%age split for game writer

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by zoombapup, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. zoombapup

    Moderator Original Member

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    Hey all.

    I'm thinking about working with a game writer for my current game. He's happy to take a %age, but I was wondering what people thought of that idea?

    What would be a fair %age and in the scheme of things is it a good idea to do this kind of thing?

    I'm not entirely sure which what I'd go with this. I wouldnt typically budget for a writer, but I'm trying to make a game with some depth and character.
     
  2. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    If it were me, I'd probably throw an offer down of 15% net for 12 months commencing release date - the big sales numbers will happen in that period anyway. If anybody wants more than that, then I'll do it myself.

    Plus you aren't committing to some long-term financial tie.
     
  3. papillon

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    Very hard to comment on proper percentages without knowing the kind of game and how much writing is actually involved, and how much of a focus of the game it is. For some games 15% would be an insult, for others it would be way over the mark!
     
  4. Maupin

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    I think hiring a writer is a must. For example, a competent writer will type out entire words like "percentage" so readers can instantly understand the point you're trying to get across. ;P
     
  5. zoombapup

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    Well ok, yes, I was kind of using the %age thing to denote MONEY. Which I guess is a bit dumb, but otherwise how would you know I was talking about MONEY :)
     
  6. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Impossible to say without more information. How central to the product is the writing? What platform is it on? What's your estimate on it's earnings? etc.

    For some games the writing is a minor part, for others it's a huge chunk and the pay should reflect that.
     
  7. zoombapup

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    I'm not sure how to value the contribution writing might make to the game. I mean the game is a sort of emotionally driven syndicate-like game.

    Its a PC game, reasonably hardcore, meant to be sold on steam. Earnings arent clear, but hoping for 50-100k ballpark.

    I guess the issue is that I dont know how much value good writing adds to a game. How to quantify that (both in terms of money and effort) is pretty hard.
     
  8. Grey Alien

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    Unless it's an RPG, 15% sounds too much to me. I've found that a bit of cash up front to make sure they feel obligated to finish the job + a % of revenue received for a fixed period works pretty well.
     
  9. SteveZ

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    ..or start at x% and move up the % based on work contributed, peaking at y%, where y=Min[(total hours work x his $/hr)/(conservative estimate gross game sales), ~15%]

    Maybe I'm just too analytical :rolleyes:
     
  10. Vino

    Vino New Member

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    My two cents:

    If you need a writer to finish your game and you can't afford to pay them, your game is too big.
     
  11. NicolasGB

    NicolasGB New Member

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    Writers are typically paid with a flat fee and a 2-5% cut on the game's revenue.

    15% is way too much imho
     
  12. zoombapup

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    I *can* afford to pay them, I'm just not sure what value to place on that contribution.

    I dont need a writer to finish the game obviously. But thats kind of missing the point. If a writer adds to the overall value of the game, then its worthwhile considering that aspect of the games development. Of course I could ignore it and write some poorly thought out narrative myself, but would that add or remove value?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a ludologist at heart, so I care more about the gameplay, but narrative does help a lot of people with acceptance of a concept and given my game is quite unusual I think it needs that kind of thought.
     
  13. cyodine

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    I agree that it largely depends on the scope of writing compared to the rest of the game. No sense giving 15% of years of work for a couple of days work. Yet if the writer is working 6 months straight to match your own 6 months of work (with little post-release marketing and support expected), then the equation differs. I could mention that short story fiction writers trying to get into the big name magazines only get $.05 - $.10 per word, although that would likely be insulting since that wouldn't be enough to live off of. The only reason writers do that is for the marketing / promotion / opening doors so that they can later get their novels published.
     
  14. cyodine

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    Also, many writers will average about 3 pages of high quality prose per day (from what a relative of mine who is heavy into writing claims). Obviously a person could slop out those pages in an hour or less, but high quality takes much longer. So your price may depend on whether you're looking for top-notch work or just quicky work.
     
  15. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Even if doing the same work yourself would take you weeks/months?
     
  16. jcottier

    jcottier New Member

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    That's irrelevant. You should pay them, what the work is worth, no less no more. I can't draw, that doesn't mean that I will pay artist a fortune because they can do something that I can't.

    Personnaly, I don't like to promiss % to any of my contractors. Either I can pay up front, or I assume that I can't afford the project and won't do it. Remember one thing: you get why you paid for... so if you pay with promises, you might only end up with promises :)

    JC
     
  17. Vino

    Vino New Member

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    I meant, up front.
     
  18. zoombapup

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    Yes, I can pay them up front. Although they suggested a percentage (see me using my proper words now!) so I got thinking about that.

    I mean, I've very little knowledge when it comes to valueing this kind of contribution. Art I can tell how much I need and what I get for my money. But writing is a bit more of a black hole.
     
  19. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    This is a new area for me also. I'm planning on doing a game/book/audio book combination and the project doesn't make sense without an author who can make the project work.

    My plan is to offer an advance above what I know I can get 20K words written for. My thinking is that this means the author can be assured of getting paid a low wage to write the story arc/book. IMHO if you are looking to be assured of being paid well then you shouldn't be working in the high risk field of indie. games.

    Beyond that if any of the 3 properties does well then the author gets to share in the profits. I'm offering 50% for the novella, 15% for the game and 15% for the audio book. I'm going to lean on Audio Lark to get editing, narration and book cover work done as well as distribution.

    I've had a handful of offers so far, one looks especially promising. If the project comes to pass (I'm not proceeding unless I'm really confident in the author I get) then I'll share my results after they are all in.
     
  20. Vino

    Vino New Member

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    Then I would suggest you pay them up front or don't pay them at all. Revenue shares are a legal mumbo jumbo and if the guy drops out you lose your bit. Flat payments are simpler, less subject to misunderstandings, and don't encourage a sense of entitlement like shares do.

    If you don't know writing well enough to know what kind of value you get then I suggest not taking his offer. It's like buying a car without looking under the hood. Either familiarize yourself with writing and how it adds value to the game or just go without writing. Otherwise I think you're jumping into a unknown and that's much more risky than just not having as good writing.
     

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