Money Makes People Evil

Posted by (twitter: @tinyruin)
February 11th, 2013 10:15 am

I want to ask you on your experiences and opinions on a problem I recently experienced:

       Games              +                Money            =                War!

                                 

About 3 weeks ago, I made with 2 other guys a game for Global Game Jam. The work was flawless and we had a lot of fun. We were very proud of the first prototype and decided to sell an improved and extended version.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But it isn’t. The guy, who is sort of the team master, offered me 5%  and our graphics designer 20%.
This is in fact ridiculous. I created the sounds of the game, translated the game to English and did take a major part in Game Design. Also our graphics designer would be under-payed.

Currently I’m trying to team up with him to get more money – 50% for the coder and team master, 30% for the graphics designer and 20% for me would be fair.

Did you experience similar problems? Have you any suggestion how to deal with them?

EDIT: Things have mostly cleared. Thank you all for you answers.
Also keep in mind, that this post only reflects my point of view.


18 Responses to “Money Makes People Evil”

  1. sorceress says:

    It really comes down to who owns the game. Either:

    1) It is solely owned by one person in the team. In which case, they have full discretion over any extended version.

    2) it is jointly owned by the three of you. In which case, you can only produce derivative works once there is mutual agreement.

    3) Your coder solely owns the code, your artist solely own the art, and you solely own your sound effects. So in this case you could argue that your sound effects cannot be used in any commercial endeavor without your explicit permission. (Remembering that GGJ games are licensed with creative commons by-nc-sa.)

  2. deathray says:

    Sorceress has good advice. I would just try to calmly negotiate with him. If he won’t agree to terms that you and the artist can agree to, then everyone loses. You can always try to get another coder to re-write the game… Sounds like no one person owns the idea….

  3. Suese says:

    Consider the amount of work your programmer friend is doing.

    1. Coding requires the most work hands-down
    2. Coding requires the most experience hands down
    3. Coding puts you in a position of ‘team leader’ which is it’s own high-skill (and normally high paid) position.
    4. He is probably doing a lot of design work in terms of patching the game for marketing.
    5. He is probably doing all the marketing.
    6. Game design is a LUXURY usually reserved for industry veterans.
    7. Your programmer probably did lots of extrenous work that overlaps your two feilds extensively, I know I do when I work with teams.
    8. Creating sound and music does not require nearly as much experience as all the above positions
    9. Creating art work takes less experience than all of the above positions.
    10. He is probably working long past the original dead-line, a lot longer and a lot harder than the artist and sound designer, combating burn-out and putting years of experience to work.

    If he said he did 75% of the work I personally would believe him. It sounds fair to me.

    What you’ve failed to realize is you simply are not as skilled as your programmer, you simply do not understand the work-load a programmer and ‘team leader’ takes on. You should be happy he’s offered you any money at all for your work, especially if this is your very first title. Be happy you got your name on a commercial title and if you don’t like working with the team, find a new one, and oh boy, good luck! ha

    I realize making sound and translations seems like a ‘big job’ to the average joe, but trust me, the level of work programmers do; the level of skill and experience applied; is incomprehensible to the average joe,

    • kddekadenz says:

      Yes and no. Yes he did the most work of us 3, but 75% doesn’t reflect that. 50% would be fair.

      “What you’ve failed to realize is you simply are not as skilled as your programmer, you simply do not understand the work-load a programmer and ‘team leader’ takes on.”
      In fact, I do, I’m leading the development on the RPG Kelgar for over an year.

      “You should be happy he’s offered you any money at all for your work, especially if this is your very first title. Be happy you got your name on a commercial title and if you don’t like working with the team, find a new one, and oh boy, good luck! ha”
      Nope. I like working with both of the guys, but under fair conditions.
      Also, the development team of Kelgar is quite good. It is not totally compareable, though, since it is an non-commercial game.

      “The question is really, how replacable is your contribution? If your coder could kludge up equivalent art and sounds then he’s probably keeping you on for fairness’ sake. On the other hand, if your contribution is important to the final product and you’re producing new content for the commercial release, then make sure you get your fair share.”
      Hrm, hard question.
      The sounds partly are replaceable, since there exist a lot of sound libraries. On the other hand I did a lot of exotic sounds, one will not find. The translation is replaceable.
      My ideas for all extensions are not replaceable. The problem is, that I cannot prove that they all belong to me.

  4. Gaeel says:

    Simply don’t give your authorisation for the commercialisation.

    Also, in the future, I would suggest discussing commercial options before setting out to make a commercial game.

