Po: cost of commissioning a piece of interactive fiction?

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saul

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May 27, 2007, 1:25:21 AM5/27/07
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I'd like to ask a largely hypothetical question of the authors in this
forum who have completed a game. If I wanted to commission a new work
of interactive fiction, how much would it cost and how long would it
take? Let's presume that I provide an outline of the basic setting/
plot/characters and some or all of the puzzles, and I get a .z5 game
with about 5 hours of gameplay.

I intend this to spark discussion, so please don't take offense for
whatever reason. I figure the answers will be between $100 and
$10,000 and between 10 days and 100 days, but that's a large range.

Instead of flaming the poster,
repeat with game running through your finished games begin;
say "I wrote [the game], which has about [gameplay] hours of
gameplay, in [devtime] days, with [devhours] hours of work[if cost >
0] and $[cost][end if]."
end repeat.

I guess I've been writing a bit of Inform 7 lately. =)

saul
saulpwanson[at (does this really fool any bots?)]gmail.com

Andrew Plotkin

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May 27, 2007, 1:56:05 AM5/27/07
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Here, saul <saulp...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I'd like to ask a largely hypothetical question of the authors in this
> forum who have completed a game. If I wanted to commission a new work
> of interactive fiction, how much would it cost and how long would it
> take? Let's presume that I provide an outline of the basic setting/
> plot/characters and some or all of the puzzles, and I get a .z5 game
> with about 5 hours of gameplay.

The hardest part of the question, actually, is "what is five hours of
gameplay?"

The last few IFComp games I wrote were *notionally* two hours of
gameplay -- that being the IFComp rule. But I don't hand those games
to a player and expect two hours to go by. Could be more, could be
less, could be that the player doesn't like it and kills the game
after five minutes.

Now, those IFComp games took me... well, 15 to 25 days, which is
something like 30 to 60 hours of programming time. I code pretty
quickly, but on the other hand I insist on a lot of game detail. Which
is to say, I am not a typical IF author, and I will throw off your
estimates in several directions at once. :)

If you wanted to commission me to do IF work, and I didn't know you
from a hole in the ground, I'd charge the same hourly rate which I
would charge for any professional programming contract. That's the way
I look at it: yes, IF is fun, but the stuff I want to do on my own is
also fun. (Whether it's IF or not.) That's why I work for money. (A
bunch of money. I won't throw numbers around, but I have fifteen years
of software industry experience; I am not the cheap guy on the block.)

(A separate question is how much design work I'd do, in addition to
the programming. An outline with puzzles is not a coherent game. That
could be more hours, and it could also wind up not looking as much
like your original idea as you expected.)

So, every aspect of this depends on who you work with. The IF author
you choose is going to have some estimate for the duration of the
task; he/she is going to have some estimate for a price. And he/she is
going to have a very large influence on how the work comes out.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
9/11 did change everything. Since 9/12, the biggest threat to American
society has been the American president. I'd call that a change.

Raksab

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May 27, 2007, 2:23:03 AM5/27/07
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On May 26, 10:56 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

Depending on the idea, you might be able to con somebody into doing it
for free. Most people here write games for the fun of it.

Just out of curiosity, why would you want a game commissioned? Who
would you show it to? (Not an idle question ... to appreciate IF, you
kinda have to be somebody who plays it as a hobby, and that
encompasses a very small fraction of the general population.)

hmm ... a 5-hour game ... *ponders* I'm trying to figure out how many
rooms that would be, and how many puzzles, but some puzzles in IF take
forever to solve, and some don't, and richly detailed rooms suggest
longer gameplay than austere environments. Length of time is so hard
to measure. As a vague rule of thumb, I would think that for every
hour of gameplay, you'd probably need to spend at least 5 to 10 hours
coding. Maybe more.

Raksab

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May 27, 2007, 2:24:16 AM5/27/07
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On May 26, 10:56 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

Depending on the idea, you might be able to con somebody into doing it
for free. Most people here write games for the fun of it.

Just out of curiosity, why would you want a game commissioned? Who
would you show it to? (Not an idle question ... to appreciate IF, you
kinda have to be somebody who plays it as a hobby, and that
encompasses a very small fraction of the general population.)

hmm ... a 5-hour game ... *ponders* I'm trying to figure out how many
rooms that would be, and how many puzzles, but some puzzles in IF take
forever to solve, and some don't, and richly detailed rooms suggest
longer gameplay than austere environments. Length of time is so hard
to measure. As a vague rule of thumb, I would think that for every
hour of gameplay, you'd probably need to spend at least 5 to 10 hours
coding. Maybe more.

