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Hey everyone! I've returned to this form after a year or so, during which I pretty much gave up on programming; the compiler errors got to me But, I've grown as a writer/designer, and I've decided to attempt to persue this aspect of game development. A lot of ideas for games have been floating around in my head, but not just ones that you scribble on a piece of paper, look at a week later, and think "what the hell is this?" Stuff that could actually make fun, profitable games. I thought that it might be a cool idea to become a sort of free-lance game writer, selling ideas and design documents to companies for either a solid price or royalties. This mostly centers around selling something I call Open-Design Documents, which go into depth about the idea for a game, but still allow for the game company to be creative and be the ones who ultimatley decide how the game will function (the doc would probably be between 15 and 30 pages). Other possible services could include making extensive characters and/or their backgrounds, helping designers put an authentic spin on their game (if it's set in the past or present, on earth) by providing them with detailed essays, or any number of writing services. My question to you all is this: could something like this actually work? And if it could, would there be enough demand for it? The major roadblocks I foresee are getting big companies to bite, and not getting my ideas stolen. For the later, I have come up with a multi-stage system in which, the company can see a list of somewhat broad descriptions of the game doc/etc and choose one they like. The company is then sent a more detailed, but still abreviated, version of the idea (1-2 pages) that gives companies information that will help them decide how much effort will be needed to make the game, if it will sell well, if the topic interests them, etc... The company is then faced with three options: Purchase the complete document for full price (royalty or set), buy the rights to the ideas in the shortened version and not get the full version for around half price (in case they want to build on the idea independently), or refuse the idea altogether (but still have to pay a set, non-refundable fee, and can't use ANY ideas presented in the shortened version). Well, I hope that a few people will take the time to seriously read the previous message and give me a much-needed helping hand. Thanks, Mark small note: Buy enough business, I basically mean any business. I am doing this mostly for fun and a little money, not as a full-time career. [edited by - KaMiKaZ on October 19, 2002 7:14:12 PM]

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Hello Mark,

You have no idea what kind of a minefield you''ve waded into. ''Writer as game developer'' is a topic that will get you shot and hung in these forums.

Because someone else will likely say it less tactfully and with less regard for your feelings, I''ll jump in here and point out a few things for you:

- Game developers rarely bring in contract designers to generate ''ideas''. They usually get enough ideas from their internal staff, and even if they don''t, they are unlikely to hand off the creative direction of a game to an untried newbie.

- There is room for some contract game-writing in the industry, but mainly it''s not of the kind you''re considering, and mainly it''s done by seasoned professionals with experience writing for film, games, etc.

- Game developers and publishers can''t take the legal risks associated with accepting external game designs.

- Game design is about a lot more than writing backstories.

I think that''s the gist of it. This is the kind of harsh dose of reality you''ll have to get past if you want to work in game development. I moderate the Game Writers forum at the IGDA (www.igda.org), and there are some pro game writers there who can probably offer you some additional advice. Good luck!

_________________________
The Idea Foundry

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Thanks for responding!

I agree completely with you. When I first posted for this, I seemed to have forgotten the other 100,000 extremely deticated people out there that would be much better candidates for this type of business, as well as the fact that this would probably never work. I decided to just try to join a game dev team as a Writer/Designer, which sounds like a lot more fun anyways, and I already have a few offers. But thanks for laying it down, I appreciate the advice of somebody experienced in the field.

Thanks,
~~Mark~~

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I''ve toyed with the idea of starting a sort of online bank of detailed game designs -- not with the expectation that experienced commercial dev firms would buy them, but rather with the intent that these designs could be used by Indie developers, either as solid material for a quality game product, or as roadmaps for fleshing out their own projects.

Of course, Game Design Docs are a lot of work and invariably one would prefer to either make the game him/herself or earn some money for the project. But I think a lot of Independent developers might find the service useful, based on the fact that Game Design docs ARE a lot of work, and it would be easier to use an existing design than try to build one on an existing idea -- and making a game without a design doc is a messy business. There are ways to protect ones ideas, but I think that the sharing of ideas should be considered the higher road, kinda like Open Source Software. As for a profit model -- I haven''t thought of one yet, but as with OSS, maybe there isn''t really a need for it.

Again, the real question is need (from the developers'' perspective). I don''t know that anyone would really be interested in making use of the service, and there are certainly plenty of writers/designers that would prefer to keep their ideas to themselves. Nevertheless, I''m curious to hear what you guys think about something like this.


Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

"I create. Therefore I am."

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Now that I think about it, nearly all of the fun of indie game development is coming up with, and refining, ideas into games that look great and play even better. Unless people absolutely love the thrill of programming... but I''m sure the majority are more into the complete experience.

~KaMiKaZ~

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There is a company that does this sort of pre-fab design, but I have no idea how successful they''ve been.

http://www.gamedesignstudio.com/

The only thing I could see writing generic design documents for would be if you''re looking to gain experience writing them, or looking to add to your game dev portfolio. Otherwise, game design documentation is so specific that I don''t see how a generic design doc could even really work, unless it was purely a template of which there are many available for free.

_________________________
The Idea Foundry

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