People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

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KomiTsuku
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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#31 Post by KomiTsuku » Thu May 10, 2012 9:12 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
redeyesblackpanda wrote:Well, I write at 250 to 1000 words per hour, but mostly at 500, but the first stuff that I come up with is normally pretty messed up, so taking into account editing, it's about 250 words an hour for me. If I were to get paid at the high rate of $0.05 a word, that adds up to $12.50 an hour. Minimum wage in California is a bit over $8. That means that if I were to get paid $0.025 a word, I'd be working below minimum wage ($6.25).

I don't charge anything for my writing though. At those rates, I'd rather work for free. I'm pretty busy with school and those sorts of things, so I don't really have that much time to write. I'd have to be very interested in a project to write for it, since the time I can spend writing is very limited.
That's the problem though. And it's what is already happening to a lot of the old short story and journalist jobs. There are so many people willing to write for free on the Internet, that it is difficult to find someone who is willing to pay a livable wage for writing.

When you work at a craft for free and do good work, you devalue everyone else's work in that craft. If someone is trying to make money writing and you and others are willing to do the work for free, they suddenly can't earn anything.

Amateurs can unknowingly tank freelance markets by working for less than they're worth, simply because they're willing to work for little of nothing. They either have so much spare time that it isn't worth much to them, or they are so desperate to "get a foot in the door" that they'll work for peanuts. Then the people doing the hiring and paying can tell those older professionals with families to take a pay cut or get replaced by the new blood willing to work for less than the professional can live on.

Economics make the world go round, and putting out quality free work is the same as flooding a financial market with excess gold - suddenly the value of everything goes down.
(contains cursing)


I'd say Papillon does fairly well from appearances, and Christine is likely doing quite well with Analogue: A Hate Story.

A know a few of those Japanese game's were 4-5 people working out of an apartment together. $30K development cost for professional quality, split 5 ways - so each developer is only shouldering $6K of the cost. They also don't sell VNs for $20 in Japan - they sell them for $80-$100. So 375 copies are what they need to move to break even.
I consider Hanako Games to be more RPG/sim and partial tied to Winterwolves, though I will concede to her. Scout==Christine Love, for those of you who aren't old farts.

Time to step back to the catch-22. Ask your friends who is willing to pay $80-100 for a visual novel. You may get a couple, my industry contacts think we may be moving towards that day when the only physical copies you see in America are the expensive collectors editions, but I don't think the english market would go for it. Almost everyone I know balks at the thought of paying more than $5 for an app...
But all that work I can do myself still isn't TECHNICALLY free. Yes, I can get an "advance" on not needing as much money to get started, but I still have a cost. Namely, if I am making professional quality sprites and artwork for myself, that is TIME I'm spending not making $180 a pop doing the same thing for OTHER people. So that still has to be factored into whether any game I were to make and sell would be a financial success or not. For instance, will the game make more money than I would have earned just freelancing for other people for the same time investment?
I'm not arguing that point. However, I've discovered that I'm a lot looser with royalty payments when it comes to taking jobs from myself.
If you're trying to get rich as developer or free-lancer you're already deluded. Almost all indie game makers, regardless of genre, have to have a day job. And the hobbyist EVN scene only remains as such because people keep regarding it a "hobbyist". Those 4-5 Japanese guys in their apartment are doing nothing different than some people in the EVN scene, they are just applying a professional work ethic and getting professional results. Oh, and they still aren't rich. The best you hope for is to make enough to live on. The Notchs of the world are few and far between.
Only the fool-hearty, innovative, or dedicated would consider living with 4 other people, dedicating themselves to a trade where you are considered deluded if you dream of successes. It may be realistic, but I like to think that being fairly successful isn't completely a pipe dream. Optimism that the catch-22 can be beaten used to drive me before I said I'm going back to traditional writing.
It requires a sane and logical approach to balance and happy team work that people unfortunately often lack
Here, here! Sanity and logic, something I wish I had. XD

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#32 Post by papillon » Thu May 10, 2012 9:16 pm

I acknowledge that if you want to go commercial, you pay people the same rates as they would make with other companies, and allowing for a little less because "the artists aren't pro" would be ridiculous. If you applied for a job and then got paid less than minimum wages because "you're a first timer" and "not used to the work" you'd probably also not be very happy.
Even at the commercial level, indies still offer much lower pay than a big company would. We usually make up for it with more freedom, more personal contact, and hopefully a project that the artist thinks is cool rather than having to pump out soulless advertising.

Basically, if you try to charge indie devs the $500-per-picture you might be able to get from a larger client, you simply won't get it because we don't have it to spend. (Unless we're making a special game that only needs one graphic!)

