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"The going rate" for scripters


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Hi everyone!

I'd love to help out other people with their SL scripting projects but I'm not sure of the "going rate", if there is such a thing. What do people normally charge for writing scripts? Is it per hour?

Thanks in advance :matte-motes-big-grin:

Xig

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Every Scripter I have  worked with always tells me "pay me what you think it worth", which not knowing scripting myself can be difficult.  I most certainly do not want to undervalue the skills required to create a script for me, but I also do not wish to over pay since scripts are generally used in items I sell to others.  I am not sure I will be much help, but here goes.

Usually, when I have custom scripts written, I pay for the completed project rather than a per hour basis. I want to know a ballpark figure of what it is going to cost me before I give consent for the project to commence.    Before hand, we geneally discuss if this custom script will be exclusive for my use only or, if the scripter can sell as a product to others.  I will pay more for an exclusive script than one that will be resold to others.  I will also pay more for one that is not readily available or, something I want customized...door scripts, teleport scripts, texture changers, etc.

You might browse the Market Place to see what the pricing is for similar products.  Check with some of the many scripting groups in SL, they might be able to give you an idea how they proceed.   Would be good for you to think about what you would like to do, write it down for customers to read, etc.

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There is no "going rate".  I doubt that many scripters in SL are paid adequately for their time, compared to what they could charge in RL.  Like everything else in SL, your script is worth whatever the client is willing to pay you for it.  You have to negotiate that.  We have different ranges of experience and different resources to draw on, and some of us simply script faster than others. 

When a client asks me to write a script, I get as clear a picture of what the client wants as I can, decide whether it's something I can do and find interesting enough to play with, and then quote a price range.  I won't take a job unless I think it's interesting and am confident that I won't be wasting the client's time and money.  I'm scripting because I enjoy it, after all.  Once the client is satisfied with the finished work, especially if s/he's someone I have worked with before, I'll restate my price range and often let the client decide what it's worth.

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For me also itis almost always quoted on a per project basis.  There are several reasons for this

  1. As you gain experience (and develop your library of code snippets) you get faster.  Eventually your per/hour rate gets so high it scares people off
  2. Like Rolig said if a project interests me or will make me delve deeper into an aspect of scripting I have avoided (rotations anyone?)  I would quote a low price to get the work because I want it.  
  3. Big projects can be broken out into sections and you get paid as you deliver them
  4. You can add a "client maturity" factor.  As you talk with the client about exactly what they want you get a feel for how well they thought through their needs.  If they appear to be fuzzy, quote high because there WILL be rework. I realize that here a per hour rate would actually be better. However,  I have found that type of client also has a hard time understanding them changing their minds means you have to rewrite the whole thing and they balk at paying the extra anyway... so build it in up front

Don't be afraid to discuss price and timeframe. If they seem hesitant about either ask them!  "does that seem too high? or "is that too long" goes a long way to clearing up misunderstandings. Sometimes you can get them to take out a high complexity, low value function and adjust the cost and time.  Also talk about perissions. Generally I give them the work full perm. I have found telling people that at the end of the project  it is their intellectual property goes a long way.

I also found it worthwhile to ask for 1/2 up front with the rest due "when it is delivered and you are completely happy with it". 

Always, be availble to them and be on time. At the end of the day, having the client feel good about you and your work is the key to more business. 

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It is up to you whether to call it software development or programming but there is no such thing as "scripting".  A software professional understands its origins: LSL code can be run only on an SL server platform and is either not portable or not entirely portable to other platforms. However professionals do their own programming; it is lay people who need help with "scripting" and their uninformed use of this misleading and demeaning term devalues the work we do.

As for custom orders, it all depends on what value you put on your time. If you long to program so much that you would do it for a minimum wage, that is what you charge... or even less. However it is not design and coding that takes most time but testing. I cannot do full regression on my projects because then my charges would be simply out of reach for any individual but I do as much engineering testing as I must for a professional software release.

