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Cost of Game Making

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#1 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:01 PM

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 🤘🏾

#2 Josh Petrie   Moderators   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:23 PM

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.


#3 frob   Moderators   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:30 PM

> 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.


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.


#4 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:31 PM

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.

#5 TedEH   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:37 PM

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.



#6 frob   Moderators   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:39 PM

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.


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.


#7 TedEH   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:42 PM

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.



#8 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:46 PM

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?

#9 Alberth   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 01:55 PM

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.



#10 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:00 PM

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.

#11 TedEH   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:12 PM

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.



#12 TedEH   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:20 PM

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.



#13 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:26 PM

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"

#14 Josh Petrie   Moderators   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:31 PM

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.



#15 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:40 PM

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?

#16 frob   Moderators   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:54 PM

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".


Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I occasionally write about assorted stuff.


#17 TedEH   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 02:59 PM

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, 27 February 2017 - 03:00 PM.


#18 OhTeeDubb   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 03:43 PM

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.

#19 Tom Sloper   Moderators   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 04:34 PM

cost would be to make an indie rpg video game


Moving this to the Production/Management forum. For Beginners is for technical questions (programming, tools, etc.)
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#20 Anthony Serrano   Members   

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 06:40 PM

 

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.