Similarly, if you try to charge the average hobby freeware dev $50 per graphic, they plain can't pay it.

It's a balancing act on all sides, trying to find things that are reasonable for everyone involved. It's helpful to understand that these issues do exist and not get angry if you can't work out a compromise. If I can't afford my favorite awesome artist, then I can't afford them. There's no use in my guilt-tripping them about not making their rates something I can pay, and there's no use in them complaining that I'm not offering enough money.

(Tied? Check our join dates!)

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#33 Post by redeyesblackpanda » Thu May 10, 2012 9:22 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
redeyesblackpanda wrote:That's the problem though. And it's what is already happening to a lot of the old short story and journalist jobs. There are so many people willing to write for free on the Internet, that it is difficult to find someone who is willing to pay a livable wage for writing.

When you work at a craft for free and do good work, you devalue everyone else's work in that craft. If someone is trying to make money writing and you and others are willing to do the work for free, they suddenly can't earn anything.
That's definitely an issue. With me though, I wouldn't exactly say I'm one of the people contributing to that, as I'm pretty exclusive (not necessarily good, just exclusive). It would take a lot of convincing for me to actually want to write for a project (although I might proofread for a friend), and I wouldn't be able to work with as much professionalism as a paid writer, since I would still have higher priorities, such as classes. :lol:

Anyway, on the topic of free writers, finding someone willing to write for you online for free is probably easy, but finding someone good in writing to write for free would be very difficult. The amount of time you would have to spend searching might end up costing more than hiring a writer, and good writers would probably have more requests than they'd be able to handle. I would say that it's almost fantasy to find a good writer with a great deal of professionalism that is willing to work for free, unless you happen to be friends with a good writer, or are very, very skilled in your part.
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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#34 Post by Applegate » Thu May 10, 2012 9:22 pm

@Applegate, A good thing to remember is that hobbies often cost money, from cheap to OMG expensive. People who are into cooking might splurge on certain ingrediants to use in a recipe. Once that food is gone, it's gone. If you choose to spend that money without a commercial return, then you kind of have to view it as money spent on the enjoyment of creating your vision. Otherwise, why would you do it in the first place?
I acknowledge that hobbies cost money; I simply point out that $300 for something that you have to produce for besides is a lot of money. You have to understand that this assumes cheapest case scenario where you yourself are able to design all other elements of the Visual Novel you'd like to see made.

From that point of view, the cry that "artists are underpaid" becomes rather daunting. I admit to some intimidation here with all the prices flung about and complaints about how badly artists are paid to even continue this hobby. EDIT: No, that's not true. I suppose more fair is to say that it's a bit daunting to hire an artist. I'm scraping some money together to fund it, but hearing cries of "$15 is wayyyy too little", I become worried I may be saving up for quite, quite a while.

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#35 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu May 10, 2012 9:34 pm

Applegate wrote:
@Applegate, A good thing to remember is that hobbies often cost money, from cheap to OMG expensive. People who are into cooking might splurge on certain ingrediants to use in a recipe. Once that food is gone, it's gone. If you choose to spend that money without a commercial return, then you kind of have to view it as money spent on the enjoyment of creating your vision. Otherwise, why would you do it in the first place?
I acknowledge that hobbies cost money; I simply point out that $300 for something that you have to produce for besides is a lot of money. You have to understand that this assumes cheapest case scenario where you yourself are able to design all other elements of the Visual Novel you'd like to see made.

From that point of view, the cry that "artists are underpaid" becomes rather daunting. I admit to some intimidation here with all the prices flung about and complaints about how badly artists are paid to even continue this hobby. EDIT: No, that's not true. I suppose more fair is to say that it's a bit daunting to hire an artist. I'm scraping some money together to fund it, but hearing cries of "$15 is wayyyy too little", I become worried I may be saving up for quite, quite a while.
Oh, it is a fair bit of money, but not absurdly so. If the VN took, say, 2 months to complete, that's about $37.50 a week and at the end you have something you can claim ownership of that was created in a way that you couldn't do on your own. I've paid over $700 for a single (really, really nice) meal for my family (5 of us) on a special occassion. I didn't get anything out of that except for nice food and wine and some good memories. And it was worth it.

