How does one budget for future freelance work?

Ok so maybe the question is not super clear, but bare with me.

So I just finished university and my younger brother will be starting next year, we decided to create something awesome. We intend on using the next 3 years to develop a game (we're not sure what yet, but it will be a 3D game for PC/Mac).

Now that's awesome, but we are programmers and only programmers. We lack the skill needed for modeling, texturing, music, voice, UI design and perhaps even publishing and marketing. I don't mind forking out some cash to pay for freelance artists and sound (uhm... people?).

So what are industry standards rates? and how do freelancers bill their customers? per hour? per model? one lump sum figure?

I need to know so that when we scope our game we know what we can afford. Like I said, I don't need exact figures, but some guidelines and general information would seriously help a lot.

Thanks :)


  • edited
    To answer your question, I think it costs between R200 and R800+ per hour for freelance, depending on the person's experience, skill, and skill rarity. (The cost per asset is based on that, and depends on loads of other factors, including the aesthetic style and how difficult it would be to do, and what the asset needs to have, whether it's a model with flat colours, or if it needs UVs and textures, or if it needs to be rigged and animated.) Freelance rates are typically lowered when you book out larger chunks of time. (If you're booking a full month of time, you'd probably be paying a lower rate than the hourly rate.)

    But having said that, I think you're going about this the wrong way. If neither of you have any experience, then the chances of your making any money making games is virtually zero for your first game (and second game, and probably quite a few games after that). It's probably not a smart idea to be budgeting for freelancers to help you with something that's unlikely to make any money at all. Your first several games, in my opinion, should just be about getting to grips with how things work and gaining some experience. Try out a bunch of ideas, and get familiar with how much time (and energy) it takes to make a very tiny-scoped project.

    Even if you've got experience as a programmer, this would help with your scoping -- and thus budgeting -- more accurately, and learning to solve some of the game-specific problems that you don't address as much in other fields of programming. In other areas of programming, my impression is that the problems to solve are clear-cut. "The application must satisfy these conditions. It must behave in this way. It must answer this problem." In contrast, the kind of problem that you're trying to solve as a game developer is quite open-ended, especially if you're trying to make a commercial success. I think you'd be better-served investing your money into yourself (to allow you to work for longer, to make more prototypes, gain more skills, and explore more ideas) than to think about hiring other people when you're inexperienced and don't know what you're making yet.

    I think it's certainly great that you're thinking about how important aesthetics can be. But don't let not being artistic hold you back. There are many interesting (and even financially successful, if only because they were probably quite cheap to make because of low time/money investment!) games that aren't great to look at, but which shine in other ways. I'd suggest thinking about what your strengths are, and using that to focus your design space.
  • Well I've been developing for Unity for 3 years, taught workshops, make an online 3D virtual store (Year long project) and entered a few game Jams. So I have quite a bit of experience with Unity but my brother is nowhere near to that level, however I do feel that I lack the experience when it comes to making an actual game from start to finish. So yea we might try to make some smaller non-artistic(or at least simple art) games, before diving into a large project. Even if I did invest in the game I actually wasn't looking for a return at all to be honest. It's weird I know, honestly I just wanted to put some time and money into making some quality work for my portfolio. But I do think we will take your advice and work on smaller, cheaper projects first.

    Thanks for the help Elyaradine.
    I appreciate it.
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
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