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Get payed for making a game


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General question about gamedev:

Do you think it is a good idea to develop a game for somebody who tells you exactly what he wants to have?

Somebody asked me to code a game for him, and I would get payed. But I really don't know if this is a good idea.

I make games primarily for my own fun and excitement, and for me it is art. A game is no website or some tool somebody wants to have.

And even if I were free to do what I want, why should I sell my work instead of trying to sell the game for myself?

But maybe if it's just a small advertising game and I could earn some money ... the question is how much? And how much work it is? Even a small game is not done in a week.

Do somebody here have some experience with making games as a service? What do you think about it? Would you do that? Or would you rather keep your focus on making your own games and try to publish them?

I don't like the idea, but I could need some money. As I think the man is not really a gamedev hero, I expect that I should make a flappy bird clone, match 3 clone, simple platformer with collecting coins or something like that. And he wants that for mobile (android).

Thanks for your thoughts.

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@mightymarcus I'd suggest separating art from livelihood.  So negotiate deals that serve your agenda longer term whilst not risking your ability to survive in the meanwhile.  For example some upfront payment to cover your opportunity costs and general risk combined with a tiered revenue split / partnership longer term.  Then you may be incentivised both in the short-term and the long-term - and each are beneficial to both parties.  As for how much, only you can defend what value you place on your time and your output - everyone else will usually assume it is less.

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Are you currently a contractor?

If yes, then there is no issue. Ignore game dev, this is just a contract. Negotiate your rate, make sure you get paid every week (or 2 weeks, or 4 weeks, all part of negotiation) and get your head down and get on with it to the best of your ability. If its a negotiation for revenue share or something else then alarm bells are ringing, but not necessarily prohibitively, nothing wrong with this type of contract in principle, so long as you can feed yourself (and any dependents) before the first check comes in you're golden, that's your risk, that's why contractors tend to be paid more (daily) than other employees, mostly due to skill or specific skill (it should be mostly this) but partly due to risk. As a contractor you are taking more of the risk.

If no, then do you want to be? Are you ready? It's certainly not for everybody and you'd have to be confident in your personal and organisational skills as well as your coding skills, it is not for the inexperienced, you need to be top of your game to make it work in the long term. 

You have two separate issues: Can I make money self-financing my gaming company? Can I make money contracting for 'the man'?

Both of these paths require you to be a superb developer, with great business skills and top-notch interpersonal skills. As a contractor you are running your own business anyway, and, actually, the two can exist together. True Valhalla has an informative blog where he details his work and earnings in this regard, I think I'm right in saying he still takes on some interesting consultancy work (maybe not any more, he's a long way down the line with running a gaming company and has a number of consistent revenue streams).

You'll always, in my opinion, hit a decision point where you say I can make XXX per day next week working for A, B or C, or, I could make ??? for working on my own game, its very hard to turn down a sure thing, and your game is not a sure thing! Easier to make that decision with several months pay in your bank account though, something to consider. I'd advise against loans and equity shares etc etc for getting some cash, dangerous path, not for the inexperienced, you've got to know your business skills are up to it before you go raising capital elsewhere.

Also, another thing to consider, whats the market like in your current area? For England, finding consistent gaming related JS work could be tough, even in London, although easier once you've established yourself in the industry of course, it might be different where you are, or maybe you have some other skills you could lean on (general app/web dev) if you're in a pinch.

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I think you should go for it. Not because you get paid (which isn't bad thing afterall), but because you will practise other things as well : self-management, listening to other than your own opinon, bussiness skills. I'm pretty sure that your potential customer will appreciate if you bring your own ideas to the game.

All of that may become handy when you'll be making your next game no matter if for fun or living.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for your different opinions. I decided to not make games as a service, because I am not good enough and because I don't want to because it's too personal for me. It's for me the difference let's say between writing a song out of my heart and writing a song for a cornflakes TV spot. ;)

Contract working with web-programming or developing a mobile-app for someone is another story.

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