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Seeking Programmer(s)? (and a cost quote)

Discussion in 'Programming Marketplace' started by mara, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    Hello all you programmers out there, I've been planning out a pet site since about December of last year and think it's about time I start at least figuring out how much my little project might wind up costing.
    It'd be kind of like a mix between Neopets, Khimeros and Wajas.

    Main features:
    -Different Species
    -Customization
    -Breeding

    Other features I'd like to have:
    -Aging
    -Different statuses (Like how on neo, pets change when they're sick/sad)
    -RPG Aspect (onsite or offsite)
    -User Art Galleries (Like a mini dA 8D)
    -Joint accounts
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  2. Ardy

    Ardy Approved Artist Approved VPL Artist VPL Member

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    Are you looking for ONLY these features to be quoted or the entire making of the site?
     
  3. SpunkiSpirou

    SpunkiSpirou Pet Game Owner Pet Game Owner Banned

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    Ditto
     
  4. Sim

    Sim Approved Coder Junior Programmer VPL Member

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    Posting to subscribe
     
  5. Toxic Rainbow Kisses

    Toxic Rainbow Kisses Approved Artist Approved VPL Artist VPL Member

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    That's funny @Sim I was just going to ping you..
     
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  6. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    Mainly the entire site, but both would be nice since it's good to know why the entire cost would be x amount. By knowing the different prices I can decide which features I can pay for now and which I might be able to wait on until I have some more money saved up. I'm not familiar with coding costs, so I'm not sure what's easier/harder to do.
     
  7. tldr

    tldr New Member VPL Member

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    Those details are a bit sparse, the definition of an "entire site," are quite different to different people xD
     
  8. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    @tldr
    Valid point! Lets see if I can expand upon that a bit


    -hosting the website
    -data storage/backing up user data
    -login/logout scripts
    -Forums
    -Private messaging

    Other stuff
    -Restocking/Item related things (Auctions, Shops, Trades, Direct item/money transfers, quick stock, deposit box)
    -Customizable user profiles (similar to aywas/subeta)
    -Pet profiles
    -Customizable toolbar
    -Different currencies (paid/earned)

    And how much does it cost in general to staff admins and possibly other artists (I'm planning on doing most of the art, but having help would help a lot lol)

    I've probably missed a few things to make a site "complete" but this is what comes to mind at the moment.
     
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  9. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    Oh and it might be worth it to mention that my idea for customization might be a bit hard to pull off.
    There would be certain things on pets which could be changed (clothing, accessories, hair style, eye color etc.)
    Then there'd be certain constants that would require items to change. This would include things like base color, hair type/length, age, etc.
    And clothing would change depending on which bases they're placed on, while some bases couldn't wear certain articles of clothing (I'd prefer it weren't flash based but either way works if it gets the job done)
     
  10. Ardy

    Ardy Approved Artist Approved VPL Artist VPL Member

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    Well I'm no programmer but I can tell you some prices I've normally seen.
    First off complex paper doll system has run upwards to 1000$ or more to make.
    Some programmers charge by the hour, which is usually 10$ - 20$+ an hour. Generally from what I've heard sites can take around 300 hours to code in EVERYTHING, though ofcourse some programmers have said that they've coded a basic site in a few weeks. But obviously those coders will charge more per hour.

    Ageing will also cost alot of money, but mostly from an art stand point. I worked for a site that had 5 age stages. If you're lucky to get each pet image for 10$, then you'll be spending alot per species. And if you want to have clothing for them you'll have to draw each peice of clothing for each different age for each different pet. The more age stages you have will only multiply your costs, and of course will also make the cost of the paper doll system more expensive.

    And an rpg system is a game within itself. From all the features you want will cost thousands in term of coding. I expect to spend 3000$ on my own site in terms of coding and it doesn't have the complex features that you're planning to have. I'd warn against getting free programmers. When you have 4 or 5 people mucking around in your coding for a few years, you'll eventually have to have everything redone. So the cost will come sooner or later.

    Thats the advice that I have, some people will probably argue with me. But that's the best idea that I can give you since the information needs more details.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  11. Onyx

    Onyx Supporter VPL Supporter Pet Game Owner VPL Member

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    This goes a bit beyond the expense aspect of paying for initial programming/hosting, so please ignore if you feel like it :p

    I've paid tens of thousands of dollars on programming for khimeros, just to give you some kind of idea of costs for that kind of site. Can it be done cheaper? Sure, but you generally get what you pay for. Same with hosting. Hosting is a completely different thing than programming. Again, you can do it cheaply or expensively, but you get what you pay for. How much you will need to spend on hosting depends on how efficiently your site is coded, how heavy your scripts are, how heavy your images are, how much traffic your site gets, etc. I pay nearly $800 a month currently for hosting/backups for khimeros/aluriya. Again it depends on whether you are willing to spend enough to be sure your site has enough RAM, a fast processor etc. If you don't, you'll end up with lag or a site that just doesn't work.