Also, most of us have other things to do, so most people you ask to do
this would be writing the game in their spare time, and not everyone
has a lot of spare time, so you might need to be prepared to wait a
while.

saul

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May 27, 2007, 3:30:33 AM5/27/07
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You both bring up a good point, that measuring the length of time of
most interactive fiction is difficult and maybe not even that
important. I actually think that not being able to just work through
a game, like you would a book or a movie, is a main component that
prevents the form from becoming more mainstream.

My reasons for wanting to commission a work of interactive fiction are
complex and varied. I could go on any one of several different
tangents regarding my childhood love of the form, or how the audience
for IF is severely limited and it's due to such and these, or on about
my spiritual quest for sustainability. But I'll spare you.

I didn't really have a specific project in mind, just a natural
tendency to want to know how much things cost. I'm currently learning
Inform 7 and making a one-room demo that I hope takes about an hour to
play, and it's remarkably easy in some ways and quite tedious in
others. I too am a software professional with more money than time,
so if I like how it turns out and wanted to expand on it, I'd be very
interested in some creative collaboration that resulted in talented
artist[s] receiving compensation. As a romantic, I of course have
lofty aspirations of making a living while changing the world; but if
I can't make that happen for myself at the moment, maybe I can help
make it happen for someone else.

saul

Andrew Owen

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May 27, 2007, 4:53:06 AM5/27/07
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Your cost model is wrong. IF isn't software. Software is just the
medium through which IF is presented.

Bert Byfield

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May 27, 2007, 9:51:11 AM5/27/07
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> My reasons for wanting to commission a work of interactive fiction
> are complex and varied. I could go on any one of several
> different tangents regarding my childhood love of the form, or how
> the audience for IF is severely limited and it's due to such and
> these, or on about my spiritual quest for sustainability. But
> I'll spare you.

If there were money in interactive fiction, we would all be posting our
rates and fighting for your job opening, instead of speculating on the
various nuances of the idea.

Bert Byfield

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May 27, 2007, 9:55:02 AM5/27/07
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> Your cost model is wrong. IF isn't software. Software is just the
> medium through which IF is presented.

From his point of view, and from that of many people, IF is software.
Software is the medium through which other things (such as a MicroSoft
Word, MS Windows XP, Paint Shop Pro 8, Grand Theft Auto IV, et cetera)
are presented, too.


Andrew Plotkin

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May 27, 2007, 11:23:20 AM5/27/07
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Here, Andrew Owen <chev...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Your cost model is wrong. IF isn't software. Software is just the
> medium through which IF is presented.

You have an alternative proposal?

Writers (for hire) are typically paid by the word, but the rate
depends on the market. You could try to invent a word rate that makes
sense for IF -- taking into account that you're delivering a mix of
source code and game text. But I'd rather measure and charge in hours.
Easier for me to estimate; and when I write prose, it's at a fairly
steady words-per-hour rate anyhow.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

If the Bush administration hasn't subjected you to searches without a warrant,
it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not because you're an American.

Mike Snyder

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May 27, 2007, 11:41:15 AM5/27/07
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"saul" <saulp...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1180251033.1...@r19g2000prf.googlegroups.com...

> On May 26, 11:24 pm, Raksab <theli...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > On May 26, 10:56 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

> My reasons for wanting to commission a work of interactive fiction are
> complex and varied. I could go on any one of several different
> tangents regarding my childhood love of the form, or how the audience
> for IF is severely limited and it's due to such and these, or on about
> my spiritual quest for sustainability. But I'll spare you.

My answer would be about the same as Andew's, I think. If I was working on a
project for a friend, it'd be dirt cheap or free (although I tend not to
agree to do things that will be really time-consuming like that, if there's
any way possible I can avoid it). If I agreed to contracted work, I'd charge
whatever I think 12 years in the software development industry is worth,
comparable to my present salary. Actually, I'd probably quote above that,
but still less than a full-time contractor.

When we've hired out for software development where I work, we've paid
between $75 and $150 an hour, for projects that are 50 to 150 hours of work.
I've always thought I'd probably agree to $50 an hour starting out,
especially for projects I'd enjoy. So it's just a matter of how much time it
would take to finish. I also code pretty quickly, but I design a lot. As
I've written more IF, I've tried to go for more detail and better
responsiveness. So yeah - if you wanted a five-hour game that was mostly
bare-bones and game-stopping puzzles, it might not be a big challenge.
Twenty hours? But if you wanted something very story-based, with branching
paths and ornate detail, I'd throw out a wild guess of 100 hours (or upwards
from there).