For serious projects that require professional software engineering (and that's the projects I prefer doing) I estimate total time required including testing and then multiply by a professional rate of between 25-40 USD per hour depending upon complexity. For simpler projects, which are mostly putting together user functions and API's that I already have and I know they work, I might charge just a few thousand lindens (let us not forget that L$10,000 is less than 40 USD). Anything that pays less than 15 USD for an hour of my time I simply would not do as it is more beneficial to me to make my own products and put in the marketplace.

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As an ex-developer for the DCS combat system I will have to say a set price isn't always the answer. For example, I generally do not work on scripts which can be taken from the script library, so things like door scripts, simple vehicle scripts, etc are things I don't do, because for me to take on a job, I need to have least some interest in the project itself. Also depending on the scope of the project and how widely I think my script will be re-used, such as a general purpose melee weapon script with functionality built in so that the item creator only needs to use keywords in each prim's description to specify parts which are to be handled by a color menu or draw/sheath functionality or particle emitters, I would ask for a percentage based on sales of products which use that script. If the script I write you can be used in multiple products, rather than charge you a bundle up front, I'm willing to take percentage on sales. This of course would come with some contractual agreement because there is a trust issue that the content creator will make sure to give you a sales percentage on each of his or her items which use the script.

This kind of situation seems to be more what I prefer as now I have an invested interest for your product to sell well which is good for you as then I am more open to making necessary changes. In the end, it's a limited partnership where both parties can benefit..

Typically the percentage is usually determined by the estimated retail price of the item and the complexity of the script.

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Agreed. I used to be here years ago and just now back. Though in the past this is how I worked when doing custom work. If it was simple even if being massively resold. A single price was fine. If it was more for private use or limited use. Same thing. When it came to larger things a percentage of sales is more desired. Not only is it a good thing for the seller but also the scripter. You also do not have to make the script modify. As well as make updates willingly on a good bond with the seller. Truthfully I think some scripters sell themselves short. Very talented. And some not short at all. And not very good scripters. So defining things off time can either be fair for both seller/scripter or fair only to one end of the work (either seller or scripter). So I couldn't agree more with OP. Doing this percentage of sales keeps it more balanced, fair. If the seller doesn't like it. Then simply try to talk to them about it. If they don't budge simply move on.

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You've had the best replies already but I just wanted to add that the one aspect that some miss when quoted a price is the lost opportunity that might be factored in.

I don't do custom items as a rule although if i've a few minutes spare and it's something very quick then maybe but the following example illustrates why.  Note:  numbers are for illustration only, not intended as actual represenations.

I spend 10 hours writing a script for an object and expect to sell 10,000, product priced at say L$100.

Thus the income from those 10 hours is L$1,000,000

Then someone asks for a custom item and feels that "it's just a simple script, will only take a couple of hours".

Ok, so now lets charge a reasonable hourly rate, not necessarily RL rates but something that's not an insult.  Lets say $20, we're here for fun too.  So that's $40 or around L$10,000.  But wait!  Had I made the item that I sold 10,000 units of, i've just lost 2 hours or my lost opportunity of L$400,000.

Sure I can do your custom script for you, the price for 2 hours is L$410,000. 

At that point the conversation ends with them telling me i'm over charging because they have a friend who will do it for L$100 :)

That's the difference of working for an hourly rate vs working on own items to market and sell so it just depends on how that is factored in but the lost opportunity can be huge and doesn't just apply to software of course.

"Value" here is wildy different in everyone's mind and that's the problem.  With different goals and levels of interest, it's from L$0 to whatever you want it to be.

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xigaro, - Sometimes playing the professional and charging people rates is fun, but other times it's lame. Outside that limited "professional work" box, lay the Creative Commons -  you could befriend some of those people and help them with their scripts for free.

Once you find who you like working with, you could pool brains together and work on kickbutt products to release together!

