How much do you pay for graphics?

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by dxgame, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Brian A. Knudsen

    Brian A. Knudsen New Member

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    my two cents

    Hello board,

    I have some sort of contribution to the mud throwing artist vs progammer, as i consider myself crossover gamedesigner-projectmanager-techie. By education im computer science and business administration, with a university course in game design. I have not a track record as such (apart from mods) and thus have to finance myself to figure out a away to make a game with no backing.

    I see artefacts in this discussion:

    - belief in own trade
    - denial of the business side to gaming.
    - lack of focus on percieved values

    Programmers see themselves as able todo all and that they are most important, game designers and managers say theyare most and so on. WHat should be said is bringing communities of practies together increases the innovativeness of a team, so dont taunt other end but there a time and place where all trades shine. Creative chaos comes the fluctation brought into the team by new worlds views which leade each indidual member to reconstruct his own beliefs according to the new information gained (hopefully).

    Scepticism is ok, but from what standpoint its open up is the key. If its artists vs programmers, its a lame pre-calculated war which contributes nothing. But for a reason is good, especially when in pre-production you need to do stuff for a reason and not just because its fun because the path ahead is still not funny clearified (cerny method) or you get nowhere. A good argument can bend attitudes and knit a team together.

    Businesss is what its about, and its like first thing to make clear: if you dont get more money out of production (and fun) than you could get by putting your money in the bank - dont do it !!!

    This makes focus completely different than the usual mod upstart which take focus in what production team knows and likes. Games are designed to buyers, people that are NOT programmers and NOT artists etc etc. What do they want? thats the key together with cost-effective handling during the preproduction of the game.
    I have talked to several aritsts and programmers by now and rarly have i seen anyone cost - effective enough to work with. Usually they overrate themselves and have huge asking price and or mediocre quality for no other reason than mental gold digging. They basicly dont get that they are part of a busineess and even if it was a profit sharing scheme they wouldnt get 'thier share' out of sales, but out of commission and after costs of project are paid. There is a huge reality check needed if you ask me or you can say that i'm too cheap to pay people what they dream about and try to find peopel that share my vision rather than love for money.

    This leads to my mantra, focus on percieved values. If you have to put your own money into making a game, you gotta get value for money. This goes as for cost of graphics and especially on features designed. Programmers are the worst of worst todo something for technically coolness reasons. But you might get same game impact as a superübertech by meary adding another integer to an object and make some simple rules for it. example the concept of fuel in cars are easily added and would give huge depth to eg. a strategy game. This would be percieved as 'cool feature' by a user, but programmer often neglect this because 'its a 5 min job'.


    So when asking if you should have another feature, object, etc. ask yourself how its percieved by user. What does it add to game and by this you know if price is right in time and money.

    to end this sidetrack and answer the actual topic:

    how much do you pay for graphics: i'd never pay three digit for a 3d graphic object. I pay as little as possible and order many objects as needed in one go to drop price.



    best regards

    brian

    ps. dont take above too seriously, its just a wake up saterday braindump.
     
  2. yanuart

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    Back to topic about how much you pay for arts, I can only say this : "Pay as much as you can/want to". As a guy who's about to give money to someone else it's always better to lose as little as you can. That's a way of saying that I can't actually give you the exact numbers I've spent on arts cause it's always different all the time.
    I'm not saying you to be a cheap ass but judging from your artist's pitch that wasn't a good argument and it says alot about him/her. When you're dealing with professional freelancer they've allready know how to defend their works/prices without being patronizing.

    A good way to calculate the price is to ask how many hours and what's the cost per hour work. It's not a good way to be exact but many contractors use this cause it's the most reasonable quoting projection that both parties can understand and be happy with it.

    Let's say an artist ask for 2000$ for the whole project, you can start by asking these simple questions :
    1. How long does it takes to finish the job. From here you can roughly calculate the cost per hour work. If you think it's reasonable then why not ?
    2. What makes this project difficult or not? Is it qualitative / quantitative difficulties? From here you can judge wether the artist got a clue or not on what he's going to do.
    3. Ask about other things that may appears afterward. Do you have a chance to revise ? How many times can you make revision ? Does the artist willing to do annoying works such as tiling the sprite correctly, etc

    Hope this helps :)
     
  3. soniCron

    Indie Author

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    You're saying two things here:
    • Artists and programmers aren't cost effective
    • Artists and programmers overrate themselves
    I can agree that artists and programmers aren't cost effective in this highly volatile industry. But do you know how much artists and programmers get paid in other facets of their work? Of course, you may have just had a bad run with poor artists... ;)
     
  4. Brian A. Knudsen

    Brian A. Knudsen New Member

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    I say they have a golden hammer and true belief in thier skills being the solution to problems. Where in fact i say its more a designers along with projectleader whom can create good value for money with the artists and programmers as resources.