--- Mike.


Jim Aikin

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May 27, 2007, 12:15:15 PM5/27/07
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The professional programmers here may be skewing the estimate slightly
upward. A lot of us are strictly hobbyist programmers. I've never earned a
nickel writing code, though I'm a professional writer. For me, the type of
project you're describing would be very reasonable at $2,500, and I might do
it for as little as $1,000 -- provided I was interested in your story. If
the story didn't ring my chimes, I would just take a pass.

--JA


ChicagoDave

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May 27, 2007, 2:44:59 PM5/27/07
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Since Textfyre is more or less following this model and is on the
verge of completing its first game using a similar methodology, I
think I can give a pretty good answer.

First of all, the game designer is a very important role. It sounds
like you want to take on the role of game designer, but it also sounds
like you're not really that experienced with IF authoring. So you're
in a bit of a bind. You need help designing the game, writing the
prose, and programming it.

Now that said, if you find someone to simply help you design the game
on paper, then you might be able to jump ahead and find a writer, and
then a programmer.

I've thought about offering such a service outside of the Textfyre
game publishing, but the payments would have to be similar to any
other T&M programming project.

My estimate for a game that plays for 5 hours, which to me is a
sizable game, would be the following:

- Roughly 3 months to design the game, including setting, story,
characters, and puzzles. This is not 100% utilization. It just takes
time to do this work when you're not experienced with IF.
- Roughly 4 to 6 weeks to write the prose.
- Roughly 4 to 6 weeks to program to alpha.
- Another 4 to 6 weeks to hit beta and final releases.

Textfyre would be willing to do this work and because of that, I'd
rather not throw out numbers, but it would definitely fit in your
range of under $10,000.

The one thing we have going is that we have an established (if not
proven) process to do this work. We would offer schedules, milestones,
and this would all be under a contractual obligation.

If you're interested in knowing more, send me an e-mail.

David C.

Andrew Owen

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May 27, 2007, 3:13:16 PM5/27/07
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On May 27, 4:23 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:

> Here, Andrew Owen <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Your cost model is wrong. IF isn't software. Software is just the
> > medium through which IF is presented.
>
> You have an alternative proposal?

You have anticipated my reply. I think the closest model would be the
film industry. The writer gets a flat fee for the screenplay and the
director gets a flat fee (and possibly royalties) for directing. In
this instance the programmer is in the equivalent role of the
director. The fee for both is based on the studio's estimates of the
potential gross of the film. You wouldn't expect the same fee for an
art-house movie with limited appeal as you would for a blockbuster.

> Writers (for hire) are typically paid by the word, but the rate
> depends on the market. You could try to invent a word rate that makes
> sense for IF -- taking into account that you're delivering a mix of
> source code and game text.

I am a professional writer. Your statement is correct for works of non-
fiction. However, it hasn't really applied to non-fiction since the
days of Charles Dickens (which is why he always over-wrote).

> But I'd rather measure and charge in hours.
> Easier for me to estimate; and when I write prose, it's at a fairly
> steady words-per-hour rate anyhow.

My point is that when you're engaged in a creative work, charging by
the hour doesn't really make sense. Otherwise you could bill people
for the time you spend asleep at night if you happen to dream a
particularly good scene. Not that I wouldn't mind getting paid for all
my random creative thoughts.

My advice to the original poster is to find a co-author who is
interested in the idea. I took this path on my own project. Ostensibly
I'm the writer and my co-author is the programmer, but ultimately I
will contribute to the code and she will contribute to the narrative.
We will share the credits as equal co-authors. Now if I could only
find some beta testers who don't expect to be paid. :)


Emily Short

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May 27, 2007, 3:53:04 PM5/27/07
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On May 27, 2:13 pm, Andrew Owen <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > But I'd rather measure and charge in hours.
> > Easier for me to estimate; and when I write prose, it's at a fairly
> > steady words-per-hour rate anyhow.
>
> My point is that when you're engaged in a creative work, charging by
> the hour doesn't really make sense.

Perhaps not -- but when you're a hobbyist IF author with a reasonable
job already, writing for a flat fee based on the potential gross of
the game (namely: near zero) doesn't make sense either. The scale
comes out absurdly low compared to what other employers are willing to
pay for your time. And writing IF for someone else, to someone else's
design specs, is *not* a relaxing hobby. It's work.


