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I know that this question depends really very much on plenty factors: 2D-Pong and a MMORPG are two totally different worlds; it also depends on creators' experience, on game quality, on the available technologies, on target platform and so on, but well, I guess we can categorize games and study the average (or maybe focus on real-world examples).

How long, in man-hour, does it take on average to create a:


  • AAA non-MMO game (like a RTS, an FPS etc, RPG)

  • Indie game

  • Game for mobiles

  • Amateur desktop game

What phases can we split the game creation process in (story designing, writing the engine, creating art, testing ...) and how long would each of these take (for the above categories)?

Examples of real games would be apprecciated!

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closed as not a real question by Tetrad Nov 25 '10 at 19:38

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

See on why man-hours / man-months aren't always meaningful. – CiscoIPPhone Nov 25 '10 at 10:13
The amount of factors involved in development time makes assigning figures to a question like this a guessing game. – CiscoIPPhone Nov 25 '10 at 10:16
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You'll have to define AAA. For some people it's a budget scale definition, to others it's a team scale definition, to others it's a art-resources quality scale definition. Anyway, your question is too broad.

Let's choose indie games. The variety of different games (that are often their own type) is bigger than in the industry and it's a lot more than most people even can imagine.

How to answer your question knowing that?

Anyway what you're asking for is more related to the alchemy between those factors :

  • Budget (to use to modify the other factors)
  • Target deadline
  • Team experience
  • Team size
  • Features count
  • Features complexity
  • Platform constraints

For examples on time taken to make games (published or not) I recommend searching for Post-Mortem articles on - lot of wisdom and feedback there.

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essentially, this answer is saying, it depends, and its not always the same, even for same category games (since every project is going to be different). Only experience in the industry will give you some gut feeling. – Chii Nov 25 '10 at 10:38
Essentially, this comment sum-up nicely what I meant. :) – Klaim Nov 25 '10 at 10:47

In my general experience, this is what companies will allocate, based on how much profit they expect to make:

  • AAA game - 2 years, 5-10 programmers, 10-20 artists, 3-6 designers
  • Regular mmo/fps clone, respectful console game - 1 year, 3-6 programmers, 5-10 artists, 2-3 designers
  • Console shovelware/live arcade/home/etc - 6 months, 2-3 programmers, 3-5 artists, 1-2 designers
  • Mobile/web shovelware - 3 months, 1 programmer, 2-3 artists, half a designer (part-time)

Keep in mind these are very ballpark.

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2 years is right, but AAA teams ballooned beyond a maximum size of 40 years ago. – user744 Nov 25 '10 at 12:31
One year for an MMO? Yipes! That's a bit optimistic no? – Nailer Nov 26 '10 at 12:13
Yep. And now you know why all MMOs are crap. – zaratustra Nov 27 '10 at 16:34

There can't be any anwser.

It's a bit like saying how much time it will take to build a house, without knowing what type of house, how big it is, who will live in it, who will built it, in which country you are, ect...

The best thing you can do is to analyse the project, split it into small component and analyse the time it will take for each component.

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