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jtrier1

Can I design & develop a game with a sub $500k budget?

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Okay, I have this game idea in my head. I want to create a visually-appealing 2D side-scolling action platformer using UDK, Maya, After Effects, Photoshop, Gimp, and Blender. The game will have 52 levels spread out over 7 maps and will take the player roughly 14 hours to complete. I don't know programming or design, and will have to pay production people, sound people, designers, programmers, and animators to develop the game.

 

 

I know this probably isn't enough information, but I am new at this and I'm still learning all about game design/development.

 

Can I pull all of this off for $500,000 or less?

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Since you're asking about cost and not design, I'm moving this to Business. (It could arguably also belong in Production/Management, but since you're going to go into business to make games...)


 

2D side-scolling action platformer using UDK


It is possible to make a 2D side-scroller for PC for under $500,000. But you'll need experienced people, and an experienced producer (not a first-timer). The question back to you is, what's your plan for making the money back from the finished game?

 

 

 

Sorry...Thanks for moving it. As for making the money back, I'll need a marketing strategy so I can sell it.

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As for making the money back, I'll need a marketing strategy so I can sell it.

 

You should figure that bit out before you start spending half a million dollars!

 

 

 

oh yeah I know...It'll be a while before I start anything, so I have time.

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If you're planning on hiring professionals, you should expect to pay about $10,000 per man-month. About five years ago, the typical cost for a small-scale Xbox Live game was about half a million. A small-scale Xbox Live game is commensurate with a 2D side-scroller, I'd say.

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If you're planning on hiring professionals, you should expect to pay about $10,000 per man-month. About five years ago, the typical cost for a small-scale Xbox Live game was about half a million. A small-scale Xbox Live game is commensurate with a 2D side-scroller, I'd say.

 

 

How many programmers would I need for a game like this? Keep in mind that my idea is more complex than a typical "Point-A to Point-B" side scroller. It'll have 3D elements to it, and I'm estimating the project would take probably a year to two years to complete. Would you say roughly 3-5, or would I need more?

 

And I will provide a percentage of the sales revenue to my team.

Edited by jtrier1

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You have some oddly specific numbers given the bits you don't know. How can you know there will be exactly 52 levels and roughly 14 hours of gameplay before having so much as a prototype of the gameplay put together?

Keep in mind that content isn't free, either. Content creators work cheaper than engineers, sure, but you need a _many_ content creators for each engineer typically (5:1, 10:1, or even 20:1 aren't uncommon ratios even for small games).

So far as the number of engineers... depends on what exactly you're trying to do and how good of engineers you get. 3-5 good devs sounds like a reasonable back-of-the-envelope estimate given the lack of other details you have. If you want to estimate accurately you'll probably need to get someone who both knows your product vision intimately and has years of game development experience.

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You have some oddly specific numbers given the bits you don't know. How can you know there will be exactly 52 levels and roughly 14 hours of gameplay before having so much as a prototype of the gameplay put together?

Keep in mind that content isn't free, either. Content creators work cheaper than engineers, sure, but you need a _many_ content creators for each engineer typically (5:1, 10:1, or even 20:1 aren't uncommon ratios even for small games).

So far as the number of engineers... depends on what exactly you're trying to do and how good of engineers you get. 3-5 good devs sounds like a reasonable back-of-the-envelope estimate given the lack of other details you have. If you want to estimate accurately you'll probably need to get someone who both knows your product vision intimately and has years of game development experience.

 

 

Yes, I am a noob when it comes to stuff like this. I'm using simple math to calculate how many levels and completion hours that I'd want my game to have. 7 area maps, 7 levels per area (with the exception of one, which will have 10 levels) with an avg of 10-15 minutes to complete each level. Add all that up and you get 14 hours of gameplay. Ultimately, I want my game to be deep, immersive, and enjoyable. I know I can't put a timetable on such things, but I want to feel that the player gets his/her moneys worth without the game feeling too short.

 

I played Ghostbusters on PS3 and while it was deep, immersive, and enjoyable...I felt it was really short because I completely finished the game within the first night of buying it. Given that I paid $60 for the game, I felt really disappointed.