Andrew Plotkin

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May 27, 2007, 6:35:20 PM5/27/07
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Here, Andrew Owen <chev...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On May 27, 4:23 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> > Here, Andrew Owen <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Your cost model is wrong. IF isn't software. Software is just the
> > > medium through which IF is presented.
> >
> > You have an alternative proposal?
>
> You have anticipated my reply. I think the closest model would be the
> film industry. The writer gets a flat fee for the screenplay and the
> director gets a flat fee (and possibly royalties) for directing. In
> this instance the programmer is in the equivalent role of the
> director. The fee for both is based on the studio's estimates of the
> potential gross of the film. You wouldn't expect the same fee for an
> art-house movie with limited appeal as you would for a blockbuster.

Naturally if I expected to be involved in a blockbuster, that would
change my plans. But that's a bit beyond what the original poster
asked. :) And not really where IF is today.



> > Writers (for hire) are typically paid by the word, but the rate
> > depends on the market. You could try to invent a word rate that makes
> > sense for IF -- taking into account that you're delivering a mix of
> > source code and game text.
>
> I am a professional writer. Your statement is correct for works of non-
> fiction. However, it hasn't really applied to non-fiction since the
> days of Charles Dickens (which is why he always over-wrote).

Hasn't applied to fiction, you mean? The correction is appreciated --
not my field.

I was thinking of what I've heard of short-story markets (magazines),
which do buy stories by the word.

> > But I'd rather measure and charge in hours.
> > Easier for me to estimate; and when I write prose, it's at a fairly
> > steady words-per-hour rate anyhow.
>
> My point is that when you're engaged in a creative work, charging by
> the hour doesn't really make sense. Otherwise you could bill people
> for the time you spend asleep at night if you happen to dream a
> particularly good scene. Not that I wouldn't mind getting paid for all
> my random creative thoughts.

Programming, I'm happy to say, *is* creative work. And yes, I've
wrestled with API design problems in my sleep. (More commonly, in the
shower, on the bus, making dinner...) I wouldn't charge for those
hours -- only for time in front of the keyboard. But if I were on a
writing job, I'd *also* only charge for keyboard time. That's the part
that feels like work -- at least to me.

(In fact, I'm about to go out for dinner so I can sort out this
resource-file spec format...)

Anyway, my point is, the two realms don't seem that different.

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

If the Bush administration hasn't thrown you in military prison without trial,
it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not because you're patriotic.

Victor Gijsbers

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May 27, 2007, 6:46:31 PM5/27/07
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saul wrote:

> Instead of flaming the poster,
> repeat with game running through your finished games begin;
> say "I wrote [the game], which has about [gameplay] hours of
> gameplay, in [devtime] days, with [devhours] hours of work[if cost >
> 0] and $[cost][end if]."
> end repeat.

I wrote Fate, which has about 1.5 hours of gameplay (I suppose?), in 100
hours of work (including communicating with beta testers and
incorporating their criticisms and ideas). Given the experimental nature
of IF-commissioning (it would be fun if someone tried it and I'd like to
encourage that by asking less money than a normal professional would),
I'd probably ask 15 dollars per hour, bringing us to a grand total of
1500 dollar.

Now Fate is work-intensive, in the sense that it takes a lot of coding
work to achieve one hour of gameplay. A more traditional puzzle-based
game with less conversations would be more economical in that respect.


A full narrativistic 5-hour piece along the lines of my previous work
would probably take me 400-500 hours. Before taking on such a project
I'd wait until I has changed to a part-time job (which is not an unreal
possibility), and I would ask, say, 7500 dollars.

All of this is utterly speculative, of course. :)

Victor

Raksab

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May 27, 2007, 7:06:53 PM5/27/07
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*pondering some more*

I can think of several ways to pay for IF: by the job, by the labor-
hour, or by the number of lines of code.

It occurs to me that before a game is considered finished, it also
needs to be betatested. Would you also want to pay betatesters, or
would you get a bunch of your own friends to test it, or would you
consider that part of the gamemaker's job and include it in his fees?
(Or hers, of course.)

Also, I just wanted to say ... seeing people here tossing around
numbers in the thousands of dollars kind of amuses me. As a college
student who's lucky to get $10 an hour for any sort of drudgery, I
marvel at those whose time commands many times that price. Oh, to be
a skilled professional ...