    What i honestly believe is that many people 'gold dig', that is, without good track record or without relation to the cost of where they are living ask large sums of money.

    Recent example is that i had a request for pricing for something that was done already (as sample) and the asking price the second place was 8 times that of the original designer.

    example, if you say you need ALOT OF TIME to make a simple low poly unit and put a texture on it, i see only one choice if you want the job that is to go for lower per hour and accept your in a learning process and not yet in a position to charge professional pricing (which i still dont know what is as prices are so fluctatous).

    Its a supply - demand relation if you have the money. If you can get something cheaper, I go for cheaper unless i think price is fair already and like the stability of the work. I have had one of these exerpiences so far, else artist been abit too cheap or has some other flaws which i felt i paid for.

    Similar would be quote from a programmer that has no track record etc tc.. asking rediculess prices and to me it seems they are 'gold digging'.

    again, the mantra of 'what you get is what you pay for' is just not correct if you ask me, but ofcourse its a pointer. I do however believe you can get decent quality by sharing a vision with people and get there at reasonable low pricing. I build relationships, then build business relationship and this formula ususally pays off to my advantage.
     
  5. mamashop

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    Seriously, i'm not into the wars of programmer vs artist, but i need to know how much it costs me to engage an artist for a casual puzzle game project for a duration of 3 months.

    Any figures would be helpful, as I've been quoted US$15,000, which is way beyond my reach. Does someone out there have a reasonable figure, or any artists who would who work for less than US$2000???

    I need exact figures please...as things like 4-figure sum could mean 1000 or 9999...

    Thanks.
     
  6. soniCron

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    Well, the only exact figures you're going to get are from individual artists. However, $10,000 - $15,000 for 3 months of full-time work from an artist sounds about right.

    But quality art for less than $2,000? Good luck!
     
  7. KNau

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    Truly, if you want to know how much an artist is going to cost, ask them. There are quite a few artists who have posted in the portfolio section - send them your job requirements and ask for a quote and their terms.

    I'm a bit skeptical of the high end quotes like $15,000 for three months because that would mean a general purpose game artist makes $60,000 dollars a year. Despite what the Gamasutra poll says, I've never seen anyone outside of a department head make that kind of cheddar. But then I live in Canada where all game development positions are hideously underpaid.

    I have no doubt that soniCron is right and you won't find a decent quote but, flat out, anything over $2,000 bucks and it's cheaper for you to learn to draw. Same for programming. Neither are really that hard.
     
  8. soniCron

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    In all fairness, we're not talking about a general purpose game artist, we're talking about an artist and art director - and on contract, no less. Those factors drive the price up a bit.

    But what Kyle said: It's absolutely worth learning the stuff yourself. It'll take some time, but first games are notorious for bombing, so why not just spread your wings on that one? (Okay, I know I'm putting the carrot before the horse! ;))
     
  9. Ratboy

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    $15,000 for 12 40-hour weeks is a hair over $30/hour. For a professional freelancer, that's average. In point of fact, that's what I was making at Microsoft before I left.

    $2,000 for a 3-month gig means pulling in around $166 per week. I could probably live on that if Mom's basement room was still available to me...
     
  10. KNau

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    Those figures would only apply if you were their sole client, though wouldn't they? If you want 100% of their time then you pay for it, but if you are just a project in their queue the fee should reflect that.

    I posted somewhere before that my baseline for hiring an artist would be $2000 per month and then figure up from there. But as I also said, at that point it's cheaper and faster to either learn to draw or buy pre-made packs of assets. But then I've always been more DIY inclined.
     
  11. mamashop

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    Actually i dont like hourly rates. One artist may take 24 hrs for a background, another just 8, am i to justifiably pay one $720 and the other $240 based on say a rate of $30/hr? What if one is a slow artist? He'll definitely earn more. If one is to go by the number of assets, and their complexity, it sounds better, but again, we usually specify how fast we want it, which will ultimately end up with specifying the total hrs needed to complete the piece, which translates back to the hourly rate. If we want it fast, they charge a higher hourly rate, dont they?
     