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It is possible to do a side-scroller for well under $500K, however it is very likely that a 'noob' would end up spending well over $1M (assuming one has the money!) by sheer lack of experience.

 

I suggest starting smaller: scale down on the amount of levels, reduce the amount of features, stick to straight 2D if possible, and try to learn and do as much as you can on your own.

The project probably won't be profitable even then, but the experience you'll earn from the effort will cost you much LESS than $500k, leaving your hypothetical super-mega-funding in your pockets for when you have more experience and can actually turn it into a successful project.

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It is possible to do a side-scroller for well under $500K, however it is very likely that a 'noob' would end up spending well over $1M (assuming one has the money!) by sheer lack of experience.

 

I suggest starting smaller: scale down on the amount of levels, reduce the amount of features, stick to straight 2D if possible, and try to learn and do as much as you can on your own.

The project probably won't be profitable even then, but the experience you'll earn from the effort will cost you much LESS than $500k, leaving your hypothetical super-mega-funding in your pockets for when you have more experience and can actually turn it into a successful project.

 

Perhaps you're right. I've been mulling over this particular project in my mind for a while now, and I really don't want to screw it up. I do have another idea that would take less money/manpower and I should start with that first.

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Greetings,
 

- the game of course you can do with your investments mentioned, but:
 

a) to recoup the costs of the game must be expensive market analysis and very broad array of expensive advertising;

b) it is necessary to release the game for all popular game platforms;

 

c) the game has to be thought out seriously for what it is, what the gamer audience, whether they are still in the world;

good luck !

Edited by vvv2

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?

?b) it is necessary to release the game for all popular game platforms;

Necessary? That's never necessary. You always need to take into account whether a port is valuable or not.

Because each port comes at a cost, you have to balance this against expected sales.

 

- so, seriously speaking, but usually designed  game to move to the additional platform despicably low cost compared to the costs of new dressing .. and in this case is discovered a new niche to distribution ..

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- so, seriously speaking, but usually designed  game to move to the additional platform despicably low cost compared to the costs of new dressing .. and in this case is discovered a new niche to distribution ..

 

There's more to it:

What if you can get Xbox exclusivity for 6 months and cash in 500 000$?

How advisable is the playstation port then?

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Wasteland 2 blew through around $3M, and that was an experienced design and development team.  The end result can be summed up by a great American poet whose name escapes me:

 

"Mo' money, mo' problems."

 

Do what you can with what you have.  Listen to the above advice from Mr. Sloper, et al.  Also Wasteland 2 is a boring bugfest of a sloppy game.

Edited by GoCatGo

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It is definately possible, to be honest I don't have too much expertise in this field, but I think -500k is quite realistic for a small scale game. I think the problem with most small budget games is that they try to cut costs everywhere. My advice is to not cut costs on people you hire (within reasonable amounts of course). In the end, you usually get what you pay for and hiring cheap employees or even students will likely leave you with sloppy code and artwork.

Anyway, good luck!

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It is definately possible, to be honest I don't have too much expertise

 

How can you put "definately (sic) possible" and "I don't have too much expertise" in the same sentence?

Either you know, or you don't...

 


I think the problem with most small budget games is that they try to cut costs everywhere.

Most small games are made by very small teams, oftentimes by unpaid people. Most indie games end up bankrupt before release and decide to ship whatever they can in a hail Mary. Then again, most indies don't have anywhere close to 500K $ to spend...

 


In the end, you usually get what you pay for and hiring cheap employees or even students will likely leave you with sloppy code and artwork.

 

You'll probably end up with crap code and art even if you pay a lot unless you put a lot of thought into WHO you're going to "hire". Oftentimes, it is better to partner up with someone local and discuss specifics with them than send out an advert. What you need, as an indie, is (a) longterm reliable and motivated partner(s). Skills performing a single task may not be nearly as important as the ability to stick with the project and do more than is asked. If you can get your hands on someone that cares about the end product as much as you and is willing to do everything (that is, won't label himself as a programmer or artist but will actually help with more than one thing) to make it count, then you are lucky and whatever the game ends up costing is what it needed to cost.

