OhTeeDubb

Cost of Game Making

Recommended Posts

OhTeeDubb    167
Hey there! I'm new to the forums and in typical new guy fashion my first post is a question that's probably been asked 100 times over. My bad in advance.

I'd like to know what the cost would be to make an indie rpg video game with the graphical level not surpassing anything made on PlayStation 1.

Along with that question I'd like to know exactly what it takes (is needed?) to create a video game. I'm coming from years of just playing around with the Rpg Maker program, so actual game dev is new to me. I came across notebooks full of notes and such on a game I was working on some 9 years ago and I want to actually bring it to life.

If I posted this in the wrong spot, apologies. I'll be sticking around these forums and soaking up as much knowledge as I can. Thanks to anyone that helps ??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jpetrie    13100
Anywhere from $0 to $millions (excluding opportunity costs). The primary issue is that it's not the "graphical level" of the game that matters, it's your own ability. If you have the capability of building art of the appropriate quality, for example, the cost of that art is $0 (again, excluding opportunity costs) because you can do it yourself. If you have to hire somebody to make that art, well, it depends on what they're willing to charge you for the service.
 
It's the same with the programming aspect: if you can write the code you need, or use tools like Game Maker or engines like Unreal to do so, then the cost is again effectively zero. If you can't, and you have to hire somebody or pay for some tools or whatever, then the cost is whatever the specific tools you buy cost.
 
You can make such a game very cheaply, which is the important bit. And I would encourage you to focus on that, as one should rarely spend lots of money on ones first game project ever.
 
RPG Maker is perfectly capable of making a game like you want, for example. Especially if you are familiar with it, it's far more likely to be an effective tool in your hands. So I'd focus on that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
frob    44904

> I'd like to know what the cost would be to make an indie rpg video game with the graphical level not surpassing anything made on PlayStation 1.

 

Graphics are only a tiny piece of the product.  Roughly akin to asking how much a red car costs.

 

PS1 games costs about $10M-$30M.  That is for a professional team, high quality software, graphics, audio, QA, certification, and the rest of the development cost, with about 1/3 of that for marketing when the game is finished.

 

As an individual, you will not be making one of those games. You will be making a game that is much smaller.

 

> Along with that question I'd like to know exactly what it takes (is needed?) to create a video game.

 

The question is far too broad.  There are video games like "guess the number" that can be created in a few minutes, all you need is a web browser and optionally a text editor (there are text editors on the web).  

 

Every game is different. There are games that take work-weeks, games that take work-months, games that take work-years.  Most of the big games you see can be measured in work years. The blockbuster AAA games you can be measured in work-centuries.

 

You mention RPG Maker.  That can help you make games, and can be enough of a tool if that is the kind of games you are interested in making.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

Anywhere from $0 to $millions (excluding opportunity costs). The primary issue is that it's not the "graphical level" of the game that matters, it's your own ability. If you have the capability of building art of the appropriate quality, for example, the cost of that art is $0 (again, excluding opportunity costs) because you can do it yourself. If you have to hire somebody to make that art, well, it depends on what they're willing to charge you for the service.
 
It's the same with the programming aspect: if you can write the code you need, or use tools like Game Maker or engines like Unreal to do so, then the cost is again effectively zero. If you can't, and you have to hire somebody or pay for some tools or whatever, then the cost is whatever the specific tools you buy cost.
 
You can make such a game very cheaply, which is the important bit. And I would encourage you to focus on that, as one should rarely spend lots of money on ones first game project ever.
 
RPG Maker is perfectly capable of making a game like you want, for example. Especially if you are familiar with it, it's far more likely to be an effective tool in your hands. So I'd focus on that.


Hey, thanks for the pretty quick reply. I'm pretty useless in all aspects and I was going to pay for basically the entirety of its creation. I had hopes of creating this game and submitting it to steam. If I had a budget of say $20 thousand. Would that be a feasible amount to create something that plays like, we'll say, chronic trigger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trjh2k2    416

exactly what it takes (is needed?)

It's a question that can be answered a whole number of different ways, but ultimately, the answer is that it takes time, and it's that time that you derive the rest of your cost from.  If you have all the time in the world, then you can use that time to make a game.  Or you can pay for someone elses time (aka hire them) to make a game.  The amount of time (and therefor money) you'll need depends on the scope of the project.  Maybe you can make a game in a couple of days or a week.  Maybe you can make a game in a year or two.

