Cost, resource and time constraints
An often-quoted estimate of the ratio of development time to run-time for computer-based training materials is 100:1, i.e., 100 person hours are required to develop a 1 hour of computer-based training user experience. This could vary between as much as 217:1 and, for long-term projects producing over 75 hours user time, 50:1.. (R. Canale and S. Wills, "Producing professional interactive multimedia: project management issues, British Journal of Educational Technology, vol.26, no.2, 1995, pp.84-93)
If the title requires development on a new platform sufficient time should be left for the programmer to become familiar withn the new equipment and for sorting out hardware and software teething problems. Costs should allow, also, for adequate support, for development tool software updates and for distribution licenses that may be required to bundle tool libraries or ulilities developed out of house.
Budgets for the development of commercial interactive software titles are typically:
Leading edge, prestige, high content: £200 000+
Economies come from developing a series of titles. Once you have developed an engine it can be incredibly quick to create the next title in the series. The second title may take 6 weeks, the third 2-3 weeks. Finally, it may take no time at all if what one is distributing is the tools to allow authors to build titles for themselves.
Middle range with high production values: £100 000 - 150 000
Cheaper titles: £50 000 - 100 000
Canale and Wills (above) quote 1 hour of CBT costs between £5000 and £10000 (tranlated from Australian dollars), depending on complexity. They note a current Australian project with budget of £500 000 for a 10 hour interactive multimedia commercial training title. Estimate for three current titles were in the order of £15000 to £25000 per run-time hour for a 4-6 hour title.
Costs may be broken down in a number of ways:
Note that project management costs may be as much as 15% total project costs. (R. Canale and S. Wills, "Producing professional interactive multimedia: project management issues", British Journal of Educational Technology, vol.26, no.2, 1995, pp.84-93)
Copyright and licence fees
Hardware (specific to the project)
Mastering and replication
The following points related to cost are worth considering.
- The project manager should be notified immediately anything that may affect project costs, scheduling or production values becomes apparent.
- It takes time to get things done right.
- It takes a lot of time to make things simple.
- Product quality will relate to project budget. Generally, the client gets what they paid for.
- Generally, small design and production teams are more efficient than larger ones.
- Bigger and better hardware and software will not necessarily result in quality productions. There is no substitute for talented and professional design work.
- The right tools in the hands of the right designer; everyone has their own way of working.
- Given the limitations of cost, resources and time, it is seldom the case that end-products completely fulfill the aspirations of the design team. Usually the end-product represents a compromise or series of compromises.