 

Working with freelancers, alternatively, is also a good avenue.

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The first question is where and how you plan to get your $500k budget, and the first-first question (because really you should have an idea before spending $500k) is how do you plan to make it back, and then some?

 

 

A seasoned programmer probably expects in the neighborhood of $100k/year salary, give or take $20k, with benefits like healthcare and 401k on top of that. plus there's equipment and facilities if you plan to work in a central location. All told, $150k/year for a developer is about right at the lower end. You can probably pick up a reasonably bright recent graduate or someone with maybe one game under their belt for maybe $70k-$75k salary, so call it $100k all-told. That's half your budget.

 

For another $200k, or perhaps a bit more, you can probably find 1 seasoned artist a promising artist who's recent grads or wanting to break into the industry, and a level designer. That's 90% of your budget, at least.

 

Whatever's left can probably buy you a decent soundtrack, foley, voice-recording, and a reasonable level of production on those, if you don't need a ton of individual pieces. That's all of your budget.

 

That doesn't include a marketing budget, or any budget for project management, game design, or marketing, or any pay for yourself whatever role you intend to play. It bought you about a year's worth of burn time to get your project done, or at least to a stage where you can seek additional funding.

 

That's just one example configuration that I think would be reasonable.

 

I don't think the coding would be that much work, especially if you used an engine like Unity. You could probably get by with just one programmer if they are seasoned and well-rounded. They might cost a more per head, but less than a senior programmer + one that's more-junior. It might free up enough for another level designer, a project manager, or some marketing.

 

 

But at any rate, it sounds vaguely like you're lining up several carts in front of one very and increasingly anxious horse. If you're seriously considering financing this somehow, you should really develop the design more fully, do some market analysis, project sales, and build out a prototype on a much smaller budget.

 

Of course, all of that is the route of throwing money at it to make it happen. If you can succeed at selling your vision, this kind of project is not beyond accomplishing with a few years time from some dedicated hobbyists. Easier said than done, of course, but possible.

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A seasoned programmer probably expects in the neighborhood of $100k/year salary, give or take $20k, with benefits like healthcare and 401k on top of that. plus there's equipment and facilities if you plan to work in a central location. All told, $150k/year for a developer is about right at the lower end. You can probably pick up a reasonably bright recent graduate or someone with maybe one game under their belt for maybe $70k-$75k salary, so call it $100k all-told. That's half your budget.

 

You are assuming hiring from the USA here though. There are valuable developers out of the USA that will require much less.

Certain countries however represent in challenge in terms of barrier of speech though.

 


and build out a prototype on a much smaller budget.

+1

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Hi,

- some kind of fight going here? Ones for me make "plus", others make "minus"! Who will win? Without any explanation?

Thanks.

 

angry.png 

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Hi,

- some kind of fight going here? Ones for me make "plus", others make "minus"! Who will win? Without any explanation?

Thanks.

 

angry.png

 

There is no fight. You will be given upvotes or downvotes depending on the quality of your answer and how it pertains to thread's subject. The people who upvote/downvote may not be people who post in the thread but simply an observer. 

 

If you are wanting to know why you have been receiving downvotes it is very simple: The quality of your answers has not been very good. Understandably part of this is due to the English language not being your native tongue (or at least I assume so given the way you write) but the major reason is that the suggestions made in your earlier two posts were not very helpful to the subject at hand as shown by Orymus3's replies to you (who I might point out did not downvote you).

 

If you do have a concern regarding downvoting/upvoting or other issues - the best approach is to speak to a moderator. The worst approach is to put it into a thread such as this as it does not pertain to the subject and is more likely to garner you downvotes.

 

I apologise to the thread for the deviation away from the subject.

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The conversation has veered off topic. Anyone who wants to discuss this site's up/down-voting system can take it to the GDNet discussion forum.
In case someone has something germane to add to the original question and the answer to it, I'm not closing the thread right now.

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