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Starting a 1-man indie studio (-ish)

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#1 gabars   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 06:46 PM

Hi, It's my first time on this forum. I searched as much as I could (don't know what to search for) and I still have questions.

 

I'm making a little game (for practice, but I'd still like to keep it around) and when came the time to implement a high scores system, I made a website to handle the highscores and have a little home page etc. It's on a subdomain now and I want a domain name. I tought I could have only one domain name and have separate folders / subdomains for each game I'll make. I haven't found a name yet but let's say squirrelgames.com for now...

 

My questions are:

1. I have a copyright notice in-game and on the website with my real name on it. Can I keep them or do I have to replace with © Squirrel Games?

2. Do I have to register a company? (I live in Canada and the website is hosted in Chicago, USA)

3. Do you have any tips?

 

 

Thanks

 



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#2 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 26867

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 07:13 PM

1) You don't "have to" do anything. You don't even need the copyright notice - it's already copyrighted the second you create something. Primarily that symbol (in modern times, in the USA and UK) is to warn others that you'll protect your rights, and also to help prove in court that their infringement was intentional rather than accidental.

You don't want to do © MadeUpNameThat'sNotRegistered though, but © RegisteredName or © RealName is fine.

 

2) I'm not sure about Canadian laws - in the USA, you don't have to as a hobbyist, but if you start making significant money (more than just pocket change), you'll need to look into what your tax obligations are, and whether you're required to register, or if registering gives you other benefits. I haven't reached the commercial point myself yet.

 

3) A subdomain per game is fine, unless you're really trying to go big, in which case you'll probably want a separate domain per game. I like ASmallOrange.com for webhosting, because it's super inexpensive, they have fantastic service, and you can host multiple domains on the same hosting without paying extra. One thing I do, though, is I keep my domain names registered by a separate company, that way if I ever did need to move hosts, my host isn't holding my domain names hostage, or vice-versa.


It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
All glory be to the Man at the right hand... On David's throne the King will reign, and the Government will rest upon His shoulders. All the earth will see the salvation of God.
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#3 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 42119

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 08:19 PM

1) a notice should probably contain the actual legal owner of the copyright. If you don't have a company, that's you. If you did this work for a company, then they're the owner.
n.b. even without a copyright notice, everything is automatically covered by copyright anyway. Putting out notices is just marking your territory.

2) If you'll be making money, you'll probably at least have to register yourself as a "sole trader"/"sole proprietorship" for tax purposes. This also lets you claim your web hosting costs as a business expense :)
Here is Aus, registration takes 10 mins on the tax agency's website.
If you get more serious, consider registering an actual Limited Liability Company instead of a Sole Proprietorship -- this provides important legal insulation between you as a person and you as a company, splitting them into two legal entities.

3) get an accountant who's worked with game developers before. They will know all the tax benefits you can claim (Canada is gamedev friendly).

#4 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 16916

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 08:24 PM


2. Do I have to register a company? (I live in Canada and the website is hosted in Chicago, USA)
 

 

Canadian business owner here.

You don't have to register a business until your business' annual revenue exceeds a certain amount (was 35k a few years back, but got a bit higher this year).

However, you MUST use your first and last name in a business to operate (along with any other superlative you may want).

For example, if your name is John Doe, you are allowed to operate under the name 'John Doe's Studio' if you wish, that is perfectly legal.

This inherently mean you're working as a self-employed individual.

 

If your revenues exceed the cap, then you need to register for taxes (federal and provincial, not sure where you live, so you need to look into your province's specifics for this). Even then, you don't necessarily need to register under a company, and can still operate the name mentioned above.

 

There are a lot of advantages to registering your company though, and especially turning it into the canadian's variant of an LLC or Corporation, but I'll let your lawyer talk you through this, as you should effectively meet one, right now, even if it costs you $100 and you end up working just as a self-employed individual with just your name: at least you'll know this is legal and what you create is yours.

 

Out of curiosity, where are you based?

 

Best of luck!


Edited by Orymus3, 29 August 2015 - 08:24 PM.

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#5 gabars   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 29 August 2015 - 09:47 PM

Thank you for the quick response guys.

 

Out of curiosity, where are you based?

In Quebec (montreal)

 

However, you MUST use your first and last name in a business to operate (along with any other superlative you may want).

That sucks big time. My full name is too long and hard to type for a domain name.