    The more you cheap out on programming in the beginning the more money you'll have to spend later and the more headaches you will have. If you just go buying individual scripts from whoever is cheapest, the chances of it all being able to work well together is greatly reduced.

    Running a complex site is a full time job and you have to be constantly working to find ways to make enough money to pay for programming, hosting and art, before you ever see a penny of profit. Some months you may not see any profit at all, other months you might do well. You need to be prepared for that and be able to cover costs even during months when you aren't making enough money from the site to do so.

    Speaking from personal experience, I don't think that doing all/most of the site art AND running the site is a very realistic goal, even if you don't have a day job/school to deal with. These are the things that cause most sites to fail. People don't realize the kind of time, effort, and money that goes into running a complex site, and thus the site ends up shutting down. The reason given is usually "irl issues". Generally the issues are simply that it's very difficult to have any kind of normal life and still be able to run a complex site unless you are extremely good at organizing your time. Even if you're a fantastic organizer, often there are issues with art/programming features not being delivered when it was promised or with issues that make them unusable without fixing, being on a different time schedule to the rest of your staff, making it hard to co-ordinate (which wastes time), people quitting/disappearing, etc. Plus you need to be constantly vigilant to what is going on on your site so that you can make corrections for unexpected issues that crop up. This makes it hard to make plans for things irl. If you make an appointment or date irl and then there's some crisis with your site, what are you going to do? If you find that you need to alter your sleep schedule to sync with your programmer who lives in Australia in order to get anything done, can you do so?

    I don't know if you're planning to run a "hobby site" or a site that you expect to turn into a business. If it's a hobby site, this is perfectly do-able if you keep the scope small, but I think in most cases, owners try for something too ambitious and end up overwhelmed. I would classify a site as a "hobby site" if you are not able/willing to operate it as your primary "day job".
     
  12. Onyx

    Onyx Supporter VPL Supporter Pet Game Owner VPL Member

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    I'm going to add something here, and I'm double posting in case my previous post was already read and an edit might be missed :p

    People who want to make a pet site generally go into it thinking that they need to have their site "coded" and then that's it, it's done and paid for. In reality, site programming is an ongoing expense. Every time you add a new feature to your site, you have to consider how it affects the programming that you already have in place. Scripts don't just run independently. To add one thing, you may have to change how a bunch of other things work. If you add a feature like pet customization and then you change that feature several times or add things to it, eventually you'll probably need to have the whole thing re-coded to work efficiently. If you can't keep up with this kind of thing, you eventually end up with a site that doesn't work, or works so inefficiently that it amounts to the same thing. If you can't afford to keep expanding your code and adding new things, you'll end up falling behind as a new sites comes along that have more advanced features than your site has. A lot of the older pet sites around are very out of date, but they can keep going because they gained a large userbase back in the day when there were only a few sites around, and their users are reluctant to move on because they've already invested a lot of time and money into that site. The pet site climate is very different for new sites popping up now. There are so many around now, that users are spoiled for choice, and if you're not offering a quality product, your users will just move on to to the next new thing once the "new car smell" has worn off your site.
     
  13. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    @Ardy & @Onyx
    Thankyou both so so much for your feedback, I really do appreciate it!

    @Ardy
    Yeah I've seen some programmers coding per hour so I figured that was probably how things went, and I figured it'd at least be a couple thousand dollars.
    For the aging, I was originally thinking 5 different ages but widdled it down to 3 (infant, adolescent, adult)
    I think the most difficult part of that for me would be designing clothing lol "orz
    I wouldn't want to get free programmers, since I know being an artist myself, when I'm doing stuff for free I generally don't prioritize it as much as when I know I'm getting something from it. So it'd not only take longer with free programmers, but they'd probably do a sloppier job than a paid one. Though this may not always be true, it's hard enough to find programmers in general that I'm pretty sure the good ones get snatched up quickly.

    @Onyx
    So you're the creator of Khimeros! 8D Would you mind at all if I picked your brain about running a site at all through PM, or even IM if you're comfortable with something like that?
    That's great to know about the hosting. I'm guessing most of that has to do with the images? (Khimeros has gorgeous art)
    And you mention site RAM; do you have a harddrive/computer specifically for hosting the site or something? I never thought of sites having RAM, I always just thought it was the hosting server that determined the speed.