    As for what Suese is saying, this may or may not be true, depending on the game and the team. If the sounds and art are what carry the game, and the game is just a basic platformer made with game-making program like Game Maker or something, then maybe you have a point.

    At the GGJ event I participated in, some of the games I saw fall into this category, with luscious art shining through an othrwise forgettable game made with a default Multimedia Fusion set up.
    On the other hand, my team had 2 people with a coding education and one artist who plopped out some sprites in about an hour. Our game was a multiplayer game with a custom engine and I ended up re-drawing half the art between classes for a post-event version because of how bad it was.

    The question is really, how replacable is your contribution? If your coder could kludge up equivalent art and sounds then he’s probably keeping you on for fairness’ sake. On the other hand, if your contribution is important to the final product and you’re producing new content for the commercial release, then make sure you get your fair share.

    • kddekadenz says:

      “Also, in the future, I would suggest discussing commercial options before setting out to make a commercial game.”
      Sounds good. Thank you for the tip :)

      “As for what Suese is saying, this may or may not be true, depending on the game and the team. If the sounds and art are what carry the game, and the game is just a basic platformer made with game-making program like Game Maker or something, then maybe you have a point.”
      It is a round-based strategy game, being made in Delphi. Our graphics designer spend a lot of time on the amazing graphics.
      Also, my sounds are quite good. The code works fine, too, no big bugs or anything.

  5. kddekadenz says:

    Thank you all for your replies :)
    Here is the Game Jam version of the game we talked about: http://www.indiedb.com/games/poisoned-heart-in-swampland-phis
    I fear I cannot really judge on what carries the game, so please help me with that.

    Also, here is a link to my non-commercial RPG Kelgar, I’m the team master of: http://www.indiedb.com/games/kelgar

  6. dertom says:

    That is a very interesting discussion.The central questions are “What is my work worth” and “What is the other’s work worth?”. But first of all, relax. 😀

    I couldn’t start the demo (with wine under linux) but l had a look a the youtube video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqM3fCDYeGk ). Looking at the demo, I thought music nice,
    but hey. That isn’t yours (cc0 music by YD)? So actually you created only the sfx, ok you told ‘sounds’.

    But from the start, you are at the point to start developing an extended version, but nothing is done yet, right?

    I can understand your programmer and find the share absolutely ok. To extend your game to a shippable state, there needs to be done lots of programming work. Lots of ugly but necessary work. And in the end it is the programmer who have to do the heavy lifting. It is not like using your every day ‘creative’ tool to produce effects or such. Programming is full of very unique problems that can take hours and days just for 0.001% progress. Not that I can’t value creative work, but I doubt most creatives can understand programmer’s coding problems that will eat that much time…. and yes, most coders won’t understand the creative’s problems…no doubt (but the coder’s problems are game-breaking). In your case the main part stays on the coder’s side…

    I doubt that you can argue to get more than 5% share just for making sound-effects and for an english-translation!? Believe me, your programmer could do the translation as well… It is hard but true, you are very replaceable and I assume you only gets the share because you was part of the design-process…
    As you told you are about to speak to your coder, I assume you have some good arguments on your side…

    Hope that wasn’t that rude, but again: relax. There is no money yet and it wouldn’t be that unlikely if there never will be any…

    • kddekadenz says:

      It works for me using Wine and Linux Mint.
      Yep, sounds, gamedesign and the translation. Also promotion.
      Well, I do understand artist’s and programmer’s problems, since I do both.
      I hope I can argue to get a fair share.
      Your reply wasn’t rude, but honest. Thank you :)

  7. dark5 says:

    “Money Makes People Evil” – too true, my friend!

    That being said, while it is generally the case that the lead game designer deserves the largest percentage of the profits, it’s also the case that if the lead game designer is also the lead programmer, he will generally demand more than 50% of the profits.

    There is a reason for this: most indie game programmers are coming from a professional work environment where they feel they produce most of the work yet only acquire a slice of the profits so they maintain the mindset that-“hey, if I’m the lead AND I’m a programmer, I’m should be earning as much as those two roles COMBINED”. I’ll admit I used to think that way.

    When I’m the lead, the way I think about how the amount of work is divided goes like this: assuming all environments are already set up, how many experts would it take to complete the role within a few days? For a small game, it’s usually something like 25 game developers, 15 graphics designers, 2 sound engineers.

    Anyhow, getting back to your situation-I took a quick look at your game on Desura and it doesn’t look particularly sound-driven. It looks to be gameplay and graphics-driven while the audio is there to assist in setting the atmosphere. So I’d say if I were to create the same game I’d go 45-45-10 where the 10 is for the music and sound effects.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

[cache: storing page]