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Vegro Solari wrote:

xigaro, - Sometimes playing the professional and charging people rates is fun, but other times it's lame. Outside that limited "professional work" box, lay the Creative Commons -  you could befriend some of those people and help them with their scripts for free.

Once you find who you like working with, you could pool brains together and work on kickbutt products to release together!

Question to think about here, the programmers who are submitting code for free, how do they sustain themselves in RL?  Presumably they receive remuneration in return for labour?  Are we to also assume that being remunerated in return for effort in RL is also lame?

Herein lies the issue with platforms like SL.  Some are gainfully employed in RL and come to SL and can afford to give all their effort away while others may choose to use platforms like SL for their RL income.  It's inappropriate to suggest that charging for effort is lame just as it is equally inappropriate to suggest that people giving their effort away for free is lame.

People have different goals and have different circumstances that permit them to operate how they choose.  Please be tolerant in all cases.

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Hi Sassy! Since all are agreed, there's no fixed "going rate" for scripters, maybe it would be permitted to swerve off the specific topic a little, guided by what you said.  Was that a philosophical or a rhetorical question you were exploring? 

If the first, then I have my hand on a religious text, many thousands of years old, that says it best:  "ANY WORK FOR THE SAKE OF REWARD IS SLAVERY".

It is the truth, even if today we choose not to believe in it. Do you think that in general people should be tolerant of untruth, especially seeing as how this so often means being intolerant of the truth?

The holy book is not absolutely against slavery, by the way. Slavery is tolerated, if it's necessary. But lying to oneself is not. What about you, do you think  that slavery should be tolerated?

 

Having really thought about it, you'd perhaps agree with me that renumeration for labour, i.e. the concept of wages,  is a jarring vulgarity. A resourceful person like our OP could aspire to much better things!

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Vegro Solari wrote:

you'd perhaps agree with me that renumeration for labour, i.e. the concept of wages,  is a jarring vulgarity.

It's generally accepted as a method of exchange that is more flexible than the barter system and works much better for frivolities such as having somewhere to live and food to eat.  I'm not going to go down a religious or any other such route.

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Maybe you're right!  After all, vulgarities are by definition generally accepted things.

If you asked me though, I would have to explain how we'll have lost much as a community, if all intuition for the "gift economy" and in general the higher forms of social engagement were to be stamped out in the name of dubious efficiency and then replaced with "rational self-interest" and ubiquitous wage slavery.

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  • 1 month later...

Getting back on topic...  I've beein doing custom script projects for almost 5 years now.  I've learned quite a bit about how to negotiate.  Here are some pointers:

 

  • There is no going rate.  Each project is different and the numerous factors involved require the rate be adjusted on a per customer basis.
  • Most people have no idea the amount of work it takes to author a script solution, therefore you will find that most of the time they lack appreciation for the amount of work involved.  It might take you five minutes to write a script, but think of the effort it took to get to that point.
  • I will only take on a project if I know I'll enjoy it.  There are some projects I won't do, simply because I have no interest in them.  It's ok to say no.
  • Gather the parameters of the project and, taking all factors into account, come to a ballpark figure for the job.  State any possible increases ahead of time.  Make sure you leave a clearly defined picture for the customer and that you see clearly the result they're looking for.
  • This goes without saying, but script as efficiently as possible.  It's your responsibility to think of adverse effects on sim performance.
  • Protect your work.  Make sure your customer knows that you maintain your rights to the work and how it's ultimately used.  Never give out full permission scripts unless you want them in the public domain.
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  • 10 years later...

shopping for scripters is like going out to buy a car you can always see who offers you the better deal and who knows allot and gets it done quicker

maybe finding the quicker one that knows allot would be better  I want to learn scripting but in second life they charge to learn scripting as well like real life collage going into Development it's crazy if you ask me Ill never stop saying it life is always crazy I love it at the same time but it's just gets out of control sometimes.

 

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  • Moles

The general responses in this thread are helpful, but anyone looking at it should notice that it was created in 2012.  As in any older thread, specific details may have changed dramatically since then.

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