The serious business of making games


#182

Just as one studio closes another one happens to be expanding. IO Interactive have opened a new office in Malmo, Sweden apparently.

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-01-16-io-interactive-opens-new-studio-in-malm


#183

That makes it seem like the issue with Improbable was a trademark issue?

Anyway, good to see it resolved in that manner.


#184

LOL!! Yeah, no.

Unity tried to put a partner out of business because they had forked out $19M to acquire a competing platform (Multiplay) after seeing SpatialOS as a threat. It’s not rocket science.

Unity got busted. Then amid a major outcry, they blinked.

I have four (1, 2, 3, 4) very detailed threads about this; complete with pictures and everything :)


#185

Ah Rocky Boots, even with a freshly minted EE degree I found that game charming.


#186

#187

@cliffski2 has taken the bother to go and do an audit of the costs of development for his upcoming game, Production Line

https://www.positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/2019/02/07/production-line-development-cost-breakdown/

I found it very interesting, and if anything, it basically sends the message that for an indie, the single most important aspect to optimize and invest to increase productivity is in the coding (like spending big $$$ in a good computer with many cores to compile stuff really quickly) .


#188

I don’t think compile times are that much of an issue.

Of course £60k a year for a coder is over AAA salary for most of Europe, and not really indie pricing. You can see @cliffski2 is a very successful dev, and he most likely does over that number since he has his own company, so the salary he quotes is not a salary that had to compete in the market and is illusory. His games (which I really like, btw) are very programming heavy and art light, while normally (although the indie space allows for extremes) you’ll have 3-4x more artists working on a project than programmers so artist cost is 2-3x times coder cost. Even GSB doesn’t have that much art. So it’s a cost breakdown of a very specific kind of game using a projected coder salary that wouldn’t probably be there with a real employee. I would be much more interested in seeing the cost had he outsourced the coding too, as he did everything else.

But if you had to hire somebody to do the coding (and thus wanting to compete in price), in the indie game space you probably can get somebody much cheaper. If you are willing to outsource (to an European developer with,say, over 5 year experience) you can lower that cost to 33%.

Example: The recent Eugen Systems kerfurffle was because the devs (several years of experience, many games, working on a custom engine…) were getting paid $25k(£20k) and given that they did lose and got fired, it’s probably lower but not that much lower than the market price (I would say it’s about €30k here for somebody with several launched games, depending on how much you want to negotiate and if you want a very specific previous experience -console work, for example-).

Tll, dr: good computer for your artists (normally) save much more costs that good computers for your coders (although ideally you want everybody to work swiftly and have good computers anyway, but certainly, once you factor in the graphic tablets, the artist computers tend to be the most expensive).


#189

earning £60,000
$200 a year

@cliffski2, why are you paying your 'leccy bill in dollars? ;)

I think his intention there was “I’d be paid £60k if I ran off and worked in a bank” or something, because ultimately what stops him from running off to be a salaried employee is his potential to earn from games combined with his love of making games / being self-employed, so if he were “really” paying himself he’d ideally pay himself at “market rate”?


#190

Yeah, I understand that, but the market rate in games is (sadly) way lower than in other businesses that employ software engineers. As a profit analysis using opportunity cost, the blog post does work, but as a cost analysis for a project it doesn’t. It’s fantasy money that wasn’t paid upfront, so it’s not really a cost and to get the possible cost of the project you need to look at proper market rates for the bussiness and scale the project belongs to.

Case in point: he could work in a bank and outsource coding for a fraction of the quoted cost, reaping even more benefits.


#191

A lead game programmer earning £60K sounds pretty high to me. But probably comparable to what a senior developer would get in the regular software industry (though with 20 years relevant experience, you can easily earn more than that, depending on where and who you’re working for).

Checking salary statistics in DK, the median salary for game developers is around 50K UKP and I’d expect that salary to be higher than in most other EU countries (due to the relatively high tax rates there). For comparison, the median salary for a standard software developer with an M.Sc. in Denmark is at ~65K UKP. Which just underlines how much game development is a young man’s career (unless you’re fortunate enough to hit the jackpot or able to build up a portfolio of games like cliffski or Vogel). There’s just no way to justify working in the industry as a developer otherwise, from a financial point of view.