You can arguably make a game "for free" by doing it in your spare time, but it's going to a long process that way.  I don't know any legit numbers, but any reasonable sized game of whatever scope comes down to either sacrificing a lot of spare time, or paying several peoples wages until the project is done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
frob    44904

I was going to pay for basically the entirety of its creation. I had hopes of creating this game and submitting it to steam. If I had a budget of say $20 thousand. Would that be a feasible amount to create something that plays like, we'll say, chronic trigger.
 

 

You mean Chrono Trigger?

 

No, that is nowhere near enough.  Looking it over, that game was about 2 years in development with about 70 people based on their credits. That's about 140 work years, or about $16M in salary.

 

 

You can probably hire someone to make an extremely simple game that follows the same style of Chrono Trigger. $20K will give you about 2 months of professional work, or about 5-10 months of amateur work. That won't get you very far, but it could make something that vaguely reminds you of Chrono Trigger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trjh2k2    416
If I had a budget of say $20 thousand. Would that be a feasible amount to create something that plays like, we'll say, chronic trigger.

 

 

No, that would not be feasible.

I don't know much about the business side of that kind of thing, but I would guess that for 20k you could maybe make a game, but it would be a very tiny game.  Think a simple mobile game, one or two mechanics, and not very fancy art.  That would likely only pay for a small fraction of something like Chrono Trigger.  The budget is not just graphics, it's number of features, programmer time, debugging time, audio, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

If I had a budget of say $20 thousand. Would that be a feasible amount to create something that plays like, we'll say, chronic trigger.
 
No, that would not be feasible.
I don't know much about the business side of that kind of thing, but I would guess that for 20k you could maybe make a game, but it would be a very tiny game.  Think a simple mobile game, one or two mechanics, and not very fancy art.  That would likely only pay for a small fraction of something like Chrono Trigger.  The budget is not just graphics, it's number of features, programmer time, debugging time, audio, etc.

Yeah, I get that.. I'm using my phone and I'm not 100% sure how to quote with names yet, but the guy above said the game was created with a crew of 70 and cost about $16M. But that was back when technology wasn't so advanced. You don't think for something like that it'd be much cheaper now?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alberth    9508

Unlikely, the standards of gaming go up too, so if you make at the level of what was state of the art back then, it will look dated now.

Even if it did become cheaper, you're talking from 16M to 20K, which is a factor 80. Making a game hasn't become 80 times as cheap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

Unlikely, the standards of gaming go up too, so if you make at the level of what was state of the art back then, it will look dated now.
Even if it did become cheaper, you're talking from 16M to 20K, which is a factor 80. Making a game hasn't become 80 times as cheap.


True it may look "dated" but very successful indie games that look "dated" pop up on psn all the time so I'm not too worried about that. I guess $20k is too low of a budget which is a bummer. I was super excited to bring this thing back to life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trjh2k2    416

I don't think it would literally be $16 million to do a 2d RPG, but I could see it being maybe 2-5 million, with a small but experienced team.

Like I said before, it boils down to time- and while technology has improved, and some things are much easier to do, it's still not THAT much easier.  A full featured game takes a long time to make.  Even if you start with a pre-made engine, you still have to break down the whole game into smaller tasks as ask "how long will this take?"  With a high number of features, the answer is always "a long time", and usually ends up taking longer than you originally expected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trjh2k2    416

I was super excited to bring this thing back to life

There's always the "small team of indies working for free in their spare time 'cause it's what they want to do" approach, or crowdfunding, but you'd need to sell people on the idea first.  Or do most of it yourself and just recognize that it's going to take years to get anywhere close to done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

I was super excited to bring this thing back to life

There's always the "small team of indies working for free in their spare time 'cause it's what they want to do" approach, or crowdfunding, but you'd need to sell people on the idea first.  Or do most of it yourself and just recognize that it's going to take years to get anywhere close to done.

Is there a section in these forums for "kids that work for free in their spare time because that's what they want to do?" Because I'd go that route and then crowdfund the game so I'd be able to give them their just deserts. I'm 27 years old and I am very well aware that starving artists can't eat off of publicity and "exposure"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jpetrie    13100

Is there a section in these forums for "kids that work for free in their spare time because that's what they want to do?" Because I'd go that route and then crowdfund the game so I'd be able to give them their just deserts. I'm 27 years old and I am very well aware that starving artists can't eat off of publicity and "exposure"

 

If you mean a section to try to recruit people to help you with such a project, then yes: the hobby classifieds forum. Read the sticky threads there before posting.

 

If you want to discuss some aspect of making the project work, or a specific technical or design question, here is fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

Is there a section in these forums for "kids that work for free in their spare time because that's what they want to do?" Because I'd go that route and then crowdfund the game so I'd be able to give them their just deserts. I'm 27 years old and I am very well aware that starving artists can't eat off of publicity and "exposure"

 
If you mean a section to try to recruit people to help you with such a project, then yes: the hobby classifieds forum. Read the sticky threads there before posting.
 
