Powers for Good: The Budget
Powers for Good is going to be a new experience for me, as I’ll actually have a real art budget, a set timeframe, and a print run. Now’s the time to layout a budget, just like Elizabeth did last year for Blowback.
What does this game need to see a release by Halloween 2011? In vague order of importance:
- Electronic Support
So, text. I’m writing this thing, with the software and processes I already have. The cost in time and such is high, but no money. $0
Playtesting is a whole ‘nother thing. Luckily, I’ve got a weekly gaming group that includes some excellent players who are willing to try new stuff and give amazing feedback. Beyond that, the Seattle area has a lot of great gamers who I know from GPNW and my company has a good base of gamers with an email list that can usually produce a few willing gamers. Throw in interested people in other locations and my weekly beer talks with some incredibly knowledgable game designers, and I think I’m all set. $0
Editing is a little tougher to cost out, since there are a few options here. Cheapest is to rely on people who will work for free: my dad’s a tech writer and I know a guy who just got an English degree, plus the eyes of the internet to catch typos. Not an optimal solution, since I’m imposing on people and none of them have experience editing games. Paying for editing is certainly an option, but based on Elizabeth’s experiences last year this might eat up a lot of my budget. For now, I’m going to budget for a payed editor, but I hope to cut costs here some. $200
Art is where I really want to invest the most. The webcomics world is full of people who know superhero-style art and I’d love to make use of their talents. That may mean the art skews a little more cartoony, something I’m still thinking through. Luckily I know someone in the indie comics industry which should help me make connections, and I’m working with established indie game designers to learn about how to spec and price art. I’m going to budget this high, since I feel like it’s the area where my money will make the most obvious difference. $300
Layout is another area where cost is highly variable. I can probably make it through by myself, with some advice and oversight by friends. Another area I need to be careful, as I don’t want to rely too much on others, so they don’t feel taken advantage of. For now I’m going to cost this low and assume I let the art carry most of the visual weight and do a straightforward layout myself, but that I pick up a few fonts to get some suitable comic touches. $75
Electronic support is something I’m really excited about, since I can handle it myself. My real job is software development, so I feel pretty comfortable costing this low, since I already have knowledge and tools, all I need is time. $0
Advertising is something I know next to nothing about, but I’m thinking I’ll probably end up doing a Design Matters both buyin for GenCon, plus one exhibitor pass. I wouldn’t mind doing some banner ads on gaming and comic sites, but if I was to do that I’d aim pretty high, and it could probably wait until after the game has been released and become an instant hit with the indie community (because that’s totally what’s going to happen). I’m also hoping that using art by webcomics artists leads to a few extra eyeballs on the product, since I know I follow writers and artists I like to other projects. $425
That takes care of all $1000. Of course I haven’t touched on printing. I’m hoping the physical product will look a lot like a graphic novel, with a slick full-color cover. I haven’t settled on interior color, which may also effect arts costs. Regardless, I’m hoping to cover the initial print run with preorders. I think my budget as it stands has enough wiggle room that I can probably also find some money for printing there. Overall not something I’m worried about now, but I’ll keep my eye on it.
So that’s it. Once the text is seeing play, I’ll start getting actual costs for art, editing, and any layout-related stuff. For now, it feels good to have a solid idea where the money is going.