I’m pretty sure that if I did a “per hour” cost on my project, coding “costs” would dwarf out everything else, but I think I’d want to see a much more detailed breakdown of “coding” activity (design, actual coding, testing) before I’d draw any major conclusions. Also, how much of the design/coding is intended to pay forward (i.e., make things more reusable in future) vs actual new features/bug fixes on the game. Personally, I very easily fall into the trap of refactoring/optimizing stuff that ultimately costs a month of work to no visible benefit for the game I’m working on.

Finally, ~£2500-3000 for art (if my guess based on the numbers he mentions are right) is pretty low for a game. Not unreasonable for the game in question, but very genre/game dependent.


#192

Found the mean salary for Sweden, and that is at £43K. The numbers I can find for Norway are around the same level, which confirms my suspicion that the Danish rate is one of the better/higher ones in Europe.


#193

Well, you’re entitled to your opinion regarding compilation times. They do certainly depend a lot on what kind if project you are doing, whether you are doing engine development along with the game development, etc. I am personally happy to base my views on what my clock on the wall says and what other C++ devs complain about and illustrate with data.

Regarding salaries: 60,000 GBP for an very experienced programmer is quite reasonable in Germany, UK, Denmark, Australia or the US. So here @cliffski2 I think is talking about an opportunity cost: he could get that salary, and from a purely accounting perspective, it is an estimate of his “cost per hour”.


#194

Yeah, I said exactly that in my post :P.

It’s not a good estimation of project cost,(which is what the blog post seems to be about, he talks about accountancy, office rental, pensions…), not it indicates where most resources go in most games. An opportunity cost analysis says nothing on where you can save on production. It just tells you whether the enterprise has been profitable compared to the likely alternatives.

Compilation times are an issue, but so are artists times and integration time by the content producers (designers and integrators) both of which tend to be more numerous than programmers in average and are very dependent on machine power (and can’t be scheduled overnight). Singling out coding as a target for powerful machines is a bad analysis for the average project (because the base project cost analysis in the blog post is faulty, with the given numbers it would be obvious to prioritize coding as you say). Ideally you want everybody on good machines.


#195

This is from 2014. Gamasutra salary survey.

Which is £36K on average and fits with what I am seeing (given that we are at lower than average here).


#196

Just fyi a lead programmer in the bay area working on a game “title of scale” (one that expects to earn more than say $30M in rev) would expect to be earning more than $200K in salary plus annual bonus, plus pay rise (~3%) plus post launch bonuses based on success. Oh plus stock if its available, RSU’s usually.

Thats on the mid range, on the high end double all the above.


#197

Yeah, AAA is it’s own beast (unless you are working in Poland, then you are under EU average salaries, at least in non-lead positions which is what I know of).

But we are talking European salaries in indie or small scale games. Nobody is paying £60K in such a project (well, maybe somebody is, but you can get the work done for about half).


#198

Gotcha, yeah that makes perfect sense. Just thought some other end of the scale comps might be helpful.


#199

Also, the Bay Area in the US is just an entirely different galaxy salary-wise compared to pretty much anywhere else in the world. I consider myself well paid in Norway (which has pretty respectably salaries compared to the rest of Europe), and I could without a doubt double my salary (if not more) if I were willing to move back to the US and work in SF.


#200

Question is: would housing, healthcare, transportation, and retirement costs make that a sensible decision?

A person making the Danish prices in the US would be dramatically underpaid. Hell its less than I am paid, by a not insusbstantial amount. Although my job isn’t exactly the same, it’s in a related industry. And I definitely don’t have 20 years experience.


#201

I ran these numbers recently the other way (IE: if I moved to an EU country with good healthcare , social safety net etc that the USA doesnt have) but with a smaller salary. Short answer is I came out way way ahead. in the USA Healthcare costs alone can wipe you out as an upper middle class person when something goes wrong with your health (which it will obvs).

So yeah at least according to my math I would be net better off in a more civilized country even if I earned 50% less.

Now thats the Bay Area, in the rest of the USA you would be losing a far superior house (they are usally bigger and better in the USA). But that doesnt apply to the a high real estate market like SF/NY etc. Because you already are overpaying for a crappy house :)

edit: @strategy said it much better :)