ChicagoDave

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May 27, 2007, 9:33:35 PM5/27/07
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> a skilled professional ...- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

I languished for thirteen years before the ability to command a
sizable salary came about. During those thirteen I mostly fixed code
that had been written many years before I arrived at the company and
had little or no documentation. This was also before there were
relational databases and yet these systems were dealing with large
quantities of data. Those jobs were nothing if torture. But after that
period of time, well, I paid my dues. Outside of the three years after
the Internet bust, I've been able to work for a damn nice wage as has
anyone in the programming world that has more than 15 years of
experience.

Of course what I would charge someone for .NET architecture work and
what I would charge them for IF programming are two entirely different
things. You can say you'd want to charge the same rate, but the truth
is that supply and demand are just as much a force in the IF world as
it is in any other world. So right now C# and Java are premium skills
in todays developer market. TADS 3 and Inform 6 or 7 are not in any
demand so it's difficult for me to quantify an IF development rate the
same as any other programming skill. And this is even knowing that IF
programming is a specialized skill and possibly more complex than
generalist programming.

Now the other side of that equation is that the pool of IF programming
talent is relatively slim, so the rate isn't going to be at rock
bottom. I just don't think it should be anywhere near C# programming.
The problem with looking for IF programmers is that most of the good
ones are _also_ well paid professionals or have some other measure
that prevents them from doing IF for money. If most IF developers were
poor college kids, that would be an interesting thing indeed.

Anyway. If you can get $10/hour for work and you feel that's
reasonable to _you_, then that's all that matters. That's how the
world works. Go look at Elance.Com. A logo design will cost $150 on
Elance with a gal from Italy doing the work while that same work here
in the states would be about $500 to $1000.

David C.

Andrew Plotkin

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May 27, 2007, 10:59:28 PM5/27/07
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Here, ChicagoDave <david.c...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> You can say you'd want to charge the same rate, but the truth
> is that supply and demand are just as much a force in the IF world as
> it is in any other world. [...]

>
> Anyway. If you can get $10/hour for work and you feel that's
> reasonable to _you_, then that's all that matters. That's how the
> world works. Go look at Elance.Com. A logo design will cost $150 on
> Elance with a gal from Italy doing the work while that same work here
> in the states would be about $500 to $1000.

In other words, supply and demand are not the dominant force in the
logo-design world either. :)

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

If the Bush administration hasn't subjected you to searches without a warrant,

it's for one reason: they don't feel like it. Not because you're innocent.

Andrew Owen

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May 28, 2007, 4:10:24 AM5/28/07
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On May 27, 11:35 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Here, Andrew Owen <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:

> > > Writers (for hire) are typically paid by the word, but the rate
> > > depends on the market. You could try to invent a word rate that makes
> > > sense for IF -- taking into account that you're delivering a mix of
> > > source code and game text.
>
> > I am a professional writer. Your statement is correct for works of non-

> > fiction. However, it hasn't really applied to [[EDIT]fiction[/EDIT] since the


> > days of Charles Dickens (which is why he always over-wrote).
>
> Hasn't applied to fiction, you mean? The correction is appreciated --
> not my field.

Er, yes. That is what I meant. Just goes to show, all writers need a
good editor.

> I was thinking of what I've heard of short-story markets (magazines),
> which do buy stories by the word.

That is true. But they pay for what they publish and they edit to
length.

> > My point is that when you're engaged in a creative work, charging by
> > the hour doesn't really make sense.

> Programming, I'm happy to say, *is* creative work.

I see your point, but in software there is a problem which requires a
solution. Different programmers will solve the problem in different
ways, but they get paid for the end result (software that meets the
design spec) rather than the creative means by which they achieve that
solution.

> Anyway, my point is, the two realms don't seem that different.

There are certainly some similarities, but you don't need to read
Aristotle to write good code. :)

Andrew Owen

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May 28, 2007, 4:16:09 AM5/28/07
to

I agree entirely, which is why my suggestion to the original poster
was to find a programmer/co-author who is also interested enough in
the project to work on it without a fee.

This is what I did with my project. There is a slim possiblity that it
may see a commercial release and if that happens we will split the
profits (all 50p and a packet of Rolos) 50/50.

Poster

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May 28, 2007, 9:12:04 AM5/28/07
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saul wrote:
> I'd like to ask a largely hypothetical question of the authors in this
> forum who have completed a game. If I wanted to commission a new work
> of interactive fiction, how much would it cost and how long would it
> take? Let's presume that I provide an outline of the basic setting/
> plot/characters and some or all of the puzzles, and I get a .z5 game
> with about 5 hours of gameplay.