After a bit of re-reading I found a semi-hidden link on the registre des entreprises : http://www.registreentreprises.gouv.qc.ca/documents/tarifs/RE-101%282015-01%29.pdf (french only)

It has the prices for registering a business in Quebec but I'm not sure which one would apply to me.

Anyway I just read that to register a business the name has to be in french -.- ... So all my plans are going to hell unless I don't have to register a business.

 

Also, I'm a student and my budget has been and will remain negative every month until march/april 2016. I don't mind the 10$/yr for a domain name but I absolutely can't afford a lawyer.



#6 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 42119

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Posted Yesterday, 01:24 AM

My full name is too long and hard to type for a domain name.

Your domain name doesn't have to be your legal business name.

Not sure about Canada, but here you can also "nickname" your business.
E.g. I could have a shopfront sign that says:
(in big letters:) MR CODER
(in little letter:) ABN 1234557 Brooke Hodgman, trading as 'Mr Coder'

#7 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 16916

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Posted Yesterday, 05:04 AM


Your domain name doesn't have to be your legal business name.

That's accurate. Your could link from go.com if you wished, but it may hard to create brand recognition between the two which is not a legal concern.

 

 

 


Not sure about Canada, but here you can also "nickname" your business.
E.g. I could have a shopfront sign that says:
(in big letters:) MR CODER
(in little letter:) ABN 1234557 Brooke Hodgman, trading as 'Mr Coder'

 

I believe one can't do this in Canada with an unregistered business unfortunately. An unregistered business is legal but has no number and cannot have any shorthands. These are restrictions.

 

To OP, any particular reason you'd like to advertise your conpany name over your product's?

Also, I'm from Québec as well, and I registered an English name here. Will double check your link, but I'm pretty sure you need a lawyer at this point (whether you can afford it financially is another question, obviously)

 

Edit: how is your french? Turns out the linked document is about company name advert and payments. There is a law in Québec that states that if marketing is involved, you need to have a proeminent french variant added to the ad and English be smaller in all regards. Not sure where you've seen that your name must be in french from that document, but this is only for filing name propagartion. I wouldn't worry about it, especially as this is only true of registered company, which at this point sounds like it's not what you want/need.


Edited by Orymus3, Yesterday, 05:08 AM.

-=- My Articles -=-
Getting Games Done - Method and tools on how to start a hobby project and get it Done!

The Art of Enemy Design in Zelda: A Link to the Past - Reverse-engineering functional enemy design from applied example.

Retro Mortis - "RTS" - Article Series (3 Parts) on the history of RTS development

 


#8 gabars   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted Yesterday, 10:05 AM

To OP, any particular reason you'd like to advertise your conpany name over your product's?

Also, I'm from Québec as well, and I registered an English name here. Will double check your link, but I'm pretty sure you need a lawyer at this point (whether you can afford it financially is another question, obviously)

The only reason is so I won't need multiple domains. I want to buy 1 easy to remember domain name that I could use for my future games. I don't plan to make any money from it, maybe a couple bucks from ads but I don't mind giving that up to not have to pay more.

 

This is where it says "The name must be in French. To obtain additional information, please refer to the Charter of the French language." just scroll down a bit it's under compliance measures. From the Charter of the French language: "63. Le nom d'une entreprise doit être en langue française."

 

how is your french?

It's my mother tongue...

 

I'll see if I can get an appointment at UQAM's clinique juridique (free) but they don't open until september 8. I'm really hoping I don't need to have a business at all to do this. I guess if you can have a blog and not name it "My Name's blog" you can have a website to publish your games and name it whatever you want.


Edited by gabars, Yesterday, 10:53 AM.


#9 gabars   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted Yesterday, 10:22 AM

Your domain name doesn't have to be your legal business name.

Like Nokia owned Qt for a while? So I could have a registered (or not) business to my personal name and own for example squirrelgames.com?


Edited by gabars, Yesterday, 10:22 AM.


#10 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 16916

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Posted Yesterday, 10:39 AM

The article you quote lists for registration only (as mentionned this is not mandatory in your case). Furthermore it is possible to register your company under different names. As long as one is french, you are legit.
Double check with a lawyer of course!

-=- My Articles -=-
Getting Games Done - Method and tools on how to start a hobby project and get it Done!

The Art of Enemy Design in Zelda: A Link to the Past - Reverse-engineering functional enemy design from applied example.

Retro Mortis - "RTS" - Article Series (3 Parts) on the history of RTS development

 






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