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How much does it cost to develop a game?

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Anonymous

Hi,

I work at a mutilateral donor agency (not sure if its appropriate to give the name in this forum) as an Urban Specialist and I'm task managing the development of two educational/training games on city development that we intend to use as part of larger capacity building programs for developing countries. We're looking at board games, card games or a combination mainly because the local governments that we're targeting have limited access to computers or the internet.

We intend to design, produce and disseminate it with internal funding, so this game is not intended for commercial use, rather it may be provided free or at drastically reduced costs to Local governments of developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America etc.

Can you help me with information on what it would cost to produce a game in the United States, i.e hiring a game developer (daily rate), illustrator, printing etc. Is there a manual or guide for such kind of thing?. Where can I find a game developer that is not expensive to hire as a consultant?. Can we approach any printer or are there specific producers/ printing companies that we have to approach?. what are the options for producing/ printing games in China ro elsewhere to reduce costs.

I'm sorry for throwing so many questions at the forum. Your help will be very much appreciated. I have other questions but will leave it here for now.

Thank you
Risa

Dralius
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

Ok this is a tall order.

There are many links in the web resources section under the heading of Professional Services that you might find useful including printers that specialize in making games to businesses that will help develop a game, produce it for you and handle fulfillment. Keep in mind that using an all in one service will be the most convenient but probably also the most expensive. The cost is will vary widely, depending on the components, their quality, artwork, packaging and a number of other factors. All I can tell you is get as many quotes as possible.

Good luck, it sounds like you have a very interesting project.

seo
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

You might rather produce the games in China or maybe in some of your "target" countries. That would probably save you a lot in production costs.

The cheapest option for the game designer, and probably one of the best, would be to set some sort of contest were interested designers can enter their game ideas. You would have the chance to specify as much as you find requiered on the educative/training aspects the games should cover, as well as any other requirements that might be of importance production wise (required components have a huge wheight in the production costs). Given that the games will be used in several different countries, you might also have some contest rules regarding the language requirements: maybe a different rulebook per language, but no text or multilingual text on the board/cards, etc., to save on production.

You can award the winning design with some cash price, or simply some copies (100, 500, 1000) copies of the game for him to sell by his own, or use for self promotion, or give away as Christmas presents. There are lots of unpublished game designers that will be glad to accept a couple hundred copies of their game in exchange for the design, and primting those extra copies would be relatively cheap for your agency.

Seo

Emphyrio
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

How many copies do you intend to distribute? The more you print, the less each one will cost. The actual cost will depend on the components and whether you're printing in the US or China, but the range will probably be somewhere between about $4 and $8 per unit for a print run of 5000. Add on maybe $3000 for setting up plates and dies, and say $5000 for art and graphic design, and your total production cost will probably be $30-50K, plus shipping.

As Seo mentioned, you can get lots of designs for next to nothing by running a contest. But be as detailed as you can about what you want the game to teach and what specific facts or principles it should incorporate. I'd guess that few game designers have much experience with city planning.

english
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

I concur with the points already made about the issues that need to be considered with your project.

Without knowing the specifics of the project it is difficult offer too much 'concrete' guidance.

Producing a card game would probably be the most economical to manufacture and to ship globally. The language issue is certainly an important consideration, alternate language rulebooks or one multi-language rulebook.

A lot depends on the complexity and depth of learning/experience that you are looking for.

It's the old adage - start with the end in mind.

What exactly do you want the game to do/teach/promote?

What knowledge/understanding do you want the players to come away with after playing the game?

Carl

Anonymous
Many thanks

Dear Emphyrio, Seo and Dralius,

Many thanks for your advice. I like the contest idea and might consider it. I have some idea of what I want the learning obectives of the game to be but other than that I was hoping that the consultant will come up with the game ideas. One of the topics already has a written manual, do you think it would be wise to just distribute the manual and let the contestants come up with a game idea (with some preset rules), or do you think I should write up an outline. If so are there some references that can help me with this. Of course once a developer is selected I will work with the person on fine tuning the game rules and developing the scenarios. The selected designer will be paid a consulting fee since that's how we tend to do things and I can consider giving a few games for personal promotion.

I also like the language challenge, since one of the games is targeted for countries in Africa (both Anglophone and Francophone).