If you want to discuss some aspect of making the project work, or a specific technical or design question, here is fine.

Awesome, thanks. I really like it here.. you guys are all super helpful. I honestly didn't expect to get a response so soon, let alone bat quick and so many!

Have you guys seen anyone come here as just a game writer (designer?) and have success in recruiting help either pro bono or at a low cost?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
frob    44904

Have you guys seen anyone come here as just a game writer (designer?)

Yes, frequently.

and have success in recruiting help either pro bono or at a low cost?
 

No.

 

Out of tens of thousands, I have seen a handful that had moderate commercial success.  

 

The vast majority stop with "Let's make a cool game!", day 2.

 

Of those that survive, most stop at "this project is way bigger than I thought," about day 10.

 

Of those that survive, most stop at "I don't feel like I'm making any progress," about day 15.

 

It is rare to see projects that last more than a month.  They generally have a small core group of people who know each other in real life, meet together frequently in real life, and have a long-term shared goal to make something that they all have taken the time to mutually understand.

 

Sometimes projects do get completed -- with various definitions of 'done' -- and then die when people discover they built a game that has no viable target market, or that they are unwilling to invest in marketing costs to reach their potential customers, or make the discovery that they forgot to include a path to financial viability other than "we'll use ads".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
trjh2k2    416
kids

Just a thought -

You do "get what you pay for" in terms of recruiting "free" work.  Lots of hobbyists are amazing at what they do, but just as many might not be very good at all.  That's the nature of a hobby.  I would venture a guess that most very skilled workers are already putting that talent to work and getting paid for it, so you're still only working within their spare time if they agree to help you.

 

 

starving artists

That's another reason why I said "spare time".  If you don't have the money, then you have to substitute time in that place, which means that (aside from literally starving), the only option is to do that work as a side-thing while maintaining a regular job.

Edited by TedEH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

Have you guys seen anyone come here as just a game writer (designer?)

Yes, frequently.

and have success in recruiting help either pro bono or at a low cost?

 
No.
 
Out of tens of thousands, I have seen a handful that had moderate commercial success.  
 
The vast majority stop with "Let's make a cool game!", day 2.
 
Of those that survive, most stop at "this project is way bigger than I thought," about day 10.
 
Of those that survive, most stop at "I don't feel like I'm making any progress," about day 15.
 
It is rare to see projects that last more than a month.  They generally have a small core group of people who know each other in real life, meet together frequently in real life, and have a long-term shared goal to make something that they all have taken the time to mutually understand.
 
Sometimes projects do get completed -- with various definitions of 'done' -- and then die when people discover they built a game that has no viable target market, or that they are unwilling to invest in marketing costs to reach their potential customers, or make the discovery that they forgot to include a path to financial viability other than "we'll use ads".

Yeah, this actually sounds pretty spot on. Well, I've already been working on it for quite some time and the story is pretty much done so I'm going to continue to polish it up and if it never gets made at least I can say I tried.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anthony Serrano    3285

 

I was going to pay for basically the entirety of its creation. I had hopes of creating this game and submitting it to steam. If I had a budget of say $20 thousand. Would that be a feasible amount to create something that plays like, we'll say, chronic trigger.
 

 

You mean Chrono Trigger?

 

No, that is nowhere near enough.  Looking it over, that game was about 2 years in development with about 70 people based on their credits. That's about 140 work years, or about $16M in salary.

 

 

You can probably hire someone to make an extremely simple game that follows the same style of Chrono Trigger. $20K will give you about 2 months of professional work, or about 5-10 months of amateur work. That won't get you very far, but it could make something that vaguely reminds you of Chrono Trigger.

 

 

Although it's worth mentioning that many of those developers weren't working on Chrono Trigger for the entirety of it's development - at least half the development team is credited on at least one other Square game that was in development at the same time, which includes Final Fantasy 6 (which has 35 shared credits with Chrono Trigger just by itself), Live A Live, Front Mission, and Seiken Densetsu 3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

Although it's worth mentioning that many of those developers weren't working on Chrono Trigger for the entirety of it's development - at least half the development team is credited on at least one other Square game that was in development at the same time, which includes Final Fantasy 6 (which has 35 shared credits with Chrono Trigger just by itself), Live A Live, Front Mission, and Seiken Densetsu 3.


