Discussion in 'PC/Console Game Discussion' started by JoshV, Jan 18, 2013.
Man, i hate doing this. Necessary business development work, as he says, but painful.
It was in development for three years, which isn't uncommon when you're building all of your technology and tools from scratch. That's $3.6 million/year for a full team, which is a 30-40 person team in North America, assuming a flat number of people working on the game throughout its development. It probably had fewer at the start, and maxed out at like 70 right before completion. It has a cubic buttload of art assets. Hundreds of units require a lot of artists and modelers.
As for other things brought up in the thread, Dungeon Siege and SupCom sold over a million copies, and SupCom 2 may be close to that by now. Wildman uses the Siege tech, which has melee combat, all normal RPG systems, an editor, and a much better content pipeline to work with than SupCom.
Also, the $1.1 million isn't to fund a 40-person team. There were a dozen or more people working on it, with others working on another, unrelated project that was canceled.
If Wildman fails to get KS funding, it won't be through a lack of coverage on gaming press sites.
I don't get why developers are unable to get loan from banks or such? is it because lack of collateral?
from what Chris is saying, publisher expect a 500% return on their investment, I'm quite sure bank interest loan is much smaller.
You can, but generally not enough to fund an entire game. A lack of collateral may be an issue too; a game developer is just desks and chairs and computers. IP could be used as collateral too. Developers often have to get bridge loans between projects to make payroll. Once you have an offer from a publisher, you can get a loan against whatever funds it guarantees over time.
But then you're in debt and still taking on all the risk as a publisher with the possibility of no payoff at the end.
Isn't the payoff much bigger.
Especially nowadays with digital distribution, if we use Supreme commander 1 for example, they might end up collecting over 50% of the revenue instead 5-6% if they self publish on Steam.
With the money, developer can technically pay off the loan, and make another project with the leftover moneys...
Heh, I would be amazed at a bank that would fund a game company after that Rhode Island trouble.
The key there is "pay off the loan." It's way more risk than a publisher deal or Kickstarter because you're in a hole at the end of development instead of being back to 0. While you need to earn out a ridiculous amount of revenue to get royalties with a publisher, there's nothing to literally pay off. Same with Kickstarter, though people who promised all sorts of physical goods are probably going to be screwed if they have no KS money left to produce those goods, and will be relying on sales revenue that may or may not happen to pay for printing boxes and such.
I always think that with risk comes reward, if somehow you totally think you can pull off an awesome game, then you should try your best.
Being back at 0 at end of project is a horrible place to be though as an independent studio, now you are jumping through hoops to pitch your next idea at same time paying your employees. I actually don't do kickstarter either because there isn't any guarantee I will get anything at all, if I invest those money, I can probably earn enough to buy the games when/if they actually manage to finish the game and release it.
That's wonderfully naive. In most cases, you will fail.
Or to put it another way, would you put up your own house as collateral? Chris Taylor did that to complete Dungeon Siege, and that's madness.
Except with Kickstarter, this is the point you get to sell the game to the general public. Every penny you earn post-release is immediately in your bank account; there's no waiting to pay back the loan or earn back your development costs like you do with a publisher. It's a risk, but a much lower one for the narrow type of games that can be crowdfunded.
I just see supporting a game via Kickstarter as a very early pre-order. The games I tended to support are in genres publishers don't look at these days, such as turn-based RPGs and adventure games.
1. Employees, after overhead and hardware, cost about double their annual payrate.
2. Figure 50k/head pay, which is probably low. So 100k/head after overhead.
3. 11 million = 110 people years.
3 year development time? 36 people average, which is not a lot of people. Art isn't cheap, and you need a lot of it.
What happen with dungeon siege? I thought MS was publishing that game.. didn't MS front him the money? I probably wouldn't put my house up for collateral, at least not for Dungeon Siege.