Thank you for the $30-50$ estimate. We have that kind of budget for one game and much less for the other. Any suggestion on how we can create a simple game for less than $20,000 not including distribution costs. How much would is cost to produce just a proto-type?.

Finally, will this forum be a good place to post the contest?. I'm scared of being flooded by proposals I wouldn't have time to shortlist. Are there CVs posted on this sight maybe I can pre-select who I want to invite for the contest.

Thanks
Risa

Torrent
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

Hey..

I guess I will add my thoughts. An outline/summary is probably better than a manual. A long manual, esp. if it is technical in nature, may scare off some decent ideas. Highlight in your summary and outline what topics are most important to you.
If you are posting a contest that accepts unpublished and non-fulltime designers, make sure you detail what sort of time commitment/deadlines you will request of the winner. You would hate to get the perfect design from someone that just doesn't have the time to devote to your project.

As for getting too many results, don't worry about that too much; design your contest around it. If I remember the Hippodice rules correctly, the first round requires a single page description of the game. Basically have the first stage be somethign that gives you the idea of the game but is easy and wuick to read through; then if you get a lot the shortlisting should be easier. The short list then is a group of entrants that have to send in a prototype, or more detailed proposal.
Take a look at the GameDesign Showdown section of this forum. You can get an idea of the bredth of ideas from the prompts and also see the format that a lot of ideas take.

Prototypes aren't hard to make, depending on the finish you are looking for. I think a lot of us make prototypes for only a handful of dollars. I have a pile of various bits that I reuse and then handdraw cards.

I'm not sure how educational it actually is, but check out Terra. http://boardgamegeek.com/game/8671 According to BGG it is a joint project of Unesco and Days of Wonder, although it looks more like a project to raise money rather than teach.

As a side note, make sure you have the designer think both of culture and language. This means colors and symbols that may mean different things around the world, and the role of women in society. Most of these issues will probably be in the art selection rather than the design stage.

Andy

Anonymous
How much does it cost to develop a game?

Thanks Andy,

I will contact UNESCO directly for more information on their board game. Thank you very much for the tip.

I'm planning to organize an event on the use of games as a pedagogical tool in educating people on development issues- urban development, HIV AIDS, planning, environment etc. This event will probably be a day long workshop where institutions, game developers and others wil be invited to share their experience. If anyone has ideas on who I should contact/ approach please let me know. I understand MIT has alot of experience in computer game simulations and will talk to them.

Risa

Dralius
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

Risa wrote:
Dear Emphyrio, Seo and Dralius,
Thank you for the $30-50$ estimate. We have that kind of budget for one game and much less for the other. Any suggestion on how we can create a simple game for less than $20,000 not including distribution costs.

Two words "Card Game"

Not only will it be the cheapest to produce materials wise it is also economical to ship. Being that each copy of the game is not intended to be played as much as game for home entertainment is you can get by with a cheaper cardstock.

Risa wrote:
Finally, will this forum be a good place to post the contest?. I'm scared of being flooded by proposals I wouldn't have time to shortlist. Are there CVs posted on this sight maybe I can pre-select who I want to invite for the contest.

An open contest might get you 50+ entries. Weather you have an open competition or restrict it you should be very specific to your needs so that you are not getting proposals that are out of bounds. Game designers have wild imaginations. There are no CV’s here. What you might do is start by having people submit a CV to you and then pick from the top 10. That should not take you long to do.

What kind of time frame do you have to work within?

Anonymous
How much does it cost to develop a game?

This is fantastic ! thank you so much for all your help.

In response to Dralius:

As I mentioned I have two games in mind and for the game that I currently have funding for:

My aim is to have a proto-type ready by January 2007 (with a number of consultations thrown in with the developer between now and then) and have as a published item in March 2007. Does this sound realistic?.

I might go with hiring two developers separately for each game, since we're still working on getting funding for the second game. The timeframe for the second project will be probably extend until April or May 2007. Depending on when we get the go ahead.

If anyone is interested in submitting their CVs please do so by sending a private email.

Risa.

Risa

Dralius
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

Risa wrote:
My aim is to have a proto-type ready by January 2007 (with a number of consultations thrown in with the developer between now and then) and have as a published item in March 2007. Does this sound realistic?.

