So today is the last day I should be working on GMM. I've got a bit of a confession to make ( Well two actually ).
The first one is that today isn't actually the real deadline. I don't know when that is, I think 4 weeks or so away. That's when the client starts emailing a lot more and things start getting slightly strained. That's when clients are still firing off "It's perfect. Can we just alter...". That's when you're sick to death of it. The deadline is when you realise you've really under quoted on this job as you're still killing yourself trying to get it done on time. It's when you regret having those couple of lazy days and when you realise that the next job isn't already in the bag yet, so you've got both a game you're pretty jaded with to finish off, you've also got to whore yourself around to make sure the following months bills are paid.
Then why have I been counting today as the deadline ? Because you need to work to the budget and not the timeline ( Where possible ). You have your day rate and you divide the budget by that, that's how many days work it is.
When I started off trying to get into the industry and was just writing games to learn my art, I always did that even then ( Although my day rate was a lot less in those days. A couple of years experience and some shiny awards bumped that up ). It stops feature creep and ensures the game is done, not 95% done but good enough to release.
Now with GMM there was very little budget. No where near enough to do what was needed. Sometimes projects are like that, and sometimes you have to take a short term hit for a longer term gain. After seeing the assets and chatting to the client I knew I wanted to do this, so the hit in my pocket wasn't an issue ( Or rather not enough of an issue ).
So I did the above budget/dayRate=days formula, and then multiplied it by 2. I thought it would be possible to still make the game everything it should be in that timescale ( 10 working days ). In effect after day 5 I was making a "loss", and every day spent on it after today ( It's day 10 already ) I would be making a loss on my cheaper rate.
It's hardly the end of the world. I still think Flash developer wages are stupidly inflated compared to real life. A loss when earning good amounts is still better than a lot of people having to dig holes in the street or change patients bedding. It's all relative.
I speak to quite a few London based freelancers who charge a lot more per day than I do. That's great if you're working on some big ass media campaign where there is a silly budget involved. Rip the arse out of it, but personally I'd rather do the odd job that doesn't make as much rather than this rigid "£xxx" per day.
GMM is going to be a good little game, and if I'd stuck rigidly to my day rate then either I wouldn't have got the job or I would have had 5 days to do it, which would have resulted in a crap game ( 3 days to make it, a day to test and debug and a day for client amends. Hardly the most time in the world to make something shine ).
I think that's one of the key reasons why there are so many piss poor adver-games out there ( Don't believe me ? Check out thefwa
. Filter it to show games, and have a play. They will look great, but tell me how many you'd play more than once. Or even how many you enjoyed playing. Or even how many you admire as examples of good gameplay ).
It's mainly due to the lack of good coders, never mind good game coders. This shortage means that either designers "Who can code a little" are making very pretty but very empty games, or agencies are getting freelance coders on board who know they can charge £xxx a day and sometimes it means there's not enough budget to make a good game, just enough to cover their costs and have something come out the other end ( There are of course other factors, clients with no concept of games, designers with no concept of games etc. ).
I don't think there's anyone to blame, and I don't mean it as a blankit critisim of freelancers ( Far far from it ) I'm just trying to put into lots of words that sometimes the art should come first.
Right I mentioned at the start that I had two confessions. The second is that the game isn't done yet. In fact the to do list has hardly been dented.
The "hidden baddies" proved to be a real bitch to get working, and as soon as I post this up ( And after a smoke, obviously ) I'm back onto the baddie bots ( Pac Man ghosts ) which I spent just under 4 hours on yesterday and need at least a couple more hours today to finish off.