Understanding the situation is a good thing. It doesn't mean that suddenly you should have to start paying your artist industry prices or that you should feel bad about having an artist work with you for free. That isn't what it's about. It's more about acknowledging what goes into it, what it is worth. It's a good thing to keep in mind when you are in disagreement with a team member. Freedom is a massive thing for creatives and someone who works for free should have some. Being aware of the issue is enough and as long as you and your team members are happy to be working together and feel like they have an equal say than money isn't really an issue :)

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#36 Post by papillon » Thu May 10, 2012 9:40 pm

I've paid over $700 for a single (really, really nice) meal for my family (5 of us) on a special occassion. I didn't get anything out of that except for nice food and wine and some good memories. And it was worth it.
... and completely unfathomably expensive to other people in the thread. :) Everybody's finances are different. I don't think anyone here is from a country where that's a full year's wage, but...

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#37 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu May 10, 2012 9:50 pm

papillon wrote:
I've paid over $700 for a single (really, really nice) meal for my family (5 of us) on a special occassion. I didn't get anything out of that except for nice food and wine and some good memories. And it was worth it.
... and completely unfathomably expensive to other people in the thread. :) Everybody's finances are different. I don't think anyone here is from a country where that's a full year's wage, but...
Yeah, it was taking out over a week of my wages (it was a 7 course meal with matching wine), but it was for my mum and I love her <3 (But really, that is something I don't do often and it hurt slightly to spend that much. I don't expect anyone to consider spending money to be something you do without serious thought XD) Plus, I spend hundreds of dollars on games and books and movies, it's nice to do something for someone else. It's of course going to be different for other people, especially depending on where you live. Food is horribly expensive here.... everything is horribly expensive. And then you can go to place like Malayasia and stuff yourself with brillant food for less than $10 XD My main point is that sometimes you spend money on things that don't return things directly to you. Like, if you pay to go to a cinema. You pay to watch the movie and have the experience, but at the end you only have your memories of it. And people do it all the time.
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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#38 Post by Applegate » Thu May 10, 2012 9:52 pm

To be fair, visiting the theatre or stuffing yourself with food is instantly gratifying, and doesn't take a few months of hard work and toil and stress to pine for positive comments from the internet. :D

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#39 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu May 10, 2012 9:53 pm

Applegate wrote:If you applied for a job and then got paid less than minimum wages because "you're a first timer" and "not used to the work" you'd probably also not be very happy. (in before someone tells me this actually happens)
...
This actually happens.

The studio I worked at payed all new hires a reduced rate for the first couple of months, so the new hires could "prove" they had what it takes to provide quality output. It is a pretty shady practice in my opinion, because either they liked my work enough to hire me to begin with, or they didn't. What it really amounts to is some cheaper labor for a while. :? It was project based, (i.e. you had to complete so many tasks or projects before moving to the normal pay rate) and the studio would place the new hires on longer and longer tasks the closer they got to moving to normal pay rate. :evil:
Applegate wrote: But for hobbyists, $15 per sprite is a lot, I'd say. You're investing money into something you have to produce, and likely can't recycle. ....... That's minimum $300 for art assets.

For a hobbyist, that is a lot of money to sink into something that you can't recycle as easily or re-sell.
Granted, that's nothing to sneeze at, but for someone with even a minimum wage job (at least in the U.S.) that's just a little more than a week's paycheck. It really depends on how serious you are about the project you're producing. Saving $50 a week for a few months to fund the game for example. It really wouldn't be anymore than what a lot of people spend on hobbies anyway.

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#40 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu May 10, 2012 9:58 pm

Applegate wrote:To be fair, visiting the theatre or stuffing yourself with food is instantly gratifying, and doesn't take a few months of hard work and toil and stress to pine for positive comments from the internet. :D
Ah, but your VN doesn't disappear like the others do either :D Whether or not you consider the act of completing a game 'worth it' is up to you and that will dictate what you will and will not spend on something. No one can make you do it after all, it's just your decision. If you want to have nice art but can't draw, well, it's like anything. What are you willing to give to have what you want? Or how much do you truely want it?

Going with the cheap and free options, usually you are still sacrificing SOMETHING. It just might not be money :) It might be creative control. It might be the risk of someone disappearing. It might be time. Everything tends to balance out eventually one way or another.

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#41 Post by Anarchy » Fri May 11, 2012 12:10 am

And then you can go to place like Malayasia and stuff yourself with brillant food for less than $10 XD
You're making me want to go home instead of trying to find a job in the US OTLlll

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#42 Post by Ionait » Fri May 11, 2012 12:14 am

There is some really interesting conversation that was started here that I will keep up with, however, I have very little to add.

The original post immediately made me think of movies and Hollywood films. Some of the movies that look like they'll be great, have the best actors, the best special effects, the best concepts, tank. And they tank because the writing is horrible. Despite good actors trying to push through horrible, corny, or accidentally ironic lines of dialog and the original concept being compelling at first, these projects tank because the writing isn't good enough to carry it.

