After a 2-week wait, we’ve finally come to part 2 of our Budgeting Saga.
And no, it won’t be a trilogy. More like a dodecology.
First, the drop: I won’t be budgeting for the entire 3-project span up front, but will first focus on Flatland and then work on the other two projects (Particulars and Seed) once that’s been done. There are simply enough differences between the projects (essentially, that Flatland isn’t funded while the others are) to ensure that doing them all together would be… confusing. The other upshot is that I get to budget something simple first, before tackling the complexities of actually having money.
So without further ado, we’ll head into the murky depths of expenses (what I’ve done all-too slowly over the last few weeks) before diving into the income side of things.
Before we start, be sure to take a look at the live budget document so you can see what I’m referring to.
The first of our expense categories. This refers to anything we need to run our company, whether it be day-to-day needs or things we physically need to buy.
There were three main types:
- Software. The first thing you’ll notice here is that our Unity licenses aren’t on this list. This is because part of the funding we received is earmarked for those licenses, and so they’ll show up on our budget for the other games. The second thing you’ll notice is that FMOD (a really useful audio tool) licenses are per project per platform. The second part of this only recently became apparent to me today for some reason, and it changes the costs a lot. Also note that the linux cost is being dealt with separately, simply because we don’t know if Unity 4′s export-to-linux function will be out and ready in time. If it is, hooray!
- Hardware. A decent amount of this is furniture – the ability to organise stuff in our office is pretty important. The mac mini is there because our sound guys use macs, and so having one in the office will allow them to work alongside. It’ll also be super-useful when we start looking into iOS development for Particulars.
- Ongoing Expenses. We use our whiteboard pens a lot, and they tend to run out of ink. ‘Nuff said.
Travel and Wellbeing
I renamed this one from ‘Travel and Entertainment’, simply because ‘Entertainment’ didn’t really encapsulate the point of the costs going into it. More on that in a sec.
- Travel, a.k.a. conferences, are really important. They let us show our game to the world, give the developers a much-needed knowledge and inspiration, and get us in touch with other developers. GDC Play currently seems to be the best bang-for-buck when it comes to exhibition spaces, so I’d really like to be there.
- Wellbeing, a.k.a. ‘what we can do for our developers when we can’t pay them’. While things like buying lunch and drinks for developers is usually a nice extra, when you’re working on our sort of budget it’s an important example of things you can do to reward developers when you can’t pay them.
This is pretty self explanatory. The hard part here is to stop adding expenses to the marketing section ‘because they might help with marketing’.
- Assets, aka ‘things we get to keep or give away’. This one’s pretty self-explanatory
- Transient costs. This is an interesting one, as some of them are ‘spend any amount’. This highlights a hard fact about marketing budgets: things on them should bring in more money than they cost, but its often hard to quantify that effect.
- Competitions. This probably falls into the ‘something that should be in another category’ category. They’re horribly important, especially to marketing, but also to development, scope management and quality control.
By refocusing our budget on Flatland, the Accounting and Legal side of Professional Services were suddenly made less important. Sure, they’re important, but most of these costs are shared with the funded projects, and so can be dealt with there.
The musician costs I’ve used here are complete guesstimates based on conversations with our sound guys about a completely different project. I used them to get an idea of what sort of things we’d be charged for and to get some sort of order of magnitude estimate of cost. I’ll be redoing this once our audio guys get a better handle on FMOD and can give some sort of estimate of how much music the game actually needs.
This is a new tab I started to start getting a feel for how we’d step out our costs. It basically involves me taking as may non-marketing costs that I could, saying whether they were absolutely necessary or not, and then linking them to specific things we could do if we had that money. This way, we can only do things like get real musicians to play our music if we reach certain goals.
Marketing costs aren’t here simply because they should, overall, bring more money to the company. This makes the maths a bit complicated (as all the income streams are the same), but is important to note.
This tab, like all of them, is far from complete, but it’s a start.
Yes, it’s finally that time to talk about ‘the new thing’. Like with expenses, the idea here is to brainstorm everything that could make us money. So far, I’ve got three main areas of income:
- The Unity Asset Store. We’ll be submitting our shape tool (tentatively named ‘Shapes on a Plane’) to the asset store shortly, and this will hopefully start bringing in some income.
- The Alpha. ‘Nuff said.
- Merchandise. This is where the craziness begins. Triangle hats may be in our future…
For next time, I’ll be doing a lot of cross-referencing any income numbers I can find from any of these sources. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to choose things like ‘number of purchases’, so any thoughts you guys have on this will be awesome!