    I would definitely want to take the time to do it right the first time with the programming. I'm just worried since I honestly have no idea how to go about finding programmers ;o; there are all these amazing sites out there, but unlike art they don't have things like "this site was coded by x" it's a bit harder to figure out. Thinking of it, are there any coding companies out there, where they hire out coding teams or not really? How did you find your programmers?

    Yeah, that's another one of the major hurdles I've been thinking a lot about, since if I had to pay all the money myself, I'd probably have to get a job ahead of time, save up the money then pay for everything, so I wouldn't have to take out loans or anything. While saving up money/working it'd also give me more time to make a more official/detailed run down of features on the site, maybe work on some of the art in my free time. (At least getting all the bases/species sketched out)

    Yeah xD; I would probably want to at least be the main artist so I wouldn't have to worry about that too much as an extra expense. I'm not the best on time management, so I know I wouldn't be able to make the site into what I want it to be if I had to worry about holding a job as well, and I probably won't start until next year since I am still in highschool and I don't want to get too caught up in the creation of the site, which is the most vital stage, and neglect my education because of it. I understand that it is an amazing workload to take on, and it would run most of my life (especially if it did become a big thing). I'm not very social either way, as I do online school/most of my time is spent doing other things online, so I don't think my lifestyle would change too dramatically from how it already is. If something went wrong with my site when I had an appointment irl, it would depend on how important each issue (the bug or the appointment) is for how I'd handle it. If it's a minor bug on the site, I'd see if one of the other admins could take care of it or put up a news post notifying users that there would be some maintenance, if it was something major I'd cancel the appointment, again notify the users that there would be some maintenance going on (disappointing one person isn't as bad as disappointing your entire userbase). If the appointment was essential/I couldn't miss it, I'd see if some of the other staff could handle it while I was out. As for the sleep schedule question, I could definitely do that. I've never had a problem with shifting schedules (and if it really were Australia, they're only 4 hours behind me so that'd be a piece of cake, just go to sleep a bit later/wake up later.)

    The Hobby/Business site thing is something I have thought about, but haven't thought too deeply into it since it'll probably be my biggest issue while creating the site. I'm one of those people who loves playing on sites, but I don't tend to spend my own money on them, instead I earn my money on-site. So I'm not sure how I'd go about actually making money, marketing and such since I wouldn't want to overprice things and make it into a site that only people with money can use, since I'd like it to be enjoyable to all players. Or at least I'd like all players to have an equal opportunity at making money.

    So while I would love to operate it as a full time job, I'm not sure if that mentality of equality will force me to make it a business in the end.
    And I fully understand that it's an ongoing expense, one of the main reasons sites die is because there's nothing new going on, there are no updates, or even if they update the updates aren't much. For the customization I already know exactly how I want it to be, so as long as that was done right in the beginning I don't think there'd be any issues. Adding new bases is the only thing I think might cause some problems. That's how it is with everything, though. New car parts don't work in old cars unless they're both altered in some way.
    And I understand that, which is another one of my concerns. I'm not a competitive person so I wouldn't want to steal users away from other sites, but I would still want them to use mine. I think a lot of users on neopets are finally starting to migrate now that there are so many wonderful sites out, though. Which is really great to see (since I think almost all of us here now know there are plenty of sites that offer what neopets does plus much, much more. Except the arcade, I don't think any other site quite matches their arcade, you barely make money from the arcade games so its a real waste of time)
     
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  14. Ardy

    Ardy Approved Artist Approved VPL Artist VPL Member

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    Well you seem pretty smart and get what it's going to take. :3
    I would suggest getting a job, that's of course how I pay for mine. If you want to go to college however, I'd suggest finishing that first before you start a pet site. That seems to be the number one reason why petsite owners say "BRB IRL ISSUES"
    I'm personally taking out a loan for the programming, but many people don't want to be in debt.
    I'm paying my programmer on a bi-weekly schedule where she logs her productive hours.
    You can also pay someone employed by you, but pay them by the script if you want to develop the site incrementally.
    Make sure you get a programmer that will fix their bugs and glitches free of charge.

