Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making games?

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Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making games?

#1 Post by Headache » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:16 am

This thread is directed to people who make and sell commercial VNs. =D

I'm just curious. How much do you spend on making a game, roughly? This includes the art assets, music, background pics, etc.

What's the most amount you spent on?

If your budget isn't enough, what do you do to cut down costs for the game?

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#2 Post by Mirage » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:45 am

I am probably not a good reference for this since I program/draw/write, so I only spent money on musics. The first commercial game I made, I spent about 550 usd for about 55 sound loops. The second one costs me about 300 usd for 13 full tracks. It was recently that I realized you can get cheaper deal by buying a collection instead of buying individual track. That saves me lots of money.

In general, I used my personal savings and money I earned from my full time job for the first game budget. And then I used the first game earning for the second game budget. Rinse and repeat for the next projects (Yes, I haven't made anything I can consider profitable yet...)

This budget doesn't include how long I spent on the game, which is an entirely different problem...

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#3 Post by Friendbot2000 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:20 am

Mirage wrote:I am probably not a good reference for this since I program/draw/write, so I only spent money on musics. The first commercial game I made, I spent about 550 usd for about 55 sound loops. The second one costs me about 300 usd for 13 full tracks. It was recently that I realized you can get cheaper deal by buying a collection instead of buying individual track. That saves me lots of money.

In general, I used my personal savings and money I earned from my full time job for the first game budget. And then I used the first game earning for the second game budget. Rinse and repeat for the next projects (Yes, I haven't made anything I can consider profitable yet...)

This budget doesn't include how long I spent on the game, which is an entirely different problem...
Did you have to get a business license to sell games?
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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#4 Post by Mirage » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:21 am

Lol, no. I'm not in US, and there's no such law in my country. (Not that I know of)

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#5 Post by Friendbot2000 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:27 am

Mirage wrote:Lol, no. I'm not in US, and there's no such law in my country. (Not that I know of)
Ah, I see. I live in the U.S. and I don't think that I need a business license to sell games, but I want to make sure. Does anyone know about this?
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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#6 Post by Mirage » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:34 am

I used to live in US before, and from what I know, I think you may need one if you have a real company, and if you have a large income. I say you would be fine as long as you regularly pay tax. (But don't count my word, since I'm not an expert in this field.)

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#7 Post by Friendbot2000 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:52 am

Mirage wrote:I used to live in US before, and from what I know, I think you may need one if you have a real company, and if you have a large income. I say you would be fine as long as you regularly pay tax. (But don't count my word, since I'm not an expert in this field.)
I will look into that thanks :)

Where did you live in the U.S.?
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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#8 Post by pondrthis » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:05 am

There are some IP-related benefits and some tax-related drawbacks to registering as a corporation, but there's no law saying you have to be a corporation to make money.

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#9 Post by Mirage » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:41 am

Friendbot2000 wrote:
Mirage wrote:I used to live in US before, and from what I know, I think you may need one if you have a real company, and if you have a large income. I say you would be fine as long as you regularly pay tax. (But don't count my word, since I'm not an expert in this field.)
I will look into that thanks :)

Where did you live in the U.S.?
I used to live in Seattle for 4 years, and 3 years in LA.
From what I heard, you need file tax if you earn more than 600 usd and you are in US. (Written in many sites like lulu/kongregate)

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#10 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:58 am

Mirage wrote:I am probably not a good reference for this since I program/draw/write, so I only spent money on musics.
This. I'm a professional artist who has been writing stories all my life and I have been programming since Junior High (i.e. a long time ago). Because of that I am basically a one man team. The only real cost is my time.

And being a professional artist, the cost of that time spent on art would be insanely expensive if I was having to pay myself. $60-75 an hour is a general standard for calculating the cost of an art commission or project for a client.

I'm lucky to be an artist. Programs like Ren'Py or other game engines can handle a lot of the programming, and people can learn to write a lot faster than they can learn how to draw.
pondrthis wrote:There are some IP-related benefits and some tax-related drawbacks to registering as a corporation, but there's no law saying you have to be a corporation to make money.
Right. There are many bonuses to incorporating. Like pondrthis said, you get IP benefits, but you also get protection. If something happens, and you get sued, it is the corporation that will take the brunt of that, and all you can lose are the corporations assets instead of all your own personal property. There are extra taxes involved, but they are many based on of how much money the corporation is earning, and thus not unreasonable.