Different things are important to different people but it is my opinion that the writing is actually the bearer of most of the weight in a project. For VNs people seem to go for the prettiest art, but if the actual text box, the "novel" part in "Visual Novel" is filled with typos, scenes that should be funny that make you cringe -- there's so much that can go wrong with writing -- all of a sudden, that beautiful sprite you saw in a screenshot can turn into one of your most hated VN characters of all time because their dialog and back story was written poorly. That snobby "rich girl stereotype" who you were supposed to get to come out of her shell never does and you wonder why you bothered getting to know her. The damsel in distress is too whiny and you just want to leave her at the next castle. The hero is a jerk (and not in a good way.) Writing will change the way even the art looks to you. The sprites will look differently in your eyes after a while when you play the game and get to know them.

Ah... This is rambly... But I had to post because this thread inspired so many thoughts in me!

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#43 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Fri May 11, 2012 12:29 am

Anarchy wrote:
And then you can go to place like Malayasia and stuff yourself with brillant food for less than $10 XD
You're making me want to go home instead of trying to find a job in the US OTLlll
Especially Peeeeeeeeenang~ Though all the chilli nearly killed me, that's why I liked the Kway Toew. The iced coffee with the condensed milk was pretty awesome too. What was funny about Malaysia, and this is kind of relevent, was that there were a lot of foreign chains that were charging normal prices. Like Starbucks, and the coffee was about $3.80 so around 11.50RM.Aand the place was PACKED with Malaysians. This puzzeled me. You could get a coffee at the Hawker market for 3RM or pay nearly 12RM. My friend had no answers for me XD People wanted what they wanted I suppose.

@Ionait. I agree. I know a lot of people say otherwise, but I feel nothing can save bad writing. But good writing can save poor art. Though obviously it would be nice for have good quality of both XD I don't know about other people but I can be put off by writing very easily. If it's not engaging, if the characters don't have a good voice and I find myself not really reading, there isn't much point for me. I want the story :( Art is a very important part of initially attracting viewers and they have huge potential with visual story telling, but with VNs where there is so much monologue and dialogue, the content of those words needs to be engaging. Everything needs to work together to tell the story, one or two parts falling down can really break the immersion. I really admire good writers and their ability to pull you in with such an abstract form. Investing in a good writer is a wise choice in my opinion, though like someone mentioned, the writer is quite often in charge. I'm not sure how often people hire writers, especially outside of the commercial releases.

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Re: People, VN Makers, and reasonable rates of exchange

#44 Post by Van Knox » Fri May 11, 2012 1:42 am

I've seen people note here that most first time novelists make on average around $5000. That's not entirely incorrect, but without getting into details about what constitutes that sum it's worth noting that most novelists have contracts based on advances. This means that depending on how well the book sells, the author may get more than $5000 if he manages to sell through his advance. This can be either relatively easy or insanely hard depending on how good your agent is. I've heard horror stories of terrible agents barely getting 6.5% royalty rates, which is quite frankly terrifying. I somewhat hope those rates are just horror stories they tell at conventions like some sort of literary boogie man. There are a lot of ifs involved in advances and those ifs are the reason you really, really should have an agent even if you already have an offer from a publisher.

...Well that or a literary attorney.

Generally writers tend to invest some of their own money in marketing for their books. I don't just mean spending money on ad space, but having book signings beyond the ones your publisher prepares for you and all. This allows their books to sell reasonably well and most newbies don't do it because of their lack of experience. A good friend of mine who is a sort of mentor to me told me that when he sold his first novel, he didn't do anything to help sell it and this predictably resulted in his sales being rather disappointing.

Once you sell through your advance plus some more(exact number depending on that magical contract) your royalties escalate drastically, sometimes to 20% for a second print or 30% if your book became ridiculously popular. This is because at this point the publisher already recounted their costs making the book and feel it's fair to give out some more money to you. Bottom line is, yes, most first time novelists make around $5000 with their first novel but they can make more with relative ease if they know how to play their cards.

I apologize for the small derail, but I figured it was worth mentioning since the thread deals with writing and money.

EDIT: There are also other little things like foreign rights, which are negotiated separately from your normal deal with the publisher and generally deals with international publishers directly. Foreign rights can get you a lot more money than your usual deal. This, of course, requires you to have a good agent. There are a ton of other little things but they are all a bit of a headache that aren't worth mentioning. Many writers make a living out of selling the same book over and over again to different countries, repeating that small $5000 sum numerous times.

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