  12. soniCron

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    All artists charge differently - some charge by the hour, some by the project. Find one that suits your needs. And if you go with one charging by the hour, ask for an estimate up front. (Remember, though, it's just an estimate!) I assure you that if an artist comes with gleaming references [always check references when hiring contractors], you can assume he's not going to rip you off. Any over-the-'net contractor is on his honor anyway, so... Finally, deadlines are the due date - good contractors will get the project in before that, so don't worry about him artificially increasing his rate.

    Instead of thinking of it as though you were hiring a contract artist, compare your situation to hiring a full-time employee. A full-time employee can also take too long, costing you more in the long run. Nevertheless, you're going to have to lay out a solid fee for any quality work, regardless of your approach. After all, the artist accounts for a solid 1/3rd of the gaming experience. Don't devalue that!
     
  13. Rainer Deyke

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    I like hourly rates. They encourage artists to do a good job instead of just throwing something together as quickly as possible. Also, they give me more flexibility in requesting changes. If I don't like a piece of art and want the artist to redo it, or if find that I need additional artwork to keep my levels from looking bland, or if I suddenly need completely different art assets because I redesigned large parts of the game in a flash of inspiration, hourly rates give me that flexibility. And if I feel that an artist isn't doing an adequate job, hourly rates allow me to terminate my relationship with that artist without negotiating about how much I should pay him for the time he already invested in my project.
     
  14. Philippe

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    I've studied media design at a university of applied science. Of all my colleagues who are now self-employed, no one whose work is actually worth its price charges less than 30€ per hour, and a good deal of them have no problems finding gigs that pay 50 per hour or more. Mind you that's a world of difference between what they earn and what those earn that chose to seek employment.

    The point is that you can't compare freelance money to an employee's salary, and that 15,000 for three months will usually not add up to 60,000 a year:
    A freelancer's price needs to factor in their idle time, time spent looking for the next job, time spent in meetings and on projects that never end because of continuous demands for changes, time you spend doing your taxes, educating yourself, dealing with and upgrading your hardware, paying for software licenses, paying for healthcare and pension funds (this is at least an issue in most parts of Europe), and so on. There's a whole rat-tail of overhead that an employee doesn't have.
    Furthermore, you're much more at risk - you're more liable than you are as an employee, payments are less regular and usually arrive very late, and there's always the looming danger that you'll run out of projects. What hourly rate does a plumber in your area charge for much less specialised work?

    Of course I'm not saying Indies should be paying that sort of cash. I'm just saying these prices are not unusual for a good reason, and if you can't employ your artist for a longer period and you're (understandably) not willing to depart with these amounts of money, you need to find someone who's so passionate about games that they're willing to work for less; or you need to be creative and try to find a style of art that's unique and that can be produced in less man-hours than the usual game graphics take - which is where I think things get interesting anyway.
     
  15. Uty

    Uty
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    My corporate logo design is gonna cost me a hundred bucks. I was surprised. I'm daunted by how much an artist's time costs. Well, with a little luck and elbow grease I'll figure out a way to pay them and the music guys and somehow still be self employed.
     
  16. mamashop

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    well, a $15K will need to translate to sales of 3000 copies of a $19.90 game after receiving say royalty of 25% from portal. That's just only break even, and sales have to surpass that mark. Unless the artist has got such credentials in working on top busters, if not, it's really difficult to justify that $30/hr rate. As for a logo for 100 bucks, that doesnt translate well to a poor programmer like me. I could easily licenced another indie engine to play with, but of course, we need artists...
     
  17. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    I used to do the art for my games, but then met an artist friend who is even better at it than I was (he just graduated with a degree in graphic design I believe). He's made the logos for all our games so far (see my site in the signature for the logos for each game), and those seemed to take him 3 to 5 hours each to make. So I'd say 100$ for that is fair (though thankfully I'm getting them for free because we work together as a team).

    Speaking of working as a team: why this reluctance to pay an artist with royalties rather than by the hour? Or do most of them not accept those terms? That'd be understandable if the programmer hasn't ever created a game before, but I think that if a programmer has actually created games and perhaps even sold a few, and if the artist likes the game concept, an artist would be more than willing to work for royalties, and to take as much time as they need to make great art.
     
  18. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Don't forget to factor in your own development costs too. If you value your time at the same price as the artist you're looking at having to sell 6000 copies of a game to break even.
     
  19. mamashop

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    yup, and based on a conversion rate of 1 percent, need 600,000 downloads.
     
  20. soniCron

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    *gasp* You mean, making money in downloadable games is hard?! :p
     

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