And I'm sure it looks better to potential customers to see you are treating the whole thing as an actual business, and not like the online equivalent of a bake sale from your front yard. (Which in some areas is still illegal without a business permit.)

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#11 Post by Friendbot2000 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:06 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Mirage wrote:I am probably not a good reference for this since I program/draw/write, so I only spent money on musics.
This. I'm a professional artist who has been writing stories all my life and I have been programming since Junior High (i.e. a long time ago). Because of that I am basically a one man team. The only real cost is my time.

And being a professional artist, the cost of that time spent on art would be insanely expensive if I was having to pay myself. $60-75 an hour is a general standard for calculating the cost of an art commission or project for a client.

I'm lucky to be an artist. Programs like Ren'Py or other game engines can handle a lot of the programming, and people can learn to write a lot faster than they can learn how to draw.
Same. I have been writing since I could string a sentence. Primarily because I didn't have any friends at school so my characters were my friends. I can hold my own at drawing, but it doesn't reflect the professionalism that I want to show in my work so I hired on my best friend who is actually a savant with perfect spatial skills, perfect pitch, perfect memory. She is goofy and gets distracted easily, but she is an amazing artist that wants to be a game designer so we are learning from each other. She is my only expense really. I pay her 30 USD per sprite, 10 USD for every extra pose for that sprite, 5 USD for every extra outfit which varies depending on flexibility, and 30 dollars per background. I believe that I am giving her a fair pay scale for a partnership, but I may be wrong. What do you think LateWhiteRabbit?
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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#12 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:25 am

Friendbot2000 wrote: Same. I have been writing since I could string a sentence. Primarily because I didn't have any friends at school so my characters were my friends. I can hold my own at drawing, but it doesn't reflect the professionalism that I want to show in my work so I hired on my best friend who is actually a savant with perfect spatial skills, perfect pitch, perfect memory. She is goofy and gets distracted easily, but she is an amazing artist that wants to be a game designer so we are learning from each other. She is my only expense really. I pay her 30 USD per sprite, 10 USD for every extra pose for that sprite, 5 USD for every extra outfit which varies depending on flexibility, and 30 dollars per background. I believe that I am giving her a fair pay scale for a partnership, but I may be wrong. What do you think LateWhiteRabbit?
That is hard to say whether you are giving her a fair pay scale. It would depend on the quality of her work (which is an unknown to me) and also how long it takes her to create a sprite or background.

Understand that I am coming from a strictly professional background with this - clients are sometimes individuals, but rarely. We are talking companies, advertisement firms, occasionally the government, etc. I work in a world of contracts and retainer fees. I don't start work until a client has signed a contract and I have collected 10% non-refundable payment up front in case they abandon the project or refuse to pay me later (in which case I have the contract for court). It isn't uncommon to do a job that nets several thousand dollars.

Once you get to a certain level, you no longer "do examples" ( :roll: ) for people, you send them to your portfolio or refer to prior professional work that is published. You don't really hassle or debate over price. You give them a quote, carefully calculated based on prior experience and how many revisions they want, and then they can hire you or not. You don't except lowball figures anymore because you don't NEED to. You tell the people that can't afford you 'sorry' and move on to the ones that can.

A client is never told how much you expect per hour. You know how much you need to make per hour for it to be worth it, figure out how many hours the job or commission will take and then give them a quote for the entire project. If it takes you less time than you expected, you earn more money. If it takes you longer than expected, the client saves money.

$60 is sort of baseline with professionals in the art field. In can go much higher, one of my friends (who is better than me and has been doing it longer) charges $90-110 an hour.

I know a lot of people on the forums here are going to spit coffee on their keyboards, but keep in mind we don't do a lot a jobs for individuals, and if we do, we expect them to pay for the same quality that companies demand when they hire us. We also don't need to scrape by on "micro-payment' jobs. One job that nets thousands of dollars is enough to sit pretty for a month, though that job may eat up a lot of our time during that month.

I would say if your friend is happy working for that price, it is fine, especially if she is still learning (aren't we all?).