    Anyways, @Onyx gave some of the best advice I've seen. I don't know half as much. ;P
     
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  15. vplspride

    vplspride Pet Game Owner Pet Game Owner VPL Member

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  16. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    @Ardy
    Lol thanks! I try to be a realist when it comes to things, especially when it involves long term commitments.
    I would like to go to college, but I don't have any major goals which would require college. If I were to be running the site it might be good to do a vocational school on business or administration though.. since I would be self employed and I'm far from being a business person haha ;w; I'm a bit of a pushover.. which isn't all that effective. "orz

    Yeah, debt is something that I really don't want to deal with. I hate the idea of owing things to people, especially the government.
    That's a good way to do it :D And programmers are generally honest about their hours right? Where I live just about every hourly business here.. the people come in the morning, start the job, dink around, and finish it in the afternoon. Then since they were on location for x many hours, they charge for that time rather than the time they were working.

    And I didn't think of that! I'll have to keep that in mind, yeah it'd kind of suck to have to pay extra for something that wasn't my fault ;w;
    And yeah! Her advice is super helpful, it's really great to hear the perspective of someone actively running a site.

    @vplspride
    Eep ;w; horror stories, I hope I don't run into any but its probably something everyone has.
    Care sharing one maybe? I've never heard a pet site horror story before

    Thinking of things being different.. Being the owner, would you say it's as fun as being a player/ do you feel that you miss out on things that you enjoyed when you weren't running the site? I'm curious :D
     
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  17. vplspride

    vplspride Pet Game Owner Pet Game Owner VPL Member

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  18. Sim

    Sim Approved Coder Junior Programmer VPL Member

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    From a programmers view on this. The more specific your design document doc is the easier the project it is for a programmer. Ive had client's where they just give me a list of like 4-5 things with very little details and say "do this" when I try to get more details from them they point me to a url and say get it to work like that. So once I do, they wanted a ton of "minor modifications" which took longer then the major features itself due to the poor design document.

    Over the 15 years of my programming, I have learned it all comes down to the design of the code (psuedo code or flow-charts, though flow-charts don't help to much with php scripts before actually coding.


    FYI, I'm for hire =]
     
  19. Ardy

    Ardy Approved Artist Approved VPL Artist VPL Member

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    Yes Sim is right there. I learned ahead of time not to frustrate my programmer. They can't read your mind after all. :3
    Here's two good examples of how to communicate what you want.

    Example 1
    "I want a guild system. It should have ranks and logos and stuff" < Not good

    Example 2
    I took this from my site's temp forums I use my forums as a place to describe every feature that I want in this kind of detail. I'd suggest you doing the same since it will keep you organized, and you'll be able to write down your thoughts. :3
    I don't mind posting since I didn't INVENT a guild system haha, it's not like someone will STEAL my idea. XD
    [​IMG]
     
  20. mara

    mara Member VPL Member

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    @vplspride
    That's a relief that you haven't had any! :D
    But ouch, that sounds painful orz I feel bad for them.
    But that's good to know, I think it'd be fun to make the site and then maybe go ~undercover~ and try it out as a player lol but yeah if I were running it I might just seem like a slacker for doing that.

    @Sim
    That sounds painful ;o; If they can tell you how you need to fix everything later, why couldn't they have just made it clear what they wanted in the first place? Ahh.. some people are silly. I did a coloring commission like that recently, I did the design they wanted to but then had to modify it so many times to make it fit something else that the original design was completely gone by the time they used it.
    Are the pseudo-codes and flowcharts kind of like sketches in art?

    And awesome! After thinking about the costs more it'll probably be after I save up a bit more money before getting to hiring, I think I only have maybe 1k right now total "orz Would it be alright if when I make a more detailed outline and run it past you though? Just so I know what's missing/what I should add and such to make things go as smoothly as possible when the time does come.

    @Ardy
    Yeah xD They're kind of like.. the backbone of the site, if not for them there would be no site. It definitely wouldn't be a good idea to frustrate them too much ;w;
    And that's a great example! and it's funny since I was just thinking about guilds/clans yesterday! xD After reading the board about being in neopet's guilds it got me thinking about how a lot of guilds succeeded and failed.
    One feature that'd actually be really neat for guilds/clans I think would be for them to receive funding (like grants) from the site if they have a clan bank like you mentioned. (depending on what kind of guild they are and their size would determine how much) Like if they do giveaways, raffles etc. they could get assistance to actually do those things for members instead of just having shops where they earn penny by penny, and then never wind up doing anything. (So many guilds were like that ;o; ) There could even be a guild vault for items donated to the guild, so people couldn't use the guild as a guise to get items.
    Then there could be more official/established guilds where they have things like a President, VP, Treasurer, etc. (Kind of like a student council) and these ones would be eligible for funding. Then more casual guilds wouldn't need any fancy positions, and would instead be just for chatting about certain topics/roleplaying and whatnot.
     
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