With Kickstarter, the risk is entirely on the public, I feel like the success of a kickstarter doesn't even matter to the developer if they have nothing riding on it. Maybe I will feel differently if developer willing to pitch in $1 for every $1 they get for their kickstarter project, so they have something to lose if they fail.
on the side note, Obsidian is my favorite developer(I'm willing to work there for half of what I'm getting paid right now), I didn't even kickstart their project due to this reason.
The trust of their entire fanbase and the gaming community at large doesn't count as "something to lose"?
Most of game kickstarter projects are from relatively new developers. Also gamer tends to have short memory, and they forgive things so easily.
for example if Project Eternity fails horribly, I will be blaming Obsidian, that doesn't really stop the developers just go and form a different company and do it over again.
Yes, I understand the cost of employing 30-40 artists and developers for three years. What I don't understand is how Supreme Commander could have required 110 people years to build. Games like Uncharted or Assassin's Creed were expensive but also looked expensive. SC really didn't, it looked much the same to me as Sins of a Solar Empire which cost all of $1 million to build. Yes, there were more art assets including terrain, but that cost gap seems excessive.
Uncharted cost 20 million to build and I'd guess Assassin's Creed cost more than 11 million as well. Plus Ubisoft uses some very advantageous tax breaks and subsidies in Canada iirc.
mocap is expensive..
"The shit I put up with for oats." -Horse
Not sure about the horse, I only worked on that level for about 4 weeks, but I know pretty much for any scenes we need mocap, we schedule for 3-4 shoots, producers only hinted at how expensive each shoot is..
Designers are welcome to go to the mocap studio, occasionally they need more people and we can sub in with those mocap suits thing.
This is entirely subjective but SC looked absolutely incredible when it came out. Plus there was that whole dual monitor map use thing.
SC also had a fully voiced singleplayer campaign whereas Sins is just barks and a single cutscene.
Yeah. New developers or no, dropping the ball on a Kickstarter that was successfully funded is, at the very least, a guarantee that you will never have another successful Kickstarter campaign. And it may well be the end of your career as a developer.
The idea that developers should front 50% of the costs of development themselves is sort of crazy. Where does that money come from, exactly, especially if you are a new developer?
The only kind of KS that I could even possibly imagine funding would be something in the state Minecraft was in two years ago or that Gnomoria got to last year: a fully working game developed on essentially a zero budget but that needs guaranteed funding in order to move to the next level.
But those kinds of projects don't actually need kickstarter campaigns so KS is kind of a non thing for me :P
Hmm, okay. Sounds like SC had a lot of expensive features that I no longer remember, and $11 million wasn't that excessive after all. Carry on!
Star Command managed to have a second successful Kickstarter while utterly failing to deliver on their first. So if you hit the right notes, anything's possible.
But they haven't actually failed on their first. They pushed back their release date--a couple of times, but that still isn't the same as actually having a project fail (as was the case with, for example, Haunts). Star Command is still coming out. Like, within the next few weeks, apparently.
That's actually shockingly low for a game with those production values, though we are talking about a highly scripted short single-player game. Still, I would've guessed the budget would've at least been double that. Naughty Dog must have some great tools and be highly efficient.
Assassin's Creed is rumored to have cost in the hundreds of millions, with subsequent games building off its tech and likely costing less or similar amounts overall, but guaranteed to make that back in sales in a matter of weeks. UbiSoft has hundreds or thousands of people across multiple continents working on each of their games. Montreal does design, China does art, South America does whatever. It's amazing what they do, but it ain't cheap.
$11 million was pretty standard for PC games back in the day; today, you're lucky to get $2-$3 million. Of course the expectations haven't changed, just the budgets. Publishers demand games with full campaigns with FMVs and such, a complete multiplayer suite, mod tools, etc.... for $2 million bucks. It's difficult to do games like that in North America, unless you're willing to outsource all over the place.
(Edit: As for SC1 costs, it had over 300 units. They all have to be concepted, modeled, rigged, animated, textured, implemented, AI created for them, etc. For an RTS game, that's a cubic buttload of content right there.)
