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Cost of Game Making

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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20k pays a handful of people for a handful of months. If they were the right people, and you knew how to manage them, there's a reasonable chance that you could get a decent demo together. But then you'd need something more to be able to get a successful Kickstarter campaign; simply being up on there is hardly ever enough these days - people expect glossy videos, lots of concept art, a full project plan, etc.
 
It's possible that 20k could go a long way if you had people working with a copy of RPG Maker and using placeholder art from OpenGameArt.org, but it's a risk.

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20k pays a handful of people for a handful of months. If they were the right people, and you knew how to manage them, there's a reasonable chance that you could get a decent demo together. But then you'd need something more to be able to get a successful Kickstarter campaign; simply being up on there is hardly ever enough these days - people expect glossy videos, lots of concept art, a full project plan, etc.
 
It's possible that 20k could go a long way if you had people working with a copy of RPG Maker and using placeholder art from OpenGameArt.org, but it's a risk.


This is the first good news I've heard since starting this thread haha. I feel like my ambitions exceed the capabilities of rpg maker, but like I said, I'll go that route if I have to.

The fact that's it's within reason to say a demo can be created with the budget I set gives me hope.

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Bear in mind that when I say "handful of people for a handful of months" that is not 5 of each, and it's not full-time, and it's not very experienced people.

 

If your ambitions outstrip RPGMaker then you need more money.  A demo can be created for any budget but it won't necessarily be the demo you wanted.

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As a slight weigh in to this, the 20k budget might hire 2 junior / entry level developers for about 5 months based on current entry salaries over here in the UK.

I mean 2 guys that know what they are doing if they are putting full time work into it, could probably get a decent demo off the ground though it would be a fairly long way from a full game.

I mean some friends of mine (who now work at travellers tales etc etc) tried setting up their own company, took a team of about 6 - 8 of them about 1 to 1 an a half years to get a game into a state where it got through stream greenlight, though it was still a pretty rough game, didnt really do all too well so they gave up on the studio.

It really does have a lot of factors running into development cost of games even on a basic scale, for example while these guys were running it as an indie studio making it all in house, so essentially paying out no money they did have to struggle with little to no income for about a year while working on it all for the release to not do too well.

But overall, throwing money doesnt make a good game either, you can make a great game on a low budget with a hell of a lot of hard work and a team willing to work unpaid (students often will for experience sake), though if you want a professional level finish you will notice costs really do ramp up quickly.

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scrolling through kickstarter just to get a vague idea of what others were looking for compared to what they already have; I came across this - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/803274916/legion-1917-rise-of-the-bolsheviks/description

The only thing I don't know is what was paid to whom to get where they currently are. But it gives me hope knowing that a team of 4-5 (one of them being the writer/designer) can get some really nice work done and their asking goal isn't ridiculously high either.

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