[[snip]]

I've written one game (Building). I'd say it took me 9 months of solid
effort (the actual time span was more than two years, but then again I
went for weeks without touching it). That also included work on the help
guide and designing the web site.

The biggest thing that determines the amount of effort is detail. If you
wanted a Scott Adams-style game, that would take a lot less effort than
say an Emily Short-style game. The next biggest big chunk of time would
be QA testing. (Do you like this description? That one? Does the intro
flow well enough?)

At the core, my questions are these:

"How soon do you need it?"
"What level of detail do you want?"

Those would drive my price estimates. I'd put a range out there, though,
of $1000 to $10,000 and a time range of 3-9 months.

Apologies if those seem high, but IF is quite time-consuming.

--Poster

www.intaligo.com Building, INFORM, Seasons (upcoming!)

Andrew Plotkin

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May 28, 2007, 11:49:58 AM5/28/07
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Here, Andrew Owen <chev...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On May 27, 11:35 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> > Here, Andrew Owen <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > > My point is that when you're engaged in a creative work, charging by
> > > the hour doesn't really make sense.
>
> > Programming, I'm happy to say, *is* creative work.
>
> I see your point, but in software there is a problem which requires a
> solution. Different programmers will solve the problem in different
> ways, but they get paid for the end result (software that meets the
> design spec) rather than the creative means by which they achieve that
> solution.

At the higher levels of the profession -- or even the medium levels --
this is not the whole story. What you hand in has to meet the design
spec; it has to be readable and maintainable. It has to be extensible
for the future. It has to make wise use of existing technologies,
paying attention to the tradeoffs between flexibility and power (i.e.,
everything you depend on *also* has maintainability and extensibility
concerns...) And then there's the design spec itself, which can easily
be vague or simply not what the user really needs. It may not be your
job to fix the spec, but you often have to do it anyway. Even if not,
the person whose job it *is* to fix the spec is *also* in the software
industry, and everything I've just said is his job too.

There are software jobs which consist entirely of "here, implement
this exactly like this." There are probably writing jobs like that
too. By definition, they don't pay well.



> > Anyway, my point is, the two realms don't seem that different.
>
> There are certainly some similarities, but you don't need to read
> Aristotle to write good code. :)

And so?

--Z

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

Just because you vote for the Republicans, doesn't mean they let you be one.

Jim Aikin

unread,
May 28, 2007, 12:50:35 PM5/28/07
to
"Andrew Owen" <chev...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1180339824.5...@q66g2000hsg.googlegroups.com...

>
> There are certainly some similarities, but you don't need to read
> Aristotle to write good code. :)

Damn, that's why my agent didn't want to market my latest novel -- I never
read Aristotle!

Silly me.

--JA


Andrew Owen

unread,
May 28, 2007, 1:07:52 PM5/28/07
to
On May 28, 4:49 pm, Andrew Plotkin <erkyr...@eblong.com> wrote:
> Here, Andrew Owen <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:

>>> Programming, I'm happy to say, *is* creative work.

>> I see your point, but in software there is a problem which requires
>> a solution. Different programmers will solve the problem in
>> different ways, but they get paid for the end result (software that
>> meets the design spec) rather than the creative means by which
>> they achieve that solution.

> At the higher levels of the profession -- or even the medium levels > -- this is not the whole story. What you hand in has to meet the
> design spec; it has to be readable and maintainable. It has to be
> extensible for the future. It has to make wise use of existing
> technologies, paying attention to the tradeoffs between flexibility
> and power (i.e., everything you depend on *also* has maintainability
> and extensibility concerns...) And then there's the design spec
> itself, which can easily be vague or simply not what the user really
> needs. It may not be your job to fix the spec, but you often have to
> do it anyway. Even if not, the person whose job it *is* to fix the
> spec is *also* in the software industry, and everything I've just said
> is his job too.

All I can say is I wish I was documenting your software for a living
rather than stuff that is produced offshore from a limited spec and
doesn't match half of the above criteria.

> There are software jobs which consist entirely of "here, implement
> this exactly like this." There are probably writing jobs like that
> too. By definition, they don't pay well.

And they are based in India.

>> There are certainly some similarities, but you don't need to read
>> Aristotle to write good code. :)
>
> And so?

Well, to put it another way, you don't need to read Knuth to write
good prose.

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