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Is it possible to protect your game design when recruiting a team?


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#1 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 01:55 PM

When hire are recruiting and interviewing potential team members they will want to see the game concept and an iteranary where you say pretty much everything about the game... all features that are worth mentioning and how it's different than competitors etc.
The only thing you don't have to show is the GDD.

But with what you show them... sure it can become a very different game but most likely it will be at least of the same genre or the player market that you want.
Means that everyone you show it to could become an unknown competitor if they decline your offer and use the concept + iteranary to make it themselves. And unknown competitors are more dangerous than known competitors.

So is there any way to protect yourself because I doubt most people would sign a contract before getting to read the concept.
Or is it just a risk you must take?



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#2 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5748

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 02:11 PM

Copyright law protects you from anyone outright copying your design.
If you want to prevent people from getting inspiration from it then you need to have people sign an agreement before you show them anything (Which means almost noone will even bother contacting you).

People who mearly get inspiration from your GDD however are not a real threat, you take a bigger risk by delaying the start of development than you do by sharing your design. Every day that passes increases the risk that someone else gets an idea for a similar game and actually implements it before you do. so my advice is:
Stop worrying and start working. (If you release first it doesn't even matter if someone copies you, your customers will consider their game a shameless ripoff)
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#3 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 02:16 PM

If you want to prevent people from getting inspiration from it then you need to have people sign an agreement before you show them anything (Which means almost noone will even bother contacting you).


What kind of contract/agreement is it that stop them from doing anything similar?

#4 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6716

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 02:20 PM

The typical method of protection is the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or NDA. It's a type of contract that essentially says "One/both parties may not disclose the information exchanged to others, or run away with it themselves, under pain of litigation."

NDAs have always stunk, but there's been some higher-profile criticism of them lately, read this blog entry called Why I Won't Sign Your NDA, and this other blog entry also called Why I won't Sign Your NDA. The most salient point is that an NDA represents a huge imposition on the potential hiree--Imagine that you've interviewed for a position under NDA, and either declined or were passed over for that role; now imagine the very next week a different employer offers you a gig working on a project in the same genre--a potential competitor to the first project--sure you can take that gig, but doing so would make you personally liable for doing so, and possibly even open up the second employer to litigation as well. Their funds might be frozen even before a lawsuit takes place, which, in the fast-paced world of entertainment especially, would almost certainly sink even moderate-sized businesses. Even if you try to be good and avoid specific areas you discussed under NDA, imagine having to tell your new employer you can't look at, much less touch, significant portions of the project.

Another salient point is that, frankly, it's almost (99.99999999%) certain that whatever idea you have is not unique. Original thought is a great rarity, most of the unique ideas we have day to day are just internal remixes and mash-ups of ideas and influences we've been exposed to in our lifetimes. This is important to recognize, not only because it tells us that we're less special than we presume ourselves to be, but also that it is essentially impossible for for any other party to implement our ideas in exactly the same way as we would, at least not anything much more complex than a doorstop. In simpler terms, its how you put it all together that counts--the precise interaction of plot, game play, level design, and minute detail which make a game unique and valuable--not vague premises, or even unique mechanics in isolation--only the precise and final whole is unique and deserving of protection, and that's where copyright (and trademark) comes in.

Speaking freely and enthusiastically is the way to attract talent, not protract legal threats.

#5 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5748

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 02:21 PM


If you want to prevent people from getting inspiration from it then you need to have people sign an agreement before you show them anything (Which means almost noone will even bother contacting you).


What kind of contract/agreement is it that stop them from doing anything similar?


You should probably talk to a laywer about that. employment contracts often have non compete clauses, you should be able to do add something similar to an NDA. (if its enforcable or not is another matter entierly).
I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#6 Konidias   Members   -  Reputation: 214

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 03:59 PM

Unless you really have the money to defend it, it's really not worth it.

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Even if someone obtained your complete GDD, they'd still have to actually make the game. If they are just looking to work for someone, it's doubtful they are going to manage to make the game on their own in the first place.

Most people would rather make their games based on their own ideas anyway.

I think you're being a bit paranoid. The longer you work in game development, the more you will understand that such thinking is a bit silly. Sure, it's totally possible someone could steal your idea and make a multi-million dollar business from it. Is it probable? You have better odds of getting crushed to death under a vending machine.

The idea/concept of the game is merely a starting point. It takes talent+dedication+hard work+time+resources to actually make a successful game out of a GDD. You could post the GDD up for all to view and I can almost guarantee the game would still not get stolen and made into a successful game.
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#7 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2186

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:16 AM

Unless you really have the money to defend it, it's really not worth it.


This is really the crux of any intellectual property dispute. Your IP is only secure if you can afford to defend it in court. Nothing is stopping anyone from taking your hard work and branding it as their own, if you can't afford to sue them.

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#8 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6716

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:56 PM


Unless you really have the money to defend it, it's really not worth it.


This is really the crux of any intellectual property dispute. Your IP is only secure if you can afford to defend it in court. Nothing is stopping anyone from taking your hard work and branding it as their own, if you can't afford to sue them.


QFE. In fact, one could argue that Zynga's current business model relies upon this fact almost entirely.

#9 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8621

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 05:36 PM

This conversation was ostensibly finished a month ago. I'll close this. Anyone with new questions or important thoughts on the topic is welcome to begin a new thread.
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Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.




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