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#13 Post by Friendbot2000 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:36 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Friendbot2000 wrote: Same. I have been writing since I could string a sentence. Primarily because I didn't have any friends at school so my characters were my friends. I can hold my own at drawing, but it doesn't reflect the professionalism that I want to show in my work so I hired on my best friend who is actually a savant with perfect spatial skills, perfect pitch, perfect memory. She is goofy and gets distracted easily, but she is an amazing artist that wants to be a game designer so we are learning from each other. She is my only expense really. I pay her 30 USD per sprite, 10 USD for every extra pose for that sprite, 5 USD for every extra outfit which varies depending on flexibility, and 30 dollars per background. I believe that I am giving her a fair pay scale for a partnership, but I may be wrong. What do you think LateWhiteRabbit?
That is hard to say whether you are giving her a fair pay scale. It would depend on the quality of her work (which is an unknown to me) and also how long it takes her to create a sprite or background.

Understand that I am coming from a strictly professional background with this - clients are sometimes individuals, but rarely. We are talking companies, advertisement firms, occasionally the government, etc. I work in a world of contracts and retainer fees. I don't start work until a client has signed a contract and I have collected 10% non-refundable payment up front in case they abandon the project or refuse to pay me later (in which case I have the contract for court). It isn't uncommon to do a job that nets several thousand dollars.

Once you get to a certain level, you no longer "do examples" ( :roll: ) for people, you send them to your portfolio or refer to prior professional work that is published. You don't really hassle or debate over price. You give them a quote, carefully calculated based on prior experience and how many revisions they want, and then they can hire you or not. You don't except lowball figures anymore because you don't NEED to. You tell the people that can't afford you 'sorry' and move on to the ones that can.

A client is never told how much you expect per hour. You know how much you need to make per hour for it to be worth it, figure out how many hours the job or commission will take and then give them a quote for the entire project. If it takes you less time than you expected, you earn more money. If it takes you longer than expected, the client saves money.

$60 is sort of baseline with professionals in the art field. In can go much higher, one of my friends (who is better than me and has been doing it longer) charges $90-110 an hour.

I know a lot of people on the forums here are going to spit coffee on their keyboards, but keep in mind we don't do a lot a jobs for individuals, and if we do, we expect them to pay for the same quality that companies demand when they hire us. We also don't need to scrape by on "micro-payment' jobs. One job that nets thousands of dollars is enough to sit pretty for a month, though that job may eat up a lot of our time during that month.

I would say if your friend is happy working for that price, it is fine, especially if she is still learning (aren't we all?).
Wow, that sounds very lucrative. I just want to make sure that I am not taking advantage of her. I mean I can afford to pay her more, I make a ridiculous amount of money for my IT job (sometimes it feels like I am taking advantage of my employers when I get my paycheck :/ ) I am just not used to the world of art commissions. She isn't a professional, but she is very talented and her work is very good. Most of the stuff she posts on her DeviantArt account doesn't even reflect how talented she is. She just puts up doodles and scraps (if you can call them that). If I show you some of her work can you give me an estimate on how much I should pay her?
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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#14 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:44 am

Friendbot2000 wrote: Wow, that sounds very lucrative. I just want to make sure that I am not taking advantage of her. I mean I can afford to pay her more, I make a ridiculous amount of money for my IT job (sometimes it feels like I am taking advantage of my employers when I get my paycheck :/ ) I am just not used to the world of art commissions. She isn't a professional, but she is very talented and her work is very good. Most of the stuff she posts on her DeviantArt account doesn't even reflect how talented she is. She just puts up doodles and scraps (if you can call them that). If I show you some of her work can you give me an estimate on how much I should pay her?
I can try. But do keep in mind it is very subjective, just like art itself.

And I know it sounds very lucrative, but it takes a long while to build to that level. Networks have to be formed, credit established in the field, etc. It can very much be feast or famine starting out.

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Re: Commercial VN makers: How much do you spend on making ga

#15 Post by Friendbot2000 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:53 am

Oh I am certainly aware of that. VERY FEW artists can make it professionally unless they have some great connections and a lot of luck. I will get her to post one of the pieces she is working on for me and link you to it. Thanks LateWhiteRabbit
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