Since this is teaching tool spending your time learning a bunch of rules so you can lean the subject matter would be a step backwards. The game should be simple, intuitive and possibly based on pre-existing classic games that people are already familiar with. Under this premise 5 months is a fair amount of time to design the mechanics, test them and write a good draft of the rules. The production end of the equation is a little out of my area of experience so I am reluctant to guess if 3 month is enough time to have it produced even if you handle issues like artwork while the game design is being finalized.

Torrent
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

Dralius mentions classic games, which sparks somethign in my head that I don't think you have clarified as well as you perhaps need to (atleast to us, maybe you have all of this figured out already in your head).

Who are your audience?
I would think that local governmental officials are unlikely to play games (although I'm no expert in the countries you are talking about.) Is this game meant as a tool for teachers and students or given to children or is it really aimed at adults? If so, what setting are people expected to play it in? (Home, school, office, villagecenter, pub?)

These sort of answers will affect the type of thing you are creating.

I agree that whatever it is needs to be intutive, which is not always the same as simple. Although unfortunately what is intuitive to one culture( or even profession) may not be to another. Also look at what religions you are dealign with. I know that certain religions have prohibitions against gambling. A game with certain risk mechanics may be unpalatable to some groups.

Don't let all of this sway you from your task. I just got my Masters in International Studies and have had all of this sort of thing drilled into my head for the last few years. I'm just trying to point out things to look at.

Andy

Anonymous
How much does it cost to develop a game?

Thanks Andy,

Very relevant questions. The game will be a pedagogical tool for adults and it will be played in a workshop/training session type setting primarily. It could be facilitated by trainers/instructors or it could be played in offices as part of their local training program. We're trying to promote learning through "serious play" :-). Its fun yet it teaches by way of simulating real life development and city management issues.

Risa

Emphyrio
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

Risa wrote:
My aim is to have a proto-type ready by January 2007 (with a number of consultations thrown in with the developer between now and then) and have as a published item in March 2007. Does this sound realistic?

If you're printing in China, I'd advise allowing 3-5 months from the time you submit the final artwork & specs to the printer to the time you take delivery of the product. I imagine it would be somewhat faster with a US printer, but it probably depends on how busy they are.

english
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How much does it cost to develop a game?

I have sent you a PM

c

Anonymous
How much does it cost to develop a game?

Risa-
We've done a lot of games like you're talking about. The costs to produce are going to vary wildly based on the game components and how many games you want to do.

There's been some good advice posted already, so let me just chime in around the edges a bit.

Since you are trying to teach people something, decide on your game design and what you want to teach with it. Do this before anything else. It won't matter if you produce a great game that doesn't do the teaching part. You may be able to "appropriate" an existing design like Trivial Pursuit (for instance) if that concept will let you get your message across. (Note: Not trying to diss any suggestions made earlier about design! Just that Rita is not subject to commercial appeal here).

As was mentioned earlier, card games are cheaper than other games for shipping and production. On the other hand, it might be hard to teach what you want using a card game.

I'm not sure what the going rate is for graphic designers, etc. I've seen as low as $30/hour, but $50-70/hr is more the norm. Your cheapest bet will be to go to one with a fairly complete design and have them execute it for you.

You will probably have to produce your game in the U.S. because your order quantity will be too low to go to China. This is just a guess, mind you, so feel free to investigate. There are a number of game printers here in the U.S. I work for one - Delano Service. Our minimum is usually 1000 games. Send me a PM if you want me to get you more info on the company (or just head over to delanoservice.com).

It is quite likely that you can produce a game and do the art, for about $20K. You might have to make some choices about your components (18" board versus 24" board, etc.) and you'll need to keep your graphic designer on a short leash but it is doable.

Good luck!

Anonymous
How much does it cost to develop a game?

Thank you for your message and the estimates. I will keep your printing company in mind. However, please keep in mind that selection will be based on a competitive bidding/ price estimate process.

Best
Risa

Anonymous
How much does it cost to develop a game?

Risa wrote:
However, please keep in mind that selection will be based on a competitive bidding/ price estimate process.

I'm sure it will be. Working for a company in the game industry, I feel it best to lay my cards on the table when talking about these things. There are several companies that specialize in game printing. We all have different niches and or competitive advantages. Hopefully, you'll match up with whichever one works best for your organization.

:)

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