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First contract.

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First contract.

I'm approached by someone to do the graphics for a videogame. I'm working part-time @ a clothing store for income (student) so I'm excited for the oppurtunity. He offers to pay me what I would earn in a month of working at Roots in exchange for the graphics. Also, I will be getting royalties on the game as an incentive to do my best work. I quit the job and jumped headlong into the pixel art job. I'll be honest...I'm getting paid $1000(canadian) for this project which equals to 20hrs a week working @ Roots. is no longer pixel art. It is Pixel art(about 15 different sprites w/ minor animation)+ backgrounds(3 levels x 3imgs each) + cut scenes(12) + story/character creation+ a logo for the "company". For $1000 + royalities...just how much should I be asking for? This is a small project...just me and the programmer(the whole game is a pet project of his). I don't think either of us realize how much compensation I should be getting.

I've talked to him and we've simpliefied the game somewhat to make it more managable in this month and a half period. I should have set a more detailed contract covering what I was responsible for. I should have also figured out how to estimate the amount of time this project would take. When we were organizing the stages of development I should have divided the pixel work from the illustration work because learning two new programs at once is harder than one at a time. Now my schoolwork is suffering, my bed is suffering(It misses me!), and I know it's all my own fault and I consider it a lesson well learned. Students! Be patient and wait until you graduate.

I'm haing a good time and consider it the job worth the stress but I'm not sure if I'm being underpaid. Even considering that I'm still a rookie. Can any professionals give me advice on a ball park figure for basically making a game from the ground up?

These figures are in US dollars. You'll have to convert them to Canadian.

An entry level video game artist makes about 35k per year as an employee, which is approx $18 per hour. If you are going to work as a freelancer you should charge a minimum of 30% more than that (to cover taxes and other business expenses) so an acceptable hourly rate for an entry-level freelance video game artist is $24/hr.

If your estimates are correct, and the job will be completed in a month and a half of 8 hour days, then you should be charging $5,760.

You have two choices. You can charge flat-rate, which is what you have done, or hourly. When you are first starting out, and you don't have the experience yet to accurately estimate your labor, it is smarter to charge hourly. Regardless of whether you charge hourly or flat-rate, always track your hours and keep accurate records for your own reference. I'll bet you will find, when this job is done and all the calculations made, that your hourly rate on this job will actually be lower than the clothing store job which you quit. That's OK. Chalk it up to experience and remember that next time.

By the way, royalties are a non-issue. As a freelance video game artist you will never see a royalty check. If you do, consider it a bonus. Never factor it into your initial pricing.

Excellent advise, Erik.

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