So are you saying there's hope with a 20k budget? Haha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Orymus3    18821

Note: Whenever making any reasonable evaluation of anything but a REAL reskin (read: this does not actually exist in 99.9% of cases), you need to account for a time contingency for time spent trying to get the game 'fun'. This actually varies from project to project, from team to team, but as a general rule of thumb, I think it is safe to assume that 20+% of the entire time will be spent iterating on things you thought were what you wanted and ultimately aren't (and try something else).

 

So 20k won't give you a Chrono Trigger. I've actually made the effort of scoping a proper Chrono Trigger-like game, for which I would spend 0$ on programming (done by me) and level design (done by me) and 20k was largely exceeded on art alone.

 

However, a PS1 game could be done for 2-3M, and I think the 30M is no longer relevant for console development, though the vast majority of current gen AAA title probably spend well above 10M (and some games have pretty ridiculous numbers too).

 

If you're shooting for a PS1-like game but actually release on a simpler platform (say, PC/Steam), I wouldn't expect any less than 500k if you plan to outsource everything to 'others'.

 

Given where you seem to be, learning to code the game yourself may be out of immediate reach unless you're genuinely interested in turning this into a career.

 

Quick aside, I was actually approached by a teacher this week which was interested in a multiplayer 3D RTS game to show his class 'how its done' and he basically said 'would 25$ cut it?' and I had to say '25K$ would not even work'. 

There is a gross misrepresentation of the value of modern engines. It is fairly easy to make a prototype of something, but very hard to make a game (20% of the work takes 80% of the time).

Would definitely recommend building a prototype to show either to potential investors or crowdfunding before moving further. This will both help with funding, and validate your game concept before sinking in more money than you'll ever have in your bank account.

You'll certainly find people around here that specialize in putting together prototypes for very cheap. *cough cough*

 

Best of luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
frob    44904

Recall that for the era, Chrono Trigger was a AAA major blockbuster game.  The rough equivalent today is the $50M to $100M range.

 

These days most titles people think of as "shovelware" run around $10M to $20M. The stuff people consider trash and absolute garbage runs <$1M.   Games under the $500K mark are generally called 'experiences', like "that's a fun VR experience" or a quick little app on the phone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anthony Serrano    3285

Recall that for the era, Chrono Trigger was a AAA major blockbuster game.  The rough equivalent today is the $50M to $100M range.

 

These days most titles people think of as "shovelware" run around $10M to $20M. The stuff people consider trash and absolute garbage runs <$1M.   Games under the $500K mark are generally called 'experiences', like "that's a fun VR experience" or a quick little app on the phone.

 

I'd say the modern equivalent would be even higher, probably more like $150M to $200M - it was a huge team with a long development time even by the standards of the day, more like a Terminator 2 or a GTA V than you're average AAA game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OhTeeDubb    167

Note: Whenever making any reasonable evaluation of anything but a REAL reskin (read: this does not actually exist in 99.9% of cases), you need to account for a time contingency for time spent trying to get the game 'fun'. This actually varies from project to project, from team to team, but as a general rule of thumb, I think it is safe to assume that 20+% of the entire time will be spent iterating on things you thought were what you wanted and ultimately aren't (and try something else).
 
So 20k won't give you a Chrono Trigger. I've actually made the effort of scoping a proper Chrono Trigger-like game, for which I would spend 0$ on programming (done by me) and level design (done by me) and 20k was largely exceeded on art alone.
 
However, a PS1 game could be done for 2-3M, and I think the 30M is no longer relevant for console development, though the vast majority of current gen AAA title probably spend well above 10M (and some games have pretty ridiculous numbers too).
 
If you're shooting for a PS1-like game but actually release on a simpler platform (say, PC/Steam), I wouldn't expect any less than 500k if you plan to outsource everything to 'others'.
 
Given where you seem to be, learning to code the game yourself may be out of immediate reach unless you're genuinely interested in turning this into a career.
 
Quick aside, I was actually approached by a teacher this week which was interested in a multiplayer 3D RTS game to show his class 'how its done' and he basically said 'would 25$ cut it?' and I had to say '25K$ would not even work'. 
There is a gross misrepresentation of the value of modern engines. It is fairly easy to make a prototype of something, but very hard to make a game (20% of the work takes 80% of the time).
Would definitely recommend building a prototype to show either to potential investors or crowdfunding before moving further. This will both help with funding, and validate your game concept before sinking in more money than you'll ever have in your bank account.
You'll certainly find people around here that specialize in putting together prototypes for very cheap. *cough cough*
 
Best of luck!


I just want something I dreamt up as a kid to see light. We're only getting older and every day we lose our child-like nature. I'd like to put it on steam for others to play. What if I took that 20k and tried for a complete demo? From there I could try a kickstarter and try to get funded.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.