Do you think it would've been feasible to do a SC type game with F2P elements, maybe something like TA did, with new units constantly being introduced, but this time, not for free, but for some cheapo price like a dollar? (Or a mix, where you can grind in skirmishes or just pay, or pay to lessen the grind for the unit) AoEO had that somewhat, and I wonder if AoEO was profitable or not. MS has a habit of shutting things down that just aren't profitable 'enough', so it's hard to tell how much of a failure AoEO really was.
And the internet will figure it out, and that will be that. I think you underestimate how nervous much of the gaming community is about the Kickstarter concept. All it will take is one serious misstep and a dev's Kickstarter career will be over. I guess we'll have to wait and see if/when it happens.
Fuck grind in RTS.
Sure, though you have to get past the "fuck grind in RTS" idea. That toxic starting point is fixating on what you don't have as opposed to what you do have, for no cost. A player of AoEO can play for hundreds of hours without paying a penny, but they have to occasionally put up with pay walls they can't pass. The anger some players feel over that is interesting from a psychological perspective, but painful as a developer trying to find a balance between what they give away and what can earn back development costs and sustain development for a period of time.
Well fuck grind in everything, frankly. But the problem is that RTSs already had an unlock mechanic, it was called a campaign, and it used story and cutscene rewards as a means to keep you moving forward. The whole RTS unlock thing is just trying to do what campaigns already did, but worse, and in other modes.
That seems highly implausible since it was brand new IP, but I have no inside line on it so I don't expect anyone to agree with my doubt based on my doubt.
Back in which day? I remember when Ultima 7 costing $1M was shocking.
Edit: Oh, 2007. Ok, that's maybe not the best turn of phrase to use in for "six years ago", but I see what you were going for.
Not at all. It was a high-risk bet on a new franchise that Ubi ended up winning. That initial cost could also be amortized across the sequels because of the initial investment in technology and tools (costs which could also be spread across other games that probably use the tools and tech as well). Ubisoft has teams in the hundreds working on those games. I think the credits for Assassin's Creed 3 took 15 minutes to complete. (Probably less. It just felt like 15 minutes.)
And I remember writing a headline about Wing Commander IV's $12 million budget circa 1996. But we're talking about 2004-2007, not 1992 or 1996, which was the relevant "day" being referred to. It's no great shock that games cost more to make today than they did 20 years ago.
We wouldn't have designed Age Online with its unlock system; we inherited it that way. After a few months, we removed the units from being locked in skirmish and PvP. We understand how it can be done in a much cleaner fashion, should we be given the opportunity to do something similar again.
As consoles and PCs get more and more powerful, we run into the problems of cost, because it suddenly takes much longer to generate the greater and greater detail levels. (Textures, models, VO & SFX) It looks like it's making it hard for the independent mid-tier companies like GPG and Obsidian to survive. (Obsidian is doing better, but they had their grim period as well) Though I guess Gearbox is still doing okay, and I'm having a hard time thinking of other studios about that size that aren't owned by someone bigger. Timegate maybe? Are they still around?
Haunts hasn't failed either - they've apparently had a lot of people volunteer to help them complete it.
Only about 1 in 3 successfully funded Kickstarters have actually delivered something. A lot go into radio silence, or say they're still working on it. So "failure" becomes a hard thing to define or even identify because a project is only considered to have failed when the devs call it. Plus there are a lot of "we've fired our artists because they weren't giving us what we wanted"-style posts, which help point the blame for problems (rightly or wrongly) at other parties.
It's not about fixating on what you don't have. AoEO was designed around slowly grinding through easy missions with minimal tactical depth in order to progress. And mind you, I SUCK at RTSs, so if I'm describing the missions as easy, that's saying something. You could play for hundreds of hours without paying a penny, sure. I played for a handful of hours and was never asked to fork over money...but those hours were tedious and boring. The worst bits of MMO grind needlessly tacked on to what looked like a pretty nice RTS.
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