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The missing link: programming

04-24-2011, 01:23 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 5
The missing link: programming

Hi guys! I'm the head of a design agency which mainly does advertising and branding stuff. We've been wanting to put out or own products for a while and since december the team has slowly been building up ideas, stories and characters we want to develop further in different media. Most of the staff are avid gamers and we've done some research about the market conditions, barriers of entry and whatnot and we've decided to go ahead an develop an app. We have a talented pool of designers, writers and marketers but we're severely lacking in the tech department. We already have pretty detailed mock ups of how the games would work, some promo art and even plots but this means little when we can't actually program the stuff. While I'm confident that conceptually we have sound game design ideas, we're not professionals in the area and we need both someone with sound tech skills but also a spark of ingenuity and creativity.

I've interviewed a few prospective employees but none have convinced me. I've also contacted a local app development firm but their prices and timelines are insane and I've seen their work and didn't like it either.

While I may come off as clueless, when it comes to programming and coding, I really am. I'm pretty confident in our vision and ideas though and have even focused tested some of them, so don't think this is just an amateurish post .

I. Basically I'd like to ask the community to help me identify the necessary professional profile of the person I should hire. Since I haven't been able to find an appropriate person locally, I'm open to the possibility of remote hiring and outsourcing. I need to know what programming languages he/she should have mastered additional skillsets, etc.
II. Average hourly rates of a professional game designer.I know this varies a LOT by experience, so let's just go with an average.
III. I've investigated a few engines but I haven't found one that convinces me. I'm willing to pay for one, tough I know there's a ton of good ones. Our work will mostly be 2D hand-drawn games but we're open to pixel art too, though we have an idea that is more like overhead. We may use textured polygons for some things if it saves time and I also would like and engine that permits nice lighting effects. Which engine do you recommend?
IV. How hard is it to port games for the PC and Steam?

Thanks a lot for the help guys!
04-24-2011, 01:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Hollywood, CA
Posts: 1,869
I. Someone who has released something previously. Their work will speak for itself. Any reputation within the community obviously helps.

II. It's not going to be cheap. You might find a few people who will be willing to work for speculation or potential revenue share, but don't be surprised if that person gets weary of the project 1/2 or 3/4 through development and leaves it hanging/abandons it, this is very common. You really need to pay a professional for the work unless you are just fairly well connected. Expect to pay $50-$100/hr for coding, and the work could take a few months depending on the complexity of your app.

III. 3D is obviously more overhead, in general, than 2D. For 2D, cocos2D is an excellent solution used by many folks on this forum (but you will need a programmer). Less intensive are things like Corona (also needs programming) and Gamesalad (can be done "without" a programmer, but very limited).

IV. Steam requires some up-front payment I believe, and it's not cheap. Like anything, you can't necessarily expect that the code will be particularly portable between Mac and anything else depending on how it's done. Our Cocos2D game had to be completely rewritten for the Android platform, and will likely have to be redone again for PC.

Good luck!

04-24-2011, 02:07 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 5
Thanks! We actually have some money saved up so we're analyzing every possibility before actually starting and I'd like, if possible to make everything relatively portable just in case we decide to sell the game somewhere else.

I'm really interested in getting a programmer who can take responsibility for the tech things. Some in the firm could learn to code (we have some web designers), but thankfully they are busy with other projects.

Is there a database of freelance or independent programmers somewhere?
04-24-2011, 09:14 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 172
You could try to find freelancers through something like www.elance.com but, in general, good iOS programmers are not easy to find. Also, hiring someone at an hourly rate when you don't have a sense of how much programming work is involved could easily lead to costs spiraling out of control. Instead, you might want to break up your project into well-defined milestones and offer to pay a fixed price for each milestone. I would also suggest locking in the scope and feature set of your game design as early as possible in order to avoid costly future additions or changes.

Good luck!
04-24-2011, 09:23 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 205
> How hard is it to port games for the PC and Steam?

Unity is probably the engine for you.
It is not expensive and it runs on mac,win,ios,android etc
With some planning you can hit all platforms from the same code base etc.
04-25-2011, 12:38 AM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 5
Thanks guys! Yes, I made rough calculations of the cost per hour and it was just too much! I'll have to dig deeper and call some universities or something because I haven't found anybody half decent!

We already have the scope and research done, what's frustrating is that I can't do anymore than pre production work if I don't a have a programmer to asses me with the gameplay, set timelines. Then I can begin working on the actual art assets, music, etc.

Hope I find someone soon .

Also, is Unity relatively user-friendly? I know Cocos2D and GameSalad are easy for the average programmer, I'm hoping it doesn't give them a hard time!
04-25-2011, 12:50 AM
"if I don't a have a programmer to asses me"

I hope that's not part of the job description!

(Sorry couldn't resist).

04-25-2011, 07:33 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 5

I meant to say "a programmer from who I can receive some assessment"
04-26-2011, 01:17 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Morestel, France
Posts: 572
Originally Posted by rocketeer View Post
Some in the firm could learn to code (we have some web designers)...
Yep, you are right, you have absolutely no clues about what it takes to code an iphone game

I'm finishing my current game and I was thinking about freelancing a bit after that. If your project is still going on, contact me back (my email adress is on my websites), I might be interested. You can check my iphones games here:

and my computer games here:

I've work in the AAA industry before and could provide you with more creds if needed.
04-26-2011, 01:39 AM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 5
@Ovogames You couldn't be more right, I'm blank on that! Thankfully I've done my market research and I have good taste in games so at least I can a give a valid opinion product wise! Already checked your stuff out, seems quite good! I'm interviewing some freshly graduated guys and some last semester students who are were referred to me by a local university so let me see how that goes. If I end up hiring one of them and he/she seems like too much of a green horn, the guidance of a more experienced professional would be really valuable. Maybe I could hire you as a consultant or something? Anyways, I'll probably send you an email soon for fees and stuff. Thanks!