI, with army editor, with replays

Milestone5 : MP alpha with map editor, with AI,with army editor, with replays, with saves

Milestone6 : MP beta with map editor, with AI,with army editor,, with replays, with saves

Milestone7 : MP final and SP alpha with campaign editor (story scripting, event scripting like chests with items)

Milestone8 : MP final and SP beta with campaign editor (monster units, monster AI, victory/loss conditions)

Milestone9 : MP final and SP final with campaign editor

 

 

I think that's too granular for milestones. Most projects pretty much say "We'll pay you after Kickstarter, and more after public launch."

 

As for wages, like I said before, it's mostly profit sharing. So, if say, you make 25k in your Kickstarter campaign, and you have 2 programmers, 1 artist, then you can give each 5k, and keep the remaining 10k yourself. It's really not something set in stone.

Edited by Truerror
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You can pay something i dont know 10$ for an hour, As the game creation takes usually quite long it becomes quite expensive thing;

Second problem it that there is quite high risk it would slow down infinitely before it would be finished.. (how to prevent it)

Third problem is to sell it and make more money than it cost..

 

I have no busines experience at all but those three problems are obvious ones

Edited by fir
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have no busines experience at all but those three problems are obvious ones

 

Compensation is ALL but obvious, even with straightforward wages.

The best plan is the one you mutually agree on, and the best starting plan is to discuss with your team individually and ask what they'd be comfortable with, being straightforward about your position as you've been in the OP.

Professionals will understand and value this rationale and may or may not agree with the circumstances (assuming the latter, they would never agree to any terms any way).

 

Once you know what they'd ideally like, you can see if that makes sense to you, and provide a formal offer to them.

There's no magic way of doing this.

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Normal rates around here(western europe) for freelancing programmers are in the $50-$200 / hour range. I would expect US rates to be similar.

 

Freelancers have to pay for their own equipment, licenses, insurances, taxes, social security fees and put away money for downtime between projects,  their retirement, vacations, etc (costs normally covered by an employer) and thus they will be significantly higher than a normal salary.

 

The success of any software project depends heavily on the quality of the staff involved, attempting to cut costs by going with cheap freelancers is very likely to backfire(inexperienced programmers will most likely require far more time even for simple tasks and are far more likely to deliver low quality code)

 

Throwing in revenue shares is an option if the OP is unable to afford paying market rates but he needs to consider the risk everyone takes when assigning shares. It is unfortunately quite common for "idea-guys"(not saying the OP is one of those, but they are unfortunatly quite common) to assign the majority of the shares to themselves while letting everyone else take all or most of the risk. (working for free or at a reduced rate is equivalent to investing money in a project).

 

a fairly decent way to assign revenue shares to a team of partially paid freelancers is to:

 

* give them 1 share * (TheRateTheyAreWorth - TheRateYouPayThem) for each hour they spend on the project.

* give yourself 1 share * TheRateYouPayThem for each hour they spend on the project

* give yourself 1 share * TheRateYouAreWorth for each hour you spend on the project.

* if you spend money on the project in other ways(servers, hosting, marketing, etc) give yourself 1 share per <insert_unit_of_currency> spent for that.

 

This gives everyone a share proportional to the risk they take and noone gets shafted, if you take a reasonable share of the risk(by paying a portion of everyones normal  rate and/or by putting in solid, high quality work yourself) and keep the total risk other people take down you can attract and keep some decent talent even on a tight budget.

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I prefer basing shares on results as opposed to time. 

You can also agree on static shares plus a split of profit, that way, they get a static % of the game's funding (insures they get money), plus royalties on sales beyond a certain threshold (insures they are willing to work hard for a better product).

 

That being said, a share-only agreement would dictate that you know your team well enough. You should handpick motivated (and capable) individuals you've known. On the upside, most "sharks